Vision 2020 Australia welcomes the significant wins for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) announced in the Federal Budget, but reminds the Government that more work is required to ensure the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired are met by the Scheme.
Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘We applaud the full funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme beyond 2019, which will give people who are blind or vision impaired greater opportunities for independence and participation in society.
‘Increasing the Medicare levy by half a percentage point creates funding certainty, ensures other vulnerable groups are not impacted by welfare cuts and protects the NDIS from party politics.’
The Australian Government is also providing $209 million funding over four years to establish the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, a new, independent body which will protect NDIS participants.
Ms Northam says: ‘The rights of people with disability must be front and centre of the NDIS, and we hope the new Commission will ensure quality and safe services for all participants.’
Rounding out its focus on the NDIS, the Government is investing $33 million to boost the Local Care Workforce to ensure all NDIS participants have access to quality services in their area.
Jessica Gallagher, Vision 2020 Australia Board member and Paralympian, welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting people with a disability through the NDIS but asks that the Government continues to engage with the eye health and vision care sector.
‘The budget announcement showcases a great commitment from the Government to addressing issues faced by people with a disability. However, we must not forget those individuals who are not on the NDIS. We need to ensure equality for all people with a disability – including those with blindness or low vision – and access to supports which allow them to live the life they choose,’ Dr Gallagher says.
The Australian Government has also shown support for aged care in its Budget, with an overall spend of $99.3 billion over the next five years.
Ms Northam says: ‘While the changes and funding commitments made to aged care are a step in the right direction, they miss specific mention of older people with disability.
‘The Australian Government needs to ensure ongoing aged care reforms cater for people who are blind or vision impaired, especially as people aged over 65 are not eligible for the NDIS.
‘Vision 2020 Australia will continue to advocate for their inclusion.’
The Government is providing $5.5 billion over two years from 2018 to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program and Regional Assessment Services, which contribute to essential home support services including meals, nursing, home maintenance and transport.
A $1.9 million, industry-led taskforce will be set up with the aim of improving productivity in the aged care workforce.
The Government will also provide an extra $3.1 million in ICT support for My Aged Care that will ensure improved access, efficiency and system performance for the growing number of older people using the platform.
Supporting the disability workforce
Vision 2020 Australia welcomes $24 million funding over four years to improve for the Disability Employment Services program.
The new framework will make it easier for participants to choose and change service providers, and give greater incentives to providers to achieve employment outcomes, including for those with significant employment barriers.
On a trial basis, the Government will also extend the program to a broader group of school leavers to assist them in the transition from work to school.
Ms Northam says: ‘It’s fantastic to see the Australian Government focus on employment for people with disability, given the current participation rate for working-aged Australians with disability is just 53.4 per cent, compared to 83.5 per cent of the general population.
‘However, there must be safeguards to ensure that people with disability are able to find meaningful employment when working with a service provider.
‘We also call on the Government to set an employment target of seven per cent employment of people with disability in the Australian public service by 2021.’
For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia
03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Vision 2020 Australia
As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents over 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance; and community support. Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).