Up to half of the groups who advocate for people with a disability in NSW are facing being wiped out by funding cuts, as the state government hands over responsibility for disability services to the Commonwealth, new figures show.
About 50 NSW groups advocating for people with disabilities receive $13 million a year from the state government. They campaign on issues such as making transport hubs and buildings accessible or about the high rate of preventable deaths for people with an intellectual disability in the state’s health system.
But from next July that money will cease as the state government transfers its disability services spending to a national scheme that gives some people with a disability direct funding support but not for the groups who advocate on their behalf.
“With the state government announcing a surplus of [$4.5 billion this year] it would seem ridiculous they can’t find $13 million to support the inclusion of people with a disability,” said Serena Ovens, the convenor of the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance, which estimates it will close once funding ceases next year.
“What they’re saying is 20 per cent of the NSW population who have a disability are not worth supporting.”
Figures provided to Fairfax Media by the Alliance, which represents a little less than half of the state’s advocacy organisations, show an estimated 40 per cent of advocacy organisations depend totally on state government funding either for their entire budgets or advocacy work. “One hundred per cent of our money [for advocacy] comes from the NSW government. If that stops we will have no options to continue,” said Jim Simpson from the Council for Intellectual Disability, which has been representing people with an intellectual disability in the state for 60 years.