disability reform
For decades, I have had a front row seat watching the wins and losses of Australia’s disability sector.

From interviewing key leaders in the sector for the ABC to media training them in advocating for themselves in the media, I have been abreast of the issues that plague the industry.

Now after working with the peak body National Disability Services as their PR partner for several years and a range of providers, it is fair to say we are at one of the most pivotal junctions I have seen yet with Minister Shorten’s promised ‘transformational’ reforms.

But the question remains, will he deliver? Or will it be another round of bureaucratic let downs that push the industry two steps back?

Leaders in the sector concede that change is needed to improve the NDIS for people with disability – but without the right level funding support in place, they could see a rapid drop in high quality providers.

But the Government does not want you to see that. Instead, headlines showing the ‘bad players’ and the budget blowout of the NDIS aims to stir outrage in the average tax paying Australia.

And although this tactic is tried and true, the real people impacted by the bureaucracy are the people living with disabilities and their families.

This industry is just coming off the Disability Royal Commission findings – which could see roles and entire sub-sections of the industry shut their doors. If we reflect on the Aged Care Royal Commission – the fumbling and teething issues paint a stark picture on what the disability industry may expect.

This Government simply cannot fumble this one. Our disability service providers do not have years to wait for critical reforms.

The recommendations have been made and as the sector awaits the response to how these will be implemented, hearing the voices of providers in the media is more critical than ever.

We need to disability sector to band together and hold Minister Shorten to account through the media. Heart wrenching case studies of the people with disability most impacted must tell their stories and how their lives could turn for the worst if quality change is not made.

Not only that, but the media plays a pivotal role in shaking the cage of the Government to stop the exodus of good quality providers leaving the sector.

With strong media comes a seat at the table of the Reform Taskforce that will help prevent the unintended consequences that will surely arise if reforms are developed without consulting those who are set to be impacted.

So, let’s get the bad players out of the headlines and instead, shine the spotlight on those making the difference to the lives of Australians living with disabilities and hand them the microphone to guide the nation into reforms that are truly needed.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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