Briefing Paper

NDIS (Not Damn Interested in Seniors) = My Aged Scare!

Advocating for equality for over 65s

 The background:

In 2013, the government commenced rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – a lifetime scheme of care and support for people with disability. But people who acquire a disability after the age of 65, or are over 65 when the scheme rolls out in their area are not eligible for the NDIS.  These people are instead expected to access the support they need through the aged care system, through a gateway called My Aged Care.

The problems:

  1. Lack of information

Many people with disability have had no interaction with the aged care system and are largely unaware of how it operates. Federal and state governments continue to inject significant amounts of money into projects that are designed to inform people with disability about their rights under the NDIS ,but there has been no information provided to people with disability who are over the age of 65 to inform them about My Aged Care as it relates to the specialist support needs of people with disability. As a result, many people are falling through the cracks.

  1. Hefty co-payments

Under My Aged Care, older people with disability are asked to make co-payments towards any services or supports they require. This requirement is unique to My Aged Care and does not apply to people accessing supports under the NDIS. Although co-payments were originally intended to be dependent on an individual’s income and assets, it appears that this policy is not being honoured. The services and supports that are required by people with disability can also be far more cost-prohibitive than those of the average older person, making their cost of living significantly higher.

  1. Lack of understanding of the specialist needs of people with disability

The aged care system was set up to accommodate the needs of people experiencing deteriorating health due to aging– not people with permanent and profound disability. As disability is the core business of the NDIS, staff at the National Disability Insurance Agency typically have a high level of empathy and disability awareness. The same cannot be said for the staff at My Aged Care who are largely unfamiliar with the broad spectrum of needs with which people with disability may present . 

The solutions:

  1. Help us raise awareness

The NDIS is constantly being discussed in the media and in the community, but there has been no focus on those people who are ineligible for the scheme and are fast falling through the cracks. Help us shine a light on the injustices of the current support system and build a solid foundation for future change.

  1. Help us access information

Knowledge is power. Older people with disability need to have sufficient information available to enable them to exercise their rights. Help us lobby the government to ensure that accurate and timely information is provided to people with disability who are over the age of 65 so they can better navigate the current support system. 

  1. Help us achieve equality

Help us lobby for the introduction of measures that would

promote greater equality for older people with disability in accordance with the following recommendations:

  • All individuals who were born with, or who acquired a disability prior to the age of 65 should be grandfathered into the NDIS.
  • An independent appeals process should be established to allow for discretionary decisions to be made in allowing people who have acquired a disability after the age of 65 entry into the NDIS (where it can be demonstrated that their support needs are not being met through the aged care system).
  • The rules for co-payment under My Aged Care should be reviewed, with an exemption being applied to specialist services and supports that are uniquely required by people with permanent and profound disability.
  • Additional resources should be allocated to building the capacity of staff working across the aged care sector to enable them to better respond to the specialist needs of people with disability. 

The obligations:

The Australian Government is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is therefore bound by the obligations that it establishes. The steps to be taken to implement the Convention at a national level have been articulated in the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which has been endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments. It was this strategy that first underpinned the introduction of a National scheme of lifetime care and support for people with disability and the Strategy sets out to achieve the following two outcomes in this regard:

  1. “A disability support system which is responsive to the particular needs and circumstances of people with complex and high needs for support.”
  2. “Personal and community support services are available to meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.”

In order for Australia to be considered to be meeting its international human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there must be equality of support for all people with disability, regardless of factors associated with age.

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