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03 December 2021

Today is International Day of People with Disability and I want all Australians living with disabilities to know Labor has their backs.

Today is a special day and we need to not only celebrate the progress that Australians living with disabilities have made, but we must also seek to ensure the gains made do not come under attack.

The theme for this year’s IDPWD is ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era”.

The Morrison Government has chosen today to release details of its new National Disability Strategy. 

It’s been a very tough year for many people with disability and there have been moments of serious concern about their welfare.

A Strategy was urgently needed to weave together disability support across all levels of Government. 

The NDIS was created in 2013 for the 10% of people with the most significant and permanent support needs. 

Now, the NDIS has become an “oasis in the desert” and there must be a plan to ensure that the remaining 4.4 million Australians do not fall through the cracks. 

In 2009, as Parliamentary Secretary for Disability, I noted the importance of disability employment and the need to develop a national disability strategy that included a workforce strategy.

The workplace measures in the new strategy are a long overdue, given that the disability labour force data remains the same as in 2012. 

Not only will the devil be in the detail of this strategy it will be in how the Coalition manage this plan to ensure it is delivered, that people with disability are not exploited and that it isn’t used to run down wages of all Australians.

I also welcome additional funding for action plans in employment, safety and community attitudes to deliver initiatives.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has exposed the challenges of people with disability as they face systems – such as healthcare, education, justice and housing – which do not accommodate them and in many cases cause harm.

The marker of good disability policy making is “nothing about us without us”. 

This National Disability Strategy’s implementation and monitoring will be overseen by a government-appointed council comprising people with disability from the community and disability sector. 

I commend this approach and hope that those appointed to the council will keep the Government accountable and the Strategy on track.  

While the intentions of the strategy sound noble, it is being released against a background of widespread sneaky secret cuts to NDIS packages that are putting Australians with disability and their loved ones under severe pressure.

We will watch the delivery of the Strategy closely.