Former Kiama couple Chris and Bobbie English hopeful of taking their NDIS ordeal to parliament

Bobbie and Chris English at Wollongong Hospital in August. Picture: Robert Peet/Illawarra Mercury.
Bobbie and Chris English at Wollongong Hospital in August. Picture: Robert Peet/Illawarra Mercury.

It was a fall on his birthday that changed Chris English's life for ever. Little did he know, if he was injured before his 65th birthday earlier it would have been a different outcome all together.

The fall made him a quadriplegic. To add insult to injury, given he was 69, Mr English was entitled to only the aged care supplement, rather than the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The former Ulladulla jeweller and wife Bobbie are starting a petition, calling for persons who acquire a disability when aged over 65 to have access to the NDIS, will be aired in parliament this December.

The couple, now of Tullimbar, want all people with disabilities to be able to access the NDIS no matter the age of when their illness or injury occurred.

Mr English, who owned a jewellery store in Bellbrook Arcade, Ulladulla, was celebrating his 69th birthday last year when a fall down steps left him a quadriplegic.

If the former Ulladulla Squash Club captain had acquired the disability before he turned 65, he would have been eligible for the NDIS.

Instead, Mr English is reliant on an aged care supplement which is capped at $50,250 annually - less than half of what he would be eligible for with an NDIS package. Mr English also requires 24/7 care of which family mostly provides.

Kiama Lions Club have also been huge supporters, Mrs English said. Many members helped Mrs English get their house in Kiama ready to sell and visited Mr English at Prince of Wales Hospital on a regular basis.

Lions Club members Chanel and Denis Bourke also assisted Mrs English in starting a petition earlier this year. It has now accrued more than 14,000 signatures, she said.

Mrs English, who worked at the Commonwealth Bank and for Dr Bill Bennett in the Milton-Ulladulla district, wants elderly disabled people to be covered under the same scheme.

Since the petition started, the couple have received phone calls from people in different parts of Australia facing the same issue.

"We're lucky, we have family and friends around us to help and probably would have in Ulladulla," Mrs English said.

"People have it a lot worse than us."

Mrs English said they were also hopeful of starting an E-Petition by late October. She was confident the petition had met the guidelines and was hopeful of having the issue aired in Federal Parliament on December 3 - the International Day of Disabled Persons.