Letters to
the editor

One size won’t fit all

Rick Morton correctly highlights how the onus is shifting to vulnerable people trying to navigate the complexities of the system in “Robo-debt public servants now shaping the NDIS”, April 10-16. This is compounded by the fact that complex neurological conditions (such as autism spectrum disorder) run in families and often bring with them myriad potential mental health challenges and co-morbidities. In short, getting through each day is hard enough. Agency-led, independent assessment and a “one-size-fits-all” top-down approach ignores the reality that it can take many months (sometimes years) to get to know and understand an individual’s specific challenges and aspirations for independent living and meaningful endeavour. Important, life-changing decisions about individuals and their “budget” must be made with significant input from the trusted professionals already working with them. Unless participants’ unique circumstances are properly understood and resourced accordingly, it undermines the capacity of the NDIS to work as an insurance model. Cost-cutting measures taken now will come back to haunt future governments as underfunded people with disabilities not only fail to thrive but also face increasing and debilitating pressure to constantly prove and justify their needs.

– Georgia Tracy, Lower Plenty, Vic

Adding conflict to the process

Rick Morton’s coverage of what the Morrison government plans for the NDIS was horrifying. For all intents and purposes, they seem to plan to turn it into a version of Comcare – a combative, adversarial department that lacks compassion and has only one agenda: to kick people off any assistance. NDIS recipients’ doctors and specialists will have their word and expertise ignored, only the opinion of the hand-picked medical operators and lawyers will count. Carers and the like should have grave fears, not only for the physical but also for the mental wellbeing of people caught up in what will no doubt be a ruthless system.

– Peter M. Taylor, Midway Point, Tas

All on the same page

In answer to Mike Seccombe’s question of who among Scott Morrison’s women’s taskforce will have the courage to suggest the promotion of equality through canning tax cuts, increasing taxes on the rich and fairly funding the future (“Morrison fixed on tax cuts as US and Britain embrace big government”, April 10-16), the answer is none of them. These possibilities won’t even enter their field of vision. That’s why they’re Liberal MPs and that’s why they’re on the “taskforce”.

– Sarah Russell, Candelo, NSW

Respect lacking everywhere

It was interesting to read Karen Middleton’s article, “Earning respect”, April 10-16, with Scott Morrison and Michaelia Cash launching the report “Respect @ Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces”. As part of his speech, the prime minister said he “would argue not just disrespect towards women, disrespect full stop” is unacceptable. He also said that our society should not let the reservoir of respect drain. In the same paper you are also highlighting the attack on people with disabilities by gutting the NDIS. Where is the respect for unemployed, refugees, Indigenous Australians and others? If anything I would say the Coalition, and the government’s behaviour in general, is draining the reservoir of respect.

– Paul Bailey, Winmalee, NSW

Retirement risks for women

The concept of “retirement security” for Australian women, highlighted by Kristine Ziwica (“Women of an uncertain age”, April 10-16), explores issues relating to wellbeing, the values we share as a mature society and the role of government that need to be part of an urgent continuing national conversation. Older women who relied on husbands to be the “traditional breadwinner” while raising families are especially vulnerable, often now facing a life alone with limited financial security, as a member of the aged-care sector. It may be time for us to discuss instead the concept of “retirement vulnerability”.

– Rod Leonarder, Roseville, NSW

Straight to the gallery

Why do the portraits of prime ministers in the Members’ Hall of Parliament House have to be commissioned and exhibited after a former PM leaves office? Jon Kudelka’s cartoon quadtych of the current PM captures the subject perfectly (Kudelka, April 10-16). Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.

– Stephen Jeffery, Sandy Bay, Tas

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 17, 2021.

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