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Opinion Health Aged Care Disability

Opinion: Age discrimination and disability, silence is deafening

3 min read
Age discrimination

Discrimination has been a hot topic for some time now and rightly so, but most Australians would be surprised to know that Australian governments have made age discrimination lawful.

When the Gillard government introduced enabling legislation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013, it contained an amendment that banned anyone acquiring a disability at age 65 and over from accessing the scheme. This meant they were thrown into what has become the shambolic aged care system.

To make sure they got away with this they also amended the Aged Discrimination legislation to make their act, legal.

Subsequent Coalition governments have failed to rectify this situation saying that was a Labor decision, not ours or falsely claiming the decision to exclude people 65 or over was a recommendation of the Productivity Commission on whose recommendations the NDIS was based.

What the Productivity Commission also recommended was that people over 65 who became disabled should receive in aged care everything that would be available to them if they were in the NDIS via a separate National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) , to be funded by the states, which would cover people who had been catastrophically injured.

But that never happened and a vacuum formed called age discrimination.

So, for the last nine years many of our seniors have been discriminated against, have received minimal care and support and have been forced into financial difficulty.

In aged care, you would only get $52,000 a year while a new wheelchair on its own may cost $40,000. Disabled people in aged care get five times less support than people with comparable needs in the NDIS

William Peacock caught polio as a child and in later life developed quadriplegia as a result, but he’d just turned 65 when the NDIS came to his community and so he missed out because of discrimination and his postcode.

In December last year, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, visited Williams’s community and in his wheelchair, he was introduced to the PM and asked what he would do about this age discrimination?

Mr Morrison responded by saying two things and doing one.

He told Bill that he should talk to the party about that, then patted him on the head and said, “I’ll pray for you!”

“I was mortified, how condescending! I think as Prime Minister he could do more than just pray for me or grant me his grace. He could fix this for the thousands of our citizens who are victims of this discrimination.” said William Peacock.

The Royal Commission into Age Care and Quality saw the injustice in this situation and in Recommendation 72 advised that this discriminated cohort receive everything they should and would be entitled to if they were in the NDIS.

The Disability Doesn’t Discriminate Campaign has been trying make this legislated age discrimination an important issue in the Federal election campaign, so we wrote to every candidate asking them to respond to three simple questions:

Question 1. Do you support or oppose age discrimination? Question 2. Do you support implementation of recommendation 72 of the Aged Care Royal Commission? Question 3: If elected, will you prioritise this matter for your electorate?

The response was, frankly, appalling.

Most of the politicians from our two major parties didn’t bother responding at all, while those that did, simply avoided answering those three simple questions.

It’s only the been all our Independent Members of Parliament, Zali Stegall (Warringah), Dr Helen Haines (Indi), Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo) and Andrew Wilkie (Clark) and the Australian Greens who have had the integrity to stand up and say “no” to this age discrimination and undertake to prioritise this issue in the next Parliament.

Does this annoy you? Upset you? Do you think it should be fixed?

Well, there are two things you can do.

The first is to join the campaign to end this inequity and make a fairer Australia for all by signing the online petition at www.disabilitydoesntdiscriminate.com.au.

The second thing to do is to hold your federal member to account – ask them where they stand on ending age discrimination and demand they do better and don’t accept spin or silence as a response.

We need action, not prayers.


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1 Comment

  1. Anton Hutchinson April 29, 2022

    The only viable option is to wind up this extravagant and wasteful policy that has failed to deliver sustainable and appropriate care for under 65s.
    It’s time families applied themselves and stop expecting the taxpayer to meet your every whim. I feel for recipients and their families but this NDIS system was never designed or expected to be asked to deliver the services now seemed essential. It just can’t go on.


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