Category: News

Supporting people with disability to have a good life must not be about politics

The request by the Commonwealth Government to State and Territory governments to cede the NDIS Agency’s Board nomination rights to the Commonwealth is not the ‘right way to go’ to ensure that the Australian community has a commitment to the NDIS and the substantial funds that it requires.

The States/Territories have a considerable financial stake in the NDIS and also provide a range of other services to people with disability, e.g., accommodations and health, and their commitment can only be assured if they have equal responsibility for the governance of the Scheme.

The current governance arrangements have successfully launched the NDIS, and as the Scheme goes through expansion and consolidation the skills, experience and capacity of Board members should be reviewed. This process will only be successfully accomplished through cooperation and negotiation involving all stakeholders, based on what is best to enable people with disability to have a good life and the appropriate governance of the NDIS and not with one party asserting its position.

The success of the NDIS is built on the cooperative efforts of people with disability, their families, the community and the leadership shown by all governments. The creative tension created by the involvement of the different parties has enabled the Scheme to roll out within an evidence based framework without the ideological / policy stance of any particular party or group prevailing. This governance arrangement has ensured the ongoing commitment of the Australian community to the increase in the medicare levy and the additional government resources that are needed for the full implementation of the Scheme.

Any attempt by one party to dominate the ongoing policy development and implementation of the Scheme places the NDIS is grave jeopardy of losing the community’s goodwill and hence its ongoing financial sustainability and viability.

Inclusion Australia calls on all governments to continue to work cooperatively to ensure the viability of the NDIS, the commitment of the broader Australian Community and the successful interrelationship of NDIS services with State/Territory services for people with disability.

Media Statement

budget logo

Budget 2015 summary

The information below outlines the announcements that accompanied the Budget 2015. Over the coming weeks we will be publishing the details related to each measure. 

I would like highlight the BETTER PATHWAYS initiative in the Employment section; we have been advocating for this initiative for over 12 months and it is pleasing that Minister Morrison and DSS have accepted our policy initiative and funded it! Congratulations Paul Cain.

For more information:

For more information about Department of Social Services’ Budget measures, visit the Department of Social Services website (www.dss.gov.au).

For information about the 2015 Budget, visit the Australian Government budget website (www.budget.gov.au).

Employment

People with disability contribute much to the workforce. They generally stay in jobs longer and take fewer sick days. The Government wants more people with disability to have to opportunity to work.

The 2015 Budget includes four measures to better support job seekers with disability and employers. These measures deliver a $25 million package over four years to begin shaping disability employment toward a new model in 2018.

The Government is also investing $17 million on business development to improve the viability of Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). This is part of a $189 million ADEs additional support package.

These initiatives will be delivered from 1 July 2015 until June 2019 to assist ADEs to be ready for the full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2019.

The funding will enable ADEs to use professional services to help them improve their sustainability and prepare for likely higher wage costs over time.

JobAccess Gateway

A new central information entry point will streamline employment services for job seekers with disability and potential employers.

It will provide a new online and telephone service with information about Government employment programmes and direct access to Disability Employment Services (DES).

The Gateway will streamline services and programmes and create a virtual disability employment marketplace through a new online and client relationship service centre.

Extensive support already exists to help potential employers hire people with disability, including funding for workplace modifications and wage subsidies. A lack of awareness about these supports in the broader job market, however, is a barrier to getting more people with disability into jobs.

The Gateway measure will cost $9 million over three years.

Better pathways

The Government will also provide better opportunities for young people with significant disability at a critical point in their lives, when they leave school.

Through a $2.2 million investment, up to six month’s DES support will be provided while a young person’s participation in a state or territory funded post-school employment or Transition to Work programme is finalised.

Empowering people with disability

Through a $14 million investment (from 1 January 2016), eligible employees of Australian Disability Enterprises will have access to DES provider support for up to two years while maintaining their ADE jobs.

Currently, people with disability must resign from their ADE to receive assistance from a DES provider.

This means an additional 300 people per year in ADEs will benefit from DES assistance to find a new job, doubling the numbers who already take up this opportunity under the existing arrangements.

This measure will remove barriers for people with disability in supported employment to move to open employment.

Employment benchmark

A new 23-hour employment benchmark for DES will be introduced.

This will remove an unintended consequence in the DES programme that allowed service providers to claim participants were working for 23-29 hours per week while placing them in a job of only 15 hours per week.

This will address jobseekers concerns of not getting a job with sufficient work hours and will lift expectations of DES service providers, helping people with disability reach their full employment potential and reduce their reliance on income support.

Key facts

  • The Government is providing $17 million to help improve the viability of Australian Disability Enterprises, securing future employment opportunities for people with disability.
  • The four disability employment measures will cost an estimated $25 million over four years.
  • The Job Access Gateway will be operational from 1 July 2016.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing support for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers.

The NDIS is currently being trialled across Australia and the Commonwealth and states are working to finalise details of the roll out of the NDIS to fully cover participating states and territories by 2019-20.

The 2015-16 Budget includes measures to effectively support the delivery of the NDIS as it rolls out across the country and a measure for early transition beyond the trial in
New South Wales.

NDIS full scheme technology

Before the Government can roll out the NDIS, the correct information and communications technology platform needs to be in place.

That’s why a new information and communications technology (ICT) system will support delivery of the NDIS when it replaces the current interim solution, which was never intended to service the Scheme long term.

The interim solution is not easily scalable to support the NDIS at full scheme and does not provide the full range of capabilities needed to support people with disability, their families and carers.

The new system will support about 460,000 participants when the NDIS is fully rolled out as well as service providers. It will provide enhanced data to the Australian Government and state and territory governments and streamline NDIS processes for people with disability.

The new system is estimated to cost $143 million over four years, with the Department of Human Services managing its implementation and integration.

Scheme roll-out

A carefully designed and staged roll out is critical to the national success of the NDIS.

The Australian and NSW Governments have signed an agreement to deliver disability supports for up to 2,000 young people up to 18 years of age in the Blue Mountains and Penrith from July 2015.

This agreement underscores the Australian Government’s commitment to introduce the NDIS in a carefully planned way across Australia, while also providing further opportunity to test features of the NDIS in advance of the ramp up from July 2016.

The Government has earmarked $20 million in 2015-16 so young people with disability in the Penrith and Blue Mountains area, and their families, can access information, referrals and capacity building through the National Disability Insurance Agency from July 2015, and individualised packages of support from September 2015.

Transfer of the Sector Development Fund

Responsibility for the Sector Development Fund (SDF) will transfer from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to the Department of Social Services.

This transfer will allow the NDIA to focus on its key responsibility of implementing the roll-out of support packages for people with a disability eligible for the NDIS.

This measure also includes some refinements to the transition arrangements for Commonwealth programmes in NDIS trials and the My Way trial in Western Australia, at an overall cost of $3.8 million.

Key facts

  • The new ICT system is estimated to cost $143 million over four years.
  • The Department of Human Services will manage its implementation and integration.
  • Young people with disability in the Penrith and Blue Mountains area of NSW can begin preparing for the NDIS from
  • July 2015.
  • The SDF facilitates development of the disability support sector in preparation for the new way of delivering disability services in the context of the NDIS.

Education

 

Students with a disability will receive the extra support they need with a record $1.3 billion being provided in 2015–16, and more than $5 billion over 2014–17 through the funding loading for students with a disability.
From 2016, for the first time ever, Commonwealth funding will be informed by the National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) so that all students with disability are funded on the same basis, regardless of the state or territory in which they live.

senate-inquiry

Senate Inquiry into Private VET Providers – IA submission

In Summary:

Inclusion Australia wants to ensure that youth with intellectual disability are treated with respect by the VET industry.

This requires that VET providers ensure that:

  • VET marketing strategies provide independent safeguards to ensure that students with intellectual disability make an informed decision and that the contract of service is valid.
  • Course offers and enrolment are relevant to the skills, competencies and preferences of students with intellectual disability;
  • Government funding is contingent on the achievement of outcomes; outcomes should include suitability, completion, and quality of training and assessment.
  • Marketing materials should include outcome indicator results including completion rates and graduate employment outcomes six months after training completion.

_____________________________________________________________________

Committee Secretary
Senate Education and Employment Committees PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
eec.sen@aph.gov.au

Dear Committee Members

PO Box 771
Mawson ACT 2607
61 2 6296 4400 info@inclusionaustralia.org.au inclusionaustralia.org.au

Inclusion Australia (formerly known as the National Council on Intellectual Disability) is the national peak organisation for people with intellectual disability and their families in Australia.

We would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to provide a late brief submission to this inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia.

In our view, the current regulatory and funding framework is insufficient to protect the rights and needs of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We are increasingly receiving feedback about the behaviour of some VET providers who prey on the vulnerability of youth with intellectual disability to gain access to government VET funding in return for little, if any, benefit to the student.

As a result youth are presented with offers of training in which;

  • they have difficulty in understanding the nature and consequences of such an offer;
  • are inappropriate in meeting their training and employment needs, and;
  • burdens them with a lifelong debt that provides little or nothing in return or benefit.

We realise that the government acknowledges that there are serious problems with the behaviour of some VET providers and is trying to address this abuse of youth and taxpayers money. We believe more needs to be done.If we may borrow the words of the Prime Minister, some in the VET system are playing us for “mugs”.(1) Inclusion Australia is now of the view that the government must do something to stop the rorts, and stop the abuse of young vulnerable people.

People with disability currently experience high levels of unemployment and underemployment.(2) It is vitally important that the generous government funding provided for education, training and employment programs provides value for money by demonstrating outcomes and employment participation rates for people with disabilities.

The following is a cross section of the kinds of reports we have received. We have modified the reports to remove names of individuals, VET providers, and other people and organisations, and also the locations or any other information that may identify the individuals or organisations in the reports we have received.

————

“An individual recently told me that he has been enrolled into a Diploma of Business Administration through a VET provider and that they will be providing him with a “free laptop”. According to the individual they went door-to-door and sold him on the idea of doing the course. The client was made aware during their discussions that the course wouldn’t cost anything if he never earns over $52,000 per annum. I have tried discussing the suitability of the course, in hopes of having the individual withdraw from the course as I believe it to be unsuitable relative to his learning abilities at this time and irrelevant to his overall employment goals, sadly however, he is convinced and wishes to complete the course.”

Specialist disability provider

————

“We have spruikers for VET outside our building looking to pick up youth with significant intellectual disability and sign them up for very expensive and totally unachievable qualifications.”

Specialist disability provider

————

“Two individuals were signed up by VET spruikers – we believe they will be incapable of completing a Diploma and were enticed by the promise of laptops.”

Specialist disability provider

————

“A jobseeker came to us with the following tale of woe. He is 19 and has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and recently completed his mainstream schooling receiving an HSC.

He registered with a Disability Employment Service provider who referred him to a language, literacy and numeracy course; a full time course for a period of 10 weeks.

The provider claimed an educational outcome and got paid for an unnecessary course that involves the jobseeker doing nothing while sitting in a classroom for 5 days a week. He’s Australian from birth, and his literacy and numeracy skills are better than the instructor.”

Specialist disability provider

There are people walking the streets encouraging young people with disabilities to sign up for training programs with offers that include the provision of ‘free’ iPads or laptops if they will sign up.

If individuals are unfortunate to be beguiled into signing, they incur a debt that then attracts interest and, while the course is ‘free’, the debt is anything but, and it may never be repaid.

Abuses of training programs including the offer of inducements to sign up for unnecessary or inappropriate training is rife at the moment — these waste taxpayers money, saddle people with disability with debt they will never repay, do not contribute to employment that leads to economic independence, and tarnishes the reputation of education, training and employment programs.

————

Capacity to provide valid consent

Many people with intellectual disability will find it difficult to understand the detail of complex contractual propositions without supported decision assistance.

Without independent safeguards this group of people will frequently acquiesce to the wishes of others particularly when subject to premeditated marketing techniques aimed to achieve a sale in the best interests of a business or service.

According to the specialist legal service, Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS);

“People with intellectual disability may need support in entering into contracts; i.e. they may need help to understand the nature and effect of the specific contract at the time it is made. The more complex the transaction and the higher the value of the property, the greater the understanding and help required.”(3)

IDRS state that help for people with intellectual disability to understand a contract may include;

  • “having a support person present
  • making them feel comfortable and not vulnerable
  • having the contract read and explained in simple terms
  • asking them to explain in their own words what the contract means
  • asking questions that test their memory
  • testing their ability to understand their needs and how to meet them
  • asking questions that test if they understand when and how much to pay
  • avoiding the use of questions that only need a “yes’ or “no” answer
  • overcoming any speech problems
  • avoiding nodding” or “smiling” etc. to influence answers
  • checking for undue influence
  • allowing time to think, or change their mind, or get independent advice.”(4)

These kinds of help recognise the impact of intellectual impairment in making informed decisions without undue influence. If, after this help, a person with intellectual disability does not understand the general nature and effect of the contract, then they are said to ‘lack legal capacity.’ It is clear that VET providers, and their associated marketing personnel and organisations, do not regularly provide safeguards and protections of this nature – nor does it appear that they are required to provide these minimum types of help, before signing up youth with intellectual disability.

Inducements such as iPads and laptops should not be permitted and should be considered a major non-compliance of standards and breach of consumer protection laws.

The Senate committee should recommend a minimum set of safeguards that include independent support to assist youth with intellectual disability before an enrolment for a VET course is approved for government funding.

Whereas Inclusion Australia knows that this level of support is explicitly needed for youth with intellectual disability, we are of the opinion that these kinds of help would provide universal safeguards and protections for all youth being offered VET courses due to the general vulnerability of youth due to their inexperience.

VET courses offered to youth should be highly relevant to their needs

Education, training and employment programs should provide services that highly relevant to the needs of participants. To be relevant, a program must first clearly identify what needs a participant has, and what is most relevant to meeting those needs.

What is most alarming for Inclusion Australia is that some VET providers are signing up youth with intellectual disability for courses which are inappropriate to their ability and capacity to benefit.

As a result, many will struggle to complete the requirements of the course, most are likely to withdraw and fail to complete the course, and failure will exacerbate an already fragile sense of self-esteem about being able to succeed in the adult world of work.

The costs of such failure to the individual, their families, their community and the nation is enormous. We are currently in the midst of a paradigm change where we wish to support youth with intellectual disability to increase their social and economic participation as opposed to traditional experiences of lifelong dependence on the pension outside the labour force.

In this respect, training and employment programs, if they are to be value for money must be relevant to the needs of youth with intellectual disability to succeed and lead to participation in the workforce.

For people with significant intellectual disability (IQ≤60) there is little evidence of classroom based training leading to successful placement in jobs or careers in employment. This is directly related to the nature of intellectual impairment which includes a lack of ability to transfer and generalise learning from one environment to another. The evidence demonstrates the need for explicit on the job training. There is little evidence of a link between VET course completion and employment outcomes for this cohort of people.

Even for people with mild levels of intellectual disability, they will require substantial support in curriculum modification, multi-level teaching and explicit instruction techniques which take into account their literacy, numeracy and learning needs. This group will also need significant on-site workplace training.

We agree with the Consumer Action Law Centre’s recommendation that VET provider’s be required to conduct a suitability (or relevancy) assessment for each student prior to enrolment.

Whereas we welcome Standard 5.1 of the VET Standards, which which requires VET providers to provide advice to prospective learners about the training product appropriate to meeting the learner’s needs, ‘taking into account the individual’s existing skills and competencies’, this does not go far enough.

There should be a requirement of VET providers to demonstrate that the course offer and enrolment is an appropriate match with the individual’s current skills, career preferences, and that the provider has the competency to deliver this outcome for youth with intellectual disability.

Government funding should ensure value for money

It is a lucky country that can provide funding assistance to youth to give them the opportunity for education, training and employment support. This gives youth who would otherwise not be able to pay the cost of their chosen career pathway the capacity to do so.

Unfortunately, some VET providers have taken this good policy of government funding support as a signal to use youth as a commodity to raise funds for self interest.

Inclusion Australia has seen this kind of misuse of funds in related programs.(5) It seems that the opportunity to obtain funding without providing any positive outcome for the people it is intended to benefit is clearly too tempting for some providers.

As a result, government is often forced to implement greater controls and accountability. Unfortunately this results in greater red-tape and administration for the sector as a whole. It is as if the sector must cop greater scrutiny due to the poor behaviour of some. This is unfortunate but clearly the government must respond by ensuring that resources are actually used as intended.

It is our view that funding should have ‘strings’ attached. Why pay for something “not completed”, “inappropriate”, or delivered with “poor quality”.

We believe the government should consider an outcome based funding system – where a proportion of funding is withheld until certain requirements or milestones are met. Funding could be made contingent on meeting evidence requirements around performance indicators which are audited externally on a random basis, including;

  • suitability of course enrolments;
  • course completion,
  • course delivered with quality training and assessment
  • graduate employment outcomes six months after completion
  • outcome data provided by student characteristic including students by intellectual disability and other primary disability groupings.

Outcome indicators for VET providers should be made transparent and included in marketing materials as a part of statement of disclosure to prospective students.

In Summary

Inclusion Australia wants to ensure that youth with intellectual disability are treated with respect by the VET industry.

This requires that VET providers ensure that:

  • VET marketing strategies provide independent safeguards to ensure that students with intellectual disability make an informed decision and that the contract of service is valid.
  • Course offers and enrolment are relevant to the skills, competencies and preferences of students with intellectual disability;
  • Government funding is contingent on the achievement of outcomes; outcomes should include suitability, completion, and quality of training and assessment.
  • Marketing materials should include outcome indicator results including completion rates and graduate employment outcomes six months after training completion.

Any enquires about this report should be directed to Paul Cain, Director of Research and Strategy at paul.cain@inclusionaustralia.org.au or 0419 462 928.

Notes:

1.  Prime Minister Statement on National Security, February 23, 2015

2.  8% of people with intellectual disability using disability support services report work in the open labour market. See —Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement.

3.  IDRS Factsheet: Consumer protection and people with intellectual disability. Source: idrs.org.au
4.   IDRS Factsheet: Consumer protection and people with intellectual disability. Source: idrs.org.au
5.  Department of Social Services. Evaluation of Disability Employment Services 2010-2013. Final Report. Chapter 6. School leaver pathways to employment through DES p. 102
employ arrow

Welfare reform will succeed with the right employment support

 Welfare reform will succeed with high expectations and the right employment support!

Minister Morrison makes three points we can agree with;

  • “the best form of welfare is a job
  • the biggest welfare savings are driven by getting people into work
  • the NZ investment model uses actuarial evaluations to identify which risk factors drive long term welfare dependency and outlays, and what are amenable to early effective intervention”

Getting a job is good. Good for the individual and the federal budget. Investment in support that works is value for money.

Inclusion Australia presented two case studies of evidence based practice to the consultation — Audrey and David. These show that with the right right support, it is possible to get a job and reduce reliance on the pension. (Inclusion Australia’s submission to McClure Review)

Audrey and David are, however unique. Their provider is the only evidence based transition and open employment provider for people with significant intellectual disability — operating in Sydney and part of Melbourne. Their jobs were created by combining their strengths with the needs of employers — i.e. not jobs advertised by employers.

Audrey and David save the Commonwealth $15,906 annually (Table 1). Put in context, only 2.5% of all DS Pensioners earn more than $250 per week. The potential annual savings of providing the right support to 100,000 DSP recipients with intellectual & learning disability is between $0 and $1.6 Billion.

The Productivity Commission noted that effective transition support could save the Commonwealth considerable funds currently spent on more expensive non-work and supported employment options.

The Centre for International Economics (Table 2) found that the annual cost to the taxpayer (after pension offsets) for evidence based open employment was $4,206 per annum and this was far cheaper than alternate supported employment ($12,908) and state government programs ($17,667 – $23,884).

Changing to an evidence based system of support will require investment to develop this capacity. Inclusion Australia will be presenting a report to the Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency on building a national sector of evidence based transition and open employment support for all people with intellectual disability.

For people with intellectual disability, the best form of welfare is getting the right support to get a job.

Enquiries: Paul Cain,

0419 462 928,

paul.cain@inclusionaustralia.org.au

Tables:

MC report tables

Note Table 1: Figures based on DSP figures for adults 21 and over rates as at 20 September 2014.

Notes Table 2:

  1.  Most recent wages available for ADE are for 30/6/2008. Wage indexed to 30/6/2013 using minimum wage movements.

  2.  CBF funding and wage subsidy for 2012/13 year divided by the number of DES-ESS clients on 30/6/2013.

  3.  Pension offsets based on the March-June 2013 means test of $0.50 per dollar of earnings above $76 per week.

fair pay

Variation of Supported Employment Services Award — Update

United Voice, Health Services Union and National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations — Communique, Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Variation of Supported Employment Services Award — Update

On 23rd December 2013, United Voice and the Health Services Union made a joint application to the Fair Work Commission to vary the Supported Employment Services Award 2010.

This Award covers employees with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs, formerly known as Sheltered Workshops).

The application was made following the decision by the Full Federal Court in Nojin v Commonwealth which found that the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool used to determine wages unfairly discriminated against workers with intellectual disability.

The application also seeks to deal with the extent to which other Wage Assessment Tools listed in the Award are discriminatory against workers with disabilities.

On 20 June 2014 the full bench of the Fair Work Commission decided that in an effort to find a solution that there be a Conference of the parties led by Deputy President Booth.

There has been a series of meetings held at the Fair Work Commission since 1 September 2014. Conference proceedings are conducted as a confidential process and without prejudice basis.

On 16 February 2015 the parties agreed to conduct a study using the Supported Wage System with modification in a sample of ADEs. This will consider the impact of using historical productivity data on the productivity wage assessment rates of workers with disability. The parties will discuss the results of this study at the next scheduled meeting on Monday 27 April 2015.

For enquiries: Contact Leigh Svendsen, National Industrial Officer, Health Service Union, 02 8203 6066; leighs@hsu.net.au

——————————-

National Peak Disability and Advocacy Groups supporting the joint application and parties at the conference include — AED Legal Centre; Inclusion Australia (formerly the National Council on Intellectual Disability); and People with Disability Australia.

help

IA supports a national inquiry into abuse

We have to Do Something about Abuse. Now.

Inclusion Australia (formerly the National Council on Intellectual Disability) supports a national inquiry by the Australian Senate into abuse, violence and neglect against people with disability.

Inclusion Australia welcomes the moral leadership of Senator Siewert and the Australian Greens by calling for a national inquiry by the Commonwealth Parliament about the ongoing abuse of people with disability.

“Excuse me, just get off your backsides.
Do something about it.” (Craig McDonald, 4Corners).

Inclusion Australia president, Kevin Stone, publicly called for a national inquiry into the quality of disability services on September 13, 2012 following revelations of widespread abuse of people with disability on the ABC Lateline program.

Kevin Stone said, “People with intellectual disability are often fearful of challenging decisions or asserting themselves – often with good reason. They frequently experience a range of negative consequences for speaking up – ranging from paternalism and condescension to oppression and abuse.

A national inquiry will give all people with disability, their families, advocates and others the opportunity to have their say on how they are being treated and what should be done to address violence, abuse and neglect in the national disability service system, and in the wider community.”

“And it is still happening to other people –
and it should not be.” (Jules Anderson, 4Corners)

The ABC 4Corners report in late 2014 further revealed the vulnerability of people with disability to abuse and the inadequacy of State and Commonwealth disability service systems’ capacity to address serious breaches of basic human rights.

People with intellectual disability are our children, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our friends and colleagues. Violence, abuse and neglect are not acceptable under any circumstance.

Disability service providers and their staff should be exemplary in providing support which upholds the basic human dignity and rights of people with disability. This is not currently the case and we must work together to do something about it.

Inclusion Australia welcomes the investigation by the Victorian Ombudsman into how allegations of abuse in the disability sector are reported and investigated, and also the promised investigation by the Victorian government. We also welcome the initiative by the National Disability Insurance Agency to develop a strategy of safeguards for people with disability participating in the NDIS.

We do need, however, a national response that can address the issues of violence, abuse and neglect that cut across State, Territory, and Commonwealth jurisdiction lines, disability service provision lines, and the Australian community at large.

A national inquiry will need to provide a new direction and address a range of much needed reform including;

  • Staff Screening, Training and Accreditation;
  • Service Standards and Monitoring;
  • Mandatory reporting of violence, abuse or neglect;
  • A skilled response by authorities to reports of violence, abuse and neglect; and,
  • Protections for service provider staff or whistleblowers who report abuse.

 Download media release

everyone matters

Our Voice Matters

Inclusion Australia responds to DSS $1.5m cut to support and services for people with intellectual Inclusion Australia - Logo Icondisability.  

Inclusion Australia (NCID) is the peak body for people with intellectual disability and their families. Inclusion Australia has represented people with intellectual disability for over 60 years with the support of thousands of people and organisations.

In December last year the Department of Social Services decided that the specific voice of people with intellectual disability and their families is not important. Rather, they have decided that people with intellectual disability and their families can be represented by people without disabilities or by people who have a physical or sensory disability. The Board of Inclusion Australia deplores this decision as we believe it will deny people with intellectual disability and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the direction of disability policy and supports, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

People with intellectual disability comprise 60-70% of NDIS participants and are the third largest group receiving the DSP. Recent reports have highlighted the need for NDIS to engage with people with intellectual disability and their families to better reflect their needs. As a result, NDIS has agreed to meet with Inclusion Australia on a regular basis to provide that engagement – a measure which is now in jeopardy due to the DSS decision. In the absence of Inclusion Australia, this decision has silenced the collective voice of people with intellectual disability – those most in need of representation at the highest level given their historical marginalisation.

By silencing the voice of the national peak body,the Department of Social Services is removing the opportunity for people with intellectual disability and their families to ensure their needs and interests are adequately considered and safeguarded,  Over many years, Inclusion Australia has effectively advocated on such issues as:

  • the need for increased funding
  • the need for increased employment support
  • the right to better pay and conditions for intellectual disability employees
  • the right to support for inclusive education
  • the need for adequate income support
  • the right to live in the community
  • the need for better housing and support
  • the right to self-management of funding
  • the need to end abuse and bullying, and
  • the need for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The Department’s decision to defund Inclusion Australia sits alongside their decision to abandon funding to all other peak disability population groups cutting services and support to people with disability by $1.5 million. With the Abbott Government’s ambitious welfare reform agenda and the rollout of the NDIS, now is not the time for the Department of Social Services to be silencing the very voices they need to be hearing from.

People with intellectual disability want to work, to get more money, to do things in their community. But, if we do not have our own say how can we be part of it? Why does the government not want to hear from us?” Judy Huett, Chairperson of Our Voice (self advocacy committee of Inclusion Australia’s Board)

Inclusion Australia calls on the Abbott Government to review this retrograde decision of the Department of Social Services that breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Convention recognises people with intellectual disability as a distinct disability population and also stresses the obligation to involve people with a significant disability in the monitoring of the Convention and the development of government policy and its implementation.

”Inclusion Australia has been at the forefront of helping to define the need for the National Disability Strategy and the NDIS,” states Kevin Stone, Inclusion Australia President, ”The success of the NDIS for people with intellectual disability depends on us being there to shape the design and support the implementation. Without the strong representation of our national peak, the specific needs and interests of people with intellectual disability and their families will be overlooked, every time.’’

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