Let me start this by saying that I have a disability parking sticker from the government in recognition of my spinal injury. I got golden staff, MRSA for foreigners, and an epidural abscess thereby. A couple of harrowing months later I was back on the street, again hustling, but with privileged parking access.
Some time in an earlier life, I was patron of an intellectually disabled association. I am not without sympathy for some disability reform proposal.
On the other hand, if you add three of the great Rudd/Gillard reforms together – NDIS at $22 billion for 2018, Gonski school program at say $7 billion for 2018 and the National Broadband Network at say $10 billion year for a decade – you get the intractable national budget deficit, projected, for 2019 at about $25 billion (no laughter invited here).
You can read the benefits of all three reforms on government circulars, repeated to you by friendly reporters. But everyone knows, especially at year’s end, that school results, themselves declining, go to the leafy and the private regions. Again. And still.
The same people also know that the NBN is a pain when, if, it arrives near you, disrupts traffic, phone and internet, and then moves on to terrorise the next suburb with something you, and they, didn’t want and resent being forced to pay for.
What they don’t know, yet, is what the NDIS, whatever it’s now renamed, can do for you.
It bought a house near me for about half a mil a few years ago and spent a year or so and I’d guess $100,000 gutting and rebuilding it. No one was notified about this. My local councillor will not tell me whether planning approval was sought, given or locally canvassed. He has stopped replying to correspondence.
The street, then, had acquired a nursing home and effectively ceased to be residential only. A young guy was installed and with him came a rolling program of carers. There seemed to be several of them at all times, working shifts and parking fairly randomly on and off street.
The main guy, who was intellectually disabled in some way, screamed very loudly and regularly, especially early in the morning. He also escaped periodically and knocked on doors and windows day and night. He terrorized the local female residents.
His carers took him for walkies, usually in pairs, and warned neighbours he would kill dogs if he could catch them. Children stayed inside. Young adults moved away.
This went on for several, possibly six months, the local councillor still refusing to even respond to requests for information. Both local MPs are mates of Gillard and issue the glossy brochures earlier mentioned. Eventually a guy from NDIS canvassed the neighbours, who told him what I have just reported. In much less polite terms.
Just before Christmas, after the guy had (apparently again) attacked his carers, the police came, sedated him and took him off somewhere. Neighbours were assured a nicer type of person would be installed.
This is a disgrace all round. People wait months to get permission to change a pergola setting but are ignored when a street is effectively converted to commercial without canvassing local views. People were then endangered by the installation of a person who was borderline – in 2016 anyway, earlier no question – criminally insane.
And of course they are themselves paying for the very scheme that has spent about a million dollars wrecking their lives for half a year or so.
With the promise of more to come.
Bob Catley, who was a professor and federal Labor MP, now sails quite a lot.