Social justice advocates in Canberra have joined the ACT Government in calling for funds from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to continue to be used for the sexual expression of people living with a disability.
ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) CEO Dr Emma Campbell said the ACT Government had taken a “strong and consistent public stance” in support of the continued inclusion of sexual expression in NDIS plans.
Dr Campbell urged the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, to accept a 2020 Federal Court ruling allowing the plan to fund professional sex work services.
The issue once again drew the spotlight on Wednesday last week (3 February), when Mr Robert announced the Morrison Government would introduce legislation to stop the practice.
Since then, various advocates for people with a disability have criticised the Minister’s decision and his choice of language.
When discussing with 2GB radio presenter Ray Hadley the recent ruling that a woman with a disability was legally entitled to receive funding for sex therapy, Mr Stuart said: “I never thought you and I would be talking about prostitutes”.
Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) CEO Nicolas Lawler said the minister’s comments raised “deeper concerns” for the future of the NDIS.
“By undermining the importance of this issue and choosing to discuss it in a way which seemed intended to spark public outrage, Minister Robert is showing a concerning lack of empathy and understanding of the realities of life for many people with disability,” Mr Lawler said.
“This is particularly worrying given Minister Robert’s further comments regarding potential legislative changes to the NDIS.
“AFI believes that a person who is not listening to and understanding the needs of people with disabilities should not be defining what is or is not ‘reasonable and necessary’ for people with disabilities.”
Dr Campbell said ACTCOSS strongly supported comments by ACT Minister for Disability, Emma Davidson, that the removal of sexual expression from NDIS plans would be out of line with the fundamental principles of the NDIS. These are to enable people with a disability to live an ordinary life, with choice and control in determining the most appropriate supports.
“People with disability face discrimination and barriers to their full and equal participation in the community,” Dr Campbell said.
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