The Greens have backed calls to remove the age cap on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), calling the decision to block support to those aged 65 and over as “arbitrary and discriminatory”.
Currently people with a disability who do not register with the NDIS before they turn 65 are barred from receiving funding under the scheme and are instead left to rely on the aged care system for support.
As YourLifeChoices reported in April, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) reported a huge discrepancy between the funding available to people suffering from the same conditions at different ages.
Read more: Older Australians receive less support
LASA chief executive Sean Rooney said that average annual support in the NDIS was around $52,000, whereas the average annual support for a person in aged care was about $17,000.
At the same time, The Australian reported that a 63-year-old vision-impaired man on the NDIS is receiving $86,000 a year more in government assistance than an 84-year-old man with similar issues on an aged care Home Support Package.
Australian Green disability spokesperson Jordon Steele-John said that disabled people over the age of 65 deserve to access the supports that they need to live a good life.
Read more: The Budget misses the care in aged care
He said it was both arbitrary and discriminatory to block disabled people over the age of 65 from accessing the NDIS.
“Older Australians with a disability deserve to be able to access the supports and services that they need to live a good life, just like everyone else,” Mr Steele-John said.
“Disabled Australians who were over the age of 65 when the NDIS was first introduced back in 2013 have lived the last eight years – a time in their life when they should be afforded care and dignity above all else – without the extra support they need to be able to fully enjoy their retirement.
Read more: How to make big savings on home care
“Anyone could be involved in an accident that results in disability – it could be a parent or a friend – and, if they’re over the age of 65, they would be excluded from accessing supports through the NDIS. It’s discrimination.
“When they legislated the NDIS back in 2013, the Liberals deliberately amended the Age Discrimination Act to enable people over the age of 65 to be excluded from receiving support through the scheme.
“To discriminate against disabled people based on their age goes against the fundamental values upon which our NDIS was built, and the Morrison government should urgently scrap the age cap to ensure everyone has access to the supports and services they need to live a good life.”
A spokesperson for NDIS minister Linda Reynolds told The Age recently that the age requirement in the NDIS was based on a recommendation made by the Productivity Commission.
“The NDIS is a scheme designed to address the permanent, unmet needs of people with significant, non-age-related disabilities,” the spokesperson said.
“The NDIS was never intended to replace services already provided by the health or aged care systems.”
While stopping short of calling for the age cap to be removed, Labor NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten did call for greater support for those aged over 65.
“For all its problems, (the) NDIS is now a better system than aged care, so what we’re seeing is some horribly unfair situations occurring,” Mr Shorten told The Age.
“The timing of when you get your impairment shouldn’t lead to radically different outcomes, but it is. The solution has got to be greater support for people over 65.”
What do you think? Is the age cap on access to the NDIS discriminatory? Should it be open to all Australians? Would you be able to afford appropriate care if you were involved in an accident? How would you feel about relying on the aged care system for treatment? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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