People With Disabilities ACT acknowledges the Ngunnawal People as the traditional owners of the land on which we work.
Copyright October 2014 People With Disabilities ACT Inc
This publication is copyright. Apart from use by those agencies for which it has been produced, not-for-profit associations and groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to People With Disabilities ACT. All other individuals and agencies seeking to reproduce material from this publication should obtain the permission of the Executive officer of People With Disabilities ACT.
Executive Officer| PWD ACT
About PWD ACT
People With Disabilities ACT Inc. (PWD ACT Inc.) is a not for profit consumer run systemic advocacy organisation which represents the interests of people with disabilities in the ACT.Â Â PWD ACT Inc. works to improve access to all amenities and to all forms of information and activities of the community. PWD ACT Inc. is a peak body which seeks to inform the community about disability issues. PWD ACT advocates from a human rights perspective and acknowledges the UN Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities. The text of this Convention can be found at http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/convention.htm
A Human Rights Framework
PWD ACT submits that the ACT Budget should be based on a human rights framework. This is crucial to achieving an inclusive society for people with disabilities. In particular PWD ACT refers to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities which Australia has recently ratified. The text of this Convention can be found at Â http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/convention.htm
PWD ACT calls on the ACT Government to make substantial practical commitments to provide accessible and affordable housing for people with disabilities in the 2015-2016 ACT Budget. The right to housing is dealt with in Article 23 of the Convention. Article 9 on access is also relevant to housing. The ACT Government should make a commitment backed by funding that all new housing in the ACT is built in accordance with principles of universal design for access using the Access Standards developed by the Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD).
PWD ACT points out that a person’s home, the place where a person lives, is the foundation of their life. A person who does not have a home is also severely restricted in his or her opportunities to participate in the economic and social life of the community. If you don’t have a home which is both accessible and affordable, your ability to be an active citizen in your community is severely limited.
An accessible affordable home is the foundation from which a person is able to:
- Establish and maintain family relationships and friendship networks and links with social and community support services;
- Attend school and post school training to get an education and qualifications;
- Seek, obtain and maintain employment; and
- Participate in the economic, social, cultural, sporting and recreational life of the community.
Disability and Homelessness
People With Disabilities includes in this submission the information below taken from a report prepared by Laurie Brown from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling in October 2014.
Data from Australia’s 2011 census indicates that one individual in every 180 Australians aged 15-64 years was homeless as defined by the ABS. Many of these individuals were persons with a disability. For example, on census night in 2011, males of working age and who needed assistance with core activities of daily living were over-represented 5 fold in hostels for the homeless, night shelters or refuges, and females 3.5 fold. It is the group of individuals with severe disability who have the highest proportion of individuals experiencing homelessness. As many as one in four persons with severe disability had experienced, at some point in their life, being without a permanent place to live and one in five had experienced being homeless.
The most common reasons for persons with disabilities being without a permanent place
to live include:
- Problems with personal relationships;
- Financial difficulties including losing their job;
- Having just moved into/back into a town or city;
- High housing/rental markets; and
- Mental illness or other health issues including drug and alcohol abuse along with violence, abuse and/or neglect.
Housing and the National Disability Insurance Scheme
While this submission focuses on housing, PWD ACT is not overlooking the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reminds the ACT Government of the need to continue to fund the NDIS implementation in the ACT and in particular to fund initiatives to empower people with disabilities so that they can exercise control and choice in a meaningful way on the services they receive under the NDIS. PWD ACT also points out that there is a real connection between housing and the NDIS in that a person who is excluded from accessible and affordable housing is also excluded from exercising real control and real choice over any services he or she may receive through the NDIS. Indeed there may be situations in which a person’s lack of access to accessible affordable housing effective excludes them from receiving NDIS services.
A person with a disability is ‘shut out’ from access to a house and a home if the house is either physically inaccessible or financially unaffordable or both. AAs ACT citizens who experience disproportional disadvantage in the housing market, people with disabilities depend on the Act Government to implement policies to address their housing disadvantage.
Some disability Specific actions which the ACT government could take include:-
- Re-invest in the ‘Good Life Planning Program’ grants (or similar) to support people with disabilities and their caring families plan a housing and care support pathway to provide long term certainty about housing tenure, transition planning and necessary legal and other specialist advice. The investment should include funding to broker or provide legal and other specialist advice for caring families who are unable to meet these costs;
- Provide a supply of affordable and accessible housing for both purchase and rent;
- Increase existing numbers of public-accessible housing dwellings; and
- Require all new dwellings to comply with universal design.
Other measures outlined by ACTCOSS in its budget submission relating to the security of tenancy, the affordability of housing and the prevention of homeless ness would also benefit people with disabilities who in addition to their disability face issues relating to affordability, tenancy and homelessness. For this reason PWD ACT supports the submission in relation to housing put by ACTCOSS as part of the 2015-2016 budget consultation process.