TV advertising campaign seeks change for people with a disability over 65
Spinal Life Australia – supported by other disability groups such as Polio Australia and Muscular Dystrophy Foundation Australia – has launched a TV advertising campaign calling on the federal government to end age discrimination against people with a disability over 65.
It is said that a person over 65 who has a spinal cord injury will receive $ 52,000 a year under My Aged Care, compared to $ 165,600 under NDIS.
The campaign comes amid warnings from NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds that the program is facing serious sustainability issues, with spending rising to $ 40.7 billion in 2024-25, $ 8.8 billion above estimates .
Senator Reynolds said the draft program reflected the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that an individual must have acquired their disability and apply for access to the program before age 65 in order to become an NDIS participant.
“Legislation tabled by the Gillard government in 2012 to set up the NDIS with bipartisan support reflects the recommendation of the Productivity Commission,” she said Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
“The government supports these longstanding political attitudes. The NDIS is not intended to replace the services already provided in the health or elderly care system. “
The Productivity Commission also recommended the establishment of a separate national accident insurance scheme that would be state funded and that would cover catastrophically injured people. This would reduce the cost of the NDIS, but has not yet been fully implemented.
Senator Reynolds did not reply when asked if the government charged any costs for the 65-year-old age waiver.
Last year Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Elderly Australians and Elderly Care Services, told ABC TV 7.30 it wasn’t a research piece he’d seen.
Given that 1.9 million Australians are over 65 years old and have a disability according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the average payment to NDIS participants over the 2020-2021 period was $ 53,200, removing the age limit would make the program billions costs.
(The 1.9 million figure includes people with disabilities who were NDIS participants before they turned 65 and can stay on the program.)
Elizabeth Kendall, professor of disability at Griffith University, said the cost of lifting the age limit must be offset against the cost of care for the elderly.
“As you age, the effects of disability can become more severe and the effects of inadequate or inadequate care can lead to more expensive hospitalizations for urinary tract infections, skin problems, breathing problems, etc.,” she said.
“It can also mean an earlier transition to inpatient elderly care, which is much more expensive.”
Last year’s Royal Commission on Elderly Care recommended that by July 1, 2024, every person living with a disability and living in elderly care – regardless of when they enter – should receive the same level of support that they would have under the NDIS .
“It is a question of justice,” read the report from the royal commission.
In its May response, the federal government said that the recommendation would be considered further, with work on developing a new home support program to be completed by the end of next year.
The government said it will consider the level of support available to people in elderly care, including those who would otherwise be eligible for NDIS without the age criteria.
The “Disability Does Not Discriminate” campaign calls on people to write to their federal MPs asking them to lift the age limit for the NDIS or to accept the recommendation of the royal commission.
Mark Townend, CEO of Spinal Life, said in a few months the campaign will be asking all MPs where they stand.
In 2019, the independent MP Zali Steggall submitted a petition to parliament with almost 20,000 signatures calling on the government to expand the NDIS beyond 65 or to improve the elderly care system.
Opposition NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten said that when the NDIS was formed, the elderly care system offered much greater support, so the NDIS fills the void for people with disabilities under 65.
“But after eight years of neglect of elderly care by the coalition, NDIS – although it has its problems – is now superior to elderly care packages,” he said.
“Labor believes that no matter how old they are, people should get the care they need.”
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