When the perfect gift is an insurance scheme

When the perfect gift is an insurance scheme

This Christmas, there will be someone probably not far from you who will have something special on their list to Santa.

It’s battery powered, comes with a joystick and flashing lights, makes all the right noises and is bound to bring a smile to the new owner’s face.

But unlike what you probably think it is, this one could change someone’s life dramatically.

It’s a motorised wheelchair for someone who, last Christmas, was standing on their own feet and whose wants didn’t go much past what’s likely to be on yours this year.

Quite possibly they were doing something pretty ordinary: cleaning the gutters at home when they slipped and fell three metres to the ground, life never to be the same.

There’s medical bills to pay, a carer to help them get in and out of bed and go to the toilet. If they want to work they’ll need a carer for 30 hours a week.

Their family may have had to quit their own jobs to look after them. And there’s that desperately-needed wheelchair.

Government provides some assistance, but it falls well short of what they really need. It’s a horrific situation, but one that thousands of Australians are faced with each year.

Fortunately, for people with disabilities and those that care for them there was an early Christmas present this year: A National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The scheme provides a safety net to protect all Australians should they be born with or acquire a disability, providing the choice and resources for people with disabilities to decide how they want to live their lives and the support they need to achieve their goals.

Funded by all taxpayers through general revenue or a Medicare-type levy, it would provide funding for essential care, support, services, therapy, aids, equipment and training.

The Federal Government has committed itself to bringing such a scheme and MPs on all sides of politics have thrown their support behind it but we still have a long way to go.

Over 90,000 people have now joined the Every Australian Counts campaign but the need remains strong for every Australian to stand up and say, “People with a disability, their families and carers in this country deserve better and it’s time for a change” — especially as the economy tightens and the tussle to fund all worthy causes becomes greater.

If we can reach our goal of 100,000 registered supporters by 2012 we will be in a strong position to ensure the NDIS will become a reality.

We need your support that that of your family, friends and colleagues so please visit the website and register your details.

UnitingCare Australia is actively supporting the campaign and will be active throughout 2012 to keep the pressure on Government to implement the scheme, and keeping everyone informed through their local UnitingCare agencies.

We are also planning to build a network of “champions” who will help us to keep the momentum and good work going and make sure that the scheme that is eventually introduced will do justice to the needs and expectations of people with disabilities.

If you’re passionate about the needs of people with disabilities and want to be one of the champions, then we welcome you to contact Eddie Chapman, who is working with UnitingCare Australia on this campaign and will be happy to keep you informed and supported in how you can really make a difference.

With your support, we can make sure that the Christmas wishes of people with disabilities really can come true.

Eddie Chapman is Principal Policy & Research Officer, UnitingCare Community Options.

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