Stuart Robert condemned for plan to disclaim individuals with disability entry to intercourse employee companies | Nationwide disability insurance coverage scheme
Lawyers have repulsed NDIS Minister Stuart Robert over a “cynical” and “offensive” plan to amend the NDIS law to prevent people with disabilities from accessing sex worker services through the program.
The Guardian reported in May on a landmark federal court decision allowing program participants to use NDIS funds to access specialized sex worker services when deemed “appropriate and necessary”.
But the government has always said it opposed the court’s decision, and on Wednesday Robert said the coalition would legislate in parliament to ban it.
He used an interview with Ray Hadley on 2 GB on Wednesday to explain his concerns about the federal court decision and to tell the shocked, “I never thought you and I would talk about prostitutes.”
Robert said NDIS participants are “welcome to use whatever is lawful and they can pay for themselves” but not with taxpayer’s money.
“I can’t get a unanimous vote and the states and territories won’t collapse,” he said. “The Commonwealth is now going to make a decision of principle because we do not believe that taxpayers’ funds should be used for prostitution services.”
Jordon Steele-John, a Green Senator living with a disability, said the government’s response was “cynical, misleading and offensive”.
“The reality is that the federal court has ruled that an NDIS participant can take the case that gender support is appropriate and necessary,” he said.
“That’s the end of what they did. You said that if you can sort the case out, it may be sensible and necessary, that’s it. “
Steele-John also said Robert’s comments on 2GB were “gross and deeply offensive to sex workers and people who provide sexual services”.
Robert had said “the Commonwealth never paid for prostitutes” and added, “if states and territories want to fund prostitutes, they can pay for it themselves”.
“I will try to actually define what is sensible and necessary for us to meet community standards because I don’t believe … the federal government, which uses taxpayer money to pay prostitutes, meets that standard, me just can’t see it, “said Robert said.
Steele-John said the government had shown “total ignorance” on the issue. “It is a self-imposed ignorance because disabled people and our organizations have been knocking on the government door for months since that decision was made by federal court,” he said.
“Disabled people and our organizations have tried to work with the government to develop a comprehensive policy on sexuality in coordination with the NDIS. The agency has no sexuality policy. They refused every step of the way. “
2 / During the “interview” with Ray Hadley, the @NDIS minister kept referring to “prostitutes”. “Prostitutes are not paid for the use of taxpayers’ money,” he said. This is a shameful abuse of his position by the Minister and shows an acute lack of understanding. #CRPD
– WWDA (@WWDA_AU) February 3, 2021
The federal judge-winning NDIS contestant, a woman in her forties who refused to be identified, said last year the case had been a long and difficult trial and the NDIA was “difficult to treat”.
“I’m very excited about this decision, but it’s been a very stressful process that has dragged on for four years,” she said.
Another person with disabilities, Ange McReynolds, who has cerebral palsy, explained the importance of sexual services to her in a 2019 interview with Guardian Australia.
Now the issue is likely to be further elaborated and thrown into the political arena as the government seeks support for the ban in the Senate.
Although the legislation was not made public, Robert appeared to suggest that changes would go beyond banning sex worker services from being included in an NDIS plan.
The move to legislation came after the Commonwealth did not get the unanimous support it needed from the states and territories to amend the NDIS law, largely because the ACT government is strongly against the move.
ACT government minister for disability, Suzanne Orr, previously told Guardian Australia that the plan would “deny people with disabilities both their rights and essential therapeutic services.”
“The proposed rule changes reflect Minister Robert’s refusal to recognize sex therapy as a legitimate form of counseling and to promote the mental, emotional and physical well-being of people with disabilities,” Orr said.
“The most human needs for intimacy and connectedness cannot be withheld from individuals in a fair and inclusive society.”
Noting other cases in the administrative appeals court over using NDIS funds for a dock and visits to Endota Spa, Robert told GB 2 the government must “make rules about what is reasonably necessary because the community expects us to do it” .
“That’s what the legislation is going to try,” said Robert. “The attempt is made to say to set limits, to give some kind of guidance on what is reasonably necessary. That way, participants can plan and the agency can make decisions knowing they are within the law. “
Steele-John warned that this would be a mistake. “What we are seeing there is the beginning of a government that is using out-of-context cases to act as a smoke screen for a takeover,” he said.
“This government wants sole power to determine what is appropriate and necessary for disabled people.”
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