The Socialist Alliance endorses the principle of self-determination and empowerment of people with disability as the central approach for the design, implementation and monitoring of a new structure to coordinate disability rights, including services and supports. That means people with disability and their organisations must control the decision making process.
The Socialist Alliance believes that doing so will provide for a structure and a way of coordination that is informed by experts, effective and efficient. It will deliver adequate financial resources channelled to services, support structures and directly to people with disability.
It is possible to achieve an inclusive society with major improvements in the economic, social and cultural participation, health and life experiences of people with disability and their families. Apart from the human rights of such an approach it is believed that inclusion of this nature would result in overall economic savings across expenditures for health, social security, education and employment.
A decision making approach to integrate disability as part of every day life, controlled by people with disability and their organisations will further contribute to speedy changes of structural and legislative barriers that currently prohibit the equitable participation of people with disability.
Rights and Principles that require immediate enacting and are supported by the Socialist Alliance, include:
The Socialist Alliance supports an indexation of the Disability Support Pension payments to a level, which adequately covers the costs of living, including housing and transport. We will also support a discontinuation of the need for constant reassessment of a person's eligibility to the DSP once established to minimise stress, expenses and discomfort.
Employment participation should not be stifled as it is currently through loss of entitlement to the DSP. Entitlement to the DSP needs to stay in place once employment has been secured at least for a period of two years. This minimises pressures on the person for instance to stay in inappropriate or meaningless jobs and allows for savings to occur addressing long term poverty. The DSP needs to be reinstated without lengthy assessment once cut off to minimise income delays and to allow for episodic disability.
For people able to secure employment access to the healthcare card, access to services, equipment, aids and associated concessions must remain unchanged taking into account additional cost of living for people with disability.
The Socialist Alliance believes that education is critical for people with disability and all children with learning and/or developmental delay. The quality education and associated positive experiences in education will have an enormous impact on their lives. This impact is not only in terms of qualifications but equally important in terms of self confidence, independence, decision making, social skills and peer support.
In order to make education a positive experience through all levels of education from kindergarten to tertiary education sufficient funds must be made available for:
All school children need to be educated about the human rights and equality of people with disability.
The Socialist Alliance believes that it is essential to set targets for access and participation of people with disability in employment to address the current inequity.
Targets for employment participation are not to be seen as stand alone. They must be part of a support structure for people with disability in employment based on the individual circumstances. This may relate to the type of work, aids and equipment, and level of assisted support required.
Initially a target of 10% of jobs within the public sector (federal, state, local) needs to be set; of those 50% must be allocated to women with disability, 30% to people from NESB or culturally diverse backgrounds, and 10% to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These figures are based on population data and weighted to address current inequities through affirmative action targets.
The initial target for the private sectors should be 5% with the same breakdown of targets for women, people from NESB and culturally diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Companies with 50 or more employees will be required to identify dedicated job positions for people with disability, increasing with size. Penalties for not meeting these targets must be high to avoid penalties seen as a cheaper option.
The Socialist Alliance believes that aids and equipment are an entitlement, a right.
This is particularly important given the current lack of availability, high prices and built in obsolescence of wheelchairs and other products which compromise the comfort and safety of people with disability.
Individual circumstances differ greatly with respect to living, social and family environments; each person with disability knows best what it takes for them to live a life with least barriers and most enjoyment. This knowledge must be used as the basis to roll out aids and equipment as required.
24 hours support must be available in case aids and equipment fail to avoid any crisis situation to develop and to minimise any stress on people.
Women with disability experience the same types of violence as other women in the community that is, physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. Women with disability also experience forms of violence particular to their situation.
Women with disability tend to be less respected or valued for who they are; poorer than other women; and they experience more isolation and can be more dependent on partners, family members or carers. Because of this, women with disability can be vulnerable to forms of abuse that do not fit traditional definitions of domestic or family violence. These included withholding equipment, food and medication; limiting access to communication devices; and threats of institutionalisation.
Research has established that women with disability experience violence at a higher rate, for longer periods, and are less likely to report the abuse than women without disability. Women are sometimes coerced into accepting sterilisation and strongly discouraged from relationships, sex and bearing and rearing children, all contrary to human rights.
The experience of violence against short statured people is common and expresses itself in bullying including “dwarf throwing” competitions.
All people with disability are more likely to experience some form of verbal, physical or sexual violence as they may be in a lesser position to defend themselves and are thus more vulnerable to abuse.
Early intervention is critical for all children with developmental delay, diagnosed or undiagnosed and children with disability.
Young people with disability have the right to live an independent life and to be in control of their life choices. This may require varying levels of domestic and personal support, aids and equipment.
Programs need to be developed towards individualised employment pathways and housing alternatives.
The Socialist Alliances opposes the use of nursing homes as housing options for young people as they lack age specific stimulation and recreation programs and deny young people to socialise with peers.
The Socialist Alliance is committed to housing that is accessible, affordable and integrated. People with disability currently are too often forced into institutions, like nursing homes, due to the lack of housing that meets their needs.
People with disability often cannot find housing that allows them to simply get in the front door. In addition they need housing that is permanent, not temporary or transitional accessible housing that is provided in some situations.
Accessible housing standards and requirements must be introduced that are monitored and enforced:
People with disability frequently live in poverty, often relying on social security
People with disability have been segregated for centuries due to stigma and
negative stereotypes. Segregation has occurred in large state operated institutions and smaller institutions, such as group homes. The perception that people with disability need to be "treated" unfortunately continues in our society today under a medical model of disability.
Housing options for people with disability, therefore, have resembled medical
centres rather than what most people would call a home.
The Socialist Alliance commits to support campaigns for:
Independently accessible transport options are critical for people with disability in terms of their right for free movement and self-determination.
Until a new disability inclusive approach to daily life has been implemented critical issues need to be addressed immediately.
(This section ameded in January, 2019). See also: https://socialist-alliance.org/policy/social-justice/ndis-national-disability-insurance-scheme
In August 2011 the Council of Australian Governments agreed on the need for major reform of disability services after extensive lobbying by people with disability and their advocates. The proposal for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was an outcome of the Productivity Commission's inquiry into disability care and support. From 1 July 2016 the NDIS was rolled out nationally following three years of trials at specific locations. From the outset, the scheme revealed itself as not being as positive as many had hoped.
On 1 July 2014 the Medicare levy was increased from 1.5 to 2% in order to provide a stable funding base for NDIS. The Medicare levy is a flat impost on taxable income; not a progressive tax which would require those on larger incomes to pay a proportionally larger share.
From the outset, the NDIS has been something of a political football for the federal Coalition government. In February 2017, on the failure of the Senate to pass a bill intended to cut government spending[i], then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, claimed that the NDIS was left unfunded byLabor and threatened to increase taxation to fund the $22 billion scheme.
In its 2017 budget, the Coalition government pledged to increase the Medicare levy again to 2.5% in order to fund the NDIS shortfall. In April 2018, however, then federal treasurer Scott Morrison announced that the government had abandoned its plan to increase the Medicare levy, claiming that funding would be secured in perpetuity from increased tax receipts resulting from growing the economy.
In order to provide for a reasonable standard of life for the 460,000[ii] people who will access NDIS when it is fully rolled out, NDIS funding must be guaranteed in the short term, through increased taxation on wealth and big business if necessary. While Socialist Alliance maintains that the NDIS should be replaced with a genuine needs based support system, funding for the NDIS must be guaranteed in the meantime.
Socialist Alliance believes that all people with disabilities should have access to the NDIS on the basis of self-assessment, regardless of the severity, their age, employment or visa status. Unfortunately, it is proving to be a struggle for many people with disabilities to even access the scheme. This been doubly difficult for those with cognitive disability.[iii]
Those aged over 65, unless already “participants” in the scheme, are ineligible for NDIS funding, leaving older disabled people stranded, particularly as state governments wind back their schemes with the rollout of NDIS.
NDIS participants are provided with an annualised “plan”, which details the funding they are to receive in any of a range of line items, such as assistance with personal care, funding for transport, or improved health and well-being. Participants must then take the plan to the disability services provider market and negotiate a service agreement with a provider (or a number of providers for different types of support) to begin receiving NDIS funded support.
The plan is delivered to the participant by the NDIS planner. While a “planning meeting” is held, the final decision about the level and purposes of the funding rests with the bureaucrat. The only means that a participant has to challenge the amount of funding they receive and what it can be spent on is to request a full review of their plan, a lengthy, time-consuming and stressful process, with no guarantee of success. At the end of the year’s funding (sometimes less than a year), the NDIS participant must once again go through the whole process of applying for funding for the next year.
Funding for disability services must be provided on a needs basis. Socialist Alliance believes that people with disabilities should not be forced to justify why they need ongoing funding.
People with a disability should be central to all decision-making. As a first step, a person with disabilities, or their representative, must be able to negotiate directly with the NDIS planner in an open and transparent process to ensure that their needs are properly met, eliminating the need for time consuming reviews.
People with a disability who receive funding (a plan) from NDIS are described as “participants”. NDIS encourages participants to seek to maximise the amount of service they receive within their plan funding by negotiating payment rates with their support providers (“providers”). In essence, this turns the interests of participants against those of the providers, and their (generally low-paid) staff[iv].
Socialist Alliance believes that the interests of people with disabilities and those who are paid to care for them are aligned, and rejects the attempt of NDIS to turn them against each other. It is in the interest of people with a disability that those who work in the disability sector are properly paid and not forced to work additional hours, or additional jobs, just to make ends meet. Equally, it is in the interests of disability workers to ensure that the people they provide services for are given the best possible support to maximise their ability to engage as full citizens in society.
The NDIS has paved the way for NDIS entrepreneurs, who are investing millions on the expectation of guaranteed revenue (and profits) from the NDIS over the years to come[v]. Socialist Alliance believes that the disability care sector should be community-based and democratically run. The lives of people with a disability are not-for-profit.
Socialist Alliance believes that provision of disability support should be based on the person with a disability’s needs as self-assessed by the individual, where possible (we are all experts in our own body’s needs).
Socialist Alliance believes in democratic governance of all disability funding-support bodies, including the current NDIS. The NDIS should be fundamentally reorganised, with governance provided by a board with the majority of people with a disability. The board should be elected on an annual basis by participants. The board should organise an annual policy conference, open to all people with a disability and their advocates, to set binding policy for the NDIS.
In the long term, the framework for disability care provision must be the decision of people with disabilities themselves. Socialist Alliance supports empowering people with a disability to make decisions about their future, including the form and content of a national disability support scheme. In that context, Socialist Alliance wishes to be part of a discussion of the future of disability support in Australia, and offers the following policy points as a contribution to that discussion:
While Socialist Alliance welcomes increased funding to disability services and supports the principle of self-directed and individually tailored supports, we oppose the market service delivery model enshrined in the NDIS in which service providers compete for the disability “consumers’” funding allocation.
The problems of providing disability services with a market-based funding system include:
The support to and inclusion of people with disability is a fundamental human right
The Socialist Alliance supports a national disability system that will genuinely enable the human rights of people with disability. We support a national system that: