Every Australian counts
Disability support needs reform, says UnitingCare Australia, as it encourages congregations to support the Every Australian Counts campaign for a national disability strategy.
Disability is part of life for at least four million Australians. Approximately 1.4 million Australians have a severe or profound disability; while 2.5 million Australians provide care to family members because of their age or disability.
The current disability support system is morally, socially and economically unsustainable and indefensible. It is chronically underfunded, inefficient and inequitable. This has been acknowledged by all political parties.
Inclusion and support of people living with a disability has become a priority for all political parties In February 2011 the Federal, State and Territory Governments agreed to work together to improve life for people living with disability through the National Disability Strategy.
The Strategy aims to ensure that all mainstream services and programs across Australia — including healthcare, education, Indigenous reform and housing — address the needs of people with disability, and that additional needs associated with living with a disability are also met.
We know how to fix disability support
Alongside development of the National Disability Strategy, the Federal Government asked the Productivity Commission to conduct an Inquiry into Long Term Disability Care and Support. The final report from this Inquiry was given to the Federal Government in July 2011.
The draft report said that: “The current disability support system overall is inequitable, underfunded, fragmented and inefficient and gives people with a disability little choice.”
The final report recommends two schemes to serve as the foundation for better and more individually tailored disability support for all Australians with a disability:
- A National Disability Insurance Scheme —funded and administered nationally, to provide support to people whose disability has a significant impact on their daily life;
- A National Injury Insurance Scheme — to provide support for people who suffer a catastrophic injury. This scheme would broaden and strengthen existing state-based schemes. Both schemes should be funded by general revenue.
We agree on what to do
Thousands of people across Australia have supported the campaign for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
More than 1,000 people attended the recent National Disability and Carer Congress. They agreed it’s time for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
They also agreed such a scheme would lead to better assessment of individual needs and better use of resources that would make it easier for people and their families to get the support, equipment, training and services they need to be active, contributing members of the community.
All major federal political parties have said they support a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In August 2011 the Government pledged to introduce a National Disability Insurance Scheme, and they had bipartisan support in this. All State and Territory Governments have also agreed in principal in the need for ongoing and radical reform of the disability sector through a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
While there is strong political acknowledgement of the responsibility of governments to provide effective and adequate disability services, and bipartisan support for change, there is significant work to be done to design and implement legislation that makes the NDIS a reality.
People and organisations across Australia have worked hard to get disability reform on the political agenda.
We need to get behind this work right now. The federal government is in the throes of deciding whether to implement a National Disability Insurance Scheme and a National Injury Insurance Scheme — and if so, when.
We have an opportunity in the coming months to ensure Federal, State and Territory Governments know that Uniting Church members, and staff and volunteers in the UnitingCare network expect government to establish a better disability support system founded on a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
What can I do?
All Australians can be part of changing the way we think about life with disability. We can all contribute to ensuring better opportunities and quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.
Visit the Every Australian Counts, Count Me In website at www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au for information about:
- Disability reform issues
- The national campaign, including stories and blogs about the campaign throughout Australia
- Contacting your local MP
For more information about the national campaign visit the website.
You can also act on-line and in your community.
Find Every Australian Counts on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter and use #icount.
Talk with your congregation and your minister about getting involved in advocating for change.
Raise awareness in your social groups.
Encourage your local media on this issue.
Talk to your local federal Member of Parliament. To find your local MP by electorate go here.
To find Senators in your state or territory go here.
Encourage your local elected representatives in Federal, State and Territory Parliaments and all Governments to stay on board.
What to say?
This campaign is fundamentally about making sure people living with a disability can live a decent life, that they can participate in their community, and that they feel they belong.
To achieve fundamental reform, and meet the aspirations of people with disabilities, their carers and families, Australia needs to change what disability services look like.
We must eliminate the tiers, duplication and gaps in services and supports.
Disability must become a mainstream issue, not just the concern of the disability sector.
All people should to be able to use mainstream community resources and facilities. So services like education, health, housing and transport must be accessible and helpful to people with a disability.
All people should be guaranteed the right to the additional supports that are needed to live a life of dignity with disabilities.
Adopt the Productivity Commission model for a new system for disability care and support.
The Productivity Commission has provided a potentially transformative framework for the funding and administration of support and care for older people in Australia. We support the draft report proposals regarding:
- The establishment of a nationally funded and administered disability care and support entitlement-based scheme that is adequate and sustainable, and will ensure consistency and be transportable throughout Australia.
- The focus on improving choices for people and their families so individuals and their families make decisions about what services will be used and how services are delivered. Decisions should not be made by centralised agencies as is currently the case.
- Improving inclusion in community life and developing local solutions.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme needs to be funded and administered nationally.
The states and territories have significantly different levels of experience in ensuring people can choose what support they need and how to receive this support. In addition, current systems are highly fragmented, inconsistent, unfair and inefficient.
A nationally funded and administered system could:
- Ensure consistency and equality across Australia
- Guarantee integration with other national systems, including income support
- Enable people and families to move locations without losing access to funding and support
- Provide opportunities for the elimination of inefficiencies in service provision and reporting arrangements
- Improve promotion of prevention, national best practice and research.
The process for design, implementation and monitoring of the new system needs to include governments and community organisations.
The Commonwealth Government, State and Territory Governments, and Non Government Organisations need to be involved in a Taskforce that will manage the design, implementation and monitoring of the NDIS.
This would ensure that those responsible for the success of the scheme are engaged and actively involved in policy and process. Representative Non Government Organisations should include consumer, carer, service provider and research groups.