“If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith.” Aung San Suu Kyi
At Community Living Project, we strongly believe that every person, regardless of ability, is of inherent value and entitled to live a good life in the community. We are both excited about new opportunities under the NDIS for people with disability to create a good life, and worry about the scheme’s ongoing uncertainty for those people who are most vulnerable.
The NDIS offers a clear focus on building the capacity of people with disability, and their families, to make their own decisions and take control of their individual support. We are hearing terrific examples from interstate where families who have the chance to be well informed and prepared, and encouraged to dream of a different future, are crafting support for their son or daughter that is much more likely to facilitate an ordinary, typical life embedded in right relationship, positive roles and welcoming community. Success in achieving such positive outcomes requires providers to be far more creative in the way in which we help people prepare, to foster opportunities for people to think beyond the confines of traditional service paradigms, and to have the courage to release our ingrained control mechanisms and hand over (with the right support and information) decision making and authority to the person with disability, their family and their supporters.
Unfortunately, with every story of success and positive change, we hear others where limited access to pre-planning support, and/or poor outcomes from the NDIA planning process, curtail any opportunity for crafting an ordinary life, and force people with disability to continue in unsatisfactory support options. The review process puts additional pressure on even the most articulate and prepared families. Many of these concerns are directly related to the scale and speed of the rollout, with great pressure being placed on planners to achieve target quotas. While CLP is heavily investing in supporting the people and families we are currently involved with via pre-planning, like many others in the sector we hold concerns for those people who have little support and may lack capacity to articulate their dreams.
Transition to the NDIS is relentless, while day to day support continues to be provided. We persist in our optimism that the NDIS will reflect the scheme’s original intent, that of increasing the access of every person with disability to a life that holds the same promise and opportunities that exists for any other citizen. We take heart from the emerging stories of positive change in people’s lives, and are invigorated by the growing capacity of families to share information and innovation via social media. We suspect, however, that despite all the shiny gadgets and technological fads, our future support base will still come from traditional avenues, through shared stories of real lives, blossoming in welcoming communities, where people with disability can aspire to meaningful days, reciprocal relationships and a positive future.
Prue Gorman, Executive Officer, April 2017.