Disabled students told 'take Uber' if bus services close
DISABLED children could be required to "take an Uber" to school when the National Disability Insurance Scheme comes into force in 2019.
This is the fear of parents and bus drivers of the specialised services, like BlueGum Buses, which drives disabled children from their home to school and back.
Yoshe Hodgkinson, whose son Jakson is profoundly disabled and cannot walk, talk or lift his head, is one of BlueGum Buses' drivers.
She said parents at Currimundi Special School had started a petition to save the bus service.
The NDIS gives parents a $6000 mobility allowance for their disabled child, but it does not appear to stipulate how this is used.
Services like BlueGum Buses are funded through the State Government and have no certainty on their future of their funding post the NDIS being introduced.
"We are being told disabled families who are getting approximately $6000 a year to organise themselves and can use public transport and Ubers to get their children to and from schools," Ms Hodgkinson said.
While Jakson had been donated a van which she could use to take him to school, Ms Hodgkinson believed many parents simply wouldn't bother to take their children to school.
She said plans to make parents use Uber would fail as complete stranger "don't know disability, they don't understand autism".
"As a parent with a disabled child, it takes us a hellava lot of effort to be able to trust a bus driver and carer on a bus and now they want to throw us into getting Ubers."
It is understood a petition has been started at Currimundi Special School by the parents to save their bus service.
"It doesn't sit well with any of the parents that they would pull away a bus company and put us into private transportation," Ms Hodgkinson said.
BlueGum Buses manager Michael Michael said the need for this type of bus service would be "drastically reduced".
"People can use different modes of transport like Uber or taxi service because of different way they funding is provided.
"The disability bus service is a professional system that has chaperone or carer on board who services the needs of students.
"Parents allocated an allowance to provide their own mode of transport can outsource to their discretion
"The concerning part is we could have a situation where a parent receives funding and may not use it all on transportation
"The child might not get transportation as required."
Mr Michael said the existing had been in operation "for a long time time now" and had been running efficiently.
"Once they do the number crunching they will realise it is the cheapest system at their disposal," he said.
"If we have situation on bus child throws tantrums how do they manage it."
A National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) spokeswoman said all governments had agreed the NDIS was the most appropriate service system to fund supports for transport to and from school.
"Following consultation with the Queensland Government and in order to ensure stable transition of school transport into the NDIS during the three-year transition to full scheme (2016 to 2019), it has been agreed that existing school transport services administered by the Queensland Government will continue to be available to NDIS participants.
"In this period, the National Disability Insurance Agency will work with the Queensland Government, schools, families and transport providers to determine the most appropriate arrangement for providing these supports within the NDIS over the longer term.
"A key objective of the NDIS is to provide people with disability with choice and control over the supports and services they access in day to day life and the Agency is working to understand how students and their families or carers can be provided with increased levels of choice and control over the school transport services they access."