Monday, 29 September 2008

Does the right hand even know that the left hand exists?

It is my view that many of the problems facing the disability sector in Queensland - messy service delivery, too many sources of funding, too few funding packages availble for intensive support, a nightmarish collection of sources of assistance which lead families to breakdown point just trying to navigate them all - could be removed or rendered harmless very simply and very quickly.

Here's how:

The right hand and the left hand have to talk to each other.

Example: Housing Queensland and Disability Services Queensland are starting an initiative called 'Housing with Shared Supports' which basically means that two or three adults with disabilities share a state-owned house, and they each get a small amount of support from DSQ which, being shared, means more for reach. All good? Well, although the feedback we're getting from Housing is "This is only one option", and they have lots of forms which require everyone involved to get along, and make it easy for existing residents to veto proposed residents, and they seem to have a handle on the fact that it can actually be really hard to find three complete strangers who can live together peacefully, the feedback we're getting from families is that DSQ is saying "It's this or nothing, so deal with it."

Example: Centrelink have recently introduced a "Special Disability Trust" which enables people with a disability to have a huge (half a million and growing with indexation) trust fund in their name without affecting their pension, and people on a pension to make large contributions without affecting their pension under gifting rules (although were they got the large amounts of money to contribute, I'm not sure - this isn't very useful, it's just there). Except that these large amounts far exceed the liquid assets limit set by Housing, and said person with said disability can find themselves evicted for being too well off, have to spend their savings on renting instead of support services, go broke and reapply to Housing as a crisis situation.

Ever tried to get meaningful mental health support for someone with a different category of disability? Health need to talk to DSQ.

I could go on.

It's really sad when parallel government departments, who each receive money from the same source, can't even exchange memos.

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