WA Deafness Council
Hearing Awareness Week Q&A Session
Wednesday, 23 August 2017
About This Document
This document contains a draft transcript only.
This draft transcript has been taken directly from the text of live captioning provided by The Captioning Studio and, as such, it may contain errors.
The transcript may also contain ‘inaudibles’ if there were occasions when audio quality was compromised during the event.
The Captioning Studio accepts no liability for any event or action resulting from this draft transcript.
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BARRY MACKINNON: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Right at the outset can I acknowledge the traditional owners of the country throughout Australia and here, particularly in Western Australia and recognise their continuing connection to the land and to elders both past and present.
Thanks very much for coming this morning. If you have a mobile phone, one in your pocket, you better turn it off or put it on silent, please. I'm going to turn mine off straight away. Thank you. And in terms of today, the purpose of our event is to focus attention on the NDIS and how it affects hearing‑impaired people and from the point of view of the Deafness Council, some of the messages that come out of today, we will be following it up with the relevant ministers or authorities to ensure that they understand the concerns that are being expressed in this area and to try to get them corrected.
The moderator today, we're very fortunate to have, is Geof Parry. The slim, good‑looking man in the middle. When Geof started in journalism, Mr Court was Premier of WA. Hotel California by the Eagles was a number one hit. He spent eight years as a political and trade union reporter and covered the first rebel cricket tour of South Africa. In 1987 Geof moved to Channel 7 as chief of staff and has clocked up 30 years with Seven News this year.
Geof's covered State and federal politics for the Seven Network. He's spent 7.5 years in the Canberra bureau and covering long‑term assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Somalia and the Balkans. He covered several trips to North America, Europe and Asia by PM John Howard and has nominated the highlight of his career on reporting of the release from 27 years in prison of Nelson Mandela.
These days Geof still covers State politics and everything else they throw at him, including the hardest job of all that he's ever had and that is having to sit next to and listen to... every day. Geof is also importantly the father of two daughters, one who has a profound hearing loss. Please welcome our moderator Geof Parry.
GEOF PARRY: Thanks very much, Barry. Barry was in politics and I've been reporting on politics for a long time but we also have the shared interest, if you like of adult children now, an adult child now who both have a hearing loss. I'm not an expert on the NDIS but I've followed loosely the implementation of it, mostly in relation to the separation of the national scheme and the West Australian programs and with the WA ‑ this is the big thing to be decided whether WA plans to try to save a big chunk of money by kicking the WA scheme in with the national scheme.
Our panellists today certainly have a much better grasp than I do of the NDIS and I'm sure they will be much better able to answer completely and with greater knowledge than I how this scheme works and is supposed to work. So can I just introduce, we've got five panellists and our first panellist on my left is Jo Pelham. And Jo's hard of hearing. She's been in WA for two years now, previously from Melbourne. She works at the WA Deaf Society as the Engagements and Support Services Team Leader. Jo's worked in the sector for 20 years starting out as a volunteer and with interchange in their recreation programs with children and she's worked her way up through that program. Would you please welcome Jo Pelham.
Our next panellist is Debbie Karasinski. Debbie has been the chief executive officer of Disability Service Organisations for 24 years. She started at the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She started out as an occupational therapist and was the chief occupational therapist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. She's been on the Taxi Industry Board, the National Disability Services Board, the Noongar Boodja Trustee selection and the Premier's Partnership forum. Please welcome Debbie.
Paul Higginbotham is now the CEO of the Ear Bus Foundation of WA. Paul was a career teacher of the deaf and spent a decade overseas learning ESL, or getting ESL experience. For 15 years Paul was principal and CEO of the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre for Deaf Children. A WA special needs advisory committee. He's a member of the WA Deafness Council Executive committee and a foundation member of the WA Newborn Hearing Screening Committee and is one of the driving forces behind Ear Bus Foundation. Please welcome Paul.
Helen Nys is to my right. Chief executive, no, let me go further. Helen's the director of policy and planning disability services in the Department of Communities where she is responsible for the development of the WA DNIS operational policies. You can see we're well covered when it comes to knowledge of the NDIS. Helen has oversight of the development of information, linkages and capacity building component of the NDIS in WA. She's a former director of local area coordination at Disability Services. She's a parent of 3 children, one who is hearing‑impaired and has an intellectual disability and is passionate about the inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly children in mainstream schooling. Please a big warm welcome for Helen Nys.
And Kirsten White from Australian Hearing is our 5th panellist. Kirsten joined Australian Hearing in 2010 and took up the Perth area manager position in 2011. She manages the East Perth Paediatric Specialist Centre and the Padbury Paediatric Centre on‑site with the School of Special Educational Needs and Kirsten also oversees the delivery of Australian Hearings audiology services to remote regions of WA. You must cover some ground.
KIRSTEN WHITE: Definitely.
GEOF PARRY: Please give a round of applause.
For this bit I'm going to sit. This is the question period. The questions have been submitted and you will all get the chance to hopefully ask your questions. In order to sort of perhaps for our first question, which is a fairly general question, I'm going to ask each of our panellists to address it because as I said, it is a fairly general question and it gives us a chance to hear from our panellists straight off. Our first question is from Peter Howse.
SPEAKER: What is your major concern of the NDIS as it affects Deaf and hearing‑impaired people?
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, do you want to start?
KIRSTEN WHITE: Sure. I think at this stage the biggest concern is just that it's the unknown. We're not sure about the policies that will be introduced and with the transition of the hearing services program, it's still the unknown. So for Australian Hearing that's the biggest concern, we think, for families and clients, who is going to manage the CSO, what is it going to look like and it's a big job. So we're waiting to see the outcomes of the PricewaterhouseCoopers review into that and communicating with our clients how best to move forward with any changes that come about.
GEOF PARRY: Helen.
HELEN NYS: I suppose the first thing I would say is overall the NDIS is a fantastic opportunity. It certainly does provide access to funding, so that people can access supports and equipment they might not have been able to before. So I think it's a great leveller and a great provider of the supports that people might need. My concerns would be, I think, primarily one of them is that many people with disability ‑ many people who are deaf wouldn't view themselves as having a disability so they won't be connected widely with disability services and supports. So I think there's a big issue getting information out to people saying this is something that could help you and benefit you. And then my third one is that many of the existing systems we have work quite well. Australian Hearing would be one, for example, also I think the telephone interpreter services and the access to interpreter services. So as those, what are described as block‑funded contracts, under an NDIS intention is everybody has individual funding to purchase what they need and I think we have to be very careful that as we transition from block‑funded contracts, that we still maintain quality because in remote parts of Australia, people need to be able to access quality services that wouldn't necessarily be financially viable if they're just delivered on a person‑by‑person basis.
GEOF PARRY: Paul Higginbotham.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: I agree with Helen that the NDIS is unquestionably a national good but it's in my view, for deaf people, not an unqualified national good. In particular, in Western Australia, when I became CEO of Telethon Speech and Hearing I had a simple vision and that is I thought we had an opportunity to make Perth the best place in world to be born deaf. We had a unique combination of things like cochlear implants, Australian Hearing offering free hearing aids and world‑class therapy services. We had a very streamlined, efficient diagnosis process. Essentially we had two main providers of early intervention services. We had Australian Hearing for diagnostic and assistive device fitting and we had a very good relationship in keeping kids in the pathway.
I think the structures that are going in around NDIS are potentially going to slow that down. For those who are on the oral language side of the deaf spectrum, we know from research that the early diagnosis before six months of age is absolutely critical to normalising outcomes. So there is actually a clock that's ticking on the diagnostic and referral space into early intervention and I think NDIS has a lot of work to do in that space to make sure we don't lose those hard‑won games.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: I want to correct one thing you said before, Geof, if I can, I have never been on the NDIS board. I have been on the NDS board, National Disability Services, it's the peak body for disability organisations across Australia and it's been actually fighting and arguing with the NDIS around better outcomes for people with disability. And I'm the chief executive officer of Senses Australia which is a generic service provider but also provides services to people who are deaf/bind. So my comments are principally related to deaf/blindness.
In terms of major concern, the single biggest major concern I have in relation to the NDIS, if we go, and I think we will, but if we go to the national scheme rather than a West Australian‑governed scheme, is that in all the years I've worked in disability and health before that, I have never seen a federal scheme that has better outcomes for people in Western Australia. We are simply not considered way over here and the decisions that are made are very eastern State centric. If you try to ring the NDIA now, you are talking, you know, to counter something or discuss something or look at a difficulty, you will really have difficulty tracking somebody down in Geelong and that is the scheme that we are going to be faced with, which is, I think, people with disability in Western Australia will be significantly disadvantaged because of the distance.
Specifically, my concerns in relation to people who are deaf/blind is the lack of understanding of the needs of people who are deaf/blind by the local coordinators, whether it's the Western Australian model or the Australian model. An absolute lack of understanding of deaf/blindness and a lack of understanding of the experiences of people who are deaf/blind and the prescriptiveness of both of the schemes, I know Helen talked before about individualised funding and yes, that's great, but it's not individualised funding. It is really funding in a box that, you know, you will get 10 hours for this or 10 hours for that and when you look at enough plans, you see that it's actually not been individualised for an individual and we've spent many, many years talking about the fact that people with disability are very individual, each individual one person is different. And both of the West Australian scheme and the national seem actually put people in boxes.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: This is more six sizes fit all.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: That's exactly right. That's my concern.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: You mentioned, and this is one of the issues that was used to support a Western Australian scheme and that is there are difficulties in say ringing a place in Geelong. Can you explain why is there a difference between ringing the Geelong call centre, if you like, from Perth, as opposed to ringing it from Townsville?
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Well, forget Townsville, I'm interested in Western Australia, with all due respect.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: But in terms of ‑ they're on the same phone line, so to speak.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: The really important thing, in Western Australia if you've got a problem as an individual person with a disability or a service provider, you can literally go and knock on the door of a minister. You can go and give them a hard time. You can go and talk to a Director‑General, you can face somebody straight away and talk to somebody. You can hold a minister in Western Australia to account for the funding and how it's being spent. The opportunity and the possibility to hold a Commonwealth Government to account for an individual person in Western Australia with a disability is cactus. We will not have it.
GEOF PARRY: Jo.
JO PELHAM: I agree with Helen when it comes to the lack of understanding for Deaf people, hard of hearing, deaf/blind as well from both WA NDIS and NDIS around what to put in their plans and their lack of understanding that the Deaf community have in understanding what is the NDIS. So we have to work to explain to them. A lot of people out there are I don't have a disability and not understand the NDIS is there to help you with things like interpreting and support. And like I said, the lack of support from the planners or understanding from the planners to actually understand why Deaf people need interpreting and more interpreting hours to increase equal access. The NDIS is about equal access and getting people with disabilities into the community, and interpreting is one of the ways for people to feel equal in the community. It's more about understanding and the lack of from both parties.
GEOF PARRY: Thanks, Jo.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Geof, can I follow up on something Helen said about people in remote regions as well. I think there's a challenge always in these schemes, also, for Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait Islander Australians, they generally, these schemes are designed, people like us, that can make systems work. They're essentially white fella systems, if you like. Aboriginal people struggle with mainstream health services so we now have an AMS service in most country towns and cities and they get designed from the view of the majority but there's a very significant need in minorities in Australia, I think Aboriginal people are most significant and we can't push it aside and say we'll get to it later. It has to be built into the DNA of the scheme.
GEOF PARRY: Would you agree with that, Helen?
HELEN NYS: I would absolutely agree with that. One of the funding components of the NDIS is something called information linkages and capacity and that's funding that's not linked to an individual person but it is funding for persons, resources, events, which support people's ability to engage with the NDIS, to access services but also people's ability to access the community and live the lives they want and certainly some of the grants we've given out in that space, we've just given some specific grants around information and planning for Aboriginal people. We're looking to give some more but actually looking for the right partner because you're right, I think the majority of people who have been operating in this space probably come from a pretty Perth‑centric model and we've also given some grants to WA Deaf amongst other organisations around information for the Deaf community. So it's work in progress, there is a lot of work to be done.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Can I add to that, Geof, Aboriginal people absolutely but also people non‑English speaking because one of the things NDIS will not fund is interpreting ‑ is foreign language interpreting because it's seen as not part of disability. Now on the one hand you might say well that's perfectly reasonable but a person with a disability who is also not speaking English language is more disadvantaged than a person without the disability who is not speaking English and there needs to be some consideration as there was with the old disability services scheme that there would be some funding around interpreting for that person who is not speaking English.
GEOF PARRY: Our next question is from Barney Clarkson.
SPEAKER: Good morning, I'm Barney Clarkson from Better Hearing Australia. There is a large group of people called hearing‑impaired, a growing group. As we get older there are supposedly health consequences as people lose their hearing, their mental health can also deteriorate. As a group, I'm wondering are there going to be winners or losers from what we know of the NDIS?
GEOF PARRY: Who would like to pick that up? Helen?
HELEN NYS: I can make a start. I think you're right, that group clearly exists and I wouldn't disagree with you. I think the scheme would view that group being supported in two ways. Again, it's that band of funding around information, linkages and capacity and the supports and services that are funded through ILC are for all Australians, you do not have to be NDIS eligible in order to access ILC funding and programs, and in fact, in the construct of the scheme, the Productivity Commission in designing it, I think their intent was partly by having a strong ILC program that people would not need to access the NDIS because they would get supports and services that are needed through mainstream services. I think it's also fair to say in their recent review the Productivity Commission recognised that in their view, the funding for ILC had not been sufficient to do that.
Secondly to that, I think the eligibility for the NDIS is not on the basis of your diagnosis but it is on the basis of the impairment and I think that's something that we need to keep on talking to people. So just because somebody has diagnosis of cerebral palsy, for example, that doesn't automatically make them eligible. The conversation is how does this disability impact you on a day‑to‑day basis and what supports do you need. It may become a point where it impacts more. There needs to be an ongoing communication. It's not a yes or no decision at a point in time. As life changes people's eligibility might change.
GEOF PARRY: Anyone else want to chip in?
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: In relation to that, I thought you were going to mention the issue of eligibility is the age. If the person has not entered the scheme before they turn 65 as a result of their disability, then after 65 they're not eligible for services from NDIS. But the second thing I was going to say is I was quite interested when I was looking at some of the discussion around what today was going to be about, was people asking questions of whether cochlear implants were going to be covered and Baha was going to be covered. As a past Baha user and cochlear implant user it never occurred to me that that would go under the NDIS and with the difficulties in funding the NDIS I would have thought that the last thing they're going to do is shift costs from health over to NDIS. There was one other thing I was going to say but I've forgotten.
GEOF PARRY: Anyone else on that while we're on this question? Alright. Let's move onto our next question from Gemma Upson. I can ask the question, then. It touches on our first question a little bit too. For Deaf and hearing‑impaired people, should we have a federally run system or a State‑based system? Jo.
JO PELHAM: Really depends on the individual. I think either way, either way it will be ‑ they will have the same guidelines around what's reasonable for the person, their disability and how it affects their life. Some experience that I've been working, I would think the WA NDIS seems to be a little bit more supportive but the NDIS seems to be a lot more easier to understand, easier to work with. But really depends on the person, I think. I don't know if it makes much of a difference.
GEOF PARRY: There's a cost, Debbie, isn't there, for the State system? An extra cost?
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Yes, but having been in the disability sector for the last 26 years, we will never win fights for people with disabilities if we worry about the money. It comes down to the right, the rights of people with disabilities and over the years of fighting for moving people with disabilities out of the institutional care, it's always cheaper to group people together and put them in the institution, it's the right to live out in the community, etc, etc.
So we've never won the argument for people with disability in relation to money. I think that if our current Government moves to a national scheme they've sold out people with disability and remember that it was a Labor Government that first bought in the first Minister for Disability. So my passion is absolute. I think we need a Western Australian model. The feed from a philosophical perspective, from what's reasonable and necessary and the individual funding for the individual person with a disability, it doesn't matter whether it's a national scheme or a Western Australian scheme. It will be exactly the same, that's the commitment in that bilateral and it will be the commitment going forward. It's around the governance of the scheme and the opportunity for an individual, or organisation or lobby group to actually fight for the needs of people with disability at a local level, Western Australian level or a national.
GEOF PARRY: Surely there shouldn't be an extra $130 million year tag on governance?
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Mike Nahan has said for years under a Labor Government we couldn't afford lots of things over the years for people with disability but that's not the point, it's the best outcome for the individual person with a disability and given that that's my passion and where I'm at in terms of advocating for people with disability not worrying so much about the State budget.
GEOF PARRY: Paul, what's your intelligence, is the State Government likely to throw its lot in with the nationals?
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Yes, I was sitting next to the Minister for Disability Services at the launch of Hearing Awareness Week and I did very subtly lean over to him and say "This is in your lap, isn't it?" He wouldn't tell me. He did say that they're very close to a decision.
GEOF PARRY: There's a State budget on September 7.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: September will tell all and I guess there will be leaking before that to persistent journalists like yourself.
GEOF PARRY: We had this discussion outside and it's whether the Government considers going in with the national scheme is good news because they're going to save $100 million a year or bad news because there's going to be backlash.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: They're wedged. Now the State Government, if they go with Canberra, every time there's a complaint, the State Government's going to wear it. If they don't go with Canberra they've got a $130 million bill against the budget. Look, neither scheme will be perfect. Neither will meet everybody's needs. It depends on your level of cynicism and distrust of local versus national. Disabled people are in the middle. It's going to come out in the wash.
GEOF PARRY: Helen, did you want to add to that?
HELEN NYS: I won't express an opinion, I've got a personal one I don't think I can as a public servant. I think I will say that some of the ‑ a lot of the rhetoric, I think, is very complicated, and I think one of the unfortunate things in the debate has been some of the statements haven't been broken down. So things like $130 million extra cost, that's actually not an accurate reflection because part of what that figure reflects is the costs of the State running the existing disability service system outside of the NDIS. The State would have that cost whatever model because the national insurance scheme is not going to cover State wide on the day we sign up. In fact they will probably take about two years longer than the State scheme.
And also costs that the State currently spends on disability services, our accommodation services, the disability justice service, for example, that State would continue to have to fund because they're not funded by the NDIS.
So a lot of those figures that are broken down, are thrown around, when you interrogate them are not as clear‑cut as we'll save $130 million.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: What we're heading towards here is a market with contestable funding. A lot of the core function of the DCS should disappear under that model? Has anyone costed out what the savings is on the department resources?
HELEN NYS: I think the Department of Treasury were trying to do that. If they were here they might say they don't have the level of detail from the Commonwealth Government to answer that correctly but that is what the State Government has been asking the Treasury for. Justice Service would never be covered by the NDIs, that's a State function. Accommodation services yes, clearly would be although the incoming Labor Government has an ideological view in the Government being a provider.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: One of the other things that nobody's mentioned, Helen was touching on it, was what the Disability Services Commission, ie the Western Australian Government, has done in relation to people with disabilities over and above just funding their individual service. So much of the awareness campaigns, you mentioned before about, you know, what will the NDIS do for people that are hearing impaired, but so much of that awareness that we almost take for granted now, the disability access and inclusion plans now that the councils, that contractors, so many people now have to put in place so that if you're hearing impaired, vision impaired, whatever your disability is, you can access government services or local government services or whatever. Accessible buses, that was the State Government's fight. Captioning, yes, advocacy groups around hearing were certainly involved in that but the State Government did that. So many things that we now take for granted in terms of access for the person with a disability to the community was the State Government doing that through the Disability Services Commission and the legislation 1993 and Disability Services legislation. If we let the State Government off the hook in that everything to do with disability goes to the Commonwealth Government, then that very question about what about the person who is just hard of hearing or has a difficulty with vision impairment or some small mobility problem which is not dealt with under the NDIS, who is going to take responsibility for that?
So, you know, we're not where we want to be in terms of people with disability in our community yet, we want further progress and if we lose that commitment to people with disability out of Western Australia, I mean I know I have no say in it, it's Steven Dawson, but I will keep fighting until a decision comes out.
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, this next question is from you and it's from Enid Chapman.
SPEAKER: Good morning, everybody. I'm from the Cicada cochlear implant support group, and we have a question. What will Australian Hearing role be in providing services to NDIS eligible Deaf and hearing‑impaired people?
KIRSTEN WHITE: Thanks, and hi, Enid. Australian Hearing will continue to deliver services under the hearing services program. When a client is eligible for NDIS, they are still part of the hearing services program. So it means you're receiving services under a category which currently Australian Hearing is the sole provider for. So some of that CSO would be paediatric, babies through to age 26, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in remote community, up to the age of 26 and over the age of 50 and adult clients that require specialist audiologist services. So that is the CSO program which is delivered currently by Australian Hearing through the hearing services program.
The other side of the program is about services which an eligible client, potentially on a pension or a DVA card may be eligible to receive hearing services on the voucher and that is open to all hearing services providers. So we will continue the same services until further notice.
SPEAKER: Is yours a competitive field, what areas are you up against and how do you go with that?
KIRSTEN WHITE: Not in the CSO space. The CSO space we're the sole providers for so that's certainly an area where Australian Hearing is our grass roots. That's what we're good at and hoping to maintain. There's still a lot of decisions that need to be made and we're still waiting for the review to come back as part of the NDIS investigation with hearing services. Until the year 2019, we don't know at this stage what will happen to CSO services.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: So CSO for those who don't know the acronym?
KIRSTEN WHITE: Sorry, community services obligation.
GEOF PARRY: We've got a question now from Khuba Edwards. We're just going to give you the microphone. And Khuba is from Shenton College Deaf Education Centre, by the way.
SPEAKER: Sorry, I don't know which one it is.
GEOF PARRY: It's the only one I've got. That one there?
SPEAKER: I am Khuba Edwards. From Shenton College Deaf Education Centre. Pay for my interpreter... in the national Indigenous model. I want to say to try to get to Sydney but what will the NDIS pay for an interpreter when I get there?
GEOF PARRY: So what will NDIS services pay for that? Jo, do you want to have a crack at that?
JO PELHAM: Do you have a plan at the moment? When you do have a plan, if you specify you want interpreters overseas and then around Australia you can book interpreters through different organisations around Australia. So yes, you will be able to book an interpreter through Sydney.
SPEAKER: Is there an interpreter for Indonesian language.
GEOF PARRY: Indigenous modelling award and he did very well at it. Can I just ask, though, with Khuba sort of asked a question here, where would he normally go, and this is a one‑off sort of event, where would he normally be able to go to get an answer to that question? Who would he approach?
HELEN NYS: If his home address is in an NDIS area, if he's in the scheme, as Jo said, in developing his plan you would hope that he has put in the plan that he needs access to interpreting hours and it's generally in the WA scheme that you put in a number of hours, like you try to do the best estimate as a number of hours and somebody's likely to need over a year and it's just a case of him contacting the interpreter when he's got an occasion that he needs it and booking it but it's paid for by the NDIS. If he's already a participant he should know how to do that. If he's not in the scheme, then it would be the existing method of contacting an interpreter and I don't know whether that activity would be funded or not.
GEOF PARRY: So that's simply a matter of Khuba making the approach to the NDIS. He has to be in the scheme to start with, but in terms of ‑ I mean this sounds like he needs an ad hoc interpreter, just a one off or rarely needs an interpreter but on this occasion that he does, is that easy to organise with the NDIS?
HELEN NYS: It should be. It's not as easy as I say but it should be that in developing the plan there's a conversation around what they have the interpreting hours and what you might need and the person draws down on when they need it and they contact the interpreting service to book it. If something happens like this, which wasn't anticipated, that's fantastic, he suddenly realises he needs more hours, under the State‑run scheme you are able to phone your local coordinator and say I need additional funding as a one off because this has happened and I think it would be funded.
GEOF PARRY: What happens with the Commonwealth scheme, you've got to ring Geelong?
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: You won't necessarily get... they have a 12‑month review process so it's very difficult... can I say in terms of the interpreting I've always been fascinated by the Deaf community or hard of hearing community that... for interpreting. That interpreting is funded under the base scheme but just a normal person who needed an interpreter couldn't get that funding and the amount of funding with the NDIS WA or NDIS national... and I'm amazed we're not loading up in relation to that. To me you come back to the rights issue again and yes, I appreciate the cost of it, I appreciate that, forget that for a minute. The communicating just roundabout is a lot and for somebody to be saying you can only have ‑ you can only communicate for an X number of hours a week. So I'm amazed that, you know, advocacy groups and individual people are not really taking this on.
JO PELHAM: Go back to the first question around the... around the interpreting funding, had a client come in with 100 hours for a year but what the NDIS lack of understanding... equates to the appointment is one and a half‑hours or two hours, so... a hearing person can go into the doctors, multiple times a week, always communicating, always talking. But a Deaf person can only do it once a week or twice a week.
GEOF PARRY: Is that the maximum that's allowable, 200? Whatever they decide.
JO PELHAM: They're the norm, it's around about 200 hours. It comes back to the individual and what their goals are and what they've put as their goals that their goals are funded, not specifically ‑ like if you had two people, one person said I want to go out every day, I want to go to the bank, I want to do this and someone says I just want to go out for coffee once a week. So this person might be funded 200 hours or 300 hours, this person will only be funded 50. So it will depend on the person and what their goals are.
HELEN NYS: And I think we've probably got a culture of low expectations. I think Deaf...
GEOF PARRY: It's the squeaky wheel who gets the oil?
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: To some degree but you're going to operate within a model. If you extend that back to when cochlear implants first came in. Western Australia had six single cochlear implants for the State. Put cost aside, but in reality, it's always going to be a rationing model and, you know, you're right to swing your arms around, but similarly your rights as a disabled person are going to come up against the hard reality of the budget at the end of the day.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: And I think the issue of rationing, weaver had discussions around the old services commission’s model or the new NDIS. It's always seen the current system, the State system that we used to have and that we're still working in part is a rationing model and there's this wonderful NDIS. It's been rationed by eligibility by reasonable and necessary, etc, etc. It has to be.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: If you think the screws are tightening now, currently there's 80,000 people on the national scheme. By 2019 there's going to be 450,000.
GEOF PARRY: Barbara Alcock.
SPEAKER: I have moderate hearing loss in both ears. I am particularly disabled in social settings. What does the panel think the NDIS think it can do for a large number of people like me, 1 in 6 Australians according to the Deafness Forum, with hearing loss, who don't qualify as disabled but could benefit from goods and services provided by grass roots organisations like Better Hearing which is usually run by volunteers?
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Can I say 1 in 6 within the next 13 years is going to be 1 in 4.
GEOF PARRY: Why is that going up?
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Because you and I are getting older. We don't look it but we are.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: I think supporting organisations, nongovernment organisations that are advocacy groups is clearly the most important thing because it's those groups, especially if we lose the commitment to disability out of Western Australia, it's important for the consumer group. I'm in exactly the same situation as you. I always say that, you know, work situation, a social work situation where I've got... whereas in a purely personal social situation I just phase out and my friends... that's the most relaxing thing for me, I'm not relaxing. But the NDIS will not be able to offer anybody over the age of 65 any sort of support whatsoever and I think just the conversation we had before in terms of rationing, I think we're right on the very edge of any sort of support. It will be the NGOs, the nongovernment organisations like those represented here today.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Can I pick up on another aspect of that question that you asked and that is the NDIS in creating a contestable market virtually forces organisations to amalgamate and become bigger. If you're going to access the dollars, and we're already seeing that in the sector to some degree, so the organisations that you're talking about, the voluntary organisations are actually, I think, at a fundamental disadvantage in the NDIS space, they don't have dedicated planners or grant writers or people who can make the system work, I think it's a very good point about the level that our community relies on those organisations and they don't really have a niche in the NDIS space in my view.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: One single disadvantage, we're all committed to the concept of the NDIS, but one huge thing that the NDIS has done, if I use Senses Australia as an example, the NDIS has forced us to divert funds that we would have put into programs for people with disability, unfunded programs. It has forced us into a marketplace. In Senses Australia's case, we've never had to market before but now we will market and in our budget ‑ and that was just to rebrand and do step one. All the organisations in the disability sector now will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that they otherwise would have committed to services for people with disability into marketing because we're in a market and we're competitive ‑ and competing. So that is one single big disadvantage with the NDIS which is just really, really sad.
HELEN NYS: The only thing I would add is what I was talking about earlier s the funding program called information, linkages and capacity and there will be grants given out every year under that funding program. So certainly, what I would say to you as an organisation is watch the tenders WA page, that's where the State Government tenders go. There will be an equivalent for the Commonwealth Government and those sorts of grants would be, what I would think your organisations like yours should consider applying for because they are about applying for funding in relation to getting information and community willingness and supporting people.
GEOF PARRY: Margaret Furphy.
SPEAKER: I have the microphone.
GEOF PARRY: Did I pronounce that right, Margaret?
SPEAKER: Yes, you did. We've talked about block funding a bit and perhaps this is a bit repetitive but there seems to be two sides of the block funding or some advantages that don't occur with individualised funding. That is the broad information base when you are adjusting to a new disability such as hearing loss. And this question actually is about how you ensure the quality and consistency is maintained but what I'm really concerned about is the number of experienced hearing aid users that I meet who are often have received their hearing aids through private providers and they do not recognise the international deafness symbol so they can't benefit from the hearing loop that we've had today. They don't know of assistive listening devices and so they can't improve their ability to hear in the sort of social situation that Debbie was talking about and also, they miss out on the inexpensive things that they can do to hear better in crowded situations. So it's not just in terms of hearing loss, but basic information that's just not getting out to people and, of course, people don't ask for hearing loops, they're not going to be provided.
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, did you want to take that on?
KIRSTEN WHITE: I agree with Margaret. I think there's a bit of a concern and the concern is really around the service providers and how the information gets to the client, what else is out there, what other services is out there. It goes back into these grass roots organisations now having to market themselves and, you know, sit time aside and resources to actually go out there and meet with the service providers. So I'm actually in agreeance with you. I think it's a concern and I'd really like to see that report coming out of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
GEOF PARRY: You're agreeing up there, Debbie.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Yeah, I am. I mean you just hope that organisations, you know, that are represented here today and Senses Australia can still generate income through the requests, through fund‑raising and so on to do some of these additional activities and I mean like a rusty wheel, whatever the expression is, that Western Australian governments still take some responsibility in terms of these issues associated with disability that are not specifically for an individual. Because I think the only funding that's available is through the ILC grants that Helen was talking about and that will be timing.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: I think one of the dangers with the NDIS is that the tail wags the dog. So the service providers end up tailoring their services to the available funding, not necessarily designing the service that the client needs and covering whatever gap. As a service provider, that's a harsh reality often, that, you know, the funding shapes the service.
GEOF PARRY: Jo, do you want to add? No. OK, we'll push onto our next question. Down here somewhere, here we go. From Hemi Wiapo.
SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, my name's Hemi from Shenton College. I have one question to ask these people here. One area we find is a problem for us is our sport activities. Will the NDIS pay for us to go to sports training or activities not associated with a TAFE?
GEOF PARRY: Does anyone know the answer to that, Jo? Helen?
HELEN NYS: Yes, it would do if you were an NDIS participant and that was in your plan that you needed interpreting support to attend those activities and it was judged as reasonable and necessary, which is the phrase that both schemes use to kind of judge the level of support that is provided, then it would be in your plan. So I certainly would expect that you would get a level of support for that.
GEOF PARRY: What sport are you playing?
GEOF PARRY: So can you explain how that ‑ what you're sort of looking for to allow you to do that? What support?
SPEAKER: Just the interpreter. One interpreter who does karate.
GEOF PARRY: You can probably ring Geelong, they can probably help. Is that a problem, Helen? Do you find it's a problem for folks like Hemi and other students who, you know, I guess unless they get some guidance, do people go to the school and tell these guys and girls what's available to them or is that done in the schools?
HELEN NYS: Mostly the information sessions we tend to do under the WA scheme do quite an intense bombardment as we roll out into a new area. We've just expanded to Mandurah, Rockingham, Kimberley, Pilbara, so we're going very intensive sessions there. Shenton College was in the area, we'd absolutely be doing information sessions there.
GEOF PARRY: Thank you, appreciate it. Our next question is from Sarah Livingstone.
SPEAKER: Thank you. I think my question might have been part answered but I will give it anyway. It's regarding getting your hearing aids or cochlear implants which are part funded by a health insurance scheme if you have any. Will NDIS supplement that if, for instance, at the moment your health fund only covers one hearing aid but you need two? Would NDIS come to the party if you get into the scheme? If you enrol into the scheme? That's my first question, and I will give you my second question. What about things like Job Access which is a Commonwealth Government scheme where say a deaf person who goes into a job can get deafness awareness training or expand their workplace skills and more through Job Access, will NDIS take this over or will Job Access still be providing that support to Deaf and hard of hearing people in the work force?
HELEN NYS: I can have a go at both of those. In relation to cochlear implants and also Bahas, the Commonwealth Government was quite concerned that the NDIS didn't end up taking on costs which were the responsibility of other parts of the State and Commonwealth Government responsibilities. And one of the areas that has been lots of consideration was what is a health responsibility and what should be funded by the NDIS. So the position for both of those is that the actual surgery, surgery component of the implant is absolutely the responsibility of the Health Department, so people access that through the Health Department or through their private health insurance and that won't change, NDIS will not pay for the surgery. In relation to the implants, neither will it fund the actual implant but subsequent replacement, repairs, maintenance will be covered by the NDIS, that's the current position.
JO PELHAM: What I've been hearing about the same thing, the cochlear are not funded.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: I think the second part is important. One of the frustrating things about a service provider is having to re‑educate people who you deal with at Centrelink and in the mainstream who don't have any specialised knowledge about the challenges you face in accessing employment as a disabled person. So I think there is an argument to be made that that specialisation needs to sit somewhere within the mainstream system, be available for disabled people and needs to be promoted as a route ‑ employing disabled people is a real challenge, for the employers and the employed. There's a strong argument to be made that needs some specialist attention.
HELEN NYS: At the moment in terms of Job Access, one of the concepts within the scheme is a phrase called in kind contribution, which really only means something to governments. But basically in funding the NDIS, both State and Commonwealth Governments looked at what they were currently funding for disability services and they sort of said we're funding this amount of money and that will be part of our contribution to funding the NDIS and some of the programs that are funded were ones that they couldn't really break down to an individual basis. So they continue to provide them but it just becomes part of their contribution. So Job Access is one of those. My understanding is the scheme continues, it continues to be delivered by the Commonwealth Government as they do it but it is part of their notional funding and their contribution to the NDIS at a budget level.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: That sounds like box ticking to me, I've got to be honest.
HELEN NYS: The service continues, it's just about how it's funded.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: The Deaf Society used to have an employment assistance program called Definite, and that was really, really invaluable for Deaf and hearing‑impaired people looking for employment. That's one of my reservations about Canberra, is that a lot of boxes get ticked that look like the service is being provided but at the level of disabled people it's a rotating chair of generalists going through who actually can't help you in the way you need help.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Can I just come back to what you said, Helen, about the cochlear implants, a personal question. OK, if a person has a cochlear implant they will often not see themselves as having a disability and they won't have any issues until they're over the age of 65 where they're no longer eligible for the NDIS. So will the Commonwealth health system pick up all the issues associated with cochlear implants after 65, what happens then?
HELEN NYS: I will have to take that question on notice, Debbie. The over 65 question is challenging. If the person was in the scheme already, then the commitment is that they continue to access supports after 65. So if they are already in the scheme, their eligibility was around hearing impairment, then it would continue, that replacement, repair, maintenance would continue to be provided by the NDIS after 65. The challenge is the people who haven't entered before 65 and I'm not sure what the age care system will pick up.
GEOF PARRY: It would be a no‑brainer to get onto the scheme before you're 65.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: But the difficulties with that is, with my other hat on as the chair of the Child and Adolescent Health Board, I see a stack of littlies who don't have a disability who have a cochlear implant who under the old system will have gone right through, you know, childhood and adulthood without a disability just having a cochlear implant. Now, I know that's contrary but a heck of a lot of those parents that I talk to and those kids do not see themselves as having a disability. What this new system, the way you're talking, forces people into the disability system.
HELEN NYS: And I think that goes back to my reservation at the beginning. It's a reservation potentially forcing people into the system, it's also about people not knowing that there is support they could have because they don't see themselves as eligible. My gut feeling is I think this is probably an area that is possibly going to change over time.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: I think so too.
GEOF PARRY: Peter Alcock.
SPEAKER: I have the microphone. The question I have has been treated to some extent by the panel. It relates to remote and isolated communities and in particular, I'm interested in what mechanism there might be in place for particularly hearing impaired but probably applies to other disabilities in those very isolated communities, are there actual mechanisms in place for dealing with that, for the support groups and so on?
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, do you want to take that?
KIRSTEN WHITE: So for hearing aid wearers, the system at the moment is the CSO program or the community service obligation program and the part of the CSO program is currently delivered by Australian Hearing Services and we go out to hundreds of remote communities across Australia to provide audiology services. We work with diagnostic and screening services as well and again, that's another thing that I'm really interested to find out. We're still waiting to find out how the CSO program is going to fit within the NDIS scheme, how it's going to be transferred across and I think it's going to create many questions which I do hope to be answered sooner rather than later. But certainly it's something that needs to be well thought through. I'd love to see Australian Hearing continue with those services because we've been doing it for years and years. It works really well but it's a wait and see game, I guess.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Why hasn't that been worked out yet?
KIRSTEN WHITE: There's a review of the transition from the hearing services program to transition those clients across the two schemes which is voucher or CSO to the NDIS. The roll out and the transition plan is due in 2019 and so a part of what's happening at the moment is an external review to see how we're going to transition all of those clients from the office of hearing services into the hands of NDIS. So CSO services in remote communities, in that CSO funding block which is ‑ we'd really love to have more answers to give you but unfortunately we don't have the information today.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Geof, you said why hasn't it been dealt with yet. I think the whole issue of rural and remote, the provision of services for people with disabilities in rural and remote has only really recently got to the sort of consciousness of the NDIA board nationally. In Western Australia I think because the WA NDIS sort of came out of the Disability Services Commission with lots of the same individuals involved. They've got a very good understanding that this is the normal NDIS, whichever model it is, is not going to work in rural and remote and so I know that there are, you were talking about block funding before, there are some discussions at an NDIA, that's national, level around block funded model of service delivery. Because when you've got one person with a disability in a community way out in the middle of nowhere, how the hell do you have choice and control around service provider, around, you know, etc, etc. So that's part of why they haven't dealt with it yet because they just realised how big Western Australia and Queensland are, parts of the South Australia, and because the model. So the model of NDIS is funding to an individual and then the person supposedly has a choice of what service provider they want and, etc, etc. Now that might work in a marketplace if we ever end up with a marketplace, like Western Australia, like Perth, I mean, but it just simply doesn't work even in rural, let alone regional and remote, where you haven't got half a dozen service providers to actually choose from, for example. That might be a bad example. So that individualised funding as opposed to the block funding model that we had before, you know, with some individualised funding just doesn't work.
HELEN NYS: I think it's fair to say with some of the national trials, there was a trial in the Northern Territory and certainly I think the Northern Territory Government has been pretty overt that they think the trial's a complete disaster for them and I think the Commonwealth Government recognises that delivery wasn't what it could have been. I think at worst, at one point the Northern Territory Government was saying of the people who had actually been funded for supports only about 70% of the funding was used which just showed that there wasn't ‑ there were not provider there's to deliver what had been identified that these people needed and there was also a big issue in actually funding people.
So Kimberley/Pilbara, which the WA Government has started in July, is probably the first trial, the next trial is going out to rural/remote and we don't have answers to lots of those questions. I'm very pleased that Australian Hearing is continuing to 2019. I think it works really well and would agree with Debbie. I think there is an absolute place for block‑funded contracts.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: One of the things it's forced us to do as service providers is look at different ways of providing service and I originally thought, oh, why don't we use Skype? Well that's brilliant until you actually look at how Skype works, for example, or any of those sort of, you know, visual models of communication. You know, it simply doesn't work in the country because of their access to the Internet and so on. It might work, you know, into Mandurah, for example, but we have enough difficulty into Margaret River, let alone, you know, into the rest of rural and remote Western Australia. So we've got to come up with different plans, very different plans, and NDIA and NDIS needs to too.
GEOF PARRY: This one doesn't have a question and I'll ask it but it's probably one for Kirsten and it may have already been answered. Given the deafness hearing loss is an ongoing disability, does the NDIS provide support for people who are receiving Australian hearing assistance after they turn 26 years of age?
KIRSTEN WHITE: So, one thing that's yet to be decided, with NDIS, there's actually two parts of the eligibility. One is that you need to be under 65 years of age and currently you need to be in a trial post code. But that aside, the second criteria, still needs to be firmed up and I'm not sure if we're able to talk about what that looks like but there's different levels of hearing loss. So once we have a minimum threshold of eligibility for NDIS of what hearing levels you have, then we will be able to give more specific answers of who's going to continue on the NDIS program.
For some 26‑year‑olds just this year, we have seen a couple of 26‑year‑olds continue with the program. What then happens is they're no longer eligible for CSO funding because that's from 0 to age 26. What happens is this person is living in the trial postcode, they've turned 26, they've lost their CSO eligibility and Australian Hearing is able to direct them to the NDIS website where they can check for eligibility into the NDIS. If that person has a certain threshold of hearing in their better ear, which is still yet to be decided, they will be able to enter NDIS as their primary disability as hearing loss. Once that happens, NDIS can now apply for a voucher through the hearing services program.
So as I mentioned earlier, there are two types of programs that are governed by the Office of Hearing Services, one being the voucher program and the other being the CSO program. That now means that 26‑year‑old person has lost their CSO funding, however, there is another pathway and this is where it gets really exciting about NDIS. That person, instead of having to go out into the private field and pay for everything, they're now possibly able to go into the voucher system under NDIS eligibility and access voucher services from any service provider who is registered with the Office of Hearing Services.
SPEAKER: Any service provider they want.
KIRSTEN WHITE: As long as they have the qualification from the hearing services.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Why would there be a different criterion under the CSO and the NDIS? Surely it should be a seamless transition. That's putting the onus back on people and redefining their disability, isn't it? I would suggest as a very strong lobbying call from us at Deafness Council to say let's make this as easy as it should be for people who are struggling with a hearing loss.
HELEN NYS: There's actually a parliamentary inquiry going on at the moment in relation to Deaf access and the NDIS. Some of you may know that. They were due to report in August but the report's been delayed and I understand from the committee secretary that part of the reason for the delay is that they are waiting to get a submission from the NDIA who run the Commonwealth scheme, specifically around this issue of kind of thresholds and it appears that the NDIA is looking at introducing bans, you know, so depending on the level of hearing loss whether or not people would be eligible or not. That hasn't been formally introduced yet, and I can see the logic of it and the ease of it particularly when you're running a large scheme, but I do have some reservations because it's going back to that issue of functional impact there may be some people who superficially look like they don't have, you know, particularly significant degree of hearing loss but there may be other aspects of their life which may be around intellectual cognitive impairment or cultural issues or a whole range of other issues that mean that the impact for that person is actually far greater than it would be for somebody else with the same hearing loss and I would hate the scheme to lose that capacity to do an individual interpretation.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Absolutely, I think that's critical and especially if the person has a vision impairment as well. I think this is something that needs to be strongly resisted. It should be about function, it should not be around, you know, diagnosis or a specific level of hearing loss. That's just outrageous.
GEOF PARRY: Melody Boyd.
SPEAKER: Hi, everyone. My name is Melody. I come from a profoundly deaf family and myself, I'm profoundly deaf. I'm just curious, when it comes to having deaf parents with hearing children, will there be any provision for speech therapy under the NDIS funding because the children are not disabled?
GEOF PARRY: There's a loophole you could drive a bus through.
HELEN NYS: My immediate response is I think probably not. I think that they would need to ‑ well, now interesting, actually, let me think about that. On the one hand you might say no, the child should access speech therapy through the Health Department, however, on the other hand there is the early intervention tier of the NDIS and that is around a recognition that there are people who would benefit from early intervention of mostly therapy, sometimes equipment, in order to prevent them being impacted further in life and I think actually children of hearing‑impaired parents may well fall in that category. So it would be about a recognition that they need that level of support now to prevent later life impact. That's probably the way that I would think it's going but I'd be interested in what Jo and Debbie think about that.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: I don't think they would be eligible and trying to get speech therapy out of the Health Department you have Buckley's chance. This comes back all the time to organisations, NGOs, and the need for them to continue with some of the activities. We've got somebody in the room who is doing some research around the children of people who are deaf/blind and I have no doubt that they will have specific needs too, just as has been pointed out of the children of profoundly deaf parents will have needs.
JO PELHAM: I think I agree. I don't think it is provided for hearing children but also goes back to the Health Department and make a direct... being able to make hearing children are able to speak and hear and all that kind of stuff. Early intervention would be the best way.
GEOF PARRY: So the consensus is no?
JO PELHAM: I don't think so.
HELEN NYS: I've not been asked the question before so I don't know whether we have funded or not. I think it would be an interesting position for someone to try to push an appeal on under early intervention grounds. It might be one of those things that probably needs to be tested. Certainly training in Auslan and other communication, that absolutely would be funded and that would be part of the hearing‑impaired parents' plan. Part of their plan would be I need my children to be trained in Auslan so they can communicate with me. I think that would be one interesting to see a test on it.
JO PELHAM: I know we have some families who have deaf parents with hearing children of school age where we provide support to assist with home reading so they can communicate with their parents that they're having trouble with this word or that word and then that person can tell them what the word sounds like. But that's when they're school age. We do have that support there that can come from the parents' funding to be able to engage with their children, hearing children.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: It would have to come back to the relationship that the person has with the local coordinator and the way that you could phrase it so that it was the outcome for the person with a disability, I think.
HELEN NYS: Yep, absolutely.
GEOF PARRY: This may be our last question. From Gerard Augustine.
SPEAKER: Hi, I'm from Shenton College. Would the NDIS cover the expense of hearing device, cochlear implant as well as the batteries needed?
GEOF PARRY: Would you like to have a go, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN WHITE: Currently that's all funded under the CSO program and certainly that funding is provided solely to Australian Hearing to provide all of those devices and also the technology to hearing aid wearers in the CSO program. I think the CSO program provisions will remain the same but it's a matter of who is going to deliver that service and will we see a CSO service into the future? Will everything be under NDIS is still to be decided upon. Again, it's one of those questions we can't answer but there would be services to children under the age of 26 certainly and there would need to be specialist services which provide for those devices no matter which system we use and transition to in the future. They will need to be maintained.
The question, of course, is going to be who would provide that service and how would we regulate that service. Currently you have hearing screening any child with a confirmed hearing loss is directed straight to Australian Hearing so we can regulate that. If it opens up to other service providers, will there be referrals that fall through the cracks and how do we monitor that is a big question. How do we get the devices to the child is a huge question.
GEOF PARRY: Anyone want to pick up? Anyone out there on their experiences? We've got five minutes to go, we've sort of run out of set questions. Has anyone else got ‑ anyone from the floor would like to ask something? Ron?
SPEAKER: A couple of issues ‑ do I need this? I do need it. A couple of issues have arisen. Firstly, Kirsten was saying what are the policies of the NDIS? At present it seems we don't know what the policies are. Who is going to formulate those policies? Is the Federal Government going to call the States together to formulate them or are they all going to be decided by a whole lot of bureaucrats in Canberra? Or people from Canberra? That's the first question. The second one is the issue raised by Debbie about having to ring Geelong. We know that if you have to ring Geelong it's only a short matter of time before you have to ring the Philippines or ring India to find out what's happening. If we're going to have a federal system surely, surely you've got to have a call centre, an administrative centre based in Perth. If you're not going to have that why have a federal system? Having to ring Geelong is just silly. Those are the only two questions.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: All the policies and so on currently exist for the NDIS and the Western Australian model and they're all on their website. All the eligibility, what your definitions of reasonable and necessary, you know, etc, etc, so they all exist well and truly written. We've had a trial of the West Australian scheme and the Commonwealth scheme going now for, you know, a number of years and the only difference now is whether it's going to be governed out of Western Australia or whether it's going to be governed out of national scheme.
In terms of ringing Geelong, clearly we've got a West Australian office. They only have decision making to a certain level and then over that, if you want to argue a principle or an outcome of a very different sort of plan, then you need to actually contact Geelong. So there is already a West Australian branch of the national model happening in Western Australia now.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: Can I pick up on what you said earlier, what's the difference of someone in Perth ringing Geelong and someone in Townsville ringing Geelong or in Darwin? It's a national scheme. It's someone at the end of the phone. I don't necessarily think the location is the issue.
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, do you want to answer the question from Ron, the first one?
KIRSTEN WHITE: I'm talking about the hearing services program and talking about the project that's under way with the transition of transitioning the hearing services program over to the NDIS. That is the part that is uncertain at the moment. There has been ‑ it is a three part. There has been consultation with stakeholders, government, organisations as well as public and now we're in the final stages which is really starting to understand how will the transition look like and what is going to be transition and what is the future of the CSO services and also what will Australian Hearing as well be moving forward with CSO program.
GEOF PARRY: We probably have time for one more question. You had your hand up before. Did you have your hand up before for a question?
SPEAKER: I did. My name's Karen, I'm from Senses. A bit of a two‑prong question, firstly around medical interpreting and ensuring that people are aware that NABS isn't going to be available to them for their medical interpreting needs and that those needs are calculated 12 months ahead what they're going to require and they're incorporated into their plans. I have already had situations where people have run out of their interpreting funding and required that sort of support and not being able to access and have real concerns about what people are going to do in those circumstances. And that also leads onto, as far as the plan is concerned, I guess, what's happening to ensure that if we do get all the interpreting hours that are required for our community, that the interpreters are available? We're already facing difficulties accessing interpreters and having to try and plan ahead with all of our bookings because people are getting interpreting hours and using them, which is fantastic, but as far as I can see, it hasn't been incorporated to allow for that growth and that industry, that career path hasn't been promoted and recruited to accommodate the needs of this community.
GEOF PARRY: OK, we're right at the end of time. You've got a couple of minutes? I just want one question for every panellist, what's one thing about the NDIS that you would like to see or not see in its formulation? Jo?
JO PELHAM: Can I go last?
GEOF PARRY: Kirsten, perhaps you would like to see some more frame work about policy?
KIRSTEN WHITE: If it was up to me, and I think a lot of people working at Australian Hearing, we'd really love to see the CSO program continue to be monitored solely by Australian Hearing. We are the experts when it comes to the specialist audiology services, that's our bread and butter. It's our care, it's our service delivery, we've been going into remote communities and working with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Island people for years, with paediatric clients, we have great relationships with the hospitals. We'd really love to see CSO continue to be maintained solely under the responsibility of Australian Hearing and if that can't be done then I'd really like to see some answers around how we're going to regulate which providers can access the CSO funding and who is the body that is going to regulate and continue to monitor the CSO services well into the future. I think that's the big one for Australian Hearing.
GEOF PARRY: Helen.
HELEN NYS: I suppose my idea would be in whatever scheme it is people do have access to local staff that they can connect with and that they can develop their plans with somebody they can actually talk to and meet and develop and plan networks for them.
GEOF PARRY: Paul.
PAUL HIGGINBOTHAM: I think it's the first point I made that the six‑month thing is absolutely critical for parents and families with a newly diagnosed child with a hearing loss and I think the NDIS has to take that into very serious consideration and they have to develop a process that makes that happen, not just have a process and sometimes people don't get under that threshold. It's critical.
GEOF PARRY: Debbie.
DEBBIE KARASINSKI: Well mine is really big and probably unreasonable. My biggest concern around the NDIS is that there simply is not enough money. And having been around since dinosaurs walked on the Earth, I know of Commonwealth schemes like the attendant care scheme that was as big as the NDIS and simply ran out of money and so for me what I'd like to see is a complete revamp of the NDIS so that rather than working out what is reasonable and necessary for each individual going this way, we end up with canoe putter onerers to cars for some people and in other cases not enough money to support a person in their own home. Rather than going this way, we actually have a community discussion around what's reasonable and necessary right across the board and we fund to that as opposed to funding to each individual person. Now that needs a whole day's discussion but I think there's a fundamental problem with the NDIS which makes it unaffordable.
GEOF PARRY: And Jo, you are our last speaker.
JO PELHAM: I think more understanding about Deaf people and hard of hearing people, what their needs are, making sure the information is readily available to both NDIS and WA NDIS staff. The experience I've had some people have different understanding than others and based on the plan is what they get funded for. So having the awareness training and support for the planners under NDIS in general.
GEOF PARRY: Right, Barry, we're done.
BARRY MACKINNON: Thanks very much, Geof. You can see from that discussion the real need for functions like this. In fact some of the key issues that came out, there were lots of them but I will summarise four of them. Firstly the one Helen raised at the beginning, really, and that is giving people enough knowledge about the system itself and how to access it and what's available. That's a real issue, I think, in terms of people who are Deaf and hearing impaired right across the board and needs to be addressed.
The second one, of course, was the issue that has come up time and time again about whether it should be federally or State based and I'm very much of the view as Debbie and others are that it should be State based. It will probably go federally but why do I say that? I was on a national committee advising the minister federally on the Office of Hearing Services issues about hearing and deaf issues and they were talking about remote communities in Victoria. Remote communities in Victoria. I couldn't believe, I was having this discussion about a remote community in a State where what, how far away would the furtherest be? Probably 300 kilometres, and you look at what's in WA and I think Paul talked about it or South Australia or Queensland. It is chalk and cheese and therefore I don't believe, as many people do likewise, I don't believe people in Canberra or in Sydney or Melbourne have any idea of many of the issues that we face in a State like Western Australia in delivering services to people who aren't metropolitan‑based dwellers.
Thirdly, the issue of interpreting, of course, that Debbie raised is a really crucial issue and we've got to ensure that the NDIS scheme provides adequately for that and of course the CSO concerns that have been talked about consistently through today. So we've got a lot of issues that we will take up from the Deafness Council point of view. Today's been useful from that point of view.
Can I ask you all to join with me in thanking all of the people that helped today. Geof, Debbie, Helen, Jo and Paul. Put your hands together.
BARRY MACKINNON: I have a fall gift in my pocket here, a little book voucher for all of you. There you are. You can go and buy whatever you are. Geof will buy Brian Bourke's book for sure. Thank you all very much for your participation.
Can I also, in my thanks, thank all of you who have come along and also for the presentation at the back, but most of all Julie.
Today and yesterday has been first class. So thanks again for your attendance. Out of today, I think we would need to keep going in this sort of program over the next year or two as the NDIS develops and matures to ensure that we get, as far as we can possibly do so, the right quality of services and support for people who are Deaf and hearing impaired wherever they are in Western Australia.
And the final comment I want to make, I want to thank the students from Shenton College coming today. You will be the ones who will be the beneficiary of the NDIS. We appreciate you coming and we hope you learn a bit today and you can therefore use that to your advantage, go through the system when you become older to ensure that you and the people of the future make sure that this system does work for people like you and the others that follow you. Thank you very much.