Let’s get this out of the way: I am very self-involved. You may not
think it because I love talking to people and asking them questions
about their private lives. I’m not a gossip; I just like hearing
people’s stories. So, with this in mind, you may come to the conclusion
that I think about others before I think about myself. However, I am
very focused on my life and how to keep myself safe and happy. And
honestly, one of the reasons why I started this blog was to get some
I must admit, since I started working within the disability sector, I
have seen how tough it can be for people to get by day to day. By
working with my clients, I have started to look beyond myself and have
tried to help them achieve either small tasks or huge life changing
goals. One huge issue amongst people with disabilities is the lack of
resources and services and it’s not because the resources and services
aren’t available, it’s because most of our clients lack the money to
purchase these things.
Currently, people can apply for a Disability Support Pension (DSP)
through Centrelink, which provides people with an “income” once a
fortnight or once a week if they request it. It also provides cheaper
costs on medication, cheaper tickets to concerts, movies, etc and half
price cab fares. However, in the mid 1990s to early 2000s, people were
allowed to work up to 60 hours a fortnight but within the last five
years, people are only allowed to work 30 hrs a fortnight. So people who
applied for the DSP and received it before the change are still allowed
to work 60 hours, but those who applied recently can’t. Also, the money
received through the DSP gets reduced if you work. But if you work, or
volunteer, you are allowed to receive a mobility allowance to pay for
A little confusing, right? Well, try and stay focused a little longer
because there’s more to come.
The Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) has this funding
package called the Disability Support Registry (DSR) where people can
apply for a set amount of money per year which will help pay for carer
support, physio, occupational therapy, supported accommodation and a few
other select things. However, it doesn’t mean you get it automatically –
no siree. You have to apply for the funding and before you do that you
have to apply to get onto the registry. There is a criteria you have to
fulfill before they accept you and that’s no easy feat. You have to get
proof that you have a disability and support from one of your doctors to
That’s fair enough; however once you have been classified as having a disability, you have to apply for the DSR. This is where the problems start. That process can take a while. Sometimes you have to fill the form out more than once. You can’t include reference letters or certificate, all the information has to be within the form. Then DHS
may send it back to you asking more questions, questions you may have
already answered, but they have rephrased. This process could take a
couple of months or longer.
When you have been put onto the DSR that doesn’t mean you get the
funding straight away, no. You are put onto a list with a whole lot of
other people who have applied and you have to wait for someone to say
that they don’t need the funding and stop receiving it or for someone to
die. Sorry for being blunt, but that’s how it works. Once you receive
the package, it gets reviewed once a year and there’s no certainty that
the money will stay the same.
Of course there are smaller packages you can apply for and they are
helpful, but they only cover carer support, not services like physio.
These are easier to apply for, but the amount of money is a lot smaller
than the DSR, so people will have to fork out their own money to pay for
rehab. Also, sometimes you have to pay a little extra to cover the carer
costs because the package doesn’t cover it all.
So, there you have it. This is what people with disabilities have to go
through to receive financial support at the moment. Some of you may have
heard of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme which came
about through a government funded study in 2009 called Shut Out: The
Experience of People with Disabilities and their Families inAustralia.
I intend to inform you all as to what the NDIS involves and covers, and will do so when the dust settles a bit (it is currently under review).
The aim of this piece is to give you all a picture as to what people
with a disability have to do, have to prove, in order to get the support
they need to live their lives. And I think you all have gathered how
frustrating and time consuming the process can be. Reading through what
I’ve just written leaves me with one question:
What happens to the people who are waiting to receive the funding?
I would love to hear your stories and experiences, so please feel free to share them. Let’s open the gate to a heated debate!