Tell us your story

As part of AHPA’s Fair Access to Allied Health for All campaign, we’re encouraging those affected by access to allied health to tell us their story.

You can read stories from people like Amy, and Rachel and Jack. below.

Fill in the form below, or email us with a picture and your contact details, including phone number and email address.

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Stories will be shared at AHPA’s discretion. If you wish to submit your story and have it published anonymously, or under a pseudonym, please email to the above address.

My allied health story is long and complicated. As a disabled woman, I have spent my entire life learning how to navigate Allied Health services and to advocate for myself as a client.

In recent times, access to Allied Health has become more difficult, owing to a variety of factors including: the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, decreasing numbers of practitioners and growing wait lists as more people seek Allied Health services. I live in Tamworth, NSW where services are often few and far between and those that are available are collapsing under the strain of so many clients and so little funding and support.

In 2021, I waited from May until December to see a physiotherapist to have a five minute test done in order to continue the process of getting a compression stocking for lymphoedema. This meant living with pain and discomfort during that time. As of February 2022 I am still waiting to get fitted for the compression stocking.

Also in March 2021, I had to travel from Tamworth to Sydney and stay in a hotel for two nights to have an appointment to get measured and cast for new orthotics so I can walk. I then had to go back to Sydney in April to get fitted with those orthotics once they had been made. Those two trips to Sydney cost hundreds of dollars for travel and accommodation expenses. The financial burden of receiving allied health care mounts quickly, as well as the time required to receive care.

These two events are only a small part of the time, financial and emotional burden that access to allied health impacts. Allied health should be accessible for all regardless of location and economic status.

UPDATE ON RACHEL AND JACK: Since posting this story, Rachel and Jack have been told that their initial 3 year plan is now to be reviewed after 12 months.

My son Jack is a young man who has severe intellectual disability and autism. We’ve tried all kinds of supports, but the things that really help him are one-to-one support and music therapy from a qualified therapist, which stop him regressing into self-harm.

But in July 2021 the NDIA’s review of Jack’s plan cut his supports. So we requested an internal review. This was an exhausting saga, with us continually having to repeat communications to different people and try to correct NDIA mistakes. They dragged out the process, at one stage asking for a report that I had already sent them three times. What a fiasco! I complained and made a Freedom of Information request for internal reports. My complaint seemed to fall on deaf ears, and after months, when I finally received the information, a key report written about my son by NDIA staff had significant mistakes about him.

In October 2021 the internal review rejected our request for reinstatement of funding for Jack for music therapy, and completely ignored our request for reinstatement of 1:1 supports. The NDIA said that the music therapy was not ‘value for money’ even though it was clear they hadn’t read the music therapist’s report and other key documents we provided.

So we went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I was so demoralised by this time, as for the last few years I’ve had to battle the annual plan review process. We ended up having 4 different case conferences with the NDIA. On the day of the first one, I got an email from the NDIA’s internal review team rejecting our request – as if they hadn’t already, and with no awareness that it was at the AAT!

The NDIA had lawyers to represent them, but I couldn’t get anyone. I reached out to disability advocates, but all were inundated with other people going through similar battles to me. I cried during the second conference – I was so intimidated and frustrated.

I eventually received a letter from the Minister of the NDIS, Senator Reynolds, in response to my feedback. The Minister said she could not respond while the issues were at the AAT, but she gave me the contact details for a NDIA representative to connect with – which turned out to be incorrect. When I finally got the correct email, I discovered that this person had left the NDIA months before.

After 9 months and what seemed like a lot of NDIA game playing, they finally agreed to fund Jack’s needs adequately. But I’m still waiting to see the new NDIS plan and still worried that something else will stop it happening.

This is just a fraction of what we’ve had to go through to keep the supports that actually help Jack to begin to grow in his relationships with others and his environment, and just have a better life. While I see the NDIS as a godsend that got Jack’s needs finally met, it’s been an extremely distressing saga which has taken a big toll on me – burnout, anxiety and depression.

I can barely afford the service I already receive. My psychologist has been wonderful and an invaluable resource, but I desperately need to see her more than I do. It certainly cuts down on my options for tending to my other health needs when they crop up if I’m trying to save just shy of two hundred dollars in order to get a single hour-long session with my psychologist – which is hard enough with all the other financial burdens I’m under.

During the initial period of time in which my visits to my psychologist were covered by the Mental Health plan, and I could afford it more readily, it was an enormous help both to me and to my loved ones. I was better able to deal with problems when they arose thanks to coping mechanisms, I was able to process trauma and difficult emotional situations I was put in – and as a result my own happiness and energy spilled over onto those around me.

However, once the initial plan dried up and I was forced into paying full price for sessions – the amount of sessions I could afford began to dry up, and the time gap between sessions grew steadily longer. If I encountered a problem I couldn’t deal with on my own, or needed to speak to a professional about, it would sometimes be over a month before I could afford to see my psychologist, and by that time my own stress, anxiety and mental health issues had begun to affect my relationships.

When I am struggling, I find myself closing off from my loved ones because I don’t want to risk hurting their mental health by discussing my problems – I think to myself ‘this is an issue for my psychologist’, and then wind up dwelling on it for weeks on end because I cannot afford to see the person I need to speak to.

If I had the capacity to financially afford mental health treatment more readily, I believe entirely that my quality of life would skyrocket – not just my own either, but those around me who I could be there for more actively. But accessing adequate services feels like pushing a boulder uphill.

How have you been affected by lack of access to allied health services?