By bobb | Thu, 12/5/2016 - 07:53

BORDER mums are taking the disability service system to task in a heartfelt plea to Canberra.

Wodonga disability activist and mum to a son with autism, Jen Tait, and Gateway Health’s Community Inclusion and Population Health manager and mum to a son with a disability, Toni Reeves, have put their concerns on the public record.

Ms Tait wrote a moving letter to the member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, seeking a fair go for people living with disabilities on the Border. 

“All people with disabilities should have the opportunity to choose and create a good life in the community free of control by services and organisations, able to live interdependently, with quality links in community where they are known, seen, valued and have meaningful relationships with people outside of the service system,” Ms Tait wrote.  

Ms McGowan relayed Ms Tait’s concerns to the Australian Parliament last week along with those raised by Ms Reeves, Disability Advocacy and Information Service, Aware Industries and Central Victorian Group Training Company.  

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will become available in the Ovens-Murray area from October 1, 2017, covering the local government areas of Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Mansfield, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga. It will join the Goulburn area and Murrindindi from January 1, 2019, including Moira.

DOWN TIME: Wodonga disability advocate Jen Tait with her son Alec Tait-Russell and their dog at home in West Wodonga. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

Ms Tait said she hoped the NDIS and Ms McGowan could help foster an environment in which people living with disabilities could achieve a good life for themselves in the same way that non-disabled people worked to achieve a good life.

“We can’t rely on services and organisations to ‘do’ for us, and inform us impartially without their own interests getting in the way,” she said.  

“Myself and some other active parents decided to bring the mountain to us.”

The parents have enlisted social inclusion organisation, Belonging Matters, to relay information about the NDIS to Wodonga families.

Ms Tait said when families understood the NDIS there would be less fear about the future under the biggest reform in the history of disability support.  

“I want to know the good, the bad and the ugly; I want to know how to advocate for my son so that he gets the supports he needs to become a valued and productive member of our community,” she said.

Belonging Matters will host Looking Forward: Preparing for the NDIS seminar on June 3 at Wodonga Golf Club from 9.30am to 3.30pm. A Canberra family who is receiving NDIS help will speak.

For details visit or phone (03) 9739 8333.