The NSW Government is currently reviewing the Disability Inclusion Act 2014. When the Act was introduced, we welcomed the focus on human rights, inclusion and equality across the whole community, not just on providing disability services. But after nearly 5 years of the NDIS, does anything in the Act need to change?
Despite the rollout of the NDIS, we strongly believe that state governments (including here in NSW) still have a core responsibility to ensure that the rights of people with disability within their communities are upheld. This includes a chief role in shaping community attitudes and behaviours and addressing barriers to accessing mainstream services.
As one participant in the SAX review of the NSW Disability Inclusion Plan said in relation to stigma and exclusion, “People with disabilities are always fighting battles every day. Why do we have to keep fighting the battle? It shouldn’t be this hard.” (p.24)
For many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) people with disability, the battle is even harder due to racial stigma, language barriers and different understandings of disability.
How can the Government take a lead role in addressing these barriers to inclusion?
A key piece of the Disability Inclusion Act puzzle is disability inclusion planning. The Act requires the NSW Government to develop an overarching NSW Disability Inclusion Plan (DIP); and most government departments, including local Councils, need to develop their own Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP).
Part of the review of the Act is looking at how effective these plans have been, and what needs to change. The Sax Review found that while some departments were doing “some fantastic things” with their DIAPs, the process of developing the DIAPs was often siloed in an HR Department, lacked buy-in from the senior executive, and laid a heavy burden of over-consultation on disability advocacy groups. Participants in the Review also called for greater accountability, such as performance targets and public access to progress reports (p. 24-25).
We believe the NSW Government needs to be a leader in disability inclusion planning – with a plan that is comprehensive (not piecemeal) and with true accountability for disability inclusion action planning at the departmental and local government level. The Act needs to be strengthened to promote greater integration, resourcing, leadership and accountability in disability inclusion planning.
Another piece of the puzzle is providing sustainable funding for disability advocacy and safeguarding the rights of people who are ineligible for the NDIS but who still face significant barriers to inclusion or whose informal support networks are stretched thin. We are concerned that in the rush to embrace the NDIS, the NSW Government has moved too far away from its own responsibility to meet the needs of the 500,000+ people (aged under 65) in NSW who have a disability but who are ineligible for an
Individual Funded Package under the NDIS. We believe the Act needs to be strengthened to adequately set out the duties of the state government in funding advocacy and supports for its own residents.
ECSC is currently consulting with our participants, families and carers to see what matters most to them in promoting inclusion and human rights.
How could you consult to make sure the views of people with disability, their families and carers are heard during this important review?
You can give feedback to the review of the Disability Inclusion Act via an online survey here, by emailing your feedback to NSWDIP@facs.nsw.gov.au or posting it to Department of Communities and Justice, Locked Bag 4029, Ashfield, NSW 213. Alternatively you can join one of the many workshops listed here.
By Ingrid Boland, Social Work Consultant for ECSC