Former commissioner says disability cuts breach UN convention

Julia May, 7/2/2015

The Federal Government's cuts to the disability sector are a "catastrophic" blow and breach the United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people, advocacy groups and one of the architects of the convention says.

The Department of Social Services announced yesterday it would fund an alliance of six groups representing disabled people by demographic rather than specific need. This threatens eight peak bodies with 200,000 members with intellectual disabilities – autism, brain injuries and physical disabilities including blindness and deafness.

The Assistant Social Services Minister, Mitch Fifield, said up to $3.6 million would be allocated over two years to the National Cross-Disability Alliance, comprising representatives of disabled children, women, Indigenous people, ethnic minorities and service providers. This is a 40 per cent cut on the previous funding arrangement that spanned three years rather than two. Mr Fifield said the alliance would be the primary source of grass-roots advice on issues of national policy advice for people with disability.

Disability sector funding cuts attacked by former UN committee chairman

The new arrangement threatens eight peak bodies, with 200,000 members.

The former chairman of the United Nations committee representing people with disabilities has added his voice to the chorus of anger over the government's shake-up of the sector, challenging its claim it is in acting in accordance with the UN convention.

Ron McCallum, who is blind, is a former dean of law at Sydney University and, until December, was chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons in Geneva. He condemned the federal government's action, saying it revived old, outdated attitudes that those with disabilities were not people with rights but "objects of charity".

Last week the Department of Social Services announced it would fund an alliance of five groups representing disabled people by demographic rather than specific need, plus one service provider.

Open letter about Autism, disability unemployment, etc. to the Minister for Social Security

Media Release

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (known as A4), the national peak body for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), wrote an open letter to Scott Morrison MP, the new Minister for Social Security. The letter gives essential information about ASD and the impact of Government policy for people living with ASD, and asks for a meeting to discuss ways to improve outcomes.

Disability employment scheme: sudden exclusion, fish-slapped by Departments and their "systems"

Monty Python fish slapping dancePeople with autism have difficulty getting a job. The letter below describes the experience of one person and his carer on reaching a point just 2 years after leaving school. 

This experience shows that the Commonwealth Government's Disability Employment Scheme (DES) is largely intractable. The Australian Bureau of Statistics describes its abysmal outcomes for people with autism/ASD (link here): 

In 2012, the labour force participation rate for people with autism was 42%. This compares with 53% labour force participation rate for people with disabilities and 83% for people without disabilities.

The 41.2% of people with autism in the labour market in 2012 experienced 23% unemployment (there is improvement since 2009 when labour force participation was just 34% and unemployment was 41%).

Merry F#*king Xmas

My friend is the mother of a child who is deaf and also has autism. She has been forced on to Newstart. My friend already works five days a week but with limited hours. Luckily she works at her son’s school but must be on call to deal with any adverse behaviors that might happen. Last week, as an example, her son head-butted a glass pane door of his classroom because he could not get in. It smashed and he cut his face all over. Said my friend, “ He was damn lucky not to have cut his eyes or a major blood vessel. Bled like a stuck pig. Added 20 years and too many grey hairs to count.”

...

At home she also has to deal with meltdowns. ...

My friend does not get carers payment from the Government because –  I don’t provide constant care in the home because he goes to school” ...

AND to top this off, because she has been shafted to Newstart, she is expected to apply for ten jobs per week. This single mother who can be called from work at any time to care for her child, who has the sole care of a child who is both deaf and autistic, a child that has challenging behaviour at home and school that requires her constant vigilance, who also has the sole care of another child … This mother is expected to look for ten jobs per week! Why? Because the Government thinks she is a LEANER and somehow has the capacity to not only look for ten jobs a week but also work full time. As she so eloquently put it – “How f#*ked is that?”

unacceptable political games over early intervention for children with disability

Federal and state Ministers are playing politics to delay reasonable and necessary early intervention services for children with disability.

The NDIA was advised from the outset that their estimates of the number of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) was seriously wrong (see /node/425 and the footnote on /node/695). 

NDIS funding model ‘fails autistic children’

Sarah Martin, Political Reporter

Jedd (3) with behaviour therapist Stephanie Miller at the AEIOU Foundation, Huntfield Heights Centre

Jedd (3) with behaviour therapist Stephanie Miller at the AEIOU Foundation, Huntfield Heights Centre.Source: News Corp Australia

SEVERELY autistic children are receiving less funding in trials of the National Disability Insurance Scheme than they were under previous funding arrangements.

Early intervention service provider the AEIOU Foundation, which set up in South Australia to test its viability under trials of the new national disability funding model, says it cannot operate effectively under the scheme.

AEIOU chief executive Alan Smith said it was able to provide only five days a fortnight of intensive therapy under the NDIS, compared with 10 days where the scheme was not yet in effect, in Queensland.

Programs for the 0.1 per cent of children with autism disorder require about $45,000 for each child, but the NDIS has set a benchmark payment of $16,000.

flawed NDIA approach implicitly blames parents for autism

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) adopted a flawed approach that blames parents implicitly for their child's autism and poor long-term outcomes. The NDIA is charged with funding early intervention for children with disability … and “disability” includes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The NDIA's Operational Guideline – Access – Early Intervention Requirements can be downloaded here.

As well as describing the NDIA's eligibility criteria for ASD as gobbledygook (see here), community members regards the NDIA's approach to Early Intervention for children with ASD as flawed. The NDIA adopted the “Seven Key Principles” approach described in a document from a “Workgroup on Principles and Practices in Natural Environments” (see download page here)

There are strong feelings in the the ASD community that the principles the NDIS suggest/adopted are dangerous, misleading and offensive. The NDIA's early intervention principles ignore the relevant science and deny children effective treatment for their ASD. Clearly, the principles were written by someone/persons who are not informed about intervention, treatment or the science of intervention for ASD. Members of the ASD community are deeply disappointed that this document is used as the NDIA's official position on early intervention related to ASD.

Online video: NDIS planning for adults with severe autism/ASD in the ACT

In this video Bob Buckley describes his recent experiences with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planning. His advice tries to help others prepare for their transition to the NDIS. He suggests that people can reduce their stress over NDIS planning if they better understand the processes and likely outcomes.

Bob Buckley's son (who is 23yo with severe autism) has one of the earlier NDIS plans approved in the ACT. The process took 11 days and delivered substantially more support/resources than was previously provided. The plan is much more flexible than the previous arrangement.

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