Choice is only choice when you understand your options

Here’s a question for you:

Would you like a white one or a green one?

Come on, decide! What’s it to be? White or green?

Of course, you answer will depend on whether it’s a yoghurt or a late-model jaguar. If you’re being offered yoghurt then you’ll go with white but if it’s a jaguar it’s best to choose green.

Choice is only choice when you know and understand your options.

So it goes with the rolling out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Finally, people with a disability are being asked what they want and what they need. However, no time, effort or funds is going into guiding people with a disability about the options available.

Think about it. If you have had restricted access to money for most or all of your life and are suddenly presented with near-on $150,000 to spend and you have no sense of future consequences of that spending – how would you spend it?

The NDIS currently offers packages with a choice between blowing the cash on bowling, sex workers or assistance to find employment. Now, even though I have no bias against the first two options, I am going to put myself out there and say that employment is going to get your further in the long run. With employment, once the NDIS money runs out (and it will), what do you have at the end? A job. Aside from social status, a social network and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, what does a job give you? Money. And what can you do with money? Anything you like.

Yet without the benefit of decent counselling, most people would choose leisure over work. I would. So it’s up to disability employment service providers to educate about financial security, guide people with a disability through the options and help them set priorities. To ensure people have informed choice.

Informed choice is not just a catchy phrase. If the options available to us are not understood, there really is no choice at all.

- Martin Wren