Fragmented Disability Sector Needs Change
Thursday, 3rd October 2013 at 11:47 am
The current arrangements for Australia’s peak bodies on disability are fragmented and confused and in need of an urgent rethink as the National Insurance Disability Scheme becomes a reality, according to one of the country’s main disability rights organisations.
Not for Profit rights and advocacy organisation People With Disability Australia, which led the campaign for a levy for the NDIS, said there needed to be a reorganisation of the disability consumer sector to make it united, cohesive and democratic.
PWDA President Craig Wallace said there also needed to be a significant debate with all those involved in the sector to clarify the roles and responsibilities of national disability organisations.
He said that the current National Federation of Disability Organisations that was funded and recognised by the Federal Government now had only a small group of disability organisations under its umbrella.
“There are different ways to achieve a collective voice and bringing organisations into one federated model is not the sole option.
“Currently there are so many voices but no mechanism to resolve these issues. There is no way for ordinary individuals to join a disability organisation, vote for office holders or hold that organisation to account and represent them,” Wallace said.
“We believe that collaboration is necessary and important. We believe that a more collective voice representing all people with disability is overdue and necessary.”
The PWDA has published a statement by its Board recommending guidelines on achieving a more collective voice representing all people with disability.
“We believe the discussions should be driven by Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) which are completely controlled by people with disability as well as being framed around guiding principles which achieve these objectives,” the statement said.
“A national voice for people with disability must have a direct mandate from people with disability. There must be no closed shop and the voice of ordinary people with disability must be heard.
“Australians with disability must decide how we are represented at a national level and how the sector is organised.”
Wallace said he was not aiming a blow torch at any one organisation as all organisations could do better.
“Now disability is a national issue with a multi-billion dollar scheme and fragmented peak organisations is not the best way anymore. We have to make the sector do better,” Wallace said.
“The conversation should not wait for Governments to tell us how to be represented. We need to start from the grassroots up not from the top down.
“A cross disability lens is necessary and appropriate to bring together a potentially infinite set of perspectives and to develop a coherent understanding of gaps, barriers and solutions.
“A national representative body and peak funding arrangements which exclude or fail to resource and value that perspective will not be supported by PWDA.”
Wallace said a Facebook page called ‘we want change disability’ had been set up calling for a directly elected national peak body for people with disability in Australia that's recognised by Government and accountable to all.