Here’s a few things people living with disability desperately need: better infrastructure and reduced barriers to education, commerce, housing and mainstream government services.
And here’s a few things they certainly don’t need: lofty goals, aspirational targets and promises not backed up by action. Words, words and more words.
This is something the Victorian Government should keep in mind as it goes about drafting a new plan to support people living with disability. As VCOSS argues in a new submission to the government, what’s required is a genuine plan for tangible improvements to assist people with disability.
We all know Victorians with disability continue to experience systemic disadvantage across all aspects of life. VCOSS believes this disadvantage isn’t a result of a person’s impairments, but the physical and social environment in which they live. That is, a person’s “disability” isn’t whatever might have landed them in a wheelchair, it’s the lack of ramps and lifts that make their life hell.
As great as it is (and we do think it’s great) the National Disability Insurance Scheme isn’t the only solution. The NDIS on its own will not be able to address all the broader issues and barriers that people with disability face.
In Victoria, this is largely a job for early years services, schools, hospitals, landlords and housing providers, local governments, roads authorities and public transport networks—all within the purview of the Victorian Government.
A person’s “disability” isn’t whatever might have landed them in a wheelchair, it’s the lack of ramps and lifts that make their life hell.
VCOSS is urging the government to set specific and meaningful targets over the next four years.
These targets must be supported by detailed implementation plans with funded, practical actions.
A robust evaluation and monitoring framework should also be embedded in the new plan. This will ensure progress can be easily tracked.
The results of this monitoring framework must be reported publicly. How else will the Victorian community know what’s being achieved, or when failures are occurring?
The government should also explain how it’s going to improve social and civic participation, safety, access to justice and child and family supports for people with disability. (You might not read about this stuff on the front page of a newspaper, but they’re critical issues.)
This post is based on research and findings from ‘Fairer Futures’, VCOSS’s submission to the Victorian Government’s review of the State Disability Plan.
VCOSS State Disability Plan Review
Support for people with disability is so important, so complex and cuts across such a wide range of government portfolios that a degree of centralisation and central oversight is required. What’s needed is a whole of government approach. All planning decisions, policy development and service delivery design should consider questions of access and participation.
Removing barriers for people with disability must become part of the DNA of every government department, body and authority.
Only with clear goals, measurable targets and transparent monitoring will the state’s new disability plan achieve its stated goal to “make Victoria the best for everyone”.
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