Mentally disabled parents need more support
Disability Minister Bill Shorten reiterated that the NDIS was never intended to replace traditional services. Appropriate investment in ensuring that Australians with disabilities can access traditional supports in their community is essential, but parents with developmental disabilities need more intensive support to manage the varied, complex and dynamic tasks that come with parenthood.
If we recognize parenting as a fundamental occupation of daily life, NDIS funding can be used by parents with developmental disabilities to learn parenting skills.
When NDIS supports are in place prior to parenthood, we need to adjust plans for expectant parents with developmental disabilities.
The NDIS could fund support for personal and household activities to help parents learn what it takes to create a safe home for their child. Parents can also get help from the NDIS to access their community: to learn about local playgroups and new parent groups, then help join them so they can connect with other parents and services.
For the parents we spoke to, even knowing what services they could use their NDIS funding for was a mystery. It was discovered too late that NDIS funds could have helped her secure contact visits with her children in care. As she told us:
We didn’t really know the ins and outs of what NDIS does for you, and no one explained to me, “Oh, the NDIS package can help you with a lot of different things”, like helping me with my parenting ability , helping me get to and from visits, or catching up on meetings I need to go to.