With the NDIS now expanding from its initial trial sites to further sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT, Disability Reform is an extremely high-profile issue nationally. This document interestingly shows NDIS implementation across Australia and the plans for rolling this out across different states and within different demographics.
Joining us to discuss the matter further, John Chesterman, Manager of Policy and Education at the Office of the Public Advocate, talks to us about what “choice and control” means for people with a disability and the biggest achievement of the NDIS to date.
Please can you give us a brief overview of your role within OPA (Office of the Public Advocate) and how they are seeking to improve the lives of people with a disability?
John: I am Manager of Policy and Education at the Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria’s guardian of last resort for adults with decision-making incapacity. We also have five volunteer programs, involving more than 900 volunteers, through which we seek to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
What do you think ‘choice and control’ should mean for people with a disability? Are there any groups you feel this may be a particular challenge for?
John: Choice and control for people with disabilities should mean that individuals are free to make, and supported where necessary to make, key decisions about matters that affect them. For people with significant cognitive impairments, this often means that support will need to be given to ensure that their preferences are expressed and respected.
In your opinion, what has been the biggest achievement of the NDIS to date?
John: The biggest achievement so far for the NDIS has been the fact that this enormous social welfare reform, the biggest since Medicare, is actually occurring, and that some terrific outcomes are being experienced and witnessed.
You will be speaking at the 2015 National Disability Summit in March. What are you hoping to get out of attending this event?
John: I am hoping to hear about the successes and challenges being experienced in the launch sites and continuing the conversation about the development of nationally-consistent safeguards.
If you’d like to hear more from John, catch him at the upcoming National Disability Summit where he’ll be elaborating on the the “consumer choice” philosophy for people with significant impairments, substitute decision makers, and national safeguards proposed as the scheme is being rolled out.