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