Disability advocates and organisations are desperate to secure funding for New South Wales (NSW) disability advocacy, as the State Government will no longer fund independent disability services past June 2020.
Stand By Me, a disability advocacy campaign lead by the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance alongside 22 member organisations, has been campaigning for funding to ensure the 1.3 million people with disability who live in NSW can continue to receive invaluable advocacy support.
Advocacy organisations and people with disability joined a rally in February calling for ongoing Government support.
Executive Officer of Physical Disability Council of NSW Serena Ovens says the State Government has suggested that systemic and individual advocacy will be funded through NDIS plans and Information Linkages and Capacity Building grant rounds, however, advocacy cannot be funded under either area.
“We are still hoping there will be an announcement pre election.
“It’s very difficult to know what the outcome will be.”
Ms Ovens says the funding is “vitally necessary”.
“Many people with disability aren’t as lucky and can’t speak on their own behalf or navigate around what is a complex society, so it’s those people who benefit from having advocates to help them when there is an issue, to speak up and make NSW a much more inclusive place overall.”
If funding is not received, many advocacy organisations across the state would shut their doors and create further gaps for the 20 percent of the NSW community, living with disability.
“The NSW Government is looking at the NDIS to be the be all and end all, but even the NDIS does not support people when they’re having issues outside of their day to day needs.
“Losing advocacy organisations and peak bodies is a really really big gap for people with disability.
“There’s no clear guidance or understanding right now.”
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin acknowledges the important role advocates play in the lives of people with disability.
“We need advocacy organisations more than ever… advocacy organisations play a critical role in telling people their rights and then helping them to enforce them.”
Advocates have taken to social media to share their thoughts and continue campaigning for funding.
“As part of this removal of NSW disability services, NSW Disability Advocacy is also being totally cut, when other states and territories are expanding their advocacy services,” El Gibbs [@bluntshovels] says.
If disability advocacy funding is not continued, 1.3 million people in NSW living with disability will lose access to the people & organisations who fight for equal treatment. So vote for those who support people living with disability and advocacy services #StandByMe #NSWvotes,” NSWAdvocacyAlliance [@StandByMeNSW] says.
“Disability Advocacy services assist the 1.3 million people in NSW who live with disability. We shouldn't have to rally every year to continue funding of these services. The people of NSW deserve to know that disability advocacy services will be funded now and always! #StandByMe”
“@GladysB @RayWilliamsMP @michaeldaleyMP @StandByMeNSW Why is the Sydney Football Stadium more important than Disability Advocacy?,” Australian Disability [@ausdisltd] says.
“The work of Australian #disability #advocacy organisations are crucial. We are: -Independent from providers -Specialists in what we provide -Long-term in our commitment We are, at best, the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff,” Bonnie Millen [@bonniemillen] says.
The value of independent advocacy is estimated at more than $589,498,000 across Australia.
The campaigning continues as advocacy organisations await the result of the upcoming election.