What does the Federal Budget deliver for people with disability in Australia?

April 3, 2019

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) commends the federal Government’s allocation of $527.9 million over five years for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. ALHR recognises that more than half ($379.1m) will go to the Attorney-General’s Department to not only run the Royal Commission but also to provide legal assistance to people with disability. Natalie Wade, ALHR Vice President and Chair of its Disability Rights Committee said, “This is imperative to ensuring access to justice consistent with articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).

The remaining  $148.8m over three years will be provided to the National Disability Insurance Agency and Quality and Safeguarding Commission to provide counselling and support to those going before the Commission. However Ms Wade said, “ALHR is concerned that there is no funding for independent advocacy or mental health services to best support people with disability during the Royal Commission.”

“ALHR notes that tonight is a critical moment in the history of the disability rights movement in Australia to have their suffering recognised and their human rights at last, protected. ALHR hopes this will bring about a new era where the international legal obligations that Australia owes to people with disability will be respected and they will live free from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation.”

The Special Olympics, an outstanding event for athletes with disability, has received $1.4m over two years to continue to support the participation of young people with disability. “Participation in the community is a central human right protected by the CRPD and must be recognised in all aspects of community life,” said Ms Wade.

ALHR has also welcomed the inclusion of people with disability in the group who will receive a one-off Energy Assistance Payment but Ms Wade noted that, “This type of funding is a very temporary band-aid. It does not go far enough given people with disability continue to live in poverty and this budget offers no real recognition of the impossible living conditions they experience and Australia’s failure to comply with its international obligations to ensure every Australian has an adequate standard of living.”

ALHR has also expressed disappointment that there has been a $0.5m underspend in the NDIS transition at a time when people with disability are struggling to receive services. “People with disability and their advocates have been screaming for the Government to properly spend funds on the Scheme so as to ensure that necessary services are delivered. However this budget makes it clear they have gone unheard. ALHR calls on the Government to publicly guarantee that any underspent money is spent on people with disability and nowhere else,” said Ms Wade.

Contact: To arrange an interview with Natalie Wade contact Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.

ALHR was established in 1993 and is a national association of Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and specialist thematic committees. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.