8 January 2024

'I'm feeling pretty desperate now': how Ashley got caught in an NDIS catch-22

| Zoe Cartwright
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Ashley James-Kennedy is still hoping for a miracle so he can meet the requirements for an NDIS-funded car hoist. Photo: Illawarra Roller Hawks.

Mt Warrigal man Ashley James-Kennedy is hoping for a miracle.

Ashley has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around.

His car is the key to his independence, but after lockdown took a toll on his fitness, he needs a hoist to use it.

The NDIS has agreed to fund the hoist, but requires Ashley to have a car less than five years old to install it.

He estimates a suitable car, with insurance, registration, and some modifications, will cost him at least $20,000 and potentially up to $40,000.

READ ALSO Former professional ballet dancer finds fulfilment in disability support

Not exactly pocket change, and the car is classified as an everyday expense by the NDIS, and so is not covered.

“I need it to get around, just to be able to do daily things,” Ashley said.

“I’m feeling pretty desperate now; I need it pretty urgently.”

His support co-ordinator, George Kranitis, said Ashley often chose to stay home rather than depend on others for a lift.

“It’s quite an emotional thing for Ashley – he really cherishes and embraces his independence,” George said.

“His car gives him access to the community, and without it he feels stuck, trapped and alone.

“He’s a phenomenal individual – genuine, easygoing, and gives so much to the community.

“It’s not just that he’s missing out by being stuck at home, the community is missing out without him.”

Ashley is an active basketball player, but the pandemic lockdown left him, like many people, struggling with his fitness, which makes transport even more difficult.

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He’s also on the waitlist for a kidney transplant, which will further limit his mobility while he recovers.

“Not being able to go to the gym really had an impact on my strength,” he said.

“Since then I’ve had to skip training with the Roller Hawks a couple of times because I can’t get there.

“My health has gone downhill; I’ve recently been in hospital and when I get this new kidney, recovery is going to be really hard.”

George said Ashley had worked to regain his strength and fitness after lockdown, but going without a car made it that much harder for Ashley to take care of his health.

A $20,000 out-of-pocket expense isn’t in Ashley’s budget, so he’s launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him purchase a suitable car and preserve his independence.

“Any amount would be a great help,” he said.

If you would like to contribute to Ashley’s GoFundMe campaign, it can be found here.

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