We met Andrew last year and since then have been working with him on a number of projects. Sharing his voice, experience and insight he is helping to educate and improve outcomes for people with disability.
Andrew spoke with Louise recently to share a bit more about himself.
Andrew, tell us about yourself?
My name is Andrew, I’m a Nurungga man from Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, now living on Dja Dja Warung country in central Victoria. I’m an Aboriginal man living with a number of disabilities namely Parkinson’s disease and a number of major health issues as well.
Where are you living now and where are you planning to move?
I am living in a home unsuitable for my needs. It is a classic example of where things not only can go wrong, they can go wrong with major consequences. Aboriginal people have poorer health and disability outcomes and over the past 4 years my physical deterioration has been significant.
I have now been approved for SDA 3 levels higher than what I had initially been approved (improved liveability) and will be moving to a home that is high physical support. I am planning a move to the coast to a new SDA.
How do you feel about that move?
It’s great, but unfortunately it has taken severe physical deterioration and a change in federal government for bureaucrats to join the dots to make things work the way the system is supposed to work. I am quite capable of advocating for myself but it concerns me that there are a lot of people with disabilities and others that don’t have capacity to do that.
You recently spoke with (NDIS Review co-chair) Professor Bruce Bonyhady, what did you talk about?
It was a chance for him to hear directly from me the concerns that I have been raising with the NDIS and the NDIA for a number of years. And the aged care system too, as that was the system I was originally placed in many years ago. It was a fight not to get into it in the first place, it was a much easier fight to get out.
Why were you placed into aged care when you were a 50-year-old man?
Well my understanding is that there was contact made from state-based DHS to state-based aged care services that they felt because my Parkinson’s disease was a deteriorating condition and because I am an Aboriginal man, I would be better suited to a system that I was ultimately going to be remaining in. Which of course defeats the entire purpose of the NDIS in principle.
Without listening to anyone, without listening to Aboriginal people who they know have poorer health outcomes, they used exactly that to put me into a system that I didn’t want to be in and that was the aged care system.
You are an Aboriginal man, why is the Voice to Parliament important to you?
It is important to bring about change so that people will have to listen. The reality is that once this gets into the Constitution, and I am confident it will, any parliament on any day will have to listen. More people who have the authority to bring about change will listen and get on with it. Talk is cheap, talk has been there for years, talk is cheap until the referendum hopefully changes that.
We have always been told we have a voice and we are listened to, but in my 58, 59 years, it is clear to me that Aboriginal people don’t have a voice.
I am confident a Yes vote will help the Commonwealth make sound decisions to ensure Aboriginal people get the support and services they need to live better lives and hopefully in time longer lives.
Andrew explains why he thinks a Voice to parliament is important in this video below:
Andrew also shared his story in our Young people don’t belong in aged care – Our stories page here.