The inadequacy of the support system for people with a disability and their families/carers is Australia’s national disgrace.

The supports are under-resourced, fragmented and often operationally dysfunctional. They are organized around government funding silos, not around the persons who have the disability and their families. There is little or no integration of information, care-planning or care management across the disciplinary boundaries of health, education, community services, employment and training, income support and family services. There are little or no independent sources of information about service quality, cost or accountability.

The support system is also plagued by professional and disciplinary demarcation disputes, and artificial boundaries  between disability and mental illness and other neurological, learning, behavioural and social deficits. Dual diagnoses and co-morbidities are an administrative and service planning nightmare. Inefficiency and duplication in the system is rife, but has never been adequately assessed.

The support system is also uncertain about the place of families/carers. Families/carers frequently experience exclusion by the funded components of the support system.

People Power is committed to making reform of the disability support system a national priority of the highest order.

People Power stands for

ü Person-centred arrangements (services and institutions should be tailored to meet the personalized needs of people with disabilities and their families/carers - disability dollars should follow the consumer and be managed by the consumer’s representative or agent.)
ü Empowerment of people with disabilities and their families (resources and power should be transferred to people with disabilities and their families or agents, enabling them to grow in community, rather than isolation and powerlessness)
ü Choice (individualised funding arrangements should become the norm as a funding method so people can choose the lives they want to build)
ü Inclusion of people across ability boundaries (adequate supports and resources are needed to make social inclusion a meaningful reality)
ü Inclusion of families/carers (where people with disabilities are not capable of unassisted self-management, families/carers or agents form the core unit of care and are integral to the support system)

People Power will

  • Consolidate all existing commonwealth and state disability funding programs (with the exception of respite care) in a person-based funding entitlement (the Disability Funding Entitlement) allocated to the nominated agent or family of the person with a disability. The Disability Agent may be a community organization, a health fund, a consumer co-operative, a for-profit financial agent, a GP or lawyer, a parent, friend or family or any other entity which has a capacity to manage the financial entitlement, enter contractual arrangements on behalf of the person with a disability, and manage their support and care relationships to the satisfaction of the person they act for. Disability Agents would be permitted to contract with providers and practitioners in developing price and service quality arrangements and would be free to develop packages of care, innovations in care planning and information management, home-care supports, accommodation options and arrangements, and employment services for their people. People with a disability would be free to select their preferred agent, and to transfer from one to another annually.
  • Ensure that the Disability Funding Entitlement (DFE) is adjusted by factors of age, sex, disability and health status, and life-cycle-stage in such a way that agents will compete to attract the support of people with all kinds and severities of disability.
  • Ensure that every child or adult who is diagnosed with a disability is eligible for the Disability Funding Entitlement (DFE) from the time of diagnosis until death or until the disability has ceased to disable.
  • Ensure that eligibility for the DFE includes disabilities which are currently not acknowledged or inadequately acknowledged including autism, ADD/ADHD, language disorders, learning deficits, and various neurological conditions.
  • Introduce a Respite Entitlement assigned directly to family carers or their agents as a respite service voucher, adjusted with a severity-of-disability and difficulty-in-caring rating. The Respite Entitlement may be used to purchase in-home respite or center-based respite according to the preference of the carer.
  • Support the establishment of an independent Disability Support Information Service to provide comparative online price and service quality data on Disability Agents, disability services, respite services, accommodation services, health services and practitioners.
  • Establish waiting time benchmarks for core services, monitored by the independent Disability Support Information Service, and introduce legislation in Commonwealth and State jurisdictions assigning legal liability to the Commonwealth and States for breaches of the waiting time benchmarks. The benchmarks would include three weeks for early childhood assessments, six weeks for early childhood intervention programs, and three months for supported accommodation. Significant penalties would be attached to breaches of these benchmarks.
  • Establish a Supported Accommodation Authority to research, design, purchase, and build innovative supported accommodation options covering a range of living and support preferences for people with disabilities (as well as people with mental and chronic illness, and the frail aged). Commonwealth and State funds would be directed to this billion dollar national Authority.
  • Cut the company tax rate from 30% to 20% for businesses which employ people with disabilities and other disadvantages as 20% or more of their workforce.
  • Require state governments to transfer management of accommodation facilities to non-government entities (foundations, community organizations, consumer entities) so as to remove services from direct government control.
  • Intervene to alleviate the immediate unmet demand for crisis and supported out-of-home accommodation options for the 600,000 families caring for people with severe and profound disabilities aged less than 65 years. These options should reflect a variety of preferences in living and support arrangements including group homes, hostels, village living, cluster apartments and other such arrangements as suit the individuals concerned.
  • Introduce assistance for families of children with a severe physical disability to purchase or lease a modified vehicle.

People Power Disability Policy Contact : Vern Hughes 

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