Using the sex word to push NDIS legislation again? Asks activist

By Our Reporter
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River Night - National Disability Sector Advocate // Pic supplied

River Night, a prominent National Disability Sector Advocate and Co-founder of Developing Australian Communities, is currently in Brisbane but available to travel. Night, who has a 30 plus year career in various sectors including Disability, Youth Justice, Guardianship, and Mental Health, has voiced strong concerns over the misconceptions and sensationalism surrounding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Night, an adult living with a disability and a dedicated advocate for reform in the NDIS sector, has highlighted the persistent issues caused by misinformation, stating, “In previous years, advocates and the sector had to defend against many outrageous claims by politicians on radio, TV, and national programmes, suggesting that NDIS participants were using funding for sex workers and boat ramps.

“The real issue is the push by some politicians to create blanket yes-and-no rules for a scheme that requires professional judgement and flexibility.”

Stressing on the detrimental effects of using sensational stories to influence public opinion and policy, he says, “We saw the result when the last two Ministers for NDIS attempted this approach, resulting in a failure to amend legislation constructively.”

Night has criticised the misleading narratives, stating, “The Australian public is not stupid. Sensational claims about NDIS funding for sex and drugs are quickly debunked, as there is no provision for such items in the NDIS price guide.”

Addressing the stigma around disability and sexuality, he added, “It’s an enigma in our so-called ‘woke culture’ that people still react negatively to discussions about sex and disability. This shows how backwards some people still are.”

Night highlights the importance of holistic support for people with disabilities, which includes support for identity, community, and relationships. “Avoiding sexuality in 24-hour support settings for people with complex disabilities is medieval and shows a lack of contemporary understanding in human services.”

He warned against removing professional decision-making from the NDIS, comparing it to overseas horror stories where insurance staff make medical decisions instead of doctors. “The last thing we need is for NDIS to become the next robo-debt.”

Night illustrated the potential harm of rigid policies with an example, saying, “A city-dwelling child may not need funded physiotherapy equipment due to nearby gyms, but a rural child without access to such facilities absolutely does.”

As the largest Disability and NDIS event in Australia’s history approaches in Perth, the community, along with Developing Australian Communities and hundreds of provider organisations, advocates, and thousands of attendees, will work to address these myths, realities, and solutions for the sector, said Night in a press release.


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