Prostitute bills threaten future of NDIS

A FINANCIAL sex bomb is threatening the "sustainability" of the National Disability Insurance Scheme amid fears of a $3 billion blowout in prostitute bills.

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert is scrambling to head-off a potential financial crisis after a woman with disabilities won a court battle to force taxpayers to pick up the tab for her regular visits to a male sex worker.

By tomorrow, all state and territory ministers will receive correspondence from Mr Robert urging them to support rule changes that would stop participants on the $22 billion a year NDIS making claims for sex.

The correspondence, seen by The Sunday Mail, flags the introduction of strict new laws from the Morrison Government that will stop the NDIS paying for sex services if states refuse to adopt the change.

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

 

Mr Robert said while participants could spend their Disability Support Pension, other government-provided financial support or private income on sex services, it was not something the NDIS should fund.

"I am … extremely concerned about the potential impact of the Federal Court's decision on the long-term financial sustainability of the NDIS and Australian people's ongoing support for the scheme,'' Mr Robert wrote.

"The Scheme actuary estimated the total cost to the NDIS of providing sexual services to participants with multiple sclerosis and a similar level of function would be $66 million per annum. If all NDIS participants aged 25-64 were granted similar supports, the costs could be in excess of $2.77 billion per annum."

Mr Robert told The Sunday Mail the government did not believe that use of taxpayer NDIS funds to pay for sex workers was in line with community expectations.

"It will be incumbent on the states and territories to respect community expectations on this matter,''he said.

"If the states and territories don't agree to amend the NDIS rules, all options will be on the table, including legislation to enshrine the change in law.

"It is important to note NDIS participants can still freely use their own money, whether that is through government support or earned income, to spend on whatever they want. All we are saying is taxpayer NDIS funds were never intended to be used in this way and we'll be ensuring this does not happen again."

The woman, who is in her 40s and has multiple sclerosis, was told in 2017 the NDIS would not pay for her sex worker. She sought a review from the Administrative Appeal Tribunal, which upheld her case.

The government took it to the Federal Court which on Tuesday published a decision in favour of the woman and the NSIS providing for $10,000 in sex services a year.

The judgement cited evidence that the woman, who was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago, "has been single for reasons she attributes to her complex medical conditions.

"Prior to her illnesses the respondent had an active sex life, but her medical conditions are such that the prospect for her of sexual release of any kind without assistance is highly unlikely," the judgement read.

The woman's clinical psychologist provided a report stating: "I also believe that contact with her sex worker has also significantly improved her mood and confidence. [The respondent] reports that she does benefit significantly from this contact … some funding would continue to allow her to engage in this beneficial relationship."

There has been criticism of the NDIS, with some participants claiming it was too difficult to navigate to access equipment and disability services.

Originally published as Prostitute bills threaten future of NDIS


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