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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Calls for disability support in ACT election

Two peak disability organisations and the ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS) have banded together in an election call for increased disability services in the Territory.

Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) and People With Disabilities ACT (PWDACT) along with ACTCOSS are urging the prospective ACT Government to fund and implement the Disability Justice Strategy introduced earlier this year.

ACTCOSS policy manager Craig Wallace said the government’s responsibilities didn’t stop at the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“We still have much more to do. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for better health infrastructure, accessible communications and attitudinal change through a Disability Health Strategy,” he said.

“In 2020, people with disabilities should not be afraid to go to the casualty in our main hospital because they can’t move onto an exam bed or find an accessible toilet.”

The organisations are recommending the health strategy include one free extended GP consultation annually, funded disability specialist centres, and further training and professional development for medical practitioners.

The document also calls for an access reference group to consult on issues surrounding physical and sensory access in the Territory.

ABS statistics show a rise in people living with a disability in the ACT from 16.2% of the population in 2015 to 19.4% in 2018, with the rate of disability increasing with age.

WWDACT CEO C Moore said it was important further funding was committed to ensure women with disability had equal access to necessary services.

“We’re calling for equal access to domestic and family violence services, including accessible crisis shelters,” they said.

“Moreover, we call for action on violence prevention, including a gendered approach to the disability justice strategy and reducing the number of congregate living settings.”

The election issue brief also calls for the need of transport subsidies and assistance and new residential properties to meet a universal design for all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.

PWDACT executive director Craig Shannon stated the organisation’s support for all calls in the election issue brief.

Access to the full ACTCOSS 2020 ACT Election Issue Brief can be found online.

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