ACT BUDGET ANALYSIS 2015-16
Infrastructure Saves the Day for Disability
Advocacy for Inclusion is impressed by some significant infrastructure commitments in ACT Budget 2015-16 which save the day for disability spending overall. Without these initiatives this budget would be very disappointing.
While the Chief Minister has made a commitment to advancing social inclusion and equality, specific initiatives for people with disabilities are scarce. In particular, the ACT Government continues its support for non-human rights compliant disability service models, which will hinder real inclusion of people with disabilities in the community, and can be phased out with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- Redevelopment of the Supreme Court will improve access to justice for people with disabilities. This will ensure that people with disabilities can finally participate across all areas of the justice system, including jury service.
- Enhanced Legal Aid Services for people who cannot afford private legal representation.
- Extra resources to support more students with disabilities, including in the classroom and transport to public schools.
- Major renewal of public housing, which will mean better accessibility for people with disabilities who are the single largest tenancy group.
- Funding attached to the Out of Home Care Strategy “A Step Up for our Kids”, which has real potential to benefit parents and children with disabilities.
- Establishment of the lifetime care and support scheme for survivors of motor vehicle accidents.
- Disability services indexation for the NDIS transition.
- Continued institutionalisation – new respite facility
A further $1.6 million is committed to a congregate respite facility for young people, a model which will continue the legacy of social exclusion for people with disabilities. This is a backward step for the human rights of people with disabilities, and repeats the mistake made in last year’s budget. The NDIS will enable innovative and inclusive respite programs to evolve for families and children. Funding should have been redirected to support families to explore these new opportunities, and toward other more progressive disability supports.
- No specific money for women with disabilities experiencing domestic violence
There are no targeted initiatives or extra funding for women with disabilities who are trapped in violent relationships. This is a key target group for both ACT and national plans to address violence against women. It is deeply disappointing to see no commitment to expand or develop the Crisis Service Scheme, which is a promising yet very small initiative from last year’s budget.
- Ninety per cent of people with disabilities still left in the lurch
The NDIS is on the ACT’s doorstep yet there is no clear funding or structural reforms to cover the people who won’t receive individual packages. There is more than $20 million to support agencies to transition and restructure for the NDIS, yet people with disabilities who do not receive individualised packages still have no idea about what community supports will be available to replace the existing system.
- Uncertainty about funding for independent disability advocacy
The demand for independent disability advocacy has increased dramatically with the roll out of the NDIS alongside the population increase of people with disabilities. Yet, uncertainty about the availability of advocacy continues, with no clear commitments in this Budget. Independent disability advocacy is critical in supporting people with disabilities to achieve good outcomes as NDIS recipients and to address issues of inequality and discrimination in the community. It is essential in shaping an efficient, effective and quality NDIS service system.
At a time of fiscal challenge Advocacy for Inclusion welcomes some solid physical infrastructure measures. We now look forward to collaborating on the development of programs that will mean real social inclusion and equality for people with disabilities.