Advocates urge NSW disability funds surety

Australian Associated Press
6:40PM September 20, 2017

Disability advocates and a raft of NSW politicians are demanding funding certainty for millions of vulnerable community members.

They fear almost two million people living with disabilities could soon lose their voice if the state government doesn’t stump up $13 million by June 2018 to cover the shortfall in funding when the National Disability Insurance Scheme begins.

“While the NDIS is an amazing reform, it in no way covers advocacy and representation for people with disability,” Serena Ovens, executive officer for the Physical Disability Council of NSW said.

“We need to keep these organisations supporting people with disabilities standing by them and giving them a voice.”

The NSW government currently funds approximately 50 disability advocacy, information and peak representational organisations at a cost of around $13 million per year.

The opposition’s spokeswoman for disability services Sophie Cotsis led a cross-party group of MPs, calling for the NSW government to give disability advocacy groups certainty on funding.

“State-run services need state funding, so why doesn’t the NSW government say they will continue the funding for disability advocacy beyond July next year?” she said on Wednesday.

Paralympian and Labor MP Liesl Tesch said as a person living with a disability she understands the issues better than most.

“It’s so important this money continues so people with disabilities are in employment and in society in NSW,” she told reporters.

Mark Grierson, the executive officer of Disability Advocacy NSW, said he doesn’t understand why the NSW government “is throwing the advocacy baby out with the NDIS bath water”.

He said without the funding people living with disabilities, particularly those in rural NSW, will be hard hit. “Disability advocacy is (like) key infrastructure – it’s like ramps onto a train, it’s like a deaf interpreter, it’s like accessible parking,” he told reporters.

“What would we think if all of that is gone?”

A spokesman for the Department of Family and Community Services confirmed funding would end in June 2018 and be redirected to the NDIS.


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