Sex and the NDIS

Choice and control are at the very foundation of the NDIS. Participants are provided with a funding package based on an assessment & planning process which identifies reasonable and necessary supports needed for them to live their life.

Supports may help participants achieve goals in many different areas of your life including independence, community involvement, education, employment & health & wellbeing.

So why wouldn’t ‘paying for sex’ be a funded service under the NDIS, considering people with disability – whether physical or intellectual – may face challenges in achieving sexual pleasure?

This week, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) granted a woman with multiple sclerosis the right to have a sex therapist paid for under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) following an appeal. While this does not explicitly mean participants can ‘pay for sex workers’, it does mean they can seek the services of a qualified sex therapist.

This raises some questions…

What exactly does a sex therapist do? Professional sex therapy can provide sex education, guidance and counselling to couples and individuals with a disability. They have to obtain a certification, but they do not typically have any physical contact with clients.

Ok… Does this mean the AAT got it wrong by including sex therapy when it doesn’t actually provide a complete resolution to that particular woman’s argument? The AAT have taken the position that by including professional sex therapy, because it’s a recognised ‘professional service’, will be sufficient to recognise the intimacy needs of people living the disability.

So, what happens now? Ultimately, this sets a precedence for further debate around how far the NDIS should go to fund the sexual / intimacy needs of participants in the Scheme.

What does the NDIS think about the ruling? The Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, said that ruling was ‘out of line’ with community expectations and went on to say the National Disability Insurance Agency would appeal the decision.

There’s no doubt the Sex & the NDIS is a taboo subject – whether you think it should or shouldn’t be included, it’s clear this needs to be discussed more openly in a public forum with all stakeholders including participants, providers, advocates and Government.