Which of the following statements best describes you?

  • I’m a person with disability

Question 1:
During the first stage of consultations we heard that the vision and the six outcome areas under the current Strategy are still the right ones. Do you have any comments on the vision and outcome areas being proposed for the new Strategy?

I support all six of the outcome areas for the National Disability Strategy. My comments are as follows:

A lot more work is needed to secure the outcome of inclusive and accessible communities, especially in the area of accessible and affordable housing for whole of life for people with a disability. The costs of adapting a home for better access fall upon the individual with a disability, when this unfair impost could be avoided with appropriate building regulation and coordination of funding with NDIS and other disability government departments.

Similarly disability services for personal care and support require investment to ensure the best quality and safe support provision is easily within reach of people with high support needs.

The health system requires work to address equal access both in clinical and hospital settings for people with disability. At present the health system is inadequate in this regard.

Question 2:
What do you think about the guiding principles proposed here?

In the case of the broader community, government, business, education, and workplaces being informed and supporting the inclusion of people with a disability – this needs to go further than organisations having a disability action plan in place to avoid a disability discrimination complaint. These plans can only be effective if they are actioned. So a “checklist” would only work if it were regularly evaluated against outcomes and successful removal of identified barriers.

Question 3:
What is your view on the proposal for the new Strategy to have a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes across all outcome areas?

Changes to community attitudes can only be achieved by more inclusion in all the six identified outcomes. Societal attitudes to disability are entrenched, but can be gradually altered by people with disability having equal access to all aspects of life or at least as much as possible. In diversity policy planning disability is often left off the list. We do not see ourselves in popular culture, we are under-represented visibly and this is probably an area that could help change attitude. The more people with disability are included the community becomes aware of access issues and can work together to improve what is provided.

Actions toward this outcome can be found in disability action plans but as I have said before these are not actioned.

Question 4:
How do you think that clearly outlining what each government is responsible for could make it easier for people with disability to access the supports and services they need?

Clarity on what each government agency is responsible for would be welcome. Currently the NDIS is not responsible for non participants and older people with lifelong disabilities are not eligible for the Scheme. These people with increasing high care needs are left to compete in a famously inadequate under-serviced aged care system. There needs to be a better confluence of care for people with disability who are not eligible for NDIS participation, but who have urgent support needs with little support available under the current situation.

Question 5:
How do you think the Strategy should represent the role that the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability?

The strategy should include non-government sector by assisting in forming partnerships with disability advocacy and service organisations together with people with disabilities and areas of government where policy is implemented and funded. The shaping of a broader community approach could be developed in this way.

The strategy could better guide non-government organisations improve inclusion and equity for people with disabilities by setting benchmarks, identifying barriers, provision of resources and evaluating outcomes.

Question 6:
What kind of information on the Strategy’s progress should governments make available to the public and how often should this information be made available?

Public publishing and media engagement when reporting is released would be one effective way to obtain attention to the reporting. Regular reporting (annual) with clear evaluation/outcomes provided would be adequate. Good news media stories in between annual reports would also be an effective way to attract attention and help to change community attitudes.

Question 7:
What do you think of the proposal to have Targeted Action Plans that focus on making improvements in specific areas within a defined period of time (for example within one, two or three years)?

This was the expected outcome of the original move towards organisations’ action plans in the first place. When working with an organisation it is totally necessary to target improvements that can be feasibly achieved. However, to keep the momentum going and to have an organisation’s ongoing commitment is a challenge. Budget is always the limit to such planning, it seems difficult to get organisations to develop a budget which includes targets for access and inclusion. I suggest this be a major focus for targeted action plans – budget planning for inclusion. Priority areas where an organisation can achieve targets at no cost can also be promoted (gives an organisation a sense of success).

Question 8:
How could the proposed Engagement Plan ensure people with disability, and the disability community, are involved in the delivery and monitoring of the next Strategy?

People with a disability could best be involved in several ways:

  • Consultation with disability-run organisations
  • Delivery in partnership with people with a disability
  • Assessment of progress of the strategy by people with a disability
  • Targeted communications to people with disabilities to obtain their engagement
  • Recruiting and employing people with a disability to deliver the strategy
  • Seek nominated disability representatives from their disability communities, service providers and advocacy agencies for the purposes listed above

Question 9:
Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the position paper?

All the ideas and proposals in the position paper are to be supported. I believe affordable and accessible housing to be a priority and have attached a paper initiated in response to the Australian Building Codes Board’s (ABCB) consultation on a proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code. The aim of the study was to address a gap in both qualitative and quantitative (but not monetised) data about the lived experience and social, health and economic benefits of accessible housing. It brings the voices of hundreds of Australians with disability and other mobility limitations into the ABSB consultation.