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New national disability strategy unveiled

6 December 2021 at 4:19 pm
Luke Michael
The strategy sets a national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability over the next decade   

Luke Michael | 6 December 2021 at 4:19 pm


New national disability strategy unveiled
6 December 2021 at 4:19 pm

The strategy sets a national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability over the next decade   

The release of Australia’s new national disability strategy has been warmly welcomed by disability advocates, who say the plan is truly representative of the voices of people with disability

Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031, unveiled on International Day of People with Disability last Friday, sets out a national disability policy framework to be used by all levels of government. 

It is the result of intensive consultation between not only governments, but also community members and the disability sector over the past two years. 

The sector has applauded policymakers for putting a clearer focus on the monitoring and evaluation of the plan, which replaces the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020

For the first time, the execution of the strategy will be monitored by a government-appointed advisory council led by disability discrimination commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett. 

The council will be made up of people with disability and those from representative organisations, including Women With Disabilities Australia executive director Carolyn Frohmader.

Frohmader said the strategy was the key mechanism to protect the rights of people with disability in Australia as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She said it set the standards to which Australia must hold itself, and would underpin the legislation, regulations, programs, and services etc. which impact the wellbeing of people with disability. 

“It’s of fundamental importance to the future of people with disability in Australia,” Frohmader said.

“We commend all partners and stakeholders – including governments – for the collaborative and transparent way the strategy has been developed to ensure it is truly representative of the voices of people with disability.

“The engagement process has been a great example of how policies can be designed with, not for, people with disability to deliver practical outcomes that people with disability want.”

Federal government pledges funding for the strategy  

The federal government is investing $250 million to support the rollout of the strategy. 

There will be $76.8 million put towards creating targeted action plans to address some of the strategy’s focus areas, including employment, safety and community attitudes.

Among the other investments are $81.2 million to improve the Disability Gateway so people can easily navigate and find the services they need, $12.5 million to fully establish a National Disability Research Partnership, and $9.9 million to improve individual advocacy services. 

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said people with disability deserved the same opportunities as all other Australians.

“Our focus must be on the ability and capability of each and every person so that people with disability can contribute and thrive in the classroom, workplace and community,” Ruston said.  

“Importantly, key reporting mechanisms will tell us what is and is not working and ensure greater transparency across the life of the strategy.”

People with disability given control during strategy rollout

Progress on the strategy will be recorded through the publishing of annual data and a two-yearly report to federal parliament. State, territory and local governments will also monitor progress on the plan.

Dr Gauntlett said the advisory council would ensure people with disability had a role in the strategy’s implementation. 

“The advisory council gives people with disability a permanent role in helping to guide the strategy over the next decade,” Gauntlett said.

“The success of the strategy requires a whole-of-community response and only by having the public, businesses and governments working together can we ensure all aspects of Australian life are inclusive and accessible.” 

People With Disability Australia CEO Sebastian Zagarella said disability representative organisations looked forward to playing a role monitoring and evaluating the strategy.  

“Indeed, we anticipate that the strategy’s increased focus on measuring outcomes and its commitment to improving data will help drive and deliver important change across areas such as housing, justice, transport, health and education,” Zagarella said.  

You can find out more about the strategy here.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Paul Klotz says:

    Applaud the strategy, however I have a concern. The funding ‘pie’ is only so big and can only be cut into so many pieces, before these pieces become too small to be worthwhile. This, I feel, is what is happening in the Disability and Mental Health sectors. There are so many organisations that exist in these sectors, predominantly doing the same roles (albeit, some are across different segments within these sectors) and are all fighting for the same funding, grants and donations, Would it not be a better outcome for all parties – especially the consumers, clients, participants etc that utilise these services – if the sector(s) were streamlined. For example, in NSW alone there are approx. over 200 organisations providing Mental health strategy, research and service delivery -surely there is considerable overlap and funding could be better utilised with a streamlined delivery model. It is the same in every other state – and usually, this comes at a cost to the users – lack of real resources on the ground – specialised allied health professionals and this is certainly the case in most regional, rural and remotes communities. Not that I am denying people – with compassion, dedication and forward thinking not to want to contribute into these sectors, rather a more specialised and streamlined approach to utilise the limited amount of funding in these sectors. This will obviously require Federal, State and Commercials stakeholders to work together.

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