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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gavin, Splash Principal Physiotherapist

Advocating for a fair NDIS in Canberra

I was privileged to meet with Senators and their advisors in Canberra, alongside skilled colleagues, to advocate for a fair NDIS.

  • We received advice on next steps, and further information they would find helpful

  • More opportunities are scheduled

Meeting Senators in Canberra to advocate for a fair NDIS

Today was a big day.

As many of you know I have been involved in advocacy regarding the Independent Pricing Review changes released March 2nd.

There are many people involved for both providers and participants.

I flew up to Canberra, hopeful that scheduled meetings with 5 Senators would go ahead, alongside:

  • Carolyn O'Mahoney, a physiotherapist from Canberra who I know from my days as a newly graduated physio working together in Darwin;

  • Phil Calvert, president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and physiotherapist from Adelaide.

How is this advocacy working?

It is difficult for people on the ground to see the processes and how things work within professional associations, within agencies such as the NDIA, and within politics.

Things just aren't quick. Very often processes are happening in the background which cannot be made public. For every person who has a solution, there will be someone in a similar situation in another part of the country, for whom that "solution" would be devastating. So it's a tough job to be constantly balancing out the right choice for the greater good.

Splash Physio celebrates every achievement big and small

One of our values that Splash Physiotherapy is that we celebrate all achievements by the big milestones and the small steps along the way.

Another is that we use the strengths based approach in all aspects of our work, not just with children playing towards their goals but also with families, ourselves, and our colleagues.

These two values are holding me in good stead along this challenging marathon that we are engaged in, in working towards a fair NDIS that helps participants build their capacity, and achieve their goals to participate in every day life as independently as possible.

Splash uses a strengths based approach

I know everyone would like a quick fix and certainly that would make my life much easier! Some people say it's all just talk. But today included some wonderful "steps along the way" so remember that as you read about what happened please!

This is written with the Splash families audience in mind. I cancelled seeing babies and kids to do this trip, and rescheduled as many as of you as I could. But I want to publicly show appreciation for their flexibility. And I'll include some candid photos for the kids to look at along the way.

Okay so this is Carolyn and I arriving at Parliament house in the dark before it was open, quite nervous but putting on a smile for the camera.

Image description: selfie of Shayna Gavin and Carolyn O'Mahoney, smiling in front of Parliament house before dawn!

Meetings at Parliament House

Our first meeting was with the Hon. Jane Prentice, Minister for Social Services.

She was fantastic in hearing our concerns, as well as demonstrating her understanding of flaws within the wider NDIS, including around eligibility and equipment.

She was extremely helpful in giving us concrete next steps and requests for more information to assist in collaborating to improve this scheme. What was very clear was that everyone in the room is deeply committed to the NDIS and wants it to succeed.

(This is one of those times where I won't share all the details, because they are in draft and not ready to be made public).

Needless to say we were very appreciative that she made time to see us first thing in the morning, and look forward to working with her, and her office, further.

(Do the kids who only see me in bathers recognise me?!)

Image description: four people stand smiling at the camera. Left to right: Shayna Gavin, Phil Calvert, Hon. Jane Prentice, Carolyn O'Mahoney.

Two further meetings were held with with advisors to the Hon. Dan Tehan, and the Hon. Jenny Macklin.

These were also very helpful in discussing next steps and the importance of collaboration between participants providers and the NDIA to work out a system together. We were advised that consultation on the IPR will begin in July. The Allied Health Professions Association will be consulted representing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, and psychology.

It is a very busy week at Parliament house with Senate estimates committee meetings. It was wonderful to meet with these advisors when the Ministers were not available, and we really appreciated their time. Unfortunately further planned meetings with the Hon Jordan Steele - Johns, and the advisor to Nick McKim, did not pan out due to the timetable on the day. It can't be helped and that is the risk you take in travelling to Canberra for a meeting which might need to be cancelled at the last minute. However I have been offered to follow up over the phone which will be excellent.

So after all of that, we got together and got started on writing up drafts of the requested information. And I had a short time to dash around and see some of Canberra before it got dark and I was due at the airport! It was great to get a bit of exercise in while seeing the sites, because I haven't been to our capital before!

So I'll close in saying that it was a really positive day with great feedback, and very encouraging to see how on top of it these Senators and their advisors are, and how willing they are to facilitate consultative processes in making the NDIS a success.

Shayna Gavin is a physiotherapist who is passionate about helping babies, children and young people learn functional skills so they can participate in life at home, school and in their community. Recognising that children do best in their own environments, she visits homes, schools, and leisure activities from football fields to ballet classes. She also has daily aquatic physiotherapy sessions available at two private swimming schools in Moonee Ponds and Greensborough, Melbourne. She combines principles of paediatric physiotherapy, Contemporary Neuro Developmental Treatment, motor learning, and swimming teaching to address the individual needs of each child and their family. She loves providing professional development to physiotherapists, allied health and education professionals, allied health assistants and swimming teachers.

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