AAT rules sex therapy funding falls under the NDIS

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Posted 4 months ago by Nicole Pope

Last week a woman with multiple sclerosis applied for sex therapy to be covered under her NDIS plan, which was initially refused [Source: Shutterstock]
Last week a woman with multiple sclerosis applied for sex therapy to be covered under her NDIS plan, which was initially refused [Source: Shutterstock]

People with disability could be funded for sex therapy under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) following an unprecedented decision made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Last week a woman with multiple sclerosis applied for sex therapy to be covered under her NDIS plan, which was refused, but following an appeal the AAT has demonstrated the importance of people with disability expressing themselves sexually and having fulfiling sex lives. 

Co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of People with Disability Australia (PWDA), Matthew Bowden says previous State and Territory based disability support systems supported people with disability to have funded access to sex work services and now is the time for the NDIS to do the same. 

“We congratulate the applicant, a brave woman with disability who is determined to have the same rights as non-disabled people to an adult sex life,” Mr Bowden says.

“Deputy President Rayment OAM QC of the AAT was considering a specific set of circumstances for this woman with disability but we hope that it now provides the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) with a framework to develop much needed policy in this area. 

“We are pleased that the AAT has upheld the rights of people with disability to sexual expression, which would enable ‘reasonable and necessary’ support through NDIS funding to engage the services of a sex worker to achieve therapeutic outcomes. 

“People with disability should not be denied access to sex on the basis of their disability.”

President of sex worker advocacy organisation Touching Base, Saul Isbister says sex therapists do not provide sex work services, but sex workers often provide therapeutic outcomes for their clients through their services. 

Mr Isbister says, “These services are provided by sex workers, some of whom have been trained by Touching Base in honing and further developing their skills in working with people with disability.”

‘We argue that every adult, with a disability or not, has a human right to seek consensual sexual expression.” 

Non-disabled people can masturbate, or find sexual partners, but for some people with disability, they don’t have the same opportunities without access to sex work services. 

Mr Isbister says for too long the issue of disability and sexuality has been a taboo topic that was kept shrouded in a veil of secrecy or denial. 

“During our work, over the last 19 years, Touching Base has seen a remarkable transformation in the willingness of Governments and the disability service sector to respond in ways that support people with disability to make their own choices,” Mr Isbister explains. 

Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert is said to disagree with the decision and says the NDIS will appeal. 

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