The Federal Government has announced they are committing more than $154 million to support vulnerable Australians, including people living with a disability, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The funding announcement follows the draft plan of a governmental advisory group, tasked with guiding the development and implementation of a COVID-19 response plan for people with a disability, presented to Government last Thursday.
In the joint statement announcing the funding, Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston and Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Stuart Robert said that the $154 million will go towards providing additional support and services across a range of areas.
$90.7 million of the funding boost has been set aside to help support employment and other support services.
Funding will be made available to Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) through the Temporary Viability Support program to help organisations transition to new opportunities to create jobs for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities as the economy recovers.
More than $3 million will extend the Supported Wage System supplementation to the 37 ADEs who currently use the system.
Up to $61 million will be available to Disability Employment Service providers as an advance payment of six weeks on service fees to ensure participants can continue to access support during this time.
The development of a dedicated phone line to provide accessible information, and counselling and outreach services to assist people with disability during COVID-19 has also received $2 million in funding.
The boost to funding is in addition to measures already put in place to assist NDIS participants and providers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Previous measures to support NDIS participants and providers include financial assistance to support the retention of workers, a 10 percent coronavirus loading on some supports, changes to cancellation policies and extending NDIS plans for up to 24 months.
The move to provide additional funding has been welcomed by national peak disability representative organisations (DROs) as a positive first step to supporting people with a disability during COVID-19.
Dwayne Cranfield, Chief Executive Officer of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance on behalf of the DROs says, “Our organisations are of one voice on the priority of support needed for people with disability and all those we represent across Australia, we are very pleased with this announcement.”
However, Mr Cranfield says that they are concerned about the support of ADEs operating during the pandemic and putting people with intellectual disability at risk.
“In terms of Australian Disability Enterprises, we again raise our concerns of their continuing operation during this pandemic, which is not essential, not required and is putting the health, safety and welfare of people with disability, along with non-disabled staff at risk.”
Mr Cranfield says that the Government and peak bodies need to work together to ensure that people with disability are kept front and centre in the thinking for any pandemic responses, especially as issues arise.
Ms Ruston says that “The Government is absolutely committed to working with individuals, service providers, peak bodies and other stakeholders as we respond to the evolving challenges presented by Coronavirus.”
You can learn more about COVID-19 and Disability Support by visiting our dedicated information page.
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