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Empowered Lives for Victorians with disability

An inclusive Victoria where people with disability have the same opportunities as other Victorians.

This is the Victoria that VCOSS, along with 38 other organisations, would like to see our government and community working towards.

In a time of enormous change for the disability services sector – with the roll-out of the NDIS, and with governments committed to the goal of inclusion but a long way from achieving it – coordinated and collaborative advocacy from the disability community is especially critical.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton addresses the audience at the launch of Empowered Lives on 10 September.

To this end, last week at Parliament House we launched Empowered Lives: Securing Change for Victorians with Disability, a platform that outlines the key issues facing Victorians with disability in their everyday lives and in their interactions with Victorian Government systems, such as health, education, and transport.

Empowered Lives identifies achievable actions that the Government can take to provide more opportunities for Victorians with disability, more inclusive environments and communities, and stronger support when needed.

It draws attention to the fact that even though the provision of disability services is transitioning to the NDIS for many Victorians with disability, there are still many essential services outside the NDIS and across our community that are not accessible or inclusive of people with disability. These need to be provided for all Victorians with disability, whether or not they are NDIS participants.

Through Empowered Lives, we identify 10 key areas for change, and 70 priority actions the Victorian Government can take across these areas.

This includes delivering inclusive service systems – whether it is health, education, justice or disability services – supporting Victorian families, creating job opportunities, and improving the accessibility of our transport and infrastructure. Each of these areas is underpinned by a focus on the empowerment of people with disability and on strong safeguards to ensure safety and freedom from violence and abuse.

The shortlist below highlights the actions we have identified to be of highest priority for advocacy by communities and organisations in the lead-up to the Victorian election in November this year.

We call on all parties contesting the Victorian election to:

  1. Ensure the voices of people with disability are heard by increasing Victorian disability advocacy funding in line with the Productivity Commission’s recommendation.
  2. Guarantee and strengthen safeguards to promote safety and protect people with disability against violence and abuse.
  3. Better support parents with disability and parents and carers of children with disability.
  4. Improve transport access by conducting an accessibility audit of the entire Victorian public transport system and funding a long-term program of accessibility improvements.
  5. Increase accessible housing by mandating universal housing standards and building more social housing accessible for people with disability.
  6. Ensure health services meet the needs of people with disability by improving health professionals’ knowledge and understanding of disability and filling gaps in the interface between the NDIS and health systems.
  7. Make schools more inclusive by reforming the Program for Students with Disabilities and implementing a tailored bullying prevention program.
  8. Build community awareness of disability and the benefits of employing people with disability.
  9. Increase the justice system’s disability responsiveness by providing appropriate training and strengthening relevant policies and supports.
  10. Adequately fund mainstream services outside the NDIS to meet the needs of all people with disability, including those who are not eligible for the NDIS.

The full platform has a chapter on each of these topics and includes a wide range of other actions. You can download an accessible PDF version of the platform, topic factsheets, and an Easy English summary here: empoweredlives.vcoss.org.au. Please contact us if you would like a hard copy.

To add your support to the Empowered Lives platform, sign up on our website and we will keep you up to date with news and events, including resources you can share on social media to spread the word.