Access to adequate disability services for the elderly criticised

Waiting Game: Robert Keogh who has lived with polio for 67 years has faced a lengthy wait for a new caliper and specialised shoes, essential for his movement.

Waiting Game: Robert Keogh who has lived with polio for 67 years has faced a lengthy wait for a new caliper and specialised shoes, essential for his movement.

National Disability Day, held annually on December 3 is continuing to shine a light on the challenges faced by people with disabilities in communities across the nation.

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie joined with Member for Warringah, Zali Steggall in using the opportunity to take aim at the "discrimination of older people with a disability," who have had access to NDIS services revoked due to their age.

Under current legislation, those who acquire a disability after the age of 65 are ineligible to enter the NDIS scheme and can therefore be entitled to limited financial assistance.

Similarly, people aged over 65 who have utilised disability services in the past but were not registered with the NDIS, are facing now limited access to adequate support services.

On Tuesday, Steggall and Sharkie presented two petitions totalling almost 20,000 signatures to Parliament, calling on the federal government to address these issues.

"The NDIS was established to address the inequitable, underfunded and fragmented disability care system," Ms Sharkie said.

"But we need to be wary of setting up a system that so openly discriminates against those who acquire a disability after they reach retirement age."

70 year-old Clayton Bay man Robert Keogh, is one such individual who has struggled with assistance in recent times, having contracted polio at the age of three.

He is in desperate need of new calipers and specialised shoes to ensure he can maintain his active lifestyle and walk moderate distances, and has been stuck waiting since July.

Robert last acquired new calipers over 10 years ago and because he was not registered with the NDIS before the age of 65, cannot access its services.

He said his wait has been stifled by bureaucracy as he is bounced around by departments.

"I need a pair of boots and a caliper to walk and after outliving my shoe and boot-maker, they've changed the system," he said.

"I used to be able to make a phone call and have the ball rolling within a month. Currently I've been waiting since July and won't even have an initial appointment until January, at which point it will take another 12 weeks to have something made."

Robert has since had to mend his calipers himself, using DIY welding and stitching to hold this vital piece of equipment together, without which he can only walk 50 yards.

"I cant work out how I've had polio for over 60 years, but I'm not recognised by the NDIS system because of my age," he said.

Robert said having access to adequate and timely services was something that those struggling with disability should be entitled to.

"This is one of many cases which has slipped through the system and unless someone comes out and ruffles a few feathers, it seems likes things don't get addressed," he said.

"Both my calipers and specialised shoes are busted and it's a simple thing, but having a nice pair of shoes makes you feel better about yourself when you head out and go somewhere."

Ms Steggall who had the discrepancies in legislation brought to her attention by constituents and petition starters Chris and Bobbie English, said it was essential they were addressed.

"When I brought this discrepancy to the attention of the Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck I was passed onto the Minister for NDIS Stuart Robert, who passes me back to the Minister for Aged Care. The buck-passing needs to stop," she said.

"I am calling on either an exemption for people aged over 65 who have an accident or illness to be supported under NDIS or for My Aged Care to better cater for those with a disability unrelated to ageing."

Speaking on National Disability Day, Minister for Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston acknowledged the amazing contribution Australians with a disability make in communities across the country.

"International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity to celebrate the important contribution Australians with disability make in the workforce and to focus our attention on changing employer attitudes so that every Australian who wants to work is able to do so," Minister Ruston said.

"Getting a job and having a job is an absolute game-changer in anybody's life and that shouldn't be any different for somebody who has a disability."