Which of the following statements best describes you?
- I’m a health professional
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?
Personal and Community Supports- It is essential that families of children who present with signs of ASD have access to autism specific services to ensure that children receive access to early intervention which is vital to their maximising their potential and skill development. Some families are waiting up to 2 years before their child is referred for and then is assessed formally for a diagnosis of ASD-these families need access to autism specific services during this waiting time to ensure that these children do not miss out on opportunities to develop their skills at such a critical time.
What do you think about the guiding principles proposed here?
I feel that their needs to be a focus on reaching vulnerable families in the community, e.g., single parents, families linked with CPFS, families from cultural groups and indigenous families who may have difficulty accessing information. These families may not seek support directly from organisations and their may need to be consideration on providing information in formats that suits different community groups.
What is your view on the proposal for the new Strategy to have a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes across all outcome areas?
A focus on improving community attitudes is essential for creating positive change and increased inclusion for people with disabilities in society. Sharing positive stories/case studies of situations where positive community attitudes have been experienced and the impact of that for the individual and/or their family would be helpful to assist others in having a positive and supportive attitude towards people with disabilities.
Through my role, i have received feedback from many families of children with autism that they have tried to access mainstream playgroups for their children and often felt that the playgroup staff and other families were not accepting of their child and as a result ceased attending and felt isolated. It is essential that services and the wider community develop improved attitudes towards people with disability so that they can participate in community activities to lead a fulfilling life.
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?
From my experience in working with families who have children with additional needs, they report feeling overwhelmed and confused about services and supports and their eligibility in being able to access different services. Some families get so confused that they don’t seek support from services because they believe they cannot access them and therefore miss out on things that they can actually access which can impact on the family. In my role i am often supporting families to navigate the different services and supports they can access for their child. A clear outline would mean that families have a clear understanding of what they can access and how with increased independence to do so.
How do you think the Strategy should represent the role that the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability?
I believe that non government sector may want to include people with disability in their organisations but they lack the knowledge and understanding of how to go about it. Developing case studies may help organisations to see what it looks like when it is done really well. Access to appropriate training and support that is individualised towards their sectors would be helpful-developing and inclusion plan may also help to increase accountability in these sectors. Providing support from the specific disability services to work with organisations to upskill them about the needs of individuals who want to access their services is important to ensure that the individual needs of the person with a disability are the focus. While broader information about inclusion and disability is valuable, providing individualised support may help to create more successful inclusion experiences by everyone involved.
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?
Reporting should occur yearly and the type of reporting that would be useful would be information and stats around the number of people with disability who are able to access funding, the number of people who are accessing therapy services, the number who believe progress towards their individual goals has been achieved over the previous year, the number of people with disability accessing community events, activities and services. Their needs to be a report on the number of people accessing the NDIS along with the number of people who have used their funded amount during the year. While stats and numbers are important, i believe that the stories that people with disabilities and their families share about their opinion of whether they believe that their quality of life has improved or not and reasons/examples associated are more important and powerful.
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)?
I think that targeted action plans will be beneficial in creating accountability for action to take place within the agreed time frames.
Targeted action plans are required to look at trying to increase access to early intervention for families who have a child who presents with delays or difficulties from the time that they are identified. More often than not, families are asked to wait and see what happens in 6-12 months times and are not provided with access to any therapy during the critial years when early intervention is crucial in determining outcomes. If a plan could be made to reduce wait times and increase access to funded therapy, these vulnerable families and children will be supported by therapy services from the time they identify concerns, rather than months to year later when they are deemed eligable because their child has not made much progress (during which time, their child should have been accessing vital early intervention services)
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 disabilities and their families could be provided with information about policy development and review by inviting them to attend information sessions, webinars or emails. Disability specific sectors could support in helping the government to ensure that the information is presented in the most appropriate manner and method for different disability groups so that the information and opportunity to be involved is accessible to all different disability groups.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the position paper?