Friday, 26 August 2011

'I'm Not Skeptical....You Just Need A Minor Miracle'

A few quick notes on the ALP Central Policy Forum I attended on the NDIS last night in Brisbane.

The main speaker was the self serving, clueless and arrogant David Barbagallo, CEO of Endeavour Queensland. He gave an almost identical presentation to the one I saw earlier this year, which was once again heavy on theoretical frameworks and economics, but yet again did not highlight any practical policy solutions.

So as of course is my custom I questioned him thoroughly: My concerns included, but were not limited to:
  1. ‘The NDIS is full of garbage.’
  2. If there actually were a scheme, the government is not actually doing anything about it. All they said is 'we agree with the report' That's like saying 'we know there is pollution, but we're not doing anything about it because it costs too much.' Can you imagine the Greens if that happened? And yet everyone is celebrating because the Government finally decided that disability services is under funded and under resourced. Tell me something I don't know!
  3. There's not a clearly defined criteria of who's eligible. Should ADD be included? Or those with genetic heart conditions who are not classified as 'disabled' but require lifelong medical care? It does not say. Nor does it say who determines eligibility.
  4. The process for acquiring funding (the one I'm going through now to try and move to Brisbane) does not change. Its the same process with a different name under a different body. All that changes is the funds are supposedly 'transferrable'. And yet Federal funding is handed to the States like it is now. So the process of 'transferring' funds is left unexplained.
  5. Disability Services need to be nationalized, as I explained in my submission to the Productivity Commission.
  6. I'm most concerned about the role of service provider organisations who are pushing this so hard, but are ignoring all of the above. If the report is any indication there are so many loopholes they can exploit, hence their excitement.
  7. This is because the report is so lax about the actual implementation of the scheme that there are no actual definitive guidelines on how its meant to be done. Sure the government has referred it to committee members (not one of whom has a disability) but there is no terms of reference to make these motherhood statements a reality. If it does take 7 years that is fine. But how was this time line established? Are their intermediate targets?
Of course none of my concerns were addressed directly. Instead there were accusations that I was some sort of policy zealot who wishes to rush the policy process (I don’t). Additionally, my concerns that all this information has been addressed before, with no policy ever coming to fruition were met with more skepticism. ‘This is the first time we’ve had a Productivity Commission Inquiry. Whoopdie fucking do!

The Queensland Minister for Disability Services, Curtis Pitt was equally hopeless. I’m sure he had a sore posterior because there appeared to be splinters on it from sitting on the fence for the whole night.

After the formal meeting was over David came up to me and chatted in his customary condescending tone. ‘It’s healthy to have skepticism’ to which I replied ‘I don’t have skepticism because I know that this policy will not work. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it ever does.’

It will take several miracles, a good kick up the arse, and several more looks of derision and scorn directed my way by the Queensland Co-ordinator of the utterly hapless Every Australian Counts before that happens.

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