On International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December 2021 the Australian, State & Territory Governments released Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021 – 2031. Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 calls on all Australians to ensure people with disability can participate as equal members of society.
The strategy outlines how both levels of Government will work to improve the lives of people with a disability. We welcome the recognition that Government has a role to ensure “People with disability are supported to access assistive technology”. COTA Australia is a founding member of the Assistive Technology for All (ATFA) campaign which calls on Government to provide a National Assistive Technology program for all people with a disability.
Around 1 in 6 Australians (4.4million) have some form of disability, and around 1.4million have severe or profound disability. On 30 September 2021, around 484,700 people were participants in the NDIS – this is around 11% of all people with some form of disability, or around 35% of people with a severe or profound disability.
Unlike the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which excludes people with a disability over 65 years, we are pleased to see that Australia’s Disability Strategy is inclusive of all ages. It includes the statement “Where this strategy talks about people with disability, it means people with disability of all ages, whether their disability has been present from birth or acquired through illness, injury, accident or the ageing process.”
In previous strategies very little work was done to specifically address the needs of older people with a disability. We are hopeful this recognition will mean the strategy, its action plans and outcomes reporting framework, will include age based data to ensure transparent monitoring of the strategy’s impact on the lives of older people with a disability.
For now, Governments have indicated that support for people with a disability over 65 years old should be provided from the aged care system. The Aged Care Royal Commission recommended “equity for people with disability receiving aged care” to ensure that, that by 1 July 2024, those over 65 years received the same daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids and equipment) that a person under 65 years with the same or substantially similar conditions would receive from the NDIS. The Government is still considering this recommendation as part of its new support at home program and this work will be completed by the end of 2022.
COTA Australia will continue to monitor the work of the Disability Strategy, and engage government on how it’s aged care reforms will deliver equitable outcomes for older people with a disability.
You can find a copy of the strategy at https://disabilitygateway.gov.au/ads.