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Tuesday, 11 May 2004

Stronger commitment needed to people with disabilities

Stronger commitment from the Federal government is needed if Australia is to be a nation which offers opportunities for all.

According to UnitingCare Australia National Director, Ms Lin Hatfield Dodds, ‘Australia is still a nation in which many people living with disabilities experience financial hardship and limited opportunities. People living with disabilities must be given a chance to live well within our communities.’

‘The Federal Government’s disability employment package will help some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers. It will also go some way towards assisting supported employment services experiencing pressure under the Government’s disability employment reforms.’

‘However, it is unclear whether the additional $99 million will be enough and whether ‘targeted support’ to be offered to workers whose productivity is low but whose vulnerability is high is adequate.’

‘Also, access to open employment agencies must be improved to meet the high demand.’

UnitingCare Australia welcomes the boost in assistance for carers and recognition of the diversity of situations in which care is given signaled in this year’s budget. It also welcomes the enhanced access to Auslan interpreting services funded in the budget.

However, the Australian government must show stronger commitment to people with disabilities, their families and carers. Unmet need still hasn’t been adequately addressed and is growing.

Careful planning focused on the needs of people with disabilities and cross-portfolio resource sharing is required to address the growing number of Australia’s ageing population with disabilities.

According to Ms Lin Hatfield Dodds, ‘Australia needs a policy framework backed up with resources that will enable people with disabilities, their families and friends to live a decent life.’

Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia: (bh) 02 6290 2160 (m) 0408 402 222