Dr Catherine Wade (Parenting Research Centre): Hi, Ash. Thanks for your time today. Thanks for coming to talk to me about your experiences with NDIS. Well, tell me about day-to-day parenting in your house. Like, how are things shared between the 2 of you?
Ash (parent): I guess it's shared between us. Get up, they have brekky and then get ready for day care and then go to day care.
Dr Catherine Wade: So the NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme. What was happening in your life around the time that you got on the NDIS? Were you a mum then?
Ash: No, I think I was becoming a mum.
Dr Catherine Wade: So it was just before you were pregnant, around that time, with your first son?
Dr Catherine Wade: What sorts of things do you use NDIS funding for?
Ash: Supports for shopping, just maintaining stuff in the house, and at the moment we're doing driving lessons as well.
Dr Catherine Wade: Do people come into the home to help you with other stuff, like stuff to do with your parenting?
Ash: Not so much parenting but just help with maintaining and stuff.
Dr Catherine Wade: Maybe if we talk a little bit more about when you first got on the NDIS and when your first child, your son, was born. Was it a difficult time for you? People were starting to question whether you could be a parent, whether you should be a parent and that sort of stud?
Ash: It was a difficult time but we got by with the help that was provided.
Dr Catherine Wade: What sort of help was provided?
Ash: I had one person come in to do overnight stays.
Dr Catherine Wade: For about a week, I think, wasn't it?
Dr Catherine Wade: So you had someone come into the home and help to show you how to do things?
Dr Catherine Wade: Having someone there who can support you and show you how to breastfeed or make up formula or put a baby down who's not – who's crying and not sleeping well?
Dr Catherine Wade: They stayed overnight. Did they stay during the day as well?
Ash: No. So I had time to myself through the day and they would just come back of a night-time.
Dr Catherine Wade: And if you had difficulties during the day, did you have someone you could call to ask for help?
Ash: Yeah, but I was pretty much all right.
Dr Catherine Wade: The other thing that's important with NDIS is that it's your money, right. You have the choice and the control over the money. And what sort of stuff do you choose to spend it on?
Ash: At the moment I'm doing, as I said, learning to drive and stuff.
Dr Catherine Wade: So you sat down with a worker, or a planner I think they call them, and they had a conversation about your goals, probably, and so you told them that one of your goals was to learn to drive?
Ash: To get my Ps.
Dr Catherine Wade: To get your Ps, yeah. What other things would you choose to use or do you like to use the NDIS money for?
Ash: I guess going out a bit more. Maybe going to mum groups.
Dr Catherine Wade: Have you ever done a mum's group?
Ash: Was doing a few but then they all finished.
Dr Catherine Wade: What sort of stuff did you do there?
Ash: It was just mainly talking about the behaviours with your children and talking about things.
Dr Catherine Wade: What else has been the most helpful thing for you in having the NDIS?
Ash: I guess people coming in and helping, getting me motivated.
Dr Catherine Wade: So the people that you work with, you find them – like, people who come into your home, you find them quite encouraging and motivating?
Dr Catherine Wade: Is it sometimes hard to find the right person, the right match between you and a worker?
Ash: Yeah, it is. Like, I've had some that I didn't like really much.
Dr Catherine Wade: And are you able to be clear about that? Like, are you able to say, 'I don't want that person coming'?
Ash: Well, I have in the past.
Dr Catherine Wade: That's good. That's how it should be, because one of the ideas of the NDIS is you have choice, right? You can say, 'I want this but I don't want that.' So you went to your coordinator and you said you weren't happy and you weren't being listened to. What did they say when you told them that?
Ash: I think they were proud of me for standing up for myself.
Dr Catherine Wade: And what difference did that make to your life when you spoke up and had a voice?
Ash: Pretty much changed everything.
Dr Catherine Wade: Tell me.
Ash: I was able to have a choice in what I wanted to spend my money on.
Dr Catherine Wade: That's good. That's a good example of you using your choice and control.
Ash: I guess it makes me feel like I'm more of an adult.
Dr Catherine Wade: More of an adult, yeah.
Ash: And I get to have a choice in life.
Dr Catherine Wade: Because ultimately you're the one who knows your children best. It's important that you're the one making the decisions about what happens to them and what's important for you and your family.
Ash: Yeah, I just felt more freedom.
Dr Catherine Wade: What would you say to other parents who are feeling like you were 5 or 6 years ago, like you didn't have control of your life? What would be the message you would give other parents like that?
Ash: Speak up because we all should have a say.
Dr Catherine Wade: Because your kids are going to learn from that too, aren't they, if they see Mum standing up for herself?
Dr Catherine Wade: And if a parent was saying to you, 'Oh, this NDIS thing. Yeah, I've heard about it. I reckon I probably could get it, but oh, just, I've looked at the form. It's too confusing. I can't be bothered,' what would you tell them?
Ash: Helped me with my parenting. Was able to keep my children.
Dr Catherine Wade: That's a pretty big outcome. That's a pretty big positive out of that one.
Dr Catherine Wade: All right, thank you, Ash, for coming to have a chat with me today. And you've got one on the way.
Dr Catherine Wade: Yes. So what are you looking forward to for this little bub?
Ash: Them growing up together. Just seeing them happy.