Group rights and the NDIS

Stream: Disability
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 1.35 pm – 3.15 pm


The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the most significant changes to disability policy in our lifetime. However, little research has been done into how this policy interpolates the disability community as their own identity group. This paper will discuss how the NDIS application and funding procedures have contributed to the construction of disability identity. NDIS application and funding procedures have invited people with a disability to express their needs in terms of their deficiencies, thus emphasising disability as a “Bad Thing”. These discourses occur against the discourses of disability advocates, who emphasise that disabled people are more disabled by the inaccessibility of the world around them than they are by their bodies.

This analysis takes a Social Model approach to understanding the particular policy approach taken by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), utilising government reports and resources produced by advocacy organisations as an evidence base. Analysing these through a social model lens has produced the central research findings in this paper.

This lens of examination into the NDIS gives us the opportunity to assess the usefulness of social policy procedures that rely on applicants of this specific identity group to highlight their weaknesses and incapacities in order to access funding required to increase their quality of living.


Tessa-May Zirnsak (Presenter), La Trobe University
Tessa-May Zirnsak is a PhD Candidate in Gender, Sexuality and Diversity at La Trobe University, Bundoora. Her research focuses on violence against the cognitive disability community from a philosophical perspective. Tessa-May is a research assistant with the Rainbow Me! Project on inclusion of people with intellectual disability in LGBT services at the Living with Disability Research Centre at La Trobe. She also has experience working as an activist in her role as Disability Officer in her Student Union in 2015, before commencing her academic research.