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Disability Rights Issues for the State Election

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Media release – Disability Voices Tasmania, 20 April 2021 Putting disability rights on the election agenda The Board of Disability Voices Tasmania has written to the major political parties asking a number of questions about their policies and actions as we approach the election. “We are concerned that so far none of the major parties […]

Media release – Disability Voices Tasmania, 20 April 2021

Putting disability rights on the election agenda

The Board of Disability Voices Tasmania has written to the major political parties asking a number of questions about their policies and actions as we approach the election.

“We are concerned that so far none of the major parties has focused on matters of particular interest to the 27% of Tasmanians with disability” said Michael Small, Chair of Disability Voices Tasmania.

There are many local and national issues of importance to people with disability and their families including the NDIS, accessible buildings and transport, access to inclusive education and employment opportunities, access to information and accessible housing.

“While many of these issues are being debated on the national stage, it is important that we know the views of local politicians and parties as we decide how to vote” said Mr Small.

Disability Voices Tasmania will make the party and candidate responses to the questions available to the community when they are received.

Attached (below) are the questions sent to the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties.

Tasmania Votes 2021: Disability Issues

Disability Voices Tasmania is funded by the Commonwealth Government to deliver projects to increase the skills and confidence of Tasmanians with disability to participate in and contribute to the community. The volunteer Board of Disability Voices Tasmania aims to develop the organisation to have the voices of the 140,000+ Tasmanians with disabilities heard on matters that affect us.

So far, disability issues have been largely invisible in the Tasmanian election campaign. There have been no election news stories about disability and no references to disability in any party policy or statement.

The Board of Disability Voices Tasmania welcomes your responses to the following questions, which we will make available to Tasmanian voters with disabilities and their families and allies. Please send your responses as an accessible word document to office@disabilityvoicestas.org.au

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Disability Services

90% of people with disability will never be eligible for NDIS. Where they need it, they will rely on state government support.

How will your party ensure that Tasmanians with disability who are not eligible for NDIS have the reasonable and necessary supports to live as well as every other Tasmanian?

How will your party provide robust protection of quality and safety for people with disability who use State-funded services and supports?

Education

Education providers are legally obliged to provide inclusive, non-discriminatory services to students with disability.

How will your party ensure education providers meet their responsibilities to students with disability, including those who have autism (are neurodiverse) and their families?

Emergencies & disasters

Recent natural disasters and emergencies have shown that supports for people with disability can fail in emergency situations as disorganisation and dislocation take hold. Information, communication, evacuation, transport and shelters are all too often inaccessible. Queensland has tackled this issue head on.

How will your party make sure no Tasmanian is left behind if and when disasters strike?

Employment

People with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as those without disability. Unemployment is even worse for younger people with disability, and worse again for young Tasmanians with disability.

What will your party do to make work places and practices accessible and inclusive?

How will your party make sure Tasmanians with disability have a fair go at the jobs your party is so committed to creating?

Health

Health care fails when health information and communication are inaccessible – never more than in the midst of COVID-19.

How will your party ensure that people who are deaf, blind or have mental health or learning disabilities can get and use the health information they need?

Housing

Only 5% of new homes comply with accessibility guidelines in place since 2010. 74% of people with mobility impairment live in housing that does not meet their needs. Demand outstrips supply for NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation. People with major disabilities will never be able to freely choose where to live while they rely on expensive retro-fit programs.

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How will your party help the Building Better Homes Campaign to have accessibility standards included in the National Construction Code and implemented as mandatory in Tasmania?

Information & communication technologies

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are the gateway to most things we do today. Yet for many people with disability the gate is closed by inaccessible technologies and practices. Tasmania sits at the bottom of the Australian Digital Inclusion Index.

How will your party open up the digital future for people with disabilities before it races even further away from us?

Justice

Disability discrimination again tops the list of complaints to Equal Opportunity Tasmania. In 2017, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner provided the state government with a draft Disability Justice Plan for Tasmania.

How will your party ensure the full implementation of the Commissioner’s proposed Disability Justice Plan?

Procurement

Our economy and community flourish when everyone flourishes. Government can, through its procurement decisions, buy opportunity and inclusion for all Tasmanians. It can prefer accessible, inclusive goods, services, facilities, infrastructure and events that further the objects of anti-discrimination laws. Decisions about leasing and purchasing of buildings can drive changes in the development. Current procurement policies only include ‘Broader social and economic opportunities’ as a vague, minor criterion. Yet policies on climate change & COVID-19 show that strong social policy can be included in government procurement decisions.

How will your party use its procurement power to ensure better outcomes for people with disability?

Tourism

Almost 20% of Australians have a disability. We want to see Tasmania like anyone else and tourism is covered by discrimination law, yet many tourism experiences remain inaccessible. Information about access to tourist sites and services is often inaccurate, sparse or even missing entirely. The situation could be improved with a little cash and a lot of innovation.

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How will your party support the Tasmanian tourist industry to co-design and build better experiences for travellers with disability?

Transport

Many people with disabilities depend on public transport. Progress has been made on accessible buses, but bus stops remain a problem. Accessible transport and transport infrastructure are inadequate in rural areas. People with mobility disability are often excluded from ride-share services. It’s hard to plan trips involving multiple providers because services and information are poorly integrated.

What will your party do to ensure the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport are fully implemented and to accelerate work on an integrated transport access strategy?

Valuing disability expertise

People with disability are often asked to contribute expert advice to government bodies. Unlike other experts, we are rarely paid sitting or consultancy fees beyond out-of-pocket expenses – if that.

How will your party recognise the expert contribution people with disability make to improve government understanding and decision-making across all government services?

Violence and safety

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has already found huge injustices across education, health, the justice system, disability services, in our homes, workplaces and communities. It will demand a root and branch response. The final report may be made by April 2022. It’s too early to set plans and budgets, but now is the time to build and embed powerful and committed leadership.

What will your party do to ensure strong, sustained leadership for the recommended changes across government, business and community is in place when the final report is made?

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/04/disability-rights-issues-for-the-state-election/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=disability-rights-issues-for-the-state-election

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