Federal Govt Extends Advocacy Funding – States Called on to Follow Suit
9 August 2017 at 4:02 pm
The federal government has extended funding for disability advocacy services to the tune of $60 million, but the not-for-profit sector has warned the biggest risk to advocacy services is the reluctance of the states to continue their advocacy funding.
The Minister for Social Services Christian Porter announced ongoing funding on Wednesday for the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) appeals providers and a new funding round for Disability Representative Organisations (DRO).
Porter said the commitment ensured disability advocacy services would continue to be funded until 30 June 2020.
He said the importance of advocacy services for all Australians with disability was highlighted in the Review of the National Disability Advocacy Program consultation report released on Wednesday.
“All levels of government have a responsibility to support advocacy for people with disability to ensure they can exercise their rights and freedoms,” Minister Porter said.
“The vast majority of people requiring disability advocacy support will not be NDIS participants.
“All governments have committed to the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and that is why the Turnbull government is committed to investing in this area through $60 million in funding for NDAP, NDIS appeals, and the DROs.”
In a carefully worded statement the federal government said a national system of disability advocacy support also required “ongoing investment from states and territories to ensure their citizens can resolve issues with state-run services, and advocates can participate effectively in state-based planning”.
“We welcome Victoria’s ongoing commitment to longer-term action and investment to ensure a strong and sustainable disability advocacy and self-advocacy sector,” Porter said.
“The Commonwealth calls on other states and territories to meet their commitments to people with disability through the NDS by committing to ongoing support for advocacy under the NDIS.”
— Ability Incorporated (@AbilityincNSW) August 9, 2017
Mary Mallett, CEO of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), the peak body for the independent disability advocacy organisations, welcomed the federal government’s commitment to extend federal funding for advocacy.
However she said the biggest risk at the moment was in New South Wales where a number of very experienced advocacy organisations were facing closure or cut backs as the state’s funding dried up.
“The Commonwealth government is doing the right thing by continuing their commitment to fund advocacy for the next few years,” Mallet told Pro Bono News.
“Advocacy is about helping people with disability navigate systems and most of those systems are state-run systems such as child protection and education. They are all state systems whereas the federal systems are fewer. If the states stop funding advocacy they are abrogating their responsibility to their state citizen’s.
“The government has singled out Victoria because Victoria is committed to ongoing funding for disability advocacy. Victoria is doing the right thing and the federal government is calling on the others states to do the same.”
— Serena Ovens (@pdcnswEO) August 9, 2017
Mallet said the impact in NSW was “dire”.
“There are a number of regional areas where advocacy will be lost, multicultural disability advocacy will be significantly affected and reduced,” she said.
“One service, the Intellectual Disability Rights Service which is funded by the NSW government, and has a program which supports every one with a disability when they are being interviewed by the police, or in jail, or in the court system – that organisation’s court justice support network program will disappear.
“People will be badly impacted with their interaction with the justice system.
“As well, the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability has been around for 60 years and all their funding is from the NSW government and they will wind up basically at the end of June if they don’t get funded.”
Mallet said the NSW government was not listening to the disability advocacy sector.
“They are trying to deflect these issues to the Commonwealth government where instead they need to own the issue and take responsibility for funding.”