Budget: Good initiatives but disability focus lacking
Key voices for people with disabilities in the ACT said todays ACT budget includes discrete initiatives which will assist people with disabilities but lacks targeted investments which signal substantial whole of government commitments to its own disability strategies.
According to AFI Head of Policy Craig Wallace, “the Budget does include some welcome investments which address the needs of people with disability. These include funding for public housing, utility concessions, health services and infrastructure, disability student loadings and the expansion of a number of health and mental health programs.
“However we don’t see funding for the delivery of strategies which will drive whole of government improvements for people with disability and land ambitious strategies. These include substantial ongoing funding for the ACT Governments ACT Disability Strategy.
“AFI sought funded signature initiatives that demonstrate a whole of government commitment to the Strategy. These include a disability diversionary pathway for law enforcement, a substantial renewed commitment to inclusive education, a funded Disability Health Strategy, a disability-centred response to COVID, specific action to deliver accessible housing, and social planning work on accessible spaces, places, transport, and community infrastructure.
While Budget includes more public housing Canberra’s ageing population means we need to see dedicated work to develop the accessible housing market and also for social planning to improve accessibility in built infrastructure and facilities”, Mr Wallace concluded.
The CEO of Women With Disabilities ACT Kat Reed noted that there was some initial welcome money for the ACT Disability Health Strategy however “this money is for one year only and is non ongoing. We do however welcome funding for improved health infrastructure including at the Canberra Hospital and Calvary and hope this is focussed on improving the accessibility of these facilities. We also welcome the decision to improve access and affordability to terminations in the ACT up to 16 weeks.
“Funding for youth mental health and suicide prevention is welcome however we’d also like to see a focus on intersectional responses to reducing harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs plus the mental health needs of older people and people with disabilities including for people with intellectual disability. COVID has increased the need for these responses,” Kat Reed concluded.
A summary of what’s in the Budget for people with disability is attached to this release.
Contacts: Craig Wallace, Head of Policy AFI on 0477 200 755 and Kat Reed, CEO of WWDACT on 0468 324 695
ACT 2022/23 Budget – 2 August 2022
What’s in the Budget for people with disabilities?
What we welcome
- Development of the ACT Disability Health Strategy and first action plan (however this is an offset of $260,000 where we would expect considerable additional funding)
- Money for school infrastructure builds
- Equitable enrolment adjustment of 4.9% from 2021 to 2022 includes students with disabilities.
- Funding to make government services more accessible online (13,362 over 4 years)
- $50 increase to the utilities concession
- Implement the Carers Strategy (but we are concerned there is no funding for the Disability Strategy)
- Expansion of mental health programs for young people and suicide prevention as well as an expansion of the PACER program which links police ambulance and clinicians in early response
- Funding for the hydrotherapy pool
- Funding to improve Canberra’s health infrastructure including at the Canberra hospital and Calvary (but specialist diagnostic missing)
- Funding to continue the equipment loan service
- Expanding specialist homelessness capacity
- Funding for public housing growth and renewal and maintenance
- Funding for the Human Rights Commission
- Funding to maintain the Flexi bus transport services
- Work on diversity in the ACT Public Service
- Funding to deliver the ACT Disability Strategy – no funding for early concrete actions and funded signature initiatives that demonstrate focus and whole of government commitment. These include a disability diversionary pathway for law enforcement, a renewed commitment to inclusive education, a funded Disability Health Strategy, a disability-centred response to COVID, specific action to deliver accessible housing, and social planning work on accessible spaces, places, transport, and community infrastructure.
- Ongoing funding for the Disability Health Strategy beyond the first year and outside of offset funding
- Funding for universal design across curricula and infrastructure to support inclusive education. The equitable enrolment adjustment in the ed directorate is a small step, but still does not address the disparity in loadings between mainstream and segregated settings.
- Details and commitment to ongoing funding for the Disability Justice Strategy beyond the forward estimates
- Funding of monitoring bodies in closed spaces to meet obligations under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (OPCAT) – we note the Govt has flagged an intention to address outside Budget
- Specific actions to progress accessible housing especially to implement, promote and encourage take up of the new silver standard requirements
- Intersectional approaches to mental health and reducing harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs including for older people and people with intellectual disability