Recovery and disability: is there a contradiction?

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According to the NDIS operational guidelines, a disability is a permanent thing – or likely to be so. Nevertheless, at RichmondPRA we talk about recovery for EVERYONE. This sounds like a contradiction, but is it really?

“Ah, this is the question from hell,” said former NMHC Commissioner Janet Meagher AM in a media panel discussion last year. “This, in some people’s minds, is a very contentious issue. And I’m here to say I don’t believe it is contentious at all… the legislation for NDIS says ‘permanent or likely to be permanent’… But recovery is still compatible with ‘permanent or likely to be permanent…’”

If you use “recovery’”in the medical sense (a disappearance of symptoms, resolution of abnormalities) then perhaps it could be a contradiction. But, in the words of Senior Peer Worker Michael Macokotic, when we say Recovery we are not talking about that. We are talking about: ”people mak[ing] informed decisions about their lives and where they want go with them…and realise their hopes and dreams at a pace that is comfortable for them.”
There is no mention of symptoms disappearing here.

Janet Meagher (who was formerly RichmondPRA’s General Manager) acknowledged a person like herself might be deemed medically to have a “lifelong disorder” under the NDIS act, but that recovery is about: “moving into a hopeful life, a contributing life…with the support of NDIS.”

Recovery as we see it is about overcoming some of the negative attitudes that can come from overemphasis of the medical side of things. Michael says, “Being told they have nothing to offer and that they may never work again, or that they’ll need to carefully follow treatment plans for the rest of their lives, etc, this does not inhibit the great work that RichmondPRA are able to achieve through the use of the recovery approach.”

-Warren Heggarty

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