Would you like to contribute to the Federal Government’s 2020 Review of the National Disability Strategy (NDS)?

Before you answer that question, you may have another of your own: “What is the National Disability Strategy?”

With all the excitement and news about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), it has largely been forgotten that this is just a part of the Government’s response to the needs of Australians with disability. This is the National Disability Strategy (NDS).

To make sure the NDS is still relevant to Australians with disability, the Government has opened a consultation process in which they hope to learn:

  • – What’s important to Australians with disability, their families and carers now and for the next 10 years and what will make a difference in their lives;
  • – Whether there have been changes in community attitudes and the way they are treated and feel part of the community;
  • – What barriers they are facing;
  • – What the opportunities are to break down barriers;
  • – How the new NDS could better reflect the diverse experiences of Australians with disability, including the particular barriers experienced by different population groups;
  • – How carers could be recognised in a new strategy;
  • – How we can make sure the next strategy improves outcomes for Australians with disability, including what communities, organisations, workplaces and governments can do to create a more inclusive Australian society;
  • – How best to measure and report whether results are improving and how things are changing for the better; and
  • – What can governments, business and communities do to make this happen.

To gather this information, the Department of Social Services (DSS) has created a fairly comprehensive survey that asks Australians with disabilities (and their supporters) questions about their experiences and their priorities, and as with previous consultation surveys, PDA has made a copy of them so you can think about the answers you want to provide ahead of taking the survey.

Importantly, from PDA’s perspective, question 13 of the survey asks people responding to it to indicate how important they think possible government actions are for the new strategy on a 5 point scale from ‘Not a Priority’ to ‘Essential’. The possible government actions are:

  • – Strengthen disability and carer-specific laws to guide action and improvements for people with disability
  • – Fund and support local community and grassroots initiatives and trials to promote innovation and sharing ideas.
  • – Develop measurable goals and concrete targets and report against them, for example on employment
  • Fund disability advocacy organisations
  • – Greater support for families and carers
  • – Fund local support organisations
  • – Develop initiatives/activities that build on and complement the NDIS

While all these possible actions are important, we recommend that everybody be sure to check the ‘Essential’ box for action – ‘Fund disability advocacy organisations’.

In recent years, the government has reduced its funding of disability advocacy organisations to the point where PDA and many other organisations that do advocacy work for Australians with disability receive less than $30,000 per year to cover our core expenses and do whatever advocacy work we can.

Now you may think that with the advent of the NDIS there is little need for advocacy in the disability sector. Afterall, the Scheme is supposed to provide all the ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports Australians with disabilities might require. However, this is not the case. The NDIS only provides these supports to the 460,000 people under the age of 65 who have ‘severe and profound’ impairments. This leaves up to 2 million other Australians with disability reliant on State and Territory systems and the mainstream services they fund. And because these systems have accessibility gaps there is still a lot of work for advocacy groups like PDA to do.

You can read the questions and PDA’s answers to them here. This survey will take around 20-30 minutes to complete and will be open until 5pm, Monday 17 June 2019.

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