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

The Independence and Participation Committee met at The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists in Sydney on Thursday 3 August 2017.

National Disability Insurance Scheme advocacy

It was noted that Vision 2020 Australia had previously drafted a position statement on Holistic Specialist Assessment in 2015. It was suggested that the messages in this position statement become the focus of ongoing advocacy relating to the NDIS. Members also raised additional issues for consideration in relation to advocating for the inclusion of people who are blind or vision impaired in the NDIS, including:

·           The lack of accessible forms and formats for people who are blind or have low vision.

·           The unsuitability of eligibility criteria as it relates to children, especially those with multiple disabilities.

·           The need for individualised assessment processes.

Ultimately, it was agreed that Vision 2020 Australia would consider the information provided and return to the Committee with next steps in due course.

Aged care advocacy

The IPC noted that while Vision 2020 Australia’s Position statement on meeting the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired within the aged care system has been endorsed by the Committee, it should be reconsidered in light of the final report of the Aged Care Legislated Review once this has been made publicly available.

Improving the referral pathway to blindness and vision impairment support services

The Committee noted that the issue of improving referral pathways between eye health and vision care, primary and tertiary medical professions, and blindness and vision impairment service and support providers has been raised by Vision 2020 Australia members in numerous forums.

As a result, Vision 2020 Australia hosted a brief exploratory discussion in mid-July where it was agreed that Vision 2020 Australia would convene a half-day workshop to explore these issues in greater depth and develop a framework that can be pursued. Invitations to participate were sent to all national policy committee members, and the workshop was held on 19 September 2017. A draft of the referral pathway framework is to be developed and circulated for review in late 2017.

Employment for people with disability

Strategic direction for advocacy regarding improving employment outcomes for people with a disability, including those who are blind or vision impaired, was discussed.

It was agreed that Vision 2020 Australia will write to the Australian Public Service Commissioner calling for the implementation of recommendations put forward in the Position statement on meaningful employment for people with disability in the Australian Public Service

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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