Disability and seniors' advocates are joining forces to tackle the gross inequality in care for older people with disabilities.
They say it's time to end a decade of inaction since the roll out of the NDIS which excludes many people over the age of 65 because of their age.
Demanding that the government ends the 'do nothing' decade, the alliance of peak bodies is calling for three reforms which it says can make an immediate difference to the lives and support of older people with disability.
- A short term funding solution for people with high intensity support needs so they can receive the same standard care and support as other Australians with disabilities, regardless of when they were acquired.
- A fair and transparent consultation process that prioritises the needs, choices and goals of people with disabilities aged over 65.
- A streamlined solution that works for older people with severe disabilities as well as aged care and disability service providers.
People who acquire a disability over the age of 65, are denied access to the NDIS. Those who already had a disability but turned 65 before the NDIS was rolled out in their area are also not covered and must rely on aged care's home care system for support. Home Care Packages are currently capped at $52,000 a year. However, the proper care for a 65+ year old person with quadriplegia costs more than $200,000 a year.
When the NDIS was set up the government legislated to exempt it from the Age Discrimination Act so it could exclude people over the age of 65.
"Funding and care shortfalls are currently met by family members who leave their jobs to become carers and sell their homes to fund support," said Anders Halvorsen, Chairman of spinal injury support organisation Forward Ability Support.
Mr Halvorsen who lives in the Northern Rivers has paraplegia but missed out on NDIS support funding as he turned 65 before the NDIS was rolled out in his area; if he had lived a bit further south, for example, in Newcastle, he would have been eligible as the NDIS was already active in that area.
"The current gap in funding places unbearable pressure on older partners who have their own care and support needs. They now spend their time fighting for funding in a complex system that should empower and support them.
"These aged care and disability organisations are committed to working positively with the new Albanese Government. There is nothing more important than ensuring all Australians with disabilities get the care, support and funding they need," he said.
The current gap in funding places unbearable pressure on older partners who have their own care and support needs. They now spend their time fighting for funding in a complex system that should empower and support them.- Anders Halvorsen.
The alliance includes Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Forward Ability Support (formerly ParaQuad NSW), National Disability Services (NDS), Physical Disability Council of NSW, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Spinal Care Australia and Spinal Life Australia.