MAC Briefing Papers

Help us achieve adequate support for older people with disability

In 2013, the government commenced rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – a lifetime scheme of care and support for people with disability. 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.

Here are just a few reasons why this arrangement is not working:

  • Many people with disability have had no interaction with the aged care system and are largely unaware of how it operates. While governments continue to inject significant amounts of money into projects that are designed to inform people with disability about their rights under the NDIS, 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.
  • Under My Aged Care, older people with disability are asked to make co-payments towards any services or supports they need. This requirement is unique to My Aged Care and does not apply to people accessing supports under the NDIS. 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.
  • The aged care system was set up to accommodate the needs of people experiencing deteriorating health due to aging– not people with permanent and severe 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.

Here are just a few reasons why these problems should be addressed:

  • People who are over the age of 65 contribute billions of dollars to the national economy each year through unpaid caring and voluntary roles. The same is also true for people with disability. Limiting the participation of over 65s with disability would therefore have a detrimental impact on the Australian economy as a whole.
  • There is a strong correlation between social isolation/participation restriction and a range of mental health problems. Given we are an aging population, failing to provide older people with disability with the support they need to participate in the community as active citizens will have significant ramifications for the health system in years to come.
  • 45% of people with disability live near or below the poverty line, and around one in three older people live in poverty; meaning the likelihood of an older person with disability living in poverty will be higher yet again. This situation will only be made worse with the lack of funding for services and supports and the current requirements for people to make co-payments under the aged care system.

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