Launch urges disabled to speak up

Marita Walker, Peter Darch with his dog Phoebe, and Bruce Bonyhady. Picture: Bruce Hunt d422309
Marita Walker, Peter Darch with his dog Phoebe, and Bruce Bonyhady. Picture: Bruce Hunt d422309

After a swimming accident at 16 left him as a quadraplegic, Mr Darch found out the difficulties in finding the right support to achieve his career goals.

‘Thirteen years ago I had a swimming accident that thrust me into an outdated culture,’ Mr Darch said at the launch of the Hills scheme trial last week.

‘After the accident I wanted to return to school and be a psychologist, but there were battles and constant barriers; I had to fight for the right to use a toilet and to be fed. (It is) a reminder why we need to get this trial right.’

The NDIS trial aims to help improve access for more than 4000 people up to 65 years old to assistance and support.

Mr Darch offered words of support to those who have a disability and who would be using the scheme.

‘We need to get disability out of the closet; my message to others is ‘we no longer have to settle for what others deem reasonable’,’ he said.

Mr Darch, who spent eight years working in local government, encouraged those taking part in the trial to speak up and offer feedback on the process.

‘You need to question what does not work and highlight what does,’ he said.

NDIS trial site manager Marita Walker said the scheme would be ongoing, but the trial was an opportunity to iron out the kinks.

‘By the end of the two-year trial, we would have helped up to 4300 |people; the first quarter of 125 people have already been connected with our staff and will be meeting with them very soon,’ she said

‘Feedback from the clients will be taken into account, which is why we are seeking a wide network.’

National Disability Agency chairman Bruce Bonyhady said there was still a lot to learn.

‘The Hills area is unique in that it has urban and rural areas. We look forward to making a difference to people’s lives based on their needs,’ he said.