The second of the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) quarterly reports to the Council of Australian Governments on “Transition” to the full Scheme reveals that just over 2,000 people with a brain injury, out of a total of 61,000 participants, have an “approved plan”. This is an addition of 980 people with a brain injury, out of 23,500, in the last quarter of 2016.
“As encouraging as this may sound,” says Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia, “it doesn’t tell us anything about the participation rate of people with a brain injury compared to other people with a disability, or relative to their unmet need for specialist services and supports. If the NDIS is like other individualised funding schemes, both here and overseas, the uptake by people with a brain injury is going to be both low and late.”
Nick cites the example of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) – according to its website; the “Victorian Government-owned organisation set up to pay for treatment and benefits for people injured in transport accidents, promote road safety and improve Victoria’s trauma system”. Of the 2,500 clients eligible for its new Individualised Funding service, around 3 in every 4 have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the remainder mostly spinal cord injury. The TAC’s original target for the service was 200.
As of April, 2015, the service had attracted 31 clients, of which 71 per cent had spinal cord injury. “There’s bound to be an array of reasons for the, what, poor uptake by clients with a TBI,” says Nick. “But at least two of them are that, as I understand it, the ‘product offering’ was the same for both groups. The informational needs, at least, of the two groups are bound to be different. And, secondly, where the rubber meets the road in brain injury is in cognitive and behavioural disability. And those disabilities demand different and distinct acts of the imagination, abilities to ‘trade places’, than, say, spinal cord injury.”
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