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NDIS participant fights for improvements


Lake Macquarie resident James Nutt has spoken up about his experiences since a serious assault left him with a significant disability at the age of 19.

After being forced into Aged Care, it took more than a decade for James to finally find suitable services and accommodation.

This was largely due to the efforts of disability support provider Ability Options and a not-for-profit called Summer Foundation.

The foundation aims to create, lead and demonstrate long-term changes that stop young people from being forced to live in nursing homes because there is nowhere else for them.

James travelled from his Belmont home to Melbourne last week to share his story at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The hearing, which was about young people in residential aged care, had a particular focus on impact, drivers and appropriateness of allocation policy, as well as how to best support young people who wished to leave residential aged care.

“I believe every Australian should have choice, control, and independence to make our decisions,” James said.

“I want everyone to know my story as it should not happen to anyone else.”

Ability Options chief executive Julia Squire said her team and Summer Foundation had supported James to ensure his story was heard.

“It took us about 20 to 25 hours of coordination to plan the logistics,” she said.

“The focus was to ensure flights and accommodation were suitable for James’ complex support needs and for him to have the support of the disability support workers he has chosen.

“James’ story could help change services for people with a disability forever and we are proud to be part of his efforts.”

Ms Squire said his flights, transfers and accommodation had been taken care of by the royal commission.

However, James still needed to dip into his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding to cover the additional hours required for support coordination, as well as two 24/7 support workers for the visit.

“This means that the appearance in Melbourne at the royal commission has been a direct cost to James personally,” Ms Squire said.

The next hearing will take place from 7 to 11 October, with a focus on diversity in aged care.

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