Little Hand, Driving & The NDIS

Firstly, thank you for visiting our GoFundMe campaign - we really appreciate you making the time.

Here's a little bit of information to help set the scene.

In a nutshell ... 
We have a 16 year old daughter, Talia, who has had a disability from birth.  For her to be allowed to drive we need to pay for modifications to our car, and extra driving lessons.  

Even though she has no fingers on her left hand, which she calls her Little Hand, Talia doesn't qualify for government funding under Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme.  Yes, we know it's crazy, but that's how it is.

We'd love your help towards paying these unexpected costs.  Your support will make it possible for Talia to maintain her independence, access work opportunities and build her social life.  We'll make the changes to the car as soon as we have enough funding.

If we raise even more money, we're going to look at ways to help other people who find themselves in a similar situation.

The longer version  ...

Our daughter, Talia, was born without fingers on her left hand - her Little Hand.  She's creative, adaptable and resilient and has workarounds for most day-to-day tasks.   We're extremely proud of what's she's achieved, and who she's becoming.

However, there are still things even the most determined individual can't do when they're missing five digits.

Last year, Talia had her 16th birthday.  That's the age when you can apply for your driving licence.  It's a major milestone in young people's lives.  Driving opens the door to increased independence, to work opportunities, and to social inclusion. 

Talia passed her written exam and was given her provisional licence: on one condition ...  she had to take an $800 assessment to see if she needed modifications made to any cars she drove. 

After the assessment, the assessor informed us that, by law, every car Talia drives will require changes, changes that cost over $2300 per vehicle.   Talia will also need more professional driving lessons to gain experience in a modified car.  The relevant legislation considers Talia to be "severely disabled." 

We assumed the government-funded National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would help because the scheme is "... the new way of providing support for Australians with disability, their families and carers."*  We also assumed it would cover the expensive prosthetic arms that Talia uses.

We were wrong ...

Talia's application for support under the NDIS was declined.  Not once, but twice - even after a letter was sent by our Federal MP to the Minister for Social Services.  It appears that missing all the digits on one hand since birth isn't "... a permanent and significant disability ...".*  Go figure!

We nicknamed the NDIS "the National Discrimination Insurance Scheme".  The scheme is flawed.  There are many people, often with severe health issues, who are not getting the support they need.  We know the scheme's a work-in-progress.  We know it's beginning to help some people.  And yet, we also know that "significant disability" is being interpreted in ways that deny many people, such as Talia, the ability to be all they could be.   It may be inadvertent, but the NDIS is clearly discriminating against some of the people it was designed to help.  

So, how  will your contribution help ... ?

1) When we hit the target, your gift will enable us to make the modifications to our car so that Talia can continue learning to drive.  You're helping Talia achieve the freedom and independence that is 'normal' for the vast majority of people of her age in this country.

2) If we exceed the target, and depending on how much is raised, we'll use the additional funds to:
- Pull together existing resources to help other families and individuals who are struggling to access the NDIS.  We'll make these available via a website and/or a Facebook page (Phase 1).
- Create new resources where nothing exists at the moment (Phase 2).
- Begin to build a network of professionals who are willing to offer free assistance with NDIS submissions and appeals (Phase 3).
- Create a voice for anyone who find themselves in a similar situation to Talia, including lobbying the government to improve the health of the NDIS (Phase 4).

If you'd like to make a gift that helps Talia, and hopefully others like her, we'd be really grateful.   If you could also forward the link through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ... that would also be fantastic.  It's as much about helping raise awareness of the broader situation as it is about helping Talia.

No matter what you decide, thank you again for your attention and interest.

With our very best wishes.

Shay & Shan Withnell, Talia's parents.
P.S.  GoFundMe charges about 7.5% in fees in total.  We'll pay the initial fees for the gifts that help put Talia in the driving seat.  That means 100% of your gift will go to helping her.  

* Source:


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Shay Withnell 
Mona Vale NSW
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