Support for people with disabilities

The Community Affairs Committee is currently examining the funding and operation of the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement (along with four other inquiries). I was in Sydney today attending part of a public hearing for this Inquiry.

The next round of the CSTDA is currently being negotiated between the two levels of government. Hopefully the information provided to this Senate Inquiry will help make the new Agreement more effective and better targeted.

Given how large the number of people is who either have a disability or whose life are significantly affected by people who do, I am often surprised how politically powerless and largely invisible the issue is. There is an enormous load carried by community based advocacy and support organisations in this area. I wrote a post recently about one of these organisations and the great job they do, and of course there are many more around the country, as the wide range of submissions to this inquiry shows. While governments do provide some funding, it really does fall well short of the mark in both its amount and its application. The unmet needs in this area are well documented and quite large, and I’m not convinced that even the inadequate resourcing this is provided is terribly well spent.

It is getting harder and harder to fit in all the different Committee obligations, alongside all the other work I do. I expect this situation to get worse the closer the federal election looms, as the need to focus my energies and activities in Queensland becomes more apparent. Unfortunately, this Inquiry hasn’t held a public hearing in Queensland. The submission by Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI) is a short one, but it raises some interesting issues and is worth a read. I was hoping to have the chance to ask them some questions about their ideas, although NCOSS did touch on some similar notions in their evidence today.

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  1. The submission from QAI is intersting, althouhg it is a bit cheeky to claim 50% of DSQ expenditure is administration, becasue while it does spend $450 million or so and the CSDSA distribution is about $250m – What it doesn’t say is that the department is a major service provider in its own right, albeit I’m sure in some areas inefficiently.

    What is interesting is the notion of vouchers, a la the oft touted education vouchers so opposed by the status quo (read bureacracy and teacehrs unions).

    Of courswe that is to be expected and for, in some cases quiet legitimate concenrs, but also becasue in the main those resisiting chnage see it as a threat to thie position of power and influence. Although I think a little bit more rersearch inot whats actually happended where purchasing vouchers have been implemented might be useful – (study trip to the UK in the offing there AB!)

    I guess they are looking for a shake-up, and thats never a bad thing.

  2. “Given how large the number of people is who either have a disability or whose life are significantly affected by people who do, I am often surprised how politically powerless and largely invisible the issue is.”

    I had the feeling that the newly formed politcal party, can’t remember the name (has Stephen Mayne as a hopeful contender) – had disabled children’s issues as one of their policy platforms.

    Not sure though, just think I can remember reading that at one time.

    It really is an area that has been crying out for some representation and assistance for many years. Chronically underfunded and under resourced.

  3. Andrew Bartlett:
    Glad that Queensland Advocacy did mention the myth of recipients only spending their money down at the pub. That myth and media stereotype is cruel and untrue and it is one that needs to be exposed to so much ridicule that no politician, spin-doctor, editor or academic ratbag would ever again dare think of using it to kick vulnerable Australians in the guts.

    You yourself – and everyone reading this blog – can start by asking your colleagues and associates if they have ever heard of any disabled person at all out in the real world who lived it up having a whoopee time on the booze and the pokies with all this wealth the generous government is supposed to be pouring all over them.

    ((Thanks for setting such a good example to those parliamentarians who see less of their constituents and who are less vigorous in their committee work than you. The need for you to devote more your time from now on towards re-election is appreciated and understandable. Best of luck – at least you are “worth feeding” :-)….))

  4. The QAI submission seems to have been blocked.

    The Centrelink Welfare to Work website had a link to some interesting information for the disabled. It was hard to believe that a person could find these two things up and running together.

    I don’t think the federal government cares about the disabled – or the welfare of children – at all.

    Sometimes I think the only thing valued in our society is greed.

  5. Graham – you are dead right, for the absolute minoroty of people who do blow their welfare the overwhelming majority don’t (there aint much to blow). But I think you are referring to the Centrelink benefits people receive. This is not about that.

    Thsi submission is acutally proposiong a process where recipients of services get the money, in the form of vouchers and then purchase the servcies they require fronm a multitude of providers. As opposed to the current process where governmetns fund service provides, eg measl on wheels and the like to provide services to disabled clients.

    In effect they are proposing trasnferring the purchasing power to the consumer, ie how the marktet works, rather than to the provider.

    It is very much a market thought out modle, stemiming principally from public choice theory and the dreaded economic rationlaism. It will aslo very much break up the large centralsied bureacracies delveiring welfafr services, and allow for lots of small business type serbvice provsdiers. The break up of the old CES is a half move into this direction, with the goevrnment still maintaining most control by being the purchaser on behalf of the clietns to multiple providerers. This proposal extends that to the consumer. – a real example of work choices in action.

    Thats why I’m rather surprised that a centralist publixc provision type of person a la the Democrats would even countenance such a suggestion.

  6. Ken:
    Right. ((Thanks.Shall have to copy linked site info to toolbar for re-reading so as to stop dropping clangers)).

    The time has come to leave all the Thatcherist cult rubbish behind and start looking at how the rest of the world takes care of its disabled.

    You mentioned the break-up of the old CES. Hell, we don’t want to put the disabled through the sort of horribly expensive, woefully inefficient, fractured, service delivery preventing nonsense that has replaced the old CES, do we?

  7. Graham and Ken, as usual ludi points from both! You bet they are not spending it up big down the pub. The greater proportion of disability funding is used for accommodation support – something that doesn’t come cheap, and even in the most efficiently run accommodation options families are often supplementing the welfare payments that their family members receive to give them a little ‘taste’ of life like a visit to a cafe – or a pub.

    When I see the difficulties faced by people with disabilities I get furious when I hear people complain about them ‘having a good time’ and ‘wasting taxpayer dollars’. Worse though seems to be the assumption that a person with a disability enjoying life is a person not using their money responsibly.

  8. I am wholly opposed to the idea of vouchers as this would not help my family but hinder it. Is the government going to dictate how many bottles of milk, bread and toilet paper we can purchase? Australian’s do not realise how close to Communism they have come under the helm of Commodore Howard.

    Then their is purchasing clothes, medicine, bus transport, etc.

    This is thought of by people who have no idea whatsoever, not forget their classism of this evolving feudalistic society.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but for the first time in my life, I just maybe voting Democrat.

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