As most of you are aware, people with amputations are funded under the public health system in their respective state or territory, and funding for prosthetics has not really increased in years. Funding is not in line with the advances that have been made in technology, therefore people over 65 who missed out on the NDIS rarely have access to high-end and complex prosthetic devices.
Over time, we have witnessed some small changes such as: Enable NSW funding microprocessor knees (MPKs) for some people with above knee amputations; however, this is not consistent throughout the country. Queensland Artificial Limb Service (QALS) are also reviewing costs/benefits associated with MPK’s.
But what about a consistent approach for everyone? When reviewing funding for the disability sector, the famous words that came out of the Productivity Commissioner’s report were daunting. They described the current funding system (back in 2010) as being "underfunded, fragmented, unfair and inefficient and gives people with disability little choice and no certainty." While the NDIS has changed support for many people, it still offers little hope for those thousands of Australians who are too old to be eligible for the scheme.
Where you live will impact a number of things like; being able to access a shower leg (at no cost to you); being able to see the provider of your choice - some states/territories only recognise some, not all prosthetic providers to deliver services to publicly funded clients, leaving older consumers unable to exercise their choice and control. How are we still in this space, it’s 2023 after all? Surely the cost of a shower leg, which can last up to 10 years is not a budget constraint. Surely being able to access the provider of your choice should be achievable for all amputees – but that’s not the case!
So how can you achieve a better outcome for yourself? Limbs 4 Life will continue to advocate for more funding in each state and territory, but maybe your voice can make a difference. Having said that, I wonder how many of you reading this are aware of your human rights as a person with disability. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed the agreement to adopt the UN Convention of Human Rights back in 2008. This means that there is an agreement in place, and that as a human being you have certain rights, and those rights need to be met! I believe that if you are over 65 years and therefore ineligible for NDIS support, that your human rights may not be being met.
Did you know that personal mobility and being able to safely walk around your community is a human right? Article 20 of the CRPD, ‘Personal mobility,’ states that it is your human right to be able to do just that. So make your voice heard! Meet with your local member of parliament and start demanding change! We’ll keep pushing for change at our end, but the more people who speak up, the more we can bring about the much-needed change that everyone deserves.