Low vision and rehabilitation advocacy update

In 2012 the Low Vision and Rehabilitation Committee (LVRC) worked hard to ensure both low vision and rehabilitation were high on the Australian Government’s agenda, particularly in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

A working group prepared a sector response to the proposed eligibility criteria statements and the submission was distributed to key stakeholders in October accompanied by a letter signed by all members of the LVRC. One of the challenges the NDIS poses, is how low vision will be represented in the proposed scheme. The submission included a series of case studies segmented by service type and age cohort to articulate the complexity of the sector.

Vision 2020 Australia has been in close communication with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and key parliamentarians. Indeed the sector will look to engage the Minister for Disability Reform, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP to continue dialogue around the development of the NDIS and ensure that low vision is appropriately represented. Senator Mitch Fifield was a guest speaker at the September meeting of the LVRC and shared his thoughts on the Opposition’s view of the NDIS.

Former Vision 2020 Australia employee, Mr David Foran, spoke with staff for DisibiliTEA about the importance of the NDIS and what this means for people who are blind or have low vision from a personal perspective.

Action is taken wherever possible to raise awareness about low vision and rehabilitation and Vision 2020 Australia actively tweeted about planned activity as part of International Day of People with Disability.

Importantly, the sector has endorsed an Advocacy Platform and Action Plan which guides the work of the LVRC in supporting the new objectives for this policy area with respect to Strategic Goal 2 ‘to ensure low vision and rehabilitation is recognised as a priority by the Australian Government’.

In 2013 the focus of the LVRC will be to develop a sector response to the proposed NDIS legislation, recently tabled in the Parliament and referred to a Senate Committee. Public consultation will be held following the resumption of Parliament in February.

The sector is ready and mobilised to respond to the proposed NDIS legislation. The LVRC has established a couple of working groups, one to respond to the proposed legislation and another to focus on accreditation standards while the existing assessment tool working group will continue to operate.

The LVRC will also focus on ensuring there is equity of access to services for people diagnosed with a disability due to blindness or vision impairment after the age of 65. The development of a National Framework Implementation Plan will be critical in forging greater linkages between the health, ageing and disability portfolios.