Tens of thousands of Queenslanders with disability will be worse off and have little option for independent travel because of a decision by the Queensland Government.
From July 1, 2019, Queensland’s Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) will be scrapped for people who have or who are eligible to receive a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) package.
The TSS subsidises taxi travel for people with a severe disability, covering 50 per cent of a fare up to a maximum of $25 per trip.
Karen Knight, Vision Australia general manager of advocacy and engagement, said the decision will leave her and tens of thousands of other Queenslanders worse off.
“At present the vast majority of NDIS participants in Queensland are not receiving adequate transport funding in their packages. From July 1, taxi travel will be too expensive and Queenslanders with a disability face the real prospect of not being able to travel independently when they need to,” Karen said.
“As person who is blind, I rely on the TSS to travel to work, attend appointments and support my young family. Its removal would cost me an additional $250 per week. I would be put in a situation where I’d have to consider relocating to be closer to my employer and connections important to my life, which would also bring significant expense,” she said.
While there are other public transport options, the point-to-point nature of taxi travel makes it much more accessible for people with a disability.
“Taxi travel doesn’t bring with it the worry of whether a train station or bus stop is accessible. It also provides the same door-to-door convenience that car travel offers to those who can drive,” Karen said.
Vision Australia, along with the wider disability support sector, is pushing for the Queensland Government to extend the TSS for at least another two years. A petition to have that happen currently has more than 5000 signatures.
“We believe two years would allow state and federal governments to finalise the necessary agreements so that people can access adequate transport funding via the NDIS,” Karen said.
“Recently governments in NSW, South Australia and Tasmania have recognised that people would be left worse off under the NDIS and have committed additional funding to their taxi schemes, now it’s the Queensland government’s turn to do the same.”
If you are a Queensland resident, you can help the effort to have the TSS retained. Sign this petition now to join the fight.