Shelley McRae of Redbank Plains is concerned about changes to bus services for her two sons Rohan (left), 11, and Bryn, 7, who both have disabilities.
Shelley McRae of Redbank Plains is concerned about changes to bus services for her two sons Rohan (left), 11, and Bryn, 7, who both have disabilities. David Nielsen

Ipswich parents in dark over future funding for school buses

IPSWICH MUM Shelley McRae is terrified of the year 2020.

Shelley has three children, two with severe disabilities.

Her 7-year-old son Bryn goes to Goodna Special School.

He is non-verbal, has limited vision, is fed every two hours through a tube and wears a nappy.

Every morning when Bryn gets on the bus Shelley breathes a sigh of relief knowing he is safe and will be looked after for the day, while she cares for her other children.

But the relief she feels each morning, after getting up at 5.30am to get everyone ready for school, is quickly turning into a nervous panic.

Her anxiety is likely shared by the 5000 other Queensland families sending a child with disability to school on one of these specialist bus services across the state.

As far as Shelley knows, at the end of 2019 funding for the specialist bus service she depends on and values so highly will stop.

The uncertainty and "cone of silence" is hard to deal with, she said.

"It can't happen," Shelley said.

"I'm horrified even at the thought.

"Will a taxi driver know what to do if Bryn starts banging his head against the window? If he tries to get out of the car? If he throws up across the backseat?"

The roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme means those receiving government financial support will be given more control over how the money flowing from the government is spent.

It means some people will be able to choose to take a taxi service, for example, instead of a subsidised supplier of transport services.

While for many that arrangement will be preferable, for Shelley it's a nightmare.

The Federal and State Governments are aware of the state-wide issue and work is being undertaken to find a solution.

The Queensland Government agreed to continue funding until December 31 and has appealed to the Federal Government to support the same model of delivery in the future.

Parents first raised their concerns last year and a petition, circulated through the community, was tabled in the Queensland Parliament.

For parents the communication around how the issue will be managed has been lacking and in Shelley's case, that silence is adding to the building stress.

"What I find particularly terrifying is that no one is talking about it," Shelley said.

"I feel like we are just sitting back and waiting for it to happen to us and I am frightened that if me, and other parents, don't speak out, don't let the government know how worried we are it will just happen."

Bryn has a rare condition known as Fragile X. It's a genetic condition which causes intellectual disability, behavioural and learning challenges.

While Shelley loves her son, she said his condition means "typical" family activities are not a regular part of their lives.

"It's hard for people to understand what families like ours go through. We have so much to deal with. Bryn will never leave home, he will never get married.

"There are so many things we can't do as a family. Being able to put him on the bus so he can go to school is probably one of the only 'normal' things in our lives."



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