Newcastle mum joins National Disability Assistance Scheme roundtable

FUNDING: Former Newcastle High student Deahnne McTackett with three-year-old son Rome says she is concerned about her next NDIS funding review.

FUNDING: Former Newcastle High student Deahnne McTackett with three-year-old son Rome says she is concerned about her next NDIS funding review.

Deahnne McTackett was born and grew up in Newcastle, completing her HSC at Newcastle High School before leaving home, studying at TAFE and working for a stint at Life Without Barriers.

The 37-year-old mum has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and requires 24-hour care. She is at serious risk of choking to death.

Ms McTackett is happy with her current National Disability Assistance Scheme (NDIS) plan, but fears what may happen when the plan is up for review in November.

“Applying [for NDIS funding] is a very complicated process and because I have had past experience with untrained planners I am dreading a tricky road ahead,” she said.

Ms McTackett was unable to attend a roundtable discussion hosted by Port Stephens MP and Acting Shadow Minister for Disability Services, Kate Washington, last Wednesday to discuss the impact of the NDIS and the privatisation of the government’s disability agency. 

Also present at the meeting were disability services organisations and NDIS participants from Newcastle including Robert Marks, founder of Edgeworth-based AbilityLiving – My Way and Thornton’s Caytlin Weir, who has cerebral palsy.

Both gave accounts of challenges and issues dealing with the NDIS application, complex needs and communication problems with planners.

Ms Washington said she organised the meeting following the NSW Parliament’s decision to conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry into the roll out of the NDIS and its impact on services. 

“The Inquiry has heard of the devastating impact of cuts to disability advocacy organisations, and shocking cases of people falling through the gaps,” she said.

“Concerns included: inadequate funding in NDIS plans for supports and services including technology, car and house modifications and assistance dogs; the lack of access to trained, experienced support workers; the lack of flexibility in plans; the lack of availability of local supports and services; and the lack of access to specialist disability accommodation.”

For service providers, Ms Washington said that the common concerns included the demand for services being outstripped by the capacity to provide them.

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