Independence and Participation Committee

Previously known as the Low Vision and Rehabilitation Committee, the Independence and Participation Committee draws on the knowledge, experience and resources of the membership to work towards the achievement of Vision 2020 Australia’s second goal in the Strategic Plan 2014-17:

  • To improve the ability of Australians who are blind or vision impaired to participate in the community.

This Committee advocates for improved outcomes and sustainability of existing funding streams, while highlighting limitations and gaps in current policy that require further reform.

The key concerns of the Committee are the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the implementation of aged care reforms.

Committee meeting update

On 23 March 2016 members of the Independence and Participation Committee participated in a one-day interactive workshop, co-facilitated by John Simpson, Chair of the Independence and Participation Committee and Jennifer Gersbeck, Chief Executive Officer of Vision 2020 Australia.

The workshop was convened to bring Committee members together in partnership, creating a space to develop a clear sense for what the issues are and pathways towards collaborative solutions. Ultimately, the workshop determined the Committee’s key priorities and set the agenda for policy and advocacy activities for the next 12-24 months.

Workshop participants discussed the concerns currently facing the independence of people who are blind or vision impaired, and the sector more broadly. Participants then worked together to identify priorities, specific outcomes, actions and activities which the Committee is best placed to undertake and achieve realistically in the next term. During the discussion participants began to pull together a picture of the Committees destination with a roadmap for what success might look like.

The following specific outcomes, actions or activities were identified by the Committee:

  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme: Engaging with the roll out of the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) and safeguard service quality by informing the development of quality standards and building consumer capacity for people who are blind or vision impaired; advocate for the collection of and disaggregation of data. 
  • Barriers to access: Investigate the possibility of engaging with peak body private health insurance agencies.
  • Aged care: Evaluate the various levers within aged care to ensure that people who are blind or vision impaired have access to the most appropriate supports and services. For example, eligibility, specialist assessment, referral pathways and ageing in place.
  • Employment: Advocate for the recruitment and employment of people who are blind or vision impaired within the public services sector. 
  • Awareness raising: Advocate for the development and implementation of integration guidelines in a successor to the 2014-16 National Framework Implementation Plan and progress towards a national health promotion program.

Key highlights

  • In August 2015, Vision 2020 Australia in conjunction with National Disability Services, the Australian Blindness Forum and Centre for Applied Disability Research launched a snapshot survey of the blindness, low vision and rehabilitation services sector undertaken in 2013-2014.
  • In 2015 the Committee responded to a number of NDIS related consultations notably:
  • The Australian Government’s Independent Review of the Operation of the NDIS Act 2013. The submission put forward a number of recommendations for the legislation to be adjusted. Namely, that from an equity perspective, people who are blind or vision impaired who currently access disability specialist services should continue to access the same or comparative services through the NDIS or the aged care system.
  • The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) consultation on Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) services. The submission reinforced the need for future services funded through the ILC to be provided to programs, even when they have a high representation of consumers over the age of 65 and that funding for ILC services should be prioritised in thin markets.

In 2015 the Committee responded to a number of aged care related consultations including:

  • The Department of Social Services Increasing Choice in Home Care (Stage 1) and the New Aged Care Short-Term Restorative (STRC) Care Programme Policy Consultation paper.
  • Both submissions stated that a specific trigger mechanism is required to ensure an effective passage through the aged care system by providing the option for a specialist assessment undertaken by a service provider with specific expertise in blindness and vision impairment.

Organisations represented

  • Australian College of Optometry
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Brien Holden Vision Institute
  • Centre for Eye Research Australia
  • Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
  • Guide Dogs SA/NT
  • Guide Dogs Victoria
  • Keratoconus Australia Inc
  • Optometry Australia
  • Macular Disease Foundation Australia
  • Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • VisAbility
  • Vision Australia

Previous Committee meeting updates can be found here

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