Linda’s story – my journey to the NDIS

Posted on 18 November 2015 by Linda Blaik

Initially, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was something I gave little thought to, as I believed NDIS plans would not be something that my life would need. As it turned out, I was wrong.

When all the fantastic volunteers were rallying and gaining support to be heard by the Government to bring the NDIS to fruition, I was too busy saying as a blind person “I don't need to worry about that, that is for real disabled people, not me!”

Over my lifetime – living with a vision impairment and now as a blind person – there has never been a time that I have had to pay for services from blindness organisations. White canes were given when needed, orientation and mobility specialists were there for you when requested and a guide dog was always provided for free. As a result, I felt that there was no need for me to take note of the NDIS. But little did I realise that I had my head buried deep in the sand!

My introduction to the NDIS came about when I was asked to take part in a program run by the Committee for Geelong called LEAD Barwon – LEAD standing for Leading Educating and Advocating for Disability. LEAD consists of a group of people who live with disability or who are the parents or carers of a child with disability. This group also includes some of the first participants in the NDIS in Geelong to have a plan.

The group met regularly to discuss issues and solutions to problems, giving feedback to the NDIS as the roll out was encountering hiccups initially. I gained so much knowledge in a very short time and my first plan was already getting under way by Christmas 2013. I really wondered what I was in for – and if it would be at all possible to get the support I wanted.

Guide Dogs Victoria held a few information days regarding getting started with the NDIS and helping us to use the Access Checker. After this point it was up to me to take the next steps. When I finally received my paperwork, my husband and I didn’t have a clue how to fill it in, so I decided the NDIS could do it. The NDIS said they don't fill in participants’ paperwork for privacy reasons, so from my experience that was the first thing I felt needed to change. In the end I got the support I needed to fill in my paperwork and kick off my new plan.

The NDIS planner asked what my goals were and that stumped me straight away; as a blind person I felt all my goals were already achieved. I’m married, have three children and three grandchildren, I’ve travelled overseas on a few occasions, we own our house – in my mind I thought there was nothing more to achieve. I thought I'd been given a pretty good go…so what goals did I have to make when I had ticked all the boxes?

After a little consideration, I decided to go for it and ask for everything I wanted in the past but thought you should do without. So with no hesitation off I went. I figured I needed someone to take me shopping and just to get out of the house for a few hours a week. My husband is also vision impaired and is not entitled to NDIS so I asked for a gardener. There were a few pieces of adaptive technology that I required too.

A big concern for me was taxis and whether or not I would lose the Mobility Allowance. The NDIS and taxi company wanted me to ring a central number; however that wouldn’t work for me as I have a number of known, trusted taxi drivers who I know I can rely on to pick me up safely from inside a building or from a train platform late at night. By pushing the fact that the NDIS is about my plan and my choices, in the end I was able to continue contacting my usual drivers when needed.

After submitting my plan, I was granted everything except for three items, which wasn’t bad considering I was testing the waters and had decided to go for everything.

I was knocked back on things like shoes – as a guide dog user I need a sturdy and very well made shoe. The second item was a flat cooktop on my gas stove; this was denied as it was an everyday item. I thought the cooktop may fall into the category of safety; I am the one who cooks and the gas burners were fairly awkward and sometimes I would knock the pots and spill. The third thing was a small hot water dispenser, which I was thinking of for safety once again. They said this was something everyone could go buy as an everyday item as well. No problems I thought, I will buy them myself - and I did.

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Author profile

Linda BlaikLinda Blaik is a woman with disability who doesn't believe it is a reason for her to sit home and do nothing. Linda is the volunteer coordinator of the Geelong Guide Dogs Victoria office, shared with Yooralla and Pacific Vision. She is involved in the Guide Dogs Victoria Client Advisory Committee, the City of Greater Geelong Disability Advisory Committee and the LEAD Barwon group. Through LEAD Barwon, Linda has shared her feedback and experience of the NDIS directly with the agency and with the wider community at a number of community forums.

Linda has cone rod dystrophy, which caused her to start losing her vision from seven years of age. Linda gradually lost her vision over time and has been blind for around 8 years. Linda is married to her husband David and has three children and three gorgeous grandchildren. 

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