Royal Disability Commission in support of Indigenous NDIS begins
“He became what will always be seen as part of a stolen generation, even now that people, young people, children are being taken from Aboriginal families.”
An Indigenous teenager who was made a “poster boy” for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) was later kicked out of his assisted living arrangement, an investigation has found.
The Disability Royal Commission has turned its attention to the support and service issues faced by Indigenous people with disabilities in remote communities. A five-day 25-day public hearing began in the Northern Territory on Monday to look at the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) access and operation in these areas to determine “whether these barriers cause or contribute to violence, abuse or neglect.” , and exploitation of First Nations people with disabilities,” read a expression.
The inquest was heard by Disability Advocate Joan during her testimony on Monday. She spoke about 18-year-old Joziah, who is confined to a wheelchair due to quadriplegia, dysphasia and dislocated hips. Both people used a pseudonym for the duration of the proceedings.
“Joziah led a very active life because he’s very social – he’s a really likeable guy and really loved by the community. He has the ability to light up the room with his smile,” she mused.
“But he was challenged because he was being cared for in an aged care facility and consequently when the NDIA came to town he was a little showcase for them as they had him beamed up in a large photograph of their brochures selling NDIA’s merchandise and how they could change people’s lives.”
Joan explained that Joziah found it hard not to be with peers in his own home and later moved into a solo apartment within a group community – an opportunity for supported independent living and socialization that offered hope at the time .
“The agency decided that they would withdraw funding from him … and by doing so, that meant he would be left without a home,” she continued, saying he was instead placed in the care of the government’s Territory Families department and separated from his mother , who could no longer visit him in this capacity.
Joan said her understanding of the turn of events was that financial support for the NDIA was unsustainable and expensive over the long term.
“But they made that promise to him, they made it to him … but then they decided, they called one of the managers at the disability service provider who was looking after him and they said, ‘We’re going to do a mandatory report – we withdraw its funding.
“Now we’ve introduced a scheme that’s so complex for them that they’ve been marginalized even further…”
Luckily, Joziah was able to stay in his abode under shared responsibility between the territory and federal authorities, but Joan said the move left him more isolated than ever.
By passing some of the costs on to Territory Families, the NDIA eventually took on a pseudo-role as his guardian, controlling who had access to his home. “He became what will always be seen as part of a stolen generation, even now that people, young people, children are being taken from Aboriginal families,” she said.
When the nursing directive expired two years ago, Joziah was relocated from his community in Tennant Creek to Alice Springs – over 300 miles from his friends and family – to access better support services.
“When I think about what the Aboriginal communities have experienced through the NDIS is – they already had distrust of the government mob and now we have put in place a system that is so complex for them that it has pushed them even further into the Rand of not being able to make informed decisions about some of these complex systems that are being brought into their families,” Joan said.