PWDA responds to the Federal Budget: Some immediate relief but little for our future

The Federal Budget has delivered welcome cost of living relief but has missed the mark on the systemic reform we need to support people with disability fully participating in the community.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) President Marayke Jonkers has called the increases to income support payments a step in the right direction but said more was needed.

“PWDA welcomes the 10 per cent increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance and the higher rate of JobSeeker. This demonstrates some recognition of the disproportionate cost of living pressures for people with disability. More people with disability will now be able to afford essentials like food, electricity and health care. Essentials we rely on to stay alive.”

“However, Disability Support Pension recipients have been forgotten. PWDA will continue calling for a supplement to ease cost of living pressures for recipients.”

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is here to stay but what its future will look like for participants remains unclear. PWDA is calling for detailed commitments to co-design its future with participants.

“The forecast to moderate the Scheme’s growth by $14.4 billion would seem to come at the expense of support and service delivery for people with disability who need it most.

“The funding dedicated to consultation, price setting and governance needs to ensure genuine co-design with people with disability and NDIS participants. We don’t want to see this only directed to government agencies. Disability representative organisations and people with disability need to not just be in the room, they need to be leading reform.”

“We tentatively welcome the establishment of an NDIS Evidence Advisory Committee to provide advice to government about what works for participants. This committee will only be successful if it’s led by people with disability who are NDIS participants.”

“$20 million has been pledged to commence designing the new navigator role. We’ll be watching closely to see that the design process is done right.”

“We welcome the $2.6 million in additional support for the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline and the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service. Individual advocacy services must also be fully and securely funded for the service to make a real difference,” Ms Jonkers said.

PWDA is disappointed the government has failed to prioritise people with disability in the housing measures announced tonight.

“The commitment to deliver 1.2 million new homes by the end of 2029 is welcome. But the government has failed to acknowledge the challenge of delivering housing options for people with disability. We must be a priority cohort; we must be at the table. We won’t have choice and control over where we live and who we live with unless we’re prioritised and involved in the rollout. And there’s no indication that this will occur,” PWDA Treasurer Presley Chihuri said.

“If you build for the disability community, you build for everybody. We’re frustrated this is another missed opportunity to increase housing options for people with disability and support the transition from group homes.”

PWDA is concerned measures to address the disparity in employment outcomes for people with disability do not go far enough.

“There’s tinkering at the edges on employment for people with disability but we’ve been calling for a radical shift. We didn’t see that tonight. It’s not clear how the government will support the transition to open employment for all people with disability. We remain concerned measures announced tonight may continue to entrench segregated employment and deny people with disability access to mainstream opportunities.”

Women with disability experiencing violence were completely invisible in the budget.

“There’s nothing that recognises the unique forms of violence experienced by women with disability or prioritises accessible and targeted responses to end the violence we endure at twice the rate. The gaps in the Leaving Violence Program for women with disability is emblematic of this.”

Overall PWDA is concerned this budget was a missed opportunity to deliver the reform the Disability Royal Commission recommended.

“People with disability are tired of incremental change. We need a total overhaul of housing, education, health and the systems we rely on for support and to fully participate in the community. The Disability Royal Commission has shown that it the only way we will end the violence our community has endured. It is the only way we will have the same rights as everybody else. And we haven’t seen enough commitment towards this tonight.” Ms Jonkers.

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