Queensland School Bus Alliance National Disability Insurance Scheme
Queensland School Bus Alliance National Disability Insurance Scheme Lorraine Douglas-Smith Chief Executive Officer The NDIS All agree that the NDIS is needed. Whilst support for the NDIS is universal, like many Government policies, it is felt that the general concept is there, but the detail is very grey and lacking. It will be costly and funding is definitely an
issue for both State and Federal Governments. This has added to frustration, particularly for The NDIS The essential services already being provided for those with disabilities need to continue. It would be very sad if services actually reduced. The problem for providers of current services is not just whether the services will continue, but how and by whom these services will be provided.
How the services will be funded? This is also a concern for those currently using those services. The NDIS The NDIS has presented a massive concern for our Industry. It would be fair to say it has (and still is) a major issue for QSBA. It has been very time consuming (personal representations & written submissions), with no clear outcome very frustrating! The most often answer to questions asked is
Nobody Knows! QSBA Membership School Services Operators Carrying distance eligible students. A small number of services carrying one student with a disability (sometimes with supervisor) Urban Regional Operators Carrying the general public, including students. Persons with Disabilities utilising services (mainly adults) Students with Special Needs Operators Carrying Students with Disabilities to Special Schools IMPACT OF NDIS
School Services No Impact Urban Regional Services Could be some impact, depending on whether discounted fares are considered. Any change would be foreseen to affect users, more than operators. Student with Special Needs Services As these are totally carrying students who would fit under the scheme, there could be an impact and this is where I will concentrate my presentation. NDIS Statements The Federal Government has been
particularly unclear on how School Transport would be treated under the NDIS. The NDIS Statements on School Transport do not really give any detail. NDIS Fact Sheet Transport to and from School Getting to and from school is the responsibility of families and the education
system. For some participants, their disability means that they cannot be transported to school by family or friends or travel independently on public or school transport. For these participants, the Scheme may fund the cost of travelling to and from school. NDIS Fact Sheet Transport to and from School In many jurisdictions, the education system currently manages a specialist school
transport system for students with disability. The Agency will draw on the existing transport schemes which remain in place for the early stage of the trial. The Agency will work closely with participants and education systems to identify options for participants who are not able to access existing transport schemes. Stakeholders in the Present Scheme Students These are students who cannot access other transport services. (Our members carry 2775
Students) Parents/Carers The service is door to door and eases the burden on them. School Principals The service is organised, bringing students into the school grounds. (Can be handled within present infrastructure.) Operators There is a huge investment currently involved. (Est. Over $20 million in vehicles alone.) Drivers and Supervisors. (over 700 jobs.) Queensland Government (Invested in present system) The Current System Services carry students who cannot access other
services due to their disability to special schools. Operators, drivers and supervisors are dedicated to students and specifically trained to provide the best possible service. Vehicles are modified to cater for individual student needs and vehicles meet school infrastructure to ensure safety for students embarking and disembarking. Current System The scheme eases the burden on families. It
ensures that these students have a guaranteed access to educational facilities, which best meets their individual needs. The system has worked smoothly over a number of years and is endorsed by students, parents, schools and administrators as highly successful. Other modes of transport were trialled in the past, but could not provide the same reliability and stability for these students, many of whom require not only specialised attention but also consistency in carers and drivers. Example Student LS
Statement by LS I have a chromosome condition called Edwards Syndrome or Trisomy 18 where I have an extra 18th chromosome. This affects my whole body and intellectual abilities. I need glasses for short and long sight Hearing aids as both ears deaf Cant walk or hold my body up by myself so need help with all positioning and posture braces Dont eat much by mouth so have a gastrostomy tube feed button in my stomach to have my formula or soups and water. I do have sips of water to drink and a cup or spoon tastes of savoury pureed foods I need spinal posture braces and shoe orthotics to keep my body straight
I cant stand up by myself so need a wheelchair or standing and walking frames and hoists to help me get about I cant talk because Im deaf so I use pictures, assisted talk devices and give yes smiles and head turn away nos to makaton signed language. Example LS suffers:Risk of Aspiration Heart problems Asthma & bronchiectasis Seizures Gastrostomy Peg/Button dislodgement Risk of Shoulder dislocation Student LS currently travels to and from school
on a school bus under the current Disability School Transport contracts. Case Study The Operator liaises with Parents, School staff and LSs Medical and support team in order to tailor an Individual Medical Emergency Plan (IMEP) which is reviewed on an annual basis or at any time throughout the year when Parent advises of changes to LSs condition. The original IMEP is located on the school bus for reference by staff and/or advices to Emergency Services. The IMEP insures that Bus staffs have been trained in the
appropriate way to deal with all of LSs conditions, medical and personal comfort needs. A break in continuity of LSs transport would be extremely detrimental to LSs safety and care, even life threatening. Case Study LS is one of many of the extreme care cases that all of the current Bus Operators transport on a day to day basis to and from home/school and to Respite care before and after school. This gives you an idea of the importance of
the service to students and parents/carers and the type of task involved. Current System There has been considerable financial investment by bus operators and Government in the current fleets and the present contract arrangements have been proven to be cost efficient for Government. Services provided are at the highest standard and provide best support for families/students.
The Current System is exactly what the NDIS aims to achieve Support for the Current System There is strong support by all stakeholders to have the current system remain in place. However, all remain in limbo and deeply concerned due to the uncertainty of the future with the NDIS. Agreement between Federal and State Governments has not to date been signed and this seems to be the major contributing factor to the uncertainty.
Impact of Uncertainty The Impact of the uncertainty is already being felt: Investment in Services has ceased (new funding put on hold). New Services are not being introduced or vehicles purchased. (Impact of this will be ongoing.) Supporting Industries already in trouble and reducing staff. Where students cannot be catered for on current services, taxis are being used.
Other Jurisdictions Gaining Insight from other States where there has been an introduction to the NDIS has been difficult. It would appear that in trials services have been as is. Queensland is unique with students being provided with specialised services to specialised schools. To date, the closest is possibly the ACT. There services appear to have been left in place, with a cost allocated for students using the service as part of funding. (However, ACT services much smaller than Qld task.) Qld Introduction to NDIS Lauched in Townsville, Charters Towers &
Palm Island last year. Introduced for 0-18 years age group which would cover school students. Only three (3) services in that area and no indication to date on how the NDIS will work with those services. What is needed Support for the excellent system Queensland currently has in place.
Clear commitment by the Queensland & Federal Governments to provide certainty for parents/guardians, schools, operators, staff and associated businesses. Financial investment by Government to be re-instated to allow investment by operators and access to services by all students requiring this specialised transport service to schools. Crystal Ball Gazing It is difficult to see envisage any other arrangements
could benefit all stakeholders as the present system for students with disabilities. I would envisage that looking at other services here today this would also the case. Basically, no-one is providing any alternatives to the current situation. Retaining a system that just changes providers would be counterproductive and very costly. Crystal Ball Gazing Expertise would be lost.
Students need to get to school, there has to be some means to achieve that. Any change would mean starting from scratch Funding obviously is the key to the system remaining in place. The present system is financially efficient. Who pays is obviously a big question. Perhaps allocating a cost to the individual for current services within their funding would be a logical solution. In closing There is no doubt there is universal support for the NDIS.
The NDIS has caused a lot of concern in this state, with a number of sources stirring that concern. No-one seems to have come up with an alternative to the present system . Urgent clarity and direction is required now. As an Industry we remain in limbo. (Operators have contracts due for renewal in June this year.)
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