Sector Update – December 2022
News in the sector
Disability employment site launched
Disability advocate and 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott AO has launched a site to connect people with disability to inclusive employers in a way that is innovative, accessible and trustworthy to people with disability. The Field is designed by people with disability for people with disability. In Australia, employment equality for people with disability has not changed in around 28 years, even while approximately half of working-aged people with disability are actively looking for work. The site aims to knock down employment barriers and help connect people with disability who want to work with organisations trying to hire more inclusively
Consultation open for reforming Disability Services Act
The Federal Government has announced that it will be conducting a review of the Disability Services Act, with public consultation open now. This will be the first major review of the Act since 1986. The Department of Social Services welcomes input from everyone, including people with disability, their family, carer, advocates, service providers, peak bodies, and organisations. This Act involves the ways that disability and disability services are defined in law. The review intends to modernise these definitions in a way that is more reflective of Australia’s human rights obligations, and the diversity of people that the Act pertains to.
Funding Cuts to National Mental Health Supports
The Federal Government is set to cut the mental health subsidies made available to Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. From 1 January 2023, the number of Medicare-subsidised appointments available to people will drop from 20 to 10. Health Minister Mark Butler said that the scheme has extended therapy waitlists and become a barrier to more people being able to access mental health treatment.
Leading psychologist groups are concerned that the 10 sessions will not be adequate to properly treat many mental health conditions. The government plans to conduct an overhaul of mental health care in Australia, but the psychologist groups are concerned that patients should retain care while this is underway.
The NDIS publishes demographic statistics
The NDIS has published its new ‘disability dashboards’. These are key statistics and insights about the demographics, supports and providers for NDIS participants in relation to categories of disability groups. These include details about the outcomes achieved by NDIS participants, and their experiences.
The NDIS has released these reports in line with its transparency commitments in the Participant Service Charter.
Disability Royal Commission wrapping up
As of 31 December 2022, the Disability Royal Commission has closed for submissions. Private sessions will continue into 2023 for people who have already been offered one.
People who have taken the significant step of sharing their story with the Royal Commission are reminded that Blue Knot is offering counselling services to all contributors, contactable here: https://blueknot.org.au/
The final report of the Disability Royal Commission is due to be delivered to the Australian Government on 29 September 2023. This report will make recommendations to the Government on how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to promote a more inclusive and just society.