My beautiful Great-Aunty Joanie (pictured here a few years ago with my son Henry, now 3) has travelled the world, loves going to the ballet and theatre, and has never driven. She has survived almost a century on planes, trains and bus tours, and more recently gets around with transport help from friends and family, and of course taxis.
Recently, at 97 years young, she told me that she asked her doctor to assist her with obtaining the Taxi Subsidy Scheme to help her with transport costs, and was told she wasn’t eligible. So, I decided to have a closer look.
The TSS looks like an ID card and has your photo – you present this to the driver and at the end of the journey you are charged half the fare, up to a maximum of $25.
The eligibility criteria are fairly straight forward – except for Category 2 – Mobility Impairment.
It says that the person “has a physical disability or a medical condition that restricts the person from walking, unassisted and without a rest, 50m or less” or “has a physical disability or other medical condition requiring the person to carry treatment equipment which restricts them from walking unassisted and without a rest 50m, or requires someone else to carry the equipment”.
Confused yet? What does this mean?
In basic terms, the person applying for the taxi subsidy needs to have a medical condition that impacts on their mobility in one of the following ways:
- they need to use a mobility aid such as a walking stick or four wheeled walker
- they use the mobility aid for outdoor activities such as going to the doctor or going shopping
- they can’t walk more than 50m without an aid or a rest: this may be due to factors such as pain or shortness of breath
- they can’t go up and down 3 steps independently: typically can’t get on a bus or access train stations on their own
- they have had falls in the last 12 months
- they are at high risk of falls: to determine falls risk, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist can complete a Timed Up and Go (TUG) test – a TUG score of 12 seconds or more indicates that the person is at high risk of falls, and would be eligible for the taxi subsidy
- they carry treatment equipment such as an oxygen cylinder
- they are assessed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist as requiring “1 x assist mobility”: meaning that they need another person to physically assist them to mobilise
What else do you need?
A GP, occupational therapist or physiotherapist can complete the TSS application for people eligible for Categories 1 and 2 (severe mobility impairment). The form and details to submit the TSS application are on the website. You also need two passport-sized photographs, witnessed by a health professional / JP / lawyer / police officer / pharmacist.
“It’s the best thing!”
You’d think at 97 years of age it would be a no-brainer to be given access to the taxi subsidy!
I was able to demonstrate Aunty Joanie’s eligibility on Category 2: Mobility Impairment with the following information:
- Aunty Joanie’s health has actually been pretty good and she doesn’t have any medical conditions causing shortness of breath or pain
- at the point of application she hadn’t had any recent falls, but was a bit unsteady on her feet
- she uses a four-wheeled walker when shopping alone
- she was no longer safely able to access steps on her own
- I performed a TUG and her score was 18 seconds, indicating she was at high risk of falls
Aunty Joanie received her Taxi Subsidy Scheme card within 3 weeks of my visit to complete her application. She happily waved it at me and said it was “the best thing” and has used it successfully to go to her local shopping centre and favourite cafe. Love her.