The Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) is calling on the Federal Government to rethink how older Australians will be cared for given the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) excludes people who acquire a disability at the age of 65 and over.
MDFA CEO, Julie Heraghty said, “If you acquire a disability, such as legal blindness from macular degeneration (MD) after the age of 65 years, you are presently excluded from the support of the NDIS and expected to be catered for in the aged care system. Aged care is not powered to care for those with a disability of blindness or serious vision loss, even under the present aged care reform.”
For the estimated 167,000 people who have late age-related MD and experience serious vision impairment or blindness, virtually all are aged over 65i and therefore will be excluded from the NDIS. “The Government needs to extend the NDIS to include people aged 65 years and over or find another solution very quickly before the NDIS and aged care reform travels so far that over 65 year olds are locked out,” said Heraghty.
“Letting people fall through the cracks of two Government reform agendas based on an arbitrary pension age cut off is just unfair and unjust. There is no interface and no mechanism between disability and aged care reform for rehabilitation, training and equipment for those diagnosed after 65,” said Heraghty.
What is alarming is that Australians are unaware of the over 65 year old exclusion. A national survey conducted by the MDFA reveals that only three per cent of all Australians know that the National Disability Insurance Scheme exclusion starts at age 65 years.
“This is a debate that needs to happen quickly to ensure that a solution for this important group of our community is identified. We need to map the need, ensure it can be met and identify the best pathway for servicing without duplication.
“The Government has an obligation to accommodate older Australians who go blind. The older you get, the harder it gets, and we can’t let this group suffer in silence,” said Heraghty.
MDFA will present their concerns to a Senate Committee Enquiry on 4-5th March 2013 in Canberra.
Posted: 15 February 2013