NDIS must not shut off charities like Pegasus
IT WOULD be a shame if, on the cusp of major reforms to the disability sector to plug holes in the system, a long-standing community organisation such as Pegasus Riding for the Disabled were to shut its doors after 40 years.
According to the ACT government, its hands are tied in the long term.
The fact that the National Disability Insurance Scheme will soon come into play means the territory government cannot promise funding beyond June 2014.
From that point on it becomes a federal issue.
The NDIS is a much-needed reform for a disability sector racked with inequality across the nation.
A person with a disability who moves to another state or territory will be confronted with a completely new set of potentially bewildering red tape to access services in a markedly different way to what they had done previously.
The aim of the NDIS is to, firstly, fix this and then to tie funding to individual clients' needs and to add more money to the sector generally.
Sadly, one effect of this locally has been the uncertainty it appears to have created for Pegasus.
Pegasus faces the reality of not being able to run the Riding for the Disabled service as a charity. It seems competition for charity money is just too strong these days.
It must hire out its facilities (moving or stopping some certain classes in the process) to make money from able-bodied riders.
Riding for the Disabled's goal is to give people with disabilities throughout Australia the experience, enjoyment, challenge and sense of achievement horse activities can provide.
The organisation is driven by the power of volunteers.
According to Pegasus, in the early 1970s, local horsewoman Bid Williams was approached by a therapist at Canberra Hospital, to see if a few children with disabilities could have pony rides at Bid's farm.
Bid agreed and others helped out too.
One story has it that on the first afternoon a young girl, who was usually wheelchair bound, rode under a tree and reached up to touch the leaves. Suddenly the girl shouted "I can touch them''.
Riding for the Disabled is a worthy cause for anyone wanting to donate money.
Like many relatively small but worthy causes across Australia, it must not be forgotten while the comparatively massive debate about the NDIS ensues.