Australians with disability deserve equal access to information and advocacy

| November 16, 2017

1 in 5 Australians have a disability, and almost 2.7 million Australians are carers for people with disability [1]. Sadly, people with a profound disability are 9 times less likely to participate in activities outside the home, and 1 in 3 will deliberately avoid situations outside of the home because of their disability.

That’s why the team at IDEAS (Information on Disability Education & Awareness Services) are proud to provide valuable information and advocacy for all Australians with disability. We have a particular focus on supporting people in regional and remote areas who might otherwise struggle to access these services.

We recognise people with disability as whole people first, and their disability or impairments as part of a wider diversity. Our vision is to build a world in which people with disability can participate in their community just like everyone else, and live full, independent lives of their own choosing.

To achieve this, we ensure people with disability, older people, carers and families have access to important information. Whether it’s what supplier to use for assistance, what social activities are available in the area, or sourcing accessible travel destinations, we’re there to help.

With the introduction of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), the NSW Government plans to pull funding for IDEAS and other state-based advocacy organisations in June 2018

The NDIS is the biggest social reform since Medicare and will take years to become fully integrated in society. As the scheme matures, the aim is for communities to become more inclusive, so that people with disability can access mainstream support services, recreation and leisure activities, and participate fully in their community.

However, the onset of the NDIS also means that the hugely important resources and support IDEAS provides for people with disability are in danger of closing.

In October this year, I met with Minister for Multiculturalism & Disability Services, Raymond Williams, to discuss the importance of independent information for Australians with disability.

The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate the value of IDEAS in providing free, accurate, unbiased and un-conflicted information for people with disability, older people, carers, families and supporters – especially as the NDIS is rolled out.

However, the Minister held firm to his position. He said the NSW Government made an agreement with the Commonwealth Government that when rolling out the NDIS, NSW would close their funding arrangements with state-based organisations like IDEAS by June 2018.

Currently, there are no dollars available within the NDIS for people with disability to access the information they need. Without IDEAS, how will people source information about services, healthcare, housing, events, awareness and advocacy in their local area?

Dougie Herd, a well-known NSW disability advocate, recently shared a media statement about IDEAS as an unparalleled information provider.

“To live the best life possible as a person with disability, nothing is more important than information that’s reliable and comes from a trustworthy source. IDEAS has been providing this vital information for decades,” he said [2].

“It’s an organisation that understands the needs, hopes and wishes of people with disability and their families. It would be a tragedy if we lost that valuable resource, because it’s desperately needed.”

If the NSW Government’s decision to de-fund IDEAS and a range of advocacy support organisations is not reversed, they will be going against the most recent Productivity Commission Review recommendations (October 2017), which dictate that state jurisdictions should not de-fund organisations like IDEAS so soon.

In response to the NSW Government’s inaction, we have launched a petition and campaign. We’re calling on the Government to stand up for equal access to information and deliver on its inclusion agenda for people with disability.

Please help us continue to provide vital information and support for Australians with disability. Sign our petition and stand up for equal access to information for people: