A review by the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre for the federal government calls for a strong disability focus in mainstream policy.
The National Disability Strategy (NDS) has important goals but it isn’t addressing the issue of violence and it is being overshadowed by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a report by UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) has found.
SPRC Senior Research Fellow and Interim Director of the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute, Rosemary Kayess, was a lead author on the ‘Review of Implementation of the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020’ report, which was prepared for the Department of Social Services.
“The NDS tended to be quite piecemeal [in achieving goals]. There would be small pockets of good examples of policy working, but what was being achieved wasn’t strategic; it wasn’t articulated to any broader plan of action,” Ms Kayess said.
The NDS is a plan agreed to by all governments in Australia to make the lives of people with disability better, including improving their accessibility, inclusiveness and participation in society, as well as changing community attitudes towards disability.
The review report comes after the federal government announcement last month that it would establish a royal commission into violence and abuse of people with a disability. Addressing violence was one of the priorities raised in the review process, Ms Kayess said.
“There was an announcement of funding for the National Action Plan on Violence Against Women in the lead up to International Women’s Day and it was really good to hear the focus on women with intellectual disabilities during that funding,” she said. “That is the kind of mainstream thing that needs to happen; there needs to be a strong disability focus in mainstream policy initiatives across all portfolios.”
Ms Kayess said the NDS review report found there was so much government focus on the NDIS that the NDS “just got lost”.
She said people with disability would need less support from the NDIS packages if the community was more inclusive and the NDS focused on areas that the NDIS didn’t cover.
“If all jurisdictions have good inclusive health, housing, education, employment, justice, transport and built environment, then people don’t need as much support in their NDIS packages to be able to participate in the community and access services and facilities.”
The report found there was a lack of drive by the federal, state and local governments to implement the NDS as a whole.
For example, governments could fund more small, targeted projects that would benefit people with disability, which could result in bigger projects, Ms Kayess said.
The NDS should also focus on including more people from different backgrounds in the strategy, such as people from rural areas, different cultures, non-English speaking and LGBTIQ+ backgrounds.
“Lots of people [interviewed in the review] suggested that people with disability needed to be included in making policy, defining what the issues are and where the problems are,” Ms Kayess said.
“It’s the lived experience of people with disability that the NDS is trying to address, the barriers that people with disability face on a daily basis, that we need to change.
“So it’s their experience that should be defining what the problem is, for governments to be able to come up with solutions.”
The national public consultation – Shaping the future of disability policy for 2020 and beyond – is open from 29 April to 30 May, 2019.