Budget2021 ‘not a budget for people with disability’

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has welcomed $13.2 billion of funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme but has dubbed the latest Federal Budget “not a budget for people with disability.”

The federal government will put in an extra $13.2b for the NDIS to be spent over four years.

The disabled people’s organisation was the only disability organisation in the Federal Budget 2021 lockdown and said key asks from the disability sector were overlooked in the budget.

PWDA president Samantha Connor, who has read the budget, said people with disability had missed out.

“The government has missed a chance to level the playing field for people with disability in the latest budget,” Ms Connor said.

“Budget 2021 is not a budget for people with disability.

“Disabled people are facing heightened anxiety and significant disadvantage during the many disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People with disability urgently need the backing of our government during these troubled times to ensure we don’t face unnecessary disadvantage but the government has largely ignored our pleas.”

PWDA has pulled out a number of reforms from the budget that could affect people with disability but criticised the government for a “worrying lack of detail on some plans and for not involving key groups with its preliminary plans.”

Among the highlights was a “paltry” $9.3m sum for the prevention of violence against disabled women to be delivered over three years.

“Despite all the abuses being exposed byDisability Royal Commission, there is only $9.3m for violence prevention against disabled women but no additional funding for the prevention of violence against people with disability,” Ms Connor said.

The PWDA president expressed her hope that the government would deliver on its promises to involve people with disability in its future planning.

“We look forward to the government’s plan to codesign these plans with disabled people, their families and representative organisations and look forward to more detail about the Budget 2021,” she said.

Pull-outs from the budget for people with disability

  1. Investments of $878.7 million for new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  2. Funding for mental health initiatives, including $278.6 million for Headspace centres.
  3. A “paltry” $9.3m over three years for the prevention of violence against disabled women, despite all the abuses being exposed by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
  4. Plans to align the aged care, veterans and disability sectors, including harmonising worker screening processes and regulatory systems, which seem to have been set without the involvement of those at the centre of those schemes.
  5. A worrying lack of detail on some proposals, including a plan to axe Centrelink’s JobActive program from 1 July, 2022 and a large-scale plan to rollout digital transformation projects under the banner of Services Australia, including for job seekers in the Disability Employment Services system.

A ‘fair go’ is needed

Yesterday Ms Connor reprimanded the government for “scare tactics” and “dodgy accounting” on the expected size of the NDIS, saying growth to the scheme had beenanticipated for years.

Disability representative organisation PWDA had last week called on the government togive people with disability a fair goin the 2021-22 budget.

“Disabled people had called on the government to urgently fund a raft of measures and meet Australia’s responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability but the government has ignored our pleas,” Ms Connor said.

Among the measures the membership organisation PWDA put forward in its wishlist A Fair Go for People with Disability (featured below) were urgent widespread improvements to many disability policy areas.

PWDA and the disability sector are opposing changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme that would see hard-core NDIS cost-cutting measures be brought in, including cutting people’s plan budgets by using roboplanning and so-called independent assessors whose decisions cannot be appealed.

The government’s proposed privatised assessment system has been robustly blasted by people with disability, their families, academics, service providers and allied health professionals.

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