On behalf of Queenslanders with disability, peak bodies and disability organisations we call on Minister for Transport and Main Roads the Hon. Mark Bailey to extend the Queensland Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants.
The TSS is scheduled to end on 30 June 2019 for NDIS participants. Approximately 10,000 people with disability, who rely on the scheme for everyday transport, will suffer a major financial cost as a result.
The vast majority of Queensland NDIS participants are not receiving adequate transport funding. Many rely on the TSS to be active participants in all aspects of society. With no affordable transport alternative in place they will be restricted in their ability to remain connected with and participate in their communities.
The TSS cuts also means the $20 ‘Lift Payment’ will not be paid to taxi drivers who transport these 10,000 Queenslanders should they choose to use a Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT). The ‘Lift Payment’ was an incentive for drivers to prioritise bookings for people with disability and has led to improved response rates and decreased complaints.
The Tasmanian, New South Wales and South Australia Governments have already recognised that ceasing their respective TSS programs at this point would create unnecessary and avoidable hardship for people with a disability and responded accordingly, extending their respective taxi subsidy schemes.
Accessible public transport remains a Commonwealth, State and Local Government responsibility and a right of all people. Article 20 of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states signatories should provide personal mobility at an affordable cost.
Furthermore, the Queensland Government passed the Human Rights Act in February 2019 to ensure Queenslanders are treated fairly, and with dignity, equality and respect. The Queensland Government, as a signatory to the NDIS, must ensure people are not financially disadvantaged by participation in the scheme, and have the affordable transport they need to access the supports provided by the NDIS.
The TSS was introduced by the Queensland Government in 1987 with the aim of providing accessible travel options for people with a disability who experience profound difficulty in using other forms of public transport. It is a vital subsidy that assists people with disability where there is a lack of accessible public and private transport options available, is a mechanism for people to access vital services and supports and often ensures personal safety to an otherwise vulnerable group in the community.
Therefore we call on Minister Bailey to:
Extend the TSS and Lift Payment by 2 years for Queensland NDIS participants.
We believe a two year extension would provide the necessary time for the Commonwealth and State governments to finalise negotiations and introduce adequate transport supports under the NDIS.
It is unacceptable the Queensland State Government is choosing to make this decision to disadvantage Queenslanders as they enter the NDIS. Now more than ever, we urge the Queensland Government to take action.
- Able Australia
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Disability Network
- Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia
- Blind Citizens Australia
- Disability Advocacy Network Australia
- Endeavour Foundation
- House with No Steps
- Inclusion Moves
- Life Without Barriers
- Macular Disease Foundation Australia
- MS Queensland
- Spinal Life
- Taxi Council Queensland
- Vision Australia