Across Australia, over 450,000 people are living with blindness and vision loss. These people are at higher risk of a range of adverse health and social outcomes, including double the rates of falls, three times increased risk of depression, four times the risk of hip fractures, greater utilisation of health, aged care and social services, and earlier entry to residential aged care.
Vision 2020 Australia members report a range of challenges with current disability support arrangements for Australians who are blind or have low vision. These include:
- Blindness and low vision services are specialist services, and support a relatively small group of participants. This means it is an area at greater risk of thin markets or market failure. As a result, people living in more geographically remote areas can struggle to access what they need.
- Assessors and planners often have limited knowledge of blindness and low vision, what services, training, and support is needed, or how and when participants can access these.
- Current limitations on funding for assistive technology can prevent people accessing the equipment that could keep them more independent, even though this may reduce their need for other services.
One of the findings of the 2019 review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 was that participants “feel the NDIS is too complex and difficult to navigate”. Members believe that due to these challenges, that complexity and difficulty can be increased for participants who are blind or have low vision.
As the discussion paper describes, support coordination was intended to help participants learn to navigate the scheme more effectively. We believe support coordination is uniquely well-positioned to enable people who are blind or have low vision to overcome the unique barriers they face in utilising their plans, and build their capacity to access services independently. However, Vision 2020 Australia’s members are also concerned that due to problems with quality and consistency, the service doesn’t always achieve its aims.
Further, members contend that one of the keys to ensuring an effective support coordination market is clarifying the scope of the role, for both providers and participants.
Please find below the full submission in PDF and Word: