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661 盼工黨政府能盡速改革NDIS

The Labor government should promptly reform NDIS

工黨上台只三週, 給公眾的印象不錯, 民調顯示阿爾巴尼斯當選後,支持率大增 40點。在宣誓就任總理後,阿爾巴尼斯立刻出訪日本與盟國首長會面,商討地區安全問題, 又出訪鄰近的友邦印尼, 其後又與新西蘭總理阿德恩會面,拉近與地區領袖的關係。外長黃英賢更馬不停蹄, 走訪南太洋多國, 穩住了中國在這地區的外交攻勢, 令澳洲人, 覺得暫時後院還算是安全的。

內政方面,政府還未公佈很多的改變, 不過在大選前工黨已明言要對國家殘疾保險計劃進行全面改革。前工黨領袖肖頓擔任部長的, 不到三週, 國家殘疾保險局已開始變天。總裁Martin Hoffman已向董事會請辭, 在三周後離職, 保險局董事會大多是精算師、財經及管理背景, 並沒有多少人與殘疾人仕服務扯上關係, 相信聯邦工黨政府會很快重組保險局, 由最上層改革這部門。

前聯盟黨政府認為通過讓殘疾人仕獲得資源, 來購買所需要的服務, 一切由巿場來決定,來推動這計劃。然而社會服務不是商品, 連接受服務者都未必明白自己的需要, 如何能判斷那些服務有多少價值呢。推行這計劃數年, 已有研究顯示參與者並未如所期望有更獨立和發展空間, 更出現有較高能力者, 竟然變得更倚頼人照顧。

而且, 原來政府強調財政監管, 卻欺騙保險局情況屢見不鮮, 而對服務投訴不絕, 明顯是推動者對這界別工作, 沒有實際經驗。只給錢而不投資去研發更優質的服務, 實際上令到提供給殘疾人仕的服務質素下降, 難怪這計劃的推行, 令各方面人仕怨聲載道。

肖頓因競選失利而下台, 把國家殘疾保險計劃整頓將成為他重新獲得黨員信任和支持的政績, 相信他必定全力以赴, 並且會極速進行。其中尤其要處理的是多元文化族裔社群, 佔接近45%澳洲人, 卻只佔計劃參加者的9.2%。 明顯地, 這計劃大程度地忽略了多元文化社區人仕。在去年保險局的周年報告中, 管理者推說在多元文化族裔社區的用戶, 並不少於其他社區, 因而認為是用者沒有申報自己的背景, 是極不負責任地開脫策劃上的失誤。

過往聯邦政府沒有積極在多元文化社區推廣這計劃, 盼望新政府能改弦易轍, 正視多元文化社區的需要。

周偉文 社長

The Labor government should promptly reform NDIS

The Labor government has been so far so good into power for three weeks. The Essential poll indicates a net increase of support for 40%. Albanese sworn in as PM on Monday and was right in a visit to Japan for a QUAD meeting on regional security, followed by a visit to our neighbour Indonesia, then a catchup with our closest national leader Jacinda Ardern of NZ. Foreign Minister Penny Wong has been dedicating in her visits to several South Pacific island nations counteracting China’s foreign strategy, to make sure we have a safe backyard.

There has been not much change on internal policies still, yet they have an election promise on the reformation of NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). The Scheme was in chaos when the former Labor leader Shorten became the NDIS minister for just a few weeks. CEO Martin Hoffman resigned to the Board and left in three weeks. Many of the board members came from actuary, financial and management background, they lacked the association to serve people with disabilities. The Labor government is likely to restructure the NDIS starting from the top.

The former Coalition government believed giving subsidy to people with disabilities could allow them acquiring their needs through the free market. But if the clients are not sure of what are available to meet their needs, they are unable to weigh between options of social services in the market. After a few years under the Scheme it appears that people in need might not get the independence and improvement as expected, while those with better ability could become more dependent.

The intended financial monitoring was not adequate, resulting in numerous frauds, while frequent complaints on services indicated that people in charge were not cut for the job. By only giving out money without developing more quality services could only lead to deterioration of the service and a failure of the Scheme.

Shorten came down from losing the election before. As the serving minister on NDIS, he would certainly and promptly do his best for an outcome to revive his reputation in the Party. More importantly is to take care of the multicultural communities as obviously they were being neglected by the Scheme, given they represent almost 45% of the population but only 9.2% of the Scheme’s participants. In last NDIS’s annual report, the management made a very irresponsible excuse saying that their low participation was misrepresented due to their non-disclosure of personal information.

In the past the Federal government made little effort to promote this service in multicultural communities, we hope the new government will bring a sea change on this.

Mr. Raymond Chow, Publisher