Disability advocacy groups receive funding lifeline
30 March 2021 at 4:56 pm
But advocates note the funding pledge is more of a stop-gap measure than a long-term commitment
Queensland disability groups have welcomed the state government’s decision to extend advocacy funding, with $8.1 million committed over the next two years.
Disability Services Minister Craig Crawford made the funding announcement last week, after the sector raised concerns that thousands of people with disability could be left without support when advocacy funding ceased in June this year.
Minister Crawford also attended a rally for disability advocacy last Wednesday outside Parliament House, which featured more than 200 people calling for funding certainty.
The QLD Disability Advocacy Alliance thanked the government for the pledge, but noted it was more of a stop-gap measure to support the sector until an ongoing funding model for advocacy was developed.
Alliance spokesperson Geoff Rowe, the CEO of ADA Australia, told Pro Bono News he was relieved that advocacy groups could now continue without having to radically reduce service delivery and make close to 100 people redundant.
“The alliance is grateful that the government made the decision to continue the funding for two years,” Rowe said.
“We’re anxious now to work with governments to formalise the direction for advocacy for people with a disability in Queensland.
“Both the Commonwealth and the state have historically funded advocacy services for people with disability. We believe there is a role for both jurisdictions to continue to fund those services.”
Disability advocacy funding has been a constant battle for disability groups in recent years, with many state and territory governments hesitant to fund advocacy services under the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In New South Wales, advocacy groups recently won a long-fought campaign to continue advocacy funding for the next three years.
The Queensland government says decisions around longer-term advocacy funding will be guided by a new state National Disability Strategy due later this year, and a federal government demand and gap analysis of independent disability advocacy and decision-making supports.
Rowe said the alliance looked forward to working with governments to help develop a sustainable advocacy funding model that supported all Queenslanders with disability, not just NDIS participants.
He said advocates would also need to work through how the $8.1 million will be allocated across the sector.
“Our next step is to engage with government at the political and bureaucratic level to get clarity regarding funding in the short term, but also to get that really strong lock-in commitment for the long term,” he said.
“And that’s going to involve working with both levels of government.”