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QLS joins disability scheme opposition

QLS joins disability scheme opposition

The Queensland Law Society (QLS) has today (18 August) joined a growing number of legal groups which have raised concerns over certain elements of the proposed National Disability Insurance…

The Queensland Law Society (QLS) has today (18 August) joined a growing number of legal groups which have raised concerns over certain elements of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Welcoming the Productivity Commission's proposed scheme, the QLS has warned of its potentially negative impact on people's rights.

According to QLS president Bruce Doyle, the NDIS would benefit many people who are born with or develop a disability but currently receive inadequate financial assistance.

"However, we want to be careful that the recommendations empower people with disabilities and do not diminish their rights, such as the proposal to consider the abolition of common law rights in personal injury matters in 2020," said Doyle.

"For disabilities cases resulting from catastrophic injury, the National Injury Insurance Scheme, while offering care and support for these people, also proposes to abolish some rights to sue for personal injuries."

Since the scheme's release on 10 August, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) and the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) have also voiced their concerns regarding the scheme, including the potential erosion of the rights of catastrophically injured people as well as the scheme's lack of capacity for review.

Also welcoming the establishment of the scheme, the LCA has strongly rejected the separate scheme for catastrophically injured people and cautioned against the erosion of basic legal rights for people who have been negligently injured to seek compensation.

"It is simply unacceptable that the most severely disabled people, many of whom are victims of accidents, should lose rights to legal representation or to appeal against adverse decisions to an independent tribunal," said LCA president Alexander Ward on 11 August.

Raising concerns over how the scheme would fit within the mental health sector (the NDIS does not cater for psychological disabilities), ALA president-elect Anthony Kerin also warned that the failure to independently analyse and review any decision made by a bureaucracy would mean inadequate protections for the disabled.

"There is no such provision for this [review] within the NDIS model. The dangers of this have been recently evidenced within medical tribunals in WorkCover. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal exists for that purpose," said Kerin on 11 August.

The Productivity Commission has recommended that the scheme be phased in from 2014 and fully operational by 2018.

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