An alliance of 40 disability advocacy groups has signed a statement calling on the government to include sexuality supports in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The position statement released by Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPO) demands a comprehensive national policy on sexuality and the NDIS, saying “governments have an obligation to ensure people with disability can enjoy rich and fulfilling lives equal to others in society”.

It comes after a woman with a disability in July won the right in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have a sex therapist paid for under the scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has appealed the case, arguing these are not the sort of services covered by the NDIS.

Commenting at the time, NDIS minister Stuart Robert said the ruling was out of line with community expectations.

“The current position continues to be that the NDIS does not cover sexual services, sexual therapy or sex workers in a participant’s NDIS plan,” he said in a statement.

However disability advocates welcomed the ruling, saying the decision has set a precedent for people receiving NDIS support.

Recognising the needs of people with a disability

People with disability want funding for sex work and sex therapy services to be included in NDIS plans, DPO’s Matthew Bowden said.

Matthew Bowden

“By developing a comprehensive, rights-based sexuality policy, the NDIA will recognise the needs to people with disability to a full, adult, ordinary life,” said he said.

The joint DPO postion statement says that people with disability have long been subjected to societal beliefs that they are either asexual or hypersexual, while being denied autonomy over our own bodies.

It says the NDIS has perpetuated the stigma by failing to develop or produce a clear and comprehensive sexuality policy for participants.

The statement also notes the NDIS is designed, in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, to provide access to supports that are deemed “reasonable and necessary” to ensure people with disability are fully supported to live ordinary lives, equal to the rest of the community.

The statement says a sexuality policy should include goals including:

  • appropriate disability-inclusive sexuality and relationships education
  • information and resources to support individual learning needs
  • support for dating and social sexual engagements
  • access to adaptive sex toys
  • access to sex therapy or utilising sexual services from sex workers

An NDIA spokeswoman told Community Care Review the NDIS does not cover sexual services, sexual therapy or sex workers in a participant’s NDIS plan and that funding a sex worker was not deemed reasonable or necessary under NDIA criteria.

“The NDIS can fund supports to enable Scheme participants to participate in the activities they choose; however, the NDIS does not fund the private activity itself and does not generally fund the cost of private activities,” she said on Thursday.

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