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Jun 14, 2012
James O'Brien

People with disability miss out on the benefits of the boom

A new report from the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Reform Council shows that people with disabilities have largely missed out on the benefits of Australia’s strong economic performance over the past decade.

The report reveals that:

Between 2003-09 there has been no improvement in rates of economic and social participation for people with disability.

People with disability constantly had significantly lower rates of economic participation compared to people with disability.

In 2009, just 50% of people with disability aged 15-64 were in employment compared to 78.6% of people without disability.

Around one in three people with disability reported they need more formal assistance

Every Australian Counts Campaign Director John Della Bosca said the COAG report was the latest in a long line of reports that re-enforce the desperate need for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“As our political leaders and commentators point out, Australia’s economic performance is the envy of the world. However, people with disabilities, their families and carers continue to miss out on the benefits of the boom.”

“The latest COAG report underlines the urgent need for the NDIS as the current system – condemned last year by the Productivity Commission as inequitable, underfunded, fragmented and inefficient – is clearly not working.”

Last year, a report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers confirmed Australia’s poor international record on employment for people with disabilities with about half living near or below the poverty line, compared to 22% for other OECD nations. On employment for people with disabilities, Australia rated 21st out of 29 in the OECD.

“If the Australian Olympic Team performed as dismally on the world stage, there would be a national bout of navel gazing.”

A NDIS will help boost workforce participation as people with disabilities, their families and carers will be able to rely on a decent level of support that meets their individual needs, better equipping people to pursue education and employment and help realise their potential.

“The long term benefits of this approach are huge. The Productivity Commission estimated that the NDIS, combined with reforms to disability employment, will see an extra 320,000 people with a disability employed by 2050. This could boost Australia’s GDP by $32 billion per year by the year 2050.”

The Every Australian Counts campaign re-iterates its call for all of Australia’s political leaders to work together to deliver the NDIS as soon as possible.

“So far, there has been good progress with the recent Budget announcement of $1billion from the Australian Government for the first stage of the NDIS and we remain heartened by the Coalition’s support for the NDIS.”

“There are however some concerning signs that an agreement between the Commonwealth, States and Territories on funding the NDIS may not be reached.”

“If our political leaders think this reform is hard, they should try spending a day in the shoes of a person with a disability or a carer trying to cope with our busted disability support system.

“We urge them to work together to deliver this vital national reform.”

The COAG report can be found at: http://www.coagreformcouncil.gov.au/reports/disability.cfm

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