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MEDIA RELEASE – 3 May 2011
Some welcome initiatives but still only treading water for disability in the ACT
“The ACT Budget includes some welcome initiatives”, said Christina Ryan, General Manager for Advocacy for Inclusion, “but we are still only treading water as we struggle to keep afloat with the large level of unmet need and exclusion.”
The ACT Government has clearly got the message from the community that more support is needed for people with disabilities, and this is heartening. Several important initiatives in this Budget include:
- Expected funds to implement the centralised wheelchair accessible taxi booking service and increases to the taxi subsidy scheme
- Continued support for the acquisition of new accessible busses for ACTION
- Improved energy concessions for low income households and energy efficiency measures for public housing stock
- Improved training and leadership programs for people with disabilities in the ACT Public Service.
- A trial after school care program for students with disabilities
- Much needed capital works on the Malkara School hydrotherapy pool, and facilities at EPIC to become more accessible.
- Continuing the improvements to public toilets.
- Further funds for the equipment loan scheme for young people.
However, some major gaps still exist, including little support for ACT implementation of the National Disability Strategy to ensure the rights of people with disabilities are realised. “Many in the ACT disability community would have liked to see more support for measures which bring people with disabilities into the community”, said Ms Ryan.
“At a time when employment and education are being heralded as the future for people with disabilities there is no clear evidence that this budget will make this a reality. How will Canberrans with disabilities sustain employment or education opportunities?”
“It is still the case that only those in the most desperate need in the disability community are the target for Government funding and that many people who need support will continue to fall through the cracks and live isolated from their community”, Ms Ryan continued. “At a time when budget constraints are real this is expected, but when will the shortfall ever be addressed, which year will be the year we have all been waiting for?”