ACT Election 2020: Building an inclusive, accessible Canberra

ACTCOSS, Women With Disabilities ACT and People With Disabilities ACT joint media release.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has joined with peak disability representative organisations in calling for the next ACT Government to take actions that will deliver a more inclusive and accessible Canberra for the nearly 20% of Canberrans who have a disability.

ACTCOSS Policy Manager, Craig Wallace, said: “People with disability make up one fifth of the population of this city. The number of people aged 85 or older is expected to increase by 16% over the next few years, meaning the number of older people who acquire disabilities will also significantly grow.

“Our obligations to citizens with disability, to provide access to decent services, were not exported up the hill to federal Parliament House just because we signed up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)! The ACT Government retains important responsibilities under the National Disability Strategy (NDS) to ensure that transport, housing, urban planning, justice and education services deliver dignity, decent lives, human rights and freedom from abuse for people with disability.

“We still have much more to do. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for better health infrastructure, accessible communications and attitudinal change through a Disability Health Strategy. In 2020, people with disabilities should not be afraid to go to the casualty in our main hospital because they can’t move onto an exam bed or find an accessible toilet. Likewise, we can all benefit from inclusive schools and housing which can be adapted over our lifetime to meet our changing needs.”

Chief Executive Officer of Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT), C Moore, said: “Women and gender diverse people with disabilities need to have equitable access to safety and justice in our community. We’re calling for equal access to domestic and family violence services, including accessible crisis shelters. Moreover, we call for action on violence prevention, including a gendered approach to the disability justice strategy and reducing the number of congregate living settings. We also need greater funding for gendered disability advocacy to ensure women* with disabilities are included in decision making to address the marginalisation faced in our communities.”

Executive Director of People With Disabilities ACT (PWDACT), Craig Shannon, said: “We support calls for improved access to physical spaces and transport including consultative forums on transport and the built environment, including people with disability, to ensure that our building, construction and transport meet the real needs of people with disability. We need action promised in the Parliamentary Agreement on Universal Housing Design. COVID-19 has made it harder for people to travel and we’re calling for reforms to the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme which lift the trip limit and remove the cap on the scheme. In addition, we need community transport to be properly funded. We also support action to reduce the numbers of people segregated in education.”

Find ACTCOSS’s 2020 ACT Election issue brief Disability here.

Find other issue briefs at ACTCOSS’s ACT Election page.

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