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By Carly Nowell.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 4 May 2017.
The 2017 Victorian Budget includes some modest positive initiatives to help improve the lives of people with disability.
Welcome investment is provided to help more young people access disability support packages until they transition to the NDIS, and there is increased funding for the Home and Community Care Program for Younger People, to help meet demand. There is also investment to improve public transport accessibility.
Other positive initiatives include funding to strengthen oversight to reduce abuse in disability services. VCOSS hopes work will continue to ensure people with disability are free from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect.
We are disappointed no additional funding for independent disability advocacy was included to empower and protect the rights of people with disability.
Services for people with disability will be accessed and delivered in dramatically different ways in the future, due to the NDIS. This will give people with disability much greater choice and control. The budget includes funding to help people with disability and service providers prepare for the transition to the NDIS, along with a small amount of additional funding for the NDIS workforce reform package.
More support for young people with disability
An additional 256 young people will be provided with disability packages until they transition to the NDIS. The Futures for Young Adults package provides young people with disability assistance during the day and develops their skills to participate in the community once they leave school.
Cost: $9.7m in 2017-18 ($19.9m over two years)
Home and Community Care Program for Younger People
The Home and Community Care (HACC) Program for Younger People provides basic community care services to people with disability aged under 65 and their carers, to help them remain in their homes and communities. Funding will increase the number of places available to help meet demand.
Cost: $2.9m in 2017-18
Supporting the transition to the NDIS
This funding will help prepare for and support the implementation of the NDIS. It includes $10m in NDIS Transition Support Packages to assist participants and service providers prepare for the NDIS.
Cost: $20.9m in 2017-18 ($36.2m over three years)
NDIS workforce reform package
Funding will expand support to deliver to Keeping our sector strong: Victoria’s workforce plan for the NDIS. It will include developing options for a registration and accreditation scheme.
Cost: $1.8m in 2016-17
Strengthening oversight to reduce abuse in disability services
This initiative will help strengthen safeguards to prevent and respond to abuse of people with disability prior to the rollout of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework. This includes funding to support the Disability Service Commissioner conduct own motion investigations, establish a mandatory reporting system, conduct annual reviews of deaths in disability services and develop training resources to support the professional development of the sector.
Cost: $3m in 2017-18 (8.7m over three years)
Funding will support the implementation of the State Disability Plan 2017-20. The plan aims to improve the inclusion of people with disability in the workforce and community.
Cost: $4.9m in 2017-18
Implementation of the Australian Disability Parking Scheme
Funding will progress the implementation of the Australian Disability Parking Scheme in Victoria to help improve consistency and reduce the misuse of the scheme. Funding will be used to create a centralised database of permits, electronic assessment tools, an automatic application process and a ‘single look’ permit to improve eligibility compliance.
Cost: $4.9m in 2017-18 ($6.8m over two years)
VCOSS future policy directions
Provide long-term investment in disability advocacy
The government can help more people with disability and their carers benefit from independent disability advocacy by investing in a strong and diverse disability advocacy sector. There are not enough disability advocacy services and VCOSS members advise there is large unmet demand which is likely to grow as the NDIS rolls out.
Independent advocacy can help people understand and exercise their rights, have their needs met through the NDIS or through mainstream services and help protect people from abuse. Systemic advocacy can help identify and fix systemic barriers to people’s social and economic inclusion and advance human rights. While the recent $1.5m investment in disability advocacy is welcome, a longer term, increased financial commitment is required.
Ensure people with disability receive continued support
It is crucial the Victorian Government works with the Commonwealth Government to provide service continuity for people with disability during and after the transition to the NDIS, regardless of their eligibility for NDIS individual support packages. VCOSS members continue to raise concerns some people, particularly those with mental health conditions, with fall through the cracks due to service gaps. Members also report some people who have transitioned to the NDIS have experienced reduced access to services and supports.
Develop and fund a whole-of-government carer strategy
Work has commenced on a Victorian carer statement. VCOSS hope this will be used to inform an adequately resourced whole-of-government Victorian Carer Strategy, so all carers are able to access respite and specialised supports.
Develop an older Victorians strategy
In future years, the government can support older Victorians to lead happy, productive and dignified lives by developing an integrated whole-of-government strategy for older Victorians.