Was the NDIS required to fund the cost of a sex worker for a woman with severe disabilities? Which case won?
Woman becomes eligible to participate in National Disability Insurance Scheme
Seventeen years ago, a woman referred to as “W”, who is now in her forties, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In 2016, she applied to participate in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and was accepted as an eligible person.
The NDIS is a statutory scheme set up under the Commonwealth National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (“the Act”) to provide funding for support and services directly to eligible persons with disabilities.
Once a person becomes eligible, a plan is created outlining their goals, the support needed to help achieve those goals, and the funding to be made available to them for “reasonable and necessary supports”.
The plan must be approved by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
Woman’s request for funding for cost of sex worker denied by NDIA
Due to her MS, W walks with difficulty and with the assistance of strong MS drugs.
She does not work and her main source of income is the disability support pension.
The NDIA provides her with the services of a carer to attend to her physical needs.
Prior to being diagnosed with MS, W had an active sex life.
However, due to her MS, sexual release of any kind is now highly unlikely without specialised assistance.
In her NDIS plan, W requested funding for the services of a sex worker.
The NDIA denied the request.
Woman challenges NDIA decision
W sought an internal NDIA review of its decision to decline her request.
The internal review upheld the NDIA’s decision, saying that the requested funding did not meet the funding criteria under the Act.
W appealed the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The Tribunal ruled in her favour, concluding that the NDIA was required to fund her request for the support of a sex worker.
The NDIA appealed the Tribunal’s decision to the Federal Court.