Ensuring people with disability have a voice on policy, can exercise choice over support, and full access to services is key to better outcomes

For people with disability in Australia to be free from discrimination, they must be given a voice on policy, full access to services, and be recognised as those best placed to make decisions over the services and supports most appropriate for their needs, according to a new report from Social Ventures Australia (SVA).

The report, funded through a Sector Capacity Building program grant from Equity Trustees, examines what is required to ensure people with disability are full and equal participants in the Australian community, free of discrimination, ableism and violence, and can exercise control over the decisions that will impact their lives.

SVA CEO Suzie Riddell says people with disability are significantly more likely to experience exclusion and disadvantage than other groups in the community.

“There’s both a social and economic imperative in ensuring the lives and rights of people with disability are transformed,” she says.

“Reports estimate that by reducing unemployment rates for people with disability by just one-third would provide a $43 billion increase to Australia’s GDP over a decade.

“But it’s about more than economics. If we want an Australia where all people and communities thrive, then we must remove the physical, social, attitudinal, environmental and cultural barriers that lead to the exclusion of people with disability.”

The paper calls for governments to prioritise the participation of people with disability in policy and decision making. Policy makers must ensure the involvement of people with disability is maximised. People with disability should lead and oversee the design of services relevant to them. They should also have the opportunity to choose the services and supports appropriate to their needs.

They should be given full access to services, facilities and activities in the community. Physical spaces and media must be truly accessible. Appropriate pathways and support should be provided to ensure people with disability can achieve full economic and social participation.

Speaking at the launch of the paper in Melbourne on Tuesday, Summer Foundation, Disability Advocate, Shanais Nielsen says the NDIS must give people with a disability choice and control.
“People with disability know what we really want and what we need to be fulfilled. We all have different goals, wants and needs,” she says.

“Only we and our support network know what we need. And it should be up to us to make the decisions that affect us.”

A full copy of the paper is available to download here.