The Australian private health insurance system might strike an able-bodied individual as thoroughly complicated – when it comes to dealing with disability within the boundaries of said system, the situation becomes outright unfair at times. Only recently did a mental health NGO address the Australian Senate, in an effort to raise awareness on the issue of . That situation came about because recent changes in the private insurance system saw all mental health conditions be lumped together and placed within the same category of risk. In other words, a sufferer of depression can now be denied coverage, or asked to pay a sizeable premium, according to the same criteria as someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Beyondblue, the organization in question, has announced it will pursue a class action lawsuit against insurance giants; meanwhile, others who would normally be pegged as ‘underprivileged’ are making attempts to open up new opportunities for people with disabilities within the world of insurance.

One such story is that of Glenda Lee, a member of Julia Farr, a group based in Southern Australia, which aims to develop a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Glenda Lee spends her days in a wheelchair, as she suffers from a birth defect, which has caused her spinal muscles to atrophy. This form of muscular dystrophy can affect most muscles in one’s body – in Lee’s case, it seems, her entire musculature has been affected, save for her heart muscles. In spite of her disabilities, Lee acknowledges the positive way in which computers have influenced her life. She knows that she can do just about anything on a PC these days, from talking to people in remote corners of the world, to playing games, and shopping.

It is precisely this concept of e-commerce that has influenced Julia Farr members to develop a proposal for an e-market for the disabled. They took all the major online giants as their inspiration, from eBay to Amazon. They came up with a web portal that could enable people with disabilities to locate agencies that provide support and assistance, as well as producers and suppliers of technical equipment, such as wheel chairs, crutches, walking canes, and frames. In a recent interview, Glenda Lee also spoke about the convenience of finding out, through a mere mouse click, whether or not a hotel offers facilities for the disabled – something which is quite hard to do at the moment.

According to Julia Farr chief executive Robbi Williams, the website does not attempt to replace real-life interaction, or the sense of community that those with disabilities seem to thrive on. The portal would simply implement a system that has already proven functional in the United Kingdom. The Brits already have such a website, called Shop4Support, helping people with disabilities be more independent.Julia Farr is one of the many organizations throughout Australia, which are hard at work, elaborating a set of practical solutions for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. These proposals need to be presented in detail before the Federal Government before April 2013.

Proponents and supporters of the National Disability Insurance Scheme are advocating the urgent implementation of a set of insurance rules and regulations to benefit Australia’s 4.5 million disabled citizens. Aside from them, 500,000 other Australians are the primary caregivers for a disabled person, and 2.4 million more, or ten per cent of the country’s population, are non-primary caregiver. Just like there are various types of private health insurance policies available for other types of caregivers, as a quick comparison revealed, so should there exist such opportunities for the families of the disabled. This is particularly relevant, since over three quarters of a million Aussies aged below 65 qualify as severely disabled and require permanent assistance.