we need disability insurance, not care

The federal government has just changed the name of the promised National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

They’re calling it DisabilityCare (the capital C is part of it). The logic being that we’ve got Medicare and we all know what that is.

NDIS is a bad name. It’s a mouthful. It sounds like bureaucratic jargon. It’s yet another acronym. I’m all for scrapping it and getting something else.

But my problem with DisabilityCare is the big capital C Care that stands out in the middle (ok, I also don’t like the fact they’ve tried to be cool by making it into one word when it’s clearly two words – I’m a grumpy old woman before my time – but that’s not my main point).


As I understood it, the importance of the insurance scheme is that it promises to replace a hodge podge of various charitable and government programmes designed to care for people with disabilities and give people with disabilities the authority to make their own decisions with their own money.

It’s meant to transform a model of charity and benefits for people with disabilities to a model of entitlement through insurance. That’s the beauty of an insurance scheme – it means people with disabilities aren’t treated like objects of charity but as autonomous agents.

By whacking the word ‘care’ on the end I’m worried it’s a throwback to the paternalism we’re trying to overcome. I’m worried it will encourage people to view the scheme as just charity.

But what’s needed isn’t care, it’s rights.

Could we have Disability Insurance instead?



[note – In thinking over this post I’m worried I implied that there’s something undignified or degrading about needing care. I just want to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with being dependent on someone else. We all are dependent on other people (if anyone were completely independent they’d live on an island and I’d be worried about their mental health) and ultimately dependent on God. I think the association of dignity and value with independence is very worrying for our community. My problem with using ‘care’ is it keeps people in a position of dependency when they need not be and forgets interdependency, it’s not a problem with care per se.]


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