Meryl Swanson: Much to admire about the NDIS

Today the Mercury and our sister paper The Cessnock Advertiser have run separate stories of people whose experiences with the Nationality Disability Insurance Scheme have left them frustrated and disillusioned. These are people who are vulnerable and who clearly need help. Meryl Swanson has been  a huge supporter of the NDIS scheme and while she acknowledges some very obvious problems, she has no doubts it has so much to offer.  

People of the Hunter have the reputation of giving things a fair go.

We’re unafraid to be the first to have a crack at something new and when we have, we’ll give a warts-and-all feedback about our experiences.

This was the case when parts of the Hunter were announced as trial sites for the Federal Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme back in 2013.

The NDIS made a fabulous difference to the lives of many.  It gave people choices and greater control of their care.

We’re now further along the NDIS journey than many areas and, while we think the scheme has great merit and we embrace a bipartisan approach, there are problems yet to be ironed out.

That is why I leapt at the recent chance to host an information session for people in my electorate with a disability, their families and carers, and disability service providers.

My staff and I are committed to helping people in the electorate of Paterson navigate the NDIS and helping the decision-makers of the NDIS understand and improve policy and practice.

The session, conducted by the National Disability Insurance Agency at Club Maitland City, brought the administrators of the system face-to-face with those who deal with, and rely on it, every day.

I would like to think it was a valuable experience all round.

Paterson people spoke directly with people such as Chris Faulkner, the Naitional Disability Insurance Agency’s general manager of operations, and Tim Stork, who is the director of service delivery for the NDIA in NSW North.

This participant-focused research into the real experiences of people with a disability can only lead to better communication, improved policy and, most importantly, better outcomes in people’s individual circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all those who took part.