With the Federal Election expected to be called this week, peak disability representative organisation People With Disability Australia (PWDA) is making one more plea for both major political parties to announce commitments recognising people with disability.
The Government’s Federal Budget 2022/23 promised almost nothing to support people with disability in the long term, apart from mentioning the intent to “fully fund” the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), says PWDA.
Following the Federal Opposition’s Budget Reply, which promised a little more for people with disability than the Government’s Budget, PWDA is still left wanting a solid plan for how the committed supports would be delivered.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese briefly mentioned in his Budget Reply speech that his Government would “stop the Liberals’ cuts and get the NDIS back on track”.
In its Budget outline, Labor promises to not only stop cuts but also:
- Lift the cap on staffing levels at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)
- Begin an investigation into the “tens of millions of dollars” in legal fees incurred by the NDIA
- Strengthen the NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to ensure the Scheme works for people with disability, families, carers and the industry
- Return people with disability to the NDIA Board and senior positions in the NDIA to ensure they are involved in the process of fixing the NDIS
While PWDA President Samantha Connor welcomed Labor’s commitment to NDIS reform, she says the Budget reply is lacking in detail about the specific measures that will support people with disability.
“It was pleasing to hear a commitment from Labor to ‘fix the NDIS’ and commit broadly to structural reforms across a number of policy areas, but the devil is in the detail,” she says.
Ms Connor adds that there are supports people with disability need outside of the NDIS which have gone unnoticed by both the Government and the Opposition in their Budget plans.
“What we wanted to see was a commitment to provide people with disability with more support during emergencies like floods and bushfires, more protection from COVID, better support via the NDIS, and increased support from disability advocacy services,” explains Ms Connor.
PWDA released its election campaign platform this week, calling again for the Liberal and Labor parties to pay attention to issues that people with disability have raised with the peak body.
The election campaign has been developed in line with the results of PWDA’s direct consultation of people with disability.
“The issues we’re campaigning on are critical to people with disability living their lives equally in society and the economy, just like everyone else,” says Ms Connor.
“Over the last three years, people with disability have been left behind in many ways. We were deprioritised during the COVID pandemic, our NDIS has been savaged, our financial security and employment options remain extremely limited, and many of us continue to experience segregation, discrimination and abuse by disability housing and support providers who often put profit over people by not centring our individual needs.
“The aged care and disability Royal Commissions have and will make recommendations that need to be implemented to better protect our health and rights, we need a much more inclusive education system so people with disability can learn in ways that suit us, and we must address ableism with positive and diverse representation of people with disability.
“The seven areas we’re focusing on during the campaign are in direct response to these concerns. When actioned, the commitments we’re seeking from the major parties and key independents will significantly improve how people with disability are protected, supported and valued.”
The seven areas PWDA is highlighting in its election campaign are:
- Health and wellbeing - prioritising the safety of people with disability in all disasters, implementing increased COVID-19 protections for people with disability and funding the disability sector to co-produce a plan for living with COVID-19 in the community
- Employment and financial security - life-long access to the Disability Support Pension (DSP), removing barriers to accessing the DSP, removing the BasicCard, Cashless Debit cards and all compulsory income management; and delivering more effective and co-designed pathways to employment
- Inclusive homes and communities - addressing issues with housing including Specialist Disability Accommodation and Supported Independent Living, investing in accessible, affordable and contemporary social housing; and following recommendations in the Segregation Position Statement
- Safety, rights and justice - implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
- Personal and community support via the NDIS - using transparent co-designing processes for any changes to the NDIS and removing barriers to accessing the NDIS for marginalised communities
- Education and learning - implementing Driving change: A roadmap for achieving inclusive education in Australia by the Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education
- Community attitudes - developing and co-designing a national anti-ableism campaign and improving visibility and representation of people with disability through targeted opportunities in all sectors
PWDA says it will update the community on any relevant commitments political candidates make around these points in the lead up to the election, so that voters can make informed decisions at the polling booth.