What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Open Letter to Premier Barry O'Farrell

Dear Barry,

Remember my little daughter Billie? You met her when we came to your office - the family with the little yellow electric wheelchair that couldn't get in to your office? We carried her over the steps. You also caught up with her at the opening of the wheelchair accessible bushwalk in Lindfield and at the recent NDIS Rally in April earlier this year. We live just around the corner from you in Gordon - which of course not only makes you our Premier but also our local representative.

I am writing to you to please ask you to get on board with the NDIS. Disability is not an issue to play politics with. I am writing to you as a mother of three children - two of which have a disability - and as the President of the Association of Children with Disabilities NSW. In that capacity I speak to you on behalf of nearly a thousand NSW members - all families to whom disability is an overriding issue and concern.

The current government has earmarked some - arguably not enough - money to set up the structure of the NDIS and start some trial sites. Yes, there are serious financial commitments to be made. But surely NSW can afford such a contribution.

In many ways, NSW is ahead of other governments in its thinking on disability. Your government has made some impressive commitments to disability services. In particular, your government's dedication to individualised services by 2014 has been a sign of your, and Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance's, understanding and commitment to disability.

The Liberal Party has, both on the state and federal level, committed to an NDIS. As you know from the Productivity Commission's executive summary into Disability Care and Support:

 "The current disability support system is underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient. It gives people with a disability little choice, no certainty of access to appropriate supports and little scope to participate in the community. People with disabilities, their carers, service providers, workers in the industry and governments all want change."

At some point, we simply have to establish a new disability system, and all levels of government have a responsibility to ensure this broken system is fixed. This will be a major project, which will need testing and trialling. So when the Federal Government comes round with some cash contribution to do just that, why on earth would you say no to that?

I agree with you that the bigger issue lies in establishing - and most crucially sufficiently funding - the NDIS. But with any radical new scheme, testing is a most vital component of the planning process. 

Surely NSW should have its own site. Why would NSW not jump at the opportunity to be at the forefront of the learning that has to be undertaken? Or do we really want our state to play second fiddle to the other states? After all, as Minister Constance said "an NDIS launch would lack integrity if it did not include sites in Victoria and NSW."

I do understand the federal-state politics in all this.

Yet I am disappointed.

Billie and I sat on the front row at the recent NDIS rally and heard you express eloquently that disability services is "a matter of human rights". You told the 80,00 strong audience "I am here with Andrew Constance supporting that NDIS committing our support to it, and urging our federal pollies, Liberal and Labor, to join together and deliver what you so desperately need".

I can not believe, refuse to believe, that you would have turned your back on the NDIS.

I understand Minister Constance is still in negotiations with Ms Macklin in Canberra. Please Barry, let's leave behind the partisan politics and show some bipartisan support and leadership. For the sake of Billie's future, and the future of so many other kids with disability in NSW, give Andrew permission to reach an agreement and let's get NSW on board of the NDIS - starting with a trial. 

Yours sincerely
Heike Fabig
Mother of three children, two of which have a disability
President of the Association for Children with Disability NSW

1 comment:

joyce said...

You are a great mom to your children. They are very lucky to have you as their mother and you do not only fight for them but also for other people with disability. More power to you!