People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has released a list of asks for the next Federal Budget in a document called A Fair Go for People with Disability (see below). The disabled people’s organisation is calling for a raft of measures to be urgently funded and implemented to meet Australia’s responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. PWDA President Samantha Connor said today that widespread improvements to many disability policy areas were urgently required, but they must be developed in conjunction with people with disability. “Over the past six months, the National Disability Insurance Agency has been trying to ram through changes to the NDIS that were designed without meaningful input from disabled people and which will almost certainly result in perverse outcomes,” Ms Connor said. “We need a seat at the table to talk about any proposed changes to our NDIS, to have full access to the scheme’s raw data, to enter into legitimate co-design processes if any changes are required and to be sufficiently resourced in order to do so. “PWDA and the entire disability sector is united in standing against changes which will adversely affect people with disability, especially exceptionally marginalised groups.” Like other disability organisations, PWDA has been lobbying the Australian Government to urgently prevent sweeping changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. PWDA is among 11 key disability sector organisations that called on government to halt its plans for so-called NDIS independent assessments. The group last week put its foot down, setting its terms of engagement for any future cooperation with the government. The government’s proposed privatised assessment system has been robustly blasted by people with disability, their families, academics, service providers and allied health professionals. Use the budget to level the playing field People with Disability Australia will be one of the first organisations to see the latest Federal Budget this week and will enter the budget lock-up on Tuesday. It will be the only disability organisation in the lockdown. Ms Connor will attend the budget lockdown in Canberra. “The budget will be critically important for many disabled Australians who are facing heightened anxiety and significant disadvantage during a period of disruption, unrest and fear about the pandemic,” she said. “We call upon government to ensure that we are able to access society on a level playing field, get the support we need and to have a fair go, just like other Australians.”
About People with Disability Australia:
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that undertakes representation and advocacy to achieve the human rights of people with disability. Our primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability. We have a cross-disability focus – we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability. PWDA is a non-profit, non-government organisation.
Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride. This vision underpins everything we do.
A Fair Go for People with Disability
Like more than 100 social sector organisations, People with Disability Australia wants the government to reconsider its planned approach to so-called independent assessments.
Like the sector, we call on the Australian Government to:
Urgently halt the current independent assessment trials and fund an independent robust, transparent evaluation of the current pilot of independent assessments. This evaluation must be independent of the National Disability Insurance Agency and government, be led by experts and co-designed with people with disability, their families and the organisations that support them.
Fund robust, independent and transparent trials of alternative approaches to improving consistency in access and planning – such as allowing a person’s existing and trusted health professionals to complete assessments using appropriate tools.
Once those trials and evaluations are complete, fund a meaningful co-design process with people with disability, their families and the organisations that support them to ensure a fair and consistent approach to both access to the scheme and planning and to ensure people with disability receive the support they need.
PWDA also wants the federal government to:
End Segregation Fund a national plan to desegregate workplaces, schools and other disability specific congregate environments, as well as closing institutions and making sure people with disability are not forced into congregate living arrangements. #EndSegregation
Preserve Our NDIS Ensure that funding for our NDIS is enshrined in law. Legislate the ongoing funding of the NDIS, protect the DisabilityCare Australia fund and ensure that underspent funds are preserved and reinvested directly into the scheme.
Let Us Speak Fund a 17-month extension for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, #WeNeedMoreTime, as well as ensuring that target issues are addressed, including the right to redress, confidentiality and support provisions for those who are unsafe #LetUsSpeak
Ensure We’re Safe At Home Urgently address the housing affordability crisis by increasing Centrelink Rent Assistance, funding Aboriginal housing and crisis and homelessness services and investing in (non-segregated) social housing through direct grants to states and territories for people with disability
Help Make Us Safe Immediately commence a plan of action to ensure that clinically vulnerable people with disability, especially those living in congregate environments, are prioritised for the most suitable vaccines for their medical requirements, as well as introducing an ethical decision making framework and a Shielded Person List and Priority Schedule.
Introduce a Flexible Workforce Strategy Fund economic independence for people with disability (and others who may be clinically at risk of contracting COVID) by introducing and funding a National Flexible Workforce Strategy, which removes geographical barriers, assists employers to retain employees with disability and creates job opportunities for people with disability who may face barriers to employment. Investigate the cost benefits of retaining other flexible measures introduced during the pandemic, including access to Telehealth.
Ensure Emergency Preparedness and Implement Climate Change Readiness Introduce urgent measures to ensure that people with disability are not disproportionately affected by climate change. Ensure that federal agencies such as the National Disability Insurance Agency and the National Recovery and Resilience Agency are funded to develop emergency preparedness and response plans for people with disability through a genuine co-design process. Ensure life-saving equipment such as back-up generators and warning systems are funded and offset the rising costs of electricity for disability pensioners and people with disability who experience thermoregulatory dysfunction.
Fund the National Disability Strategy Fully fund the implementation of the National Disability Strategy and ensure that disabled persons organisations are adequately funded to promote, monitor and collect data to assist with reporting.
Ensure Access to Advocacy Fully fund advocacy and ensure that ‘gaps’ are captured by providing additional resourcing to monitor needs across regions, as well as consult with people with disability and their families about unmet need for advocacy across all areas of life.