Major gap in disability and aged care reform
MORE than 80 per cent of Australians think the age ceiling of 65
to be covered by the national disability insurance scheme is
However, according to the national survey to be presented to
Gillard government ministers tomorrow, only 3 per cent of
respondents were even aware that people over 65 were excluded from
Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin and Mental Health
Minister Mark Butler are scheduled to attend the roundtable meeting
in Adelaide, which will include representatives of National Seniors
Australia and the Macular Disease Foundation Australia.
The Galaxy poll, commissioned by the MDFA and conducted on
February 1-3 with a national sample of 1052 people, asked people if
the NDIS applied to people of all ages or excluded people after a
Almost half - 47 per cent - of respondents admitted up front
they didn't know. A further 38 per cent incorrectly believed it
applied to all people.
Of the 15 per cent who knew people were excluded after a certain
age, only 22 per cent when further questioned correctly said
exclusions started at 65, or 3 per cent of all those surveyed.
When respondents were told people who acquired a disability at
65 and over were excluded from the NDIS, 82 per cent said it was
unfair, 14 per cent said it was fair, and 4 per cent didn't
This finding held across all ages, gender and states, although
the proportion saying it was unfair was slightly higher in
Queensland (90 per cent).
Five NDIS trials will begin in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and
South Australia from July.
MDFA chief executive Julie Heraghty said her organisation had
been raising the issue with the government for more than a year and
it needed to be addressed as a priority.
"The latest survey results reinforce the fact that virtually no
one in the community is aware of the details of the exclusion from
the NDIS if you acquire a disability at the age of 65 and over,"
she said. "We were alarmed to see that only 3 per cent of the
population knew about the exclusion cut-off if you acquire a
disability at the age of 65 and over.
"This very important issue is slipping under the community's
radar and falling between a major gap in disability and aged care
The NSA has launched a blistering attack on the NDIS, claiming
it legislates for "blatant age discrimination". Chief executive
Michael O'Neill said National Seniors would campaign relentlessly
for the cut-off age to be altered.
A spokeswoman for Ms Macklin said the minister was meeting with
a wide range of people and groups as it developed the NDIS.
"The feedback the government receives from consultations, as
well as the Senate committee inquiry currently under way, are
important parts of helping us to design the scheme," she said.
The government says it is still working through and discussing
with stakeholders the complex interaction between the NDIS and the
aged care system.
The Senate inquiry report, due to be handed down in March, will
be another important element of their considerations.
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