On November 4, 2015, we ran a forum with people with disability and their families, government and other invited guests to shine a light on transport issues in the Hunter and to find solutions together. We ran the forum in partnership with ANSA (Adults Needing Supported Accommodation), another grassroots peer support organisation.
We invited a range of stakeholders that included the local NDIA office, ADHC, Executive of Disability Network Hunter (who represented service providers), NSW Ombudsman, NSW Trustee and Guardians, Community Transport Organisations, and staff from Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government. MP’s – Jill Hall, Sharon Claydon, Pat Conroy and Yasmin Cattelly also came along and gave us a donation so we could run the event.
110 people participated on the day, 75 of those were people with disability and family members. Lack of safe, accessible, affordable, reliable transport is impacting on us, so who better to lead the way to finding solutions?
The day kicked off with a speech from Catherine Mahony, CDAH Coordinator.
Catherine Mahony Transport Forum Speech
We invited a range of speakers including Maurice Sinclair, a local transport entrepreneur, who is developing a platform to deal with local inefficiencies around transport. We invited Maurice because we want bang for our buck. We want to stretch our disability dollar further. We want the NDIS to last for future generations.
Maurice told us:
– there are more than enough transport providers to satisfy demand
– coordination is the issue
– more purchases of vehicles is a waste of funds, poor resource utilisation adds to the problem, and will not solve the coordination issue.
Maurice is proposing the development of a simplified booking, allocation and payment system that uses under-utilised vehicles in the region.
PowerPoint: Transport Finance Issues in the Disability Sector. Maurice Sinclair
Text Document: Transport Finance Issues in the Disability Sector. Maurice Sinclair
David Bowen, CEO of the NDIA, also addressed the forum and said that it was intended for plans to be used flexibly, that we can interchange our flexible supports to include transport. David also said that the intention was to give people plans that included a reasonable amount of funding for people to use as flexibly as they wished. Quote: “ It’s in your hands. How you make decisions about how you use your funding is up to you”.
PowerPoint: NDIS Scheme overview and implementation update. David Bowen
Text Document: NDIS Scheme overview and implementation update. David Bowen
We also heard from Steve Warham from Transport for NSW.
PowerPoint: Transport in the Hunter-Accessible? Steve Warham
Text Document: Transport in the Hunter-Accessible? Steve Warham
Over the rest of the day, we explored:
– what’s working and what’s not working in relation to transport in the Hunter trial site.
We asked the forum, what I don’t want to see happen?
Major concerns included:
– that our recommendations from the forum are unheard or forgotten.
– that the current public transport system remains inadequate. Public transport in Newcastle was described as the transport of last resort. Long waits, long routes and is really only for people without cars.
– other major concerns including increasing isolation, community attitudes, exclusion and inaccessibility
– the biggest concern by far was cost.