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Jun 14, 2012
James O'Brien

Disabled need more formal support: report

Below is an article in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald which re-inforces the need for the NDIS.  

One in three Australians with a disability say they need more formal support, according to a report to be released today.

The report, issued by the Council of Australian Governments reform council, is likely to strengthen calls for a National Disability Insurance Scheme. The council reports on the outcomes of the National Disability Agreement, which governs the more than $6 billion in annual government spending on disability services.

Drawing on survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the council said people with disabilities continued to face major barriers to participating fully in the workforce. There was no significant improvement in the workforce participation rates of people with disabilities between the most recent survey, taken in 2009, and the previous survey in 2003.

“It would have been good to report some solid gains between 2003 and 2009, but in the area of workforce participation there was very little improvement for people with disability and that was despite an improving labour market,” council chairman Paul McClintock said.

Nationally, 50 per cent of the population with disabilities is employed, compared to about 79 per cent of those without disabilities. One in four people with severe or profound disabilities reported that their disability was the main reason they did not leave their home as often as they would like. One in three people with disabilities said they needed more formal assistance than they were were receiving. Almost 20 per cent of those who took action to get further assistance in the previous 12 months said they still needed more help.

Asked what implications the report’s findings had for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is due to be launched in four locations from July next year, Mr McClintock said: “The logic of handling disability in a different way is really based upon the fact that the current system isn’t delivering effective change and isn’t improving.”

The Gillard government has committed $1 billion over four years to launch a national scheme, under which people with disabilities will work with co-ordinators to develop support plans based on their individual needs and goals. The money will begin to flow with an $84 million downpayment in 2012-13, rising to $363 million in 2015-16. The Commonwealth has begun discussions with the states on the location of the four launch sites and on the design, governance and funding of the scheme. Those that take part in the launch will be asked to contribute a further $288 million between them.

The NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, has said he supports the scheme in principle and would like the Hunter region or Western Sydney to be one of the launch sites. But he said NSW could not afford to contribute any more funding beyond the $9.3 billion it had committed to disability services over the next four years. A national scheme is expected to cost $8 billion a year more than governments now spend on disability services.

The Commonwealth will be expecting each state to at least maintain their current level of spending on disability services, and will be encouraging them to lift their level of spending to that of Victoria, which spends $8378 annually per person. About 4 million Australians have a disability. A further 2.6 million are carers to people with disabilities.

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