What does the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) mean for a person with disability from a human rights perspective? If you know your rights and have access to good information, you are in a much better position to articulate what you need – not what someone else tells you what you need.
Know your rights
Australia has ratified the Convention on the Rights Persons with Disabilities (2006) (CRPD) which, under international law, means all State governments now accept three levels of obligation in relation to the realisation of human rights:
-We must respect human rights
-We must protect human rights
-We must fulfil human rights
General Principles of the CRPD
(a) Respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including freedom, to make one’s own choices and independence of persons;
(c) Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
(d) Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
(e) Equality of opportunity;
(g) Equality between men and women
(h) Respect for the evolving capacity of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
What do these principles mean? In a broad sense, the following gives an indication of a good outcome:
People with disability are:
-Living in the community with choices equal to others.
-Able to choose their place of residence on an equal basis with others.
-Not obliged to live in any particular living arrangement.
-Able to access a range of in-home, residential and other community support services necessary to support living and inclusion in the community and to prevent isolation and segregation from the community.
-Able to access community services and facilities for the general population on an equal basis with others and are responsive to their needs.(adapted from Human Rights Indicators for People with Disabilities. Phillip French for Queensland Advocacy Inc).
It is clear from the principles of the CRPD that many systems in our society have violated these rights: for example, the right for a person with disability to:
-Appropriate, adequate support when needed – not having to rely on “winning the lotto”.
-To live where they wish and with whom they wish.
-The right to choose their own workers, the right to make their own decisions and be in control of their own lives.
-The right to participate in their communities and enjoy the same amenities as other citizens.
-Hopefully, these fundamental human rights will be fulfilled under the NDIS.
The NDIS is being rolled out now in parts of Queensland: this is the time to be pro-active and be ready to present to the NDIS planner what you or your son’s/daughter’s vision/aspiration is for their life and what supports are needed to enable this to happen. It is really important that you speak up to ensure that the NDIS is going to meet your needs when it is fully rolled out and to ensure that there is not more of the ‘same old, same old’. This is the window of opportunity and we must seize it. How do we do this?
Here are some suggestions:
-Begin planning around the needs of your son/daughter. This could be based on the general principles of the CRPD (Article 3) which includes respect for inherent dignity, the freedom to make one’s own choices, independence and full and effective participation and inclusion in society. Once you get a clear idea of what constitutes a good life for your son/daughter, then it is much easier to ensure that these elements will be included in the plan.
-Begin the process of planning for a future where your son/daughter has security of tenure and is able to call where he/she lives their ‘home’. Clear safeguards/guidelines need to be developed so that people’s rights are protected.
-Uphold the natural authority and right of people with disabilities and their families to influence the direction of their lives.
-Any plan that is developed should be in conjunction with the person with disability and meet the person’s needs, wishes and aspirations and be open to review and change over time.
-Begin training of staff on the rights set out in the CRPD so that the assistance they provide aligns with those rights.
Past history and the current lived experience of people with disability and their families would show that the natural authority of families has been taken over by government and service providers. All Australian governments have a very serious obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of people with disability. Restoring the natural authority of families is a challenge for all stakeholders involved. However, the status quo cannot be maintained. We must all rise to this challenge.