Disability: Greens crazy plan doesn't address the issue

People with disability remain the most vulnerable population in Victoria today.  They are much more likely to experience abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation than other populations.

Accessibility to public transport and to public buildings, including those providing basic services such as healthcare, still needs to be addressed.

However, exaggerated, ambit claims such as the recent Greens proposal that very single new residential house or apartment built in Victoria must be fully accessible for people with disabilities is unhelpful. It is simply outrageous to call it “apartheid” for someone to build a private, family residence without an unneeded chair lift to the second story!

The evil inherent in apartheid was that the legal regime in South Africa enforced legal exclusion from whole geographical areas and from services such as schools and hospitals, based solely on race, when race is simply irrelevant to these matters.

Yes, we should do more to ensure that the built environment is modified as needed to make the day to day lives of people with physical disabilities easier to negotiate.

For example, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018, which I was proud to help pass, includes provisions to require rental providers to allow needed modifications to homes to accommodate the needs of renters with disabilities.

It was very frustrating in working out of my electorate office in Werribee to fail to persuade the Parliament to set a good example to the business community by making all electorate offices communication accessible. Not all electorate offices are even physically accessible.

As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is being rolled out in Victoria it is becoming clearer each day that its promise of bringing real improvements to the day to day life of all Victorians with disability is falling far short of fulfilment.

The NDIS is significantly under resourced. It is failing to meet its benchmarks on response times. There is story after story about people with significant disabilities unable to even access the scheme. 

In a speech I gave in Parliament on 21 August 2018 I said:

“The transition to the NDIS has left many Victorians at risk. This has been disappointing. The beginning mantra of the NDIS was to leave no-one worse off, and that is not something that in reality we have seen fulfilled for everyone with a disability.

Despite the national system being established, it remains the responsibility of the state to ensure that Victorians with disability — our citizens — are not falling through the gaps and are not being left behind. It remains the responsibility of all of us to ensure that workers are not taking advantage of the people they are supposed to be there to empower.”

Speaking in support of the Disability Amendment Bill 2017 I said:

“I worked in the disability field for many years. In fact for almost two decades I worked in the disability field, prior to what I describe as the midlife crisis that brought me to politics. I did my PhD in disability rights in Australia. 

“Near the end of my career I worked in the area of best practice. I focused particularly on group homes for people with intellectual disability. I worked with people with behaviours of concern, and I worked with disability services around the dual disability of intellectual disability and dementia. This was only a few short years ago, and I observed terrible incidences of abuse during my time. I also observed more often conditions within disability services which were just one step away from abuse.

“It was not all bleak of course. Where person-centred approaches were genuinely implemented, or even better where rights-based approaches were implemented, conditions within disability services were significantly improved and those abuse conditions were not present. 

“We must do better to protect the vulnerable in our community, and we must do more to protect people with disabilities from being open to abuse in our communities and in the services that are there supposedly to protect them.”

It was very frustrating in working out of my electorate office in Werribee to fail to persuade the Parliament to set a good example to the business community by making all electorate offices communication accessible. Not all electorate offices are even physically accessible.

One of my proudest moments in Parliament was hosting an Australian disability enterprises exhibition in Queen's Hall. “Australian disability enterprises — or ADEs — play an important role in providing supported employment for thousands of Victorians with disabilities. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness of ADEs by showcasing the goods and services of a number of large Victorian ADEs across the state.

People with disabilities make a meaningful contribution to our communities, and it is important that we continually invest in their lives by identifying and using the services which support them.”

In March 2017 I was delighted to be able “to congratulate Mambourin, a disability enterprise based” in Werribee, on its successful negotiation of an “agreement with Australian Community Logistics. Mambourin, has exercised a great deal of diligence and community conscience in this venture, which has saved close to 300 jobs. Prior to the agreement a number of traineeships were in danger of being left incomplete; however, trainees across four locations will now be able to finish their certificate qualifications.

“Further, this new venture now enables Mambourin, together with a registered training organisation, to offer traineeships in warehousing and food processing to secondary school students and adults with a disability. This is fantastic news and a shining example of what a business can achieve when the dignity of all workers is held in high esteem and deeply entrenched in the organisation's culture and values. I commend Mambourin, under the able leadership of CEO Rohan Braddy, for what it has achieved, and I wish it every success in the future.”

I hope to continue to advocate for Victorians with disability as the Independent member for Werribee in the next parliament. There is so much that remains to be done.

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  • Rachel Carling
    published this page in News 2018-11-20 11:59:16 +1100