2019 has been a year of change, with a number of huge news events and developments in the disability sector.
To help you make your way through it all, we’ve wrapped up Talking Disability’s biggest news stories into one handy article.
In January, a number of sexual assault reports were made by National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants in two states. Over three months, from 1 July 2018, 115,000 participants in New South Wales and South Australia, made 184 reports of abuse or neglect.
Also, in January, a study of mental health care providers in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has suggested the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing both providers and participants.
In February, a final report by the Productivity Commission on the National Disability Agreement (NDA) found the agreement was outdated, failed to reflect current policy landscapes and lacked clarity of who is responsible for a number of disability services and supports.
Public consultation for the new NDA began later in the year.
Later in February, a new research project helped National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants navigate the challenging disability housing landscape.
Finally, in February, an emoji update was announced for release and included icons representing a range of disabilities. The update introduced emojis for deaf people, blind people, people in wheelchairs, and those with prosthetic limbs.
In March, consultation with the Australian community opened to shape the future of Australia’s disability policy for 2020 and beyond.
The current National Disability Strategy, which aims to drive a more inclusive approach to all Government policies and programs is due to expire at the end of next year.
Later in March, we reported that disability advocates and organisations were desperate to secure funding for New South Wales (NSW) disability advocacy, as the State Government announced they would no longer fund independent disability services past June 2020.
In April, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s announcement of the Federal Budget 2019-20 had disability advocates overjoyed at Royal Commission funding but worried for the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The announcement of $528 million in funding allocated to the delivery of a Royal Commission into the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability was soured with word unspent NDIS funds may be used to ensure a budget surplus
DPS made a big announcement in April with a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) coming on board to pave the future for the aged care and disability multimedia company.
And finally, in April, a new national action plan was unveiled aimed to halve the number of young people with disability entering residential aged care within six years.
Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher announced Summer Foundation’s Get Building SDA National Conference 2019 in Melbourne.
In May, newly re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison released his plans to support people with disability, including ensuring the NDIS is fully-funded, and increased employment target, additional employment support, assistance for rural, remote, culturally and linguistically diverse and ageing communities, reduced red tape and the introduction of an NDIS Participant Service Guarantee.
Also in May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointed his new cabinet. The Hon. Stuart Robert was promoted to Minister for Government Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), while Senator Anne Ruston was elected Minister of Families and Social Services.
In June, Australians living with swallowing difficulties, such as dysphagia, could soon have nutritional support funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) following a groundbreaking conclusion from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The Tribunal made the judgement after a young man with cerebral palsy, and severe dysphagia appealed the NDIS’ decision not to fund his fluid thickeners and nutritional support products as prescribed by an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
In July, a world-first trial tried to understand if maternal melatonin supplement could help improve outcomes for babies at risk of cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.
The Protect-Me trial, conducted by Monash University, involved expecting mothers, whose babies showed slowed growth in the second trimester, administering high doses of melatonin to test whether the over-the-counter supplement could protect the infants from poor neurological outcomes.
In July, the announcement came that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and health services would work together to support people with disability through the funding of disability-related health supports.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council held its first formal meeting for the year in the Gold Coast to address several long-standing issues, including the interaction of the NDIS and the health system.
From 1 October 2019, NDIS participants were able to access health supports required as a result of their disability.
In August, a new report highlighted the discrimination and hardship people with disability face, with over 60 percent of survey respondents unable to afford to get access to the disability support they require.
Disability Rights Now 2019: Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was a collaborative effort by Disabled People’s Organisations, disability representatives and advocacy organisations from around Australia.
In September, the first public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability kicked off in Brisbane highlighting the importance and scope of the inquiry.
Also, in September, the first comprehensive report of its kind by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shared the diverse experiences of the 4.3 million Australians living with disability.
The report, People with disability in Australia, covered multiple topics. Including education, health, social support and employment.
In October, a week out from the first Disability Royal Commission hearing, Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) released research that revealed school children with disability are routinely enduring exclusion, segregation, bullying and, as a result, are being robbed of an education.
The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University received $1.3 million of Federal Government funding to undertake a trial to support people with musculoskeletal disability to re-engage with work or education and to improve their community participation.
Also in November, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Stuart Robert addressed the National Press Club in Canberra for the first time last Thursday, admitting the NDIS is not up to scratch and there is a need for future improvement.
In December, the third sitting of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability started in Melbourne, Victoria, with a focus on group homes and what home means for people with disability.
And that sums up our year in 2019!
A big Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Talking Disability team!
What did you think we missed from this year’s round-up?