New voice for all Australians with disability

6 February 2015

Note: the editorial content below.

A new Alliance representing the interests and views of all people with disability will provide advice to the Australian Government on improving social and economic participation, and breaking down barriers.

The National Cross-Disability Alliance will provide the Government with practical advice to help improve policies and legislation impacting people with disability across Australia. It will be the Government’s primary source of grass roots policy advice on issues of national importance to people with disability.

Importantly, the new Alliance represents the social model of disability, which is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This is an important approach, as it recognises that the obstacles faced by people with disability are often more a reflection of societal barriers and discrimination, rather than a person’s specific medical condition or impairment.

When these barriers are removed, people with disability can enjoy more choice and control to pursue their goals and ambitions.

One of the key issues confronting the current disability peak sector is that funding was stretched across a large number of bodies, with no clear rationale for why groups did or didn’t receive funding, and fragmented and uncoordinated advice provided to Government.

The disability sector has been calling for reform, and so the Government – for the first time – made the funding available through a competitive process.

This new model will provide an improved framework for the views and interests of all people with disability to be communicated to Government. It will also provide opportunities for collaboration, leadership, development and innovation.

The groups funded to form the National Cross Disability Alliance are:

  • People with Disability Australia
  • Children with Disability Australia
  • First Peoples Disability Network Australia
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance
  • Women with Disabilities Australia

In addition, National Disability Services will be funded to represent service providers. As we move to the NDIS it’s important the Australian Government continues to receive advice from the services that support people with disability so their service needs can be met.

This is a new way of working and I am pleased the Alliance will identify emerging challenges and work with the Government to find solutions.

Alliance members will each receive up to $300,000 per annum, to June 2017.


Editorial: autism advocacy is missing AGAIN!

The media release above is quite misleading. It is incorrect to claim that this new Alliance represents "views of all people with disability" since none of the alliance members represents adult males with severe autism/ASD (PWDA may represents some normal or higher function autistic men, but the organisation is simply not set up to represent people with severe or profound social, cognitive, communication and/or intellectual disability).

Note that 27% of NDIS participants have "autism" (see Y2Q1 quarterly report), there are 4 men with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for every woman and the number of people diagnosed with doubles every 5 years.

The cross-disability Alliance has little knowledge and no experience/history of advocacy for ASD. The members have no discernible plan to address the substantial gaps. 

The Government has never funded a peak body to represent the interests of people affected by autism spectrum disorder. It has an opportunity to do so, but refused.

The other point missed in most of the commentary on this matter is that the Government made substantial cuts to peak disability body funding. This really makes no sense when the NDIS and NIIS still need so much work.

More commentary on the funding issue is available: