As of 1 March 2020, people receiving support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are once again able to pay for transport using their core support funding.
This is a significant decision for many people, including Canberra resident Paul who accesses NDIS services through Woden Community Service (WCS).
Paul is in his 50s and loves listening to music and playing guitar, doing art projects and taking photographs.
Paul also lives alone and struggles with severe mental illness.
Accessing transport with his support workers is crucial for Paul. Without this support, Paul is unable to leave his home and gets stuck inside his house – and his head, which is not always the happiest place for him to be.
“Today I went to the Botanical Gardens with my support worker, Hope,” said Paul.
“We had two hours together walking around and I was taking photos of the trees and the birds. I take photos at the lakes in Belconnen, photos of all the new buildings in Belconnen, of the changing seasons at the nursery in Yarralumla, photos from around Black Mountain and I have even gone to Cockington Green to take photos.
“Sometimes, Hope brings her guitar and we play music together. My brother gave me an effect pedal for my guitar and at Christmas he gave me an Ibanez electric guitar,” Paul said.
He’s developed considerably since then, especially when another WCS worker brought Paul a chord chart and a book of scales
Unfortunately, the pick-up on his guitar has stopped working, but that’s given Paul another excursion with Hope.
“Next week, Hope is going to take me to the music shop so I can get my guitar fixed.”
Each month, WCS expends about $10,000 on mileage, which is funded through the individual NDIS plans of the 160 people that WCS provides NDIS services to, explains Leanne Heald, WCS Manager of NDIS Services.
“Without access to the core funding support, many of the people we support faced a loss of services and a serious decline in the quality of their lives,” said Ms Heald.
“We welcome the decision by the federal government to start the process of reinstating transport funds,” said Ms Heald. “This is a step in the right direction and we look forward to further progress in this area.”
The decision also means that WCS and other providers will also be able to claim some of their vehicle running costs when transporting an NDIS participant.
“Paul can now be assured of receiving the support he needs so that he is not socially isolated and can maintain his general health by being active in the community,” said Leanne.
That includes support workers like Minh taking Paul to the shops in Charnwood on Thursday to do his shopping.
“In the car, we talk about photo shooting. We talk about music, my brother’s band in Sydney and the things he does,” he said.
“It is good to go out and get out of the house,” said Paul.
COVID-19 UPDATE: WCS is continuing to offer support to NDIS participants at this time. WCS is working to make sure it can continue to support people in a one-on-one capacity wherever possible. WCS has ceased all group activities given the vulnerability of our client groups.
WCS is committed to building stronger communities and creating connections for people who may not be well connected and are seeking purposeful and valued roles in our community. WCS does this by working with people, organisations and government. To learn more, visit Woden Community Services.