27 July 2010
The Hon Julia Gillard MP Parliament House Canberra
Dear Ms Gillard
Why have you said nothing in this campaign about the urgent need to fix Australia’s broken disability system, which Bill Shorten accurately describes as a “national disgrace”? Our crisis-driven, dysfunctional, wasteful disability system crushes around two million Australians with disabilities and their family carers because we cannot get crucial services and equipment when we need them, let alone be actively included in our “very precious Australian way of life”.
The Productivity Commission reports it has already received 1850 expressions of interest for the disability care and support inquiry, compared with 857 for paid maternity leave. Do 1.4 million people with severe disabilities and their 700,000 family carers matter less to you than expectant mothers?
Thousands of parents of students with disabilities wish our struggles to ensure our children receive a decent education – or can just enrol in the school of their choice with needs-based support funding - could be resolved as easily as a cost rebate for uniforms.
The escalating anger of hundreds and thousands of people whose lives are severely restricted by the disability system is obvious in the rapid spreadofthegrass-rootscampaignAustraliansMadasHell. Injust4monthsover26,000Australian electors have taken the Mad as Hell Pledge of Voting Intent, promising to vote only for a party or parties that publicly commit to transforming Australia’s broken, crisis-driven disability support system by:
• Introducing, or supporting the introduction of, a national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) immediately after the Productivity Commission study, due to be completed by July 2011; and
• Ensuring people with a disability and their family or nominated representative decide the best use of funding to meet individual needs
Both the Greens and Carers Alliance support the principle of a national disability insurance scheme. Yet the ALP recent piece-meal plans don’t address the real problems and show that your government doesn’t understand or care how much the disability system damages ordinary lives, like the 80 year-olds who are STILL the primary, unpaid carers of their 50 year-old children with disabilities – in a nation that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!
• 1.4 million people with serious disability now need support with core daily living activities. This number is projected by the Disability Investment Group to double by 2030 to 2.9 million
• 700,000+ full-time carers of a person with a disability now; fewer carers as they age, die or simply refuse to provide a lifetime of unpaid carer work at the expense of earned income, superannuation and the ordinary life every other Australian expects and lives. 10% less unpaid care = 40% increase in funded services, according to the DIG report
By tracking Mad as Hell Pledges of Voting Intent we can report the numbers of voters in marginal seats whose lives are so shattered by the abysmal disability system that it will determine who they vote for.
We realise your predecessor as Prime Minister referred the recommendations of the Disability Investment Group for a radically new disability care support system to the Productivity Commission for investigation, with that report due by July next year. But this should not stop you, as Prime Minister, from stating whether your government accepts the case Mr Shorten has made for transformational reform of the disability system, and making disability services a ministerial-level portfolio such as “Disability and Inclusion” if you regain government. We have presented at the Productivity Commission Inquiry’s hearings in Sydney and Brisbane, and observed the reactions by the Commissioners to the numerous, horrendous stories told by people with disabilities and their families. If scores of State and Commonwealth inquiries have not already spelt out the problems and how to fix them, please read the attached submission by Australians Mad as Hell to the Productivity Commission to get a glimpse of what people with disabilities and their carer families are forced tolivewith. Wouldyoubepreparedtolivesuchalife,PrimeMinister?
Everyone supporting Mad as Hell’s grassroots, parent-led fight to ensure a better life for people with disabilities and their families wants to know your policies so they can decide how to vote. Please advise us, at your earliest convenience, of the Labor Party’s official policy on the introduction of a national disability insurance scheme with individualised funding in the next term of government. We hope we can assure the more than 26,000 people who have taken the Mad as Hell Pledge to date that hopes raised so high by referring the disability crisis to the Productivity Commission will not be dashed if a Labor Government is re-elected.
Fiona Porter & Sue O’Reilly Co-Convenors Australians Mad as Hell Campaign