NSW disability advocacy groups say the state government’s plan to cut their funding once the NDIS is fully implemented will force them to close their doors, abandoning 90 per cent of people with a disability.

Current funding was set to expire last June with the introduction of the NDIS.

But in April the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance representing 22 advocacy, information and representative groups launched its Stand By Me campaign and won a reprieve, with the government announcing $26 million of “transitional” funds until 2020.

On Tuesday, coinciding with the last day of public hearings at the NSW Upper House inquiry into the implementation of the NDIS, the alliance launched a report calling for the services to be funded beyond 2020 to the tune of at least $20 million a year.

The report, The Gaps are Getting Bigger for People with Disability in NSW, says the state government shut down all its disability services with the closure of the department of ageing, disability and homecare in June this year, leaving people who are ineligible for the NDIS with no support.

Fears for people with disability

Serena Ovens,  Disability Advocacy Alliance convener, says the 10 per cent of people on the disability scheme need the advocacy groups to help navigate the complex NDIS system, while the funding cuts will leave the remainder of the 1.37 million people with a disability in NSW facing an even wider gap.

Serena Ovens
Serena Ovens

“The NSW government’s planned cuts to disability advocacy funding will force many advocacy services to close from 2020, which will leave the 90 per cent of people in NSW not eligible for the NDIS with little or no access to any support at all,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re calling on the NSW Government to urgently announce long-term sustainable funding for disability advocacy, information and representation services before it’s too late.”

Jim Simpson from the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability said it is hard for people with intellectual disability to participate in public debate and “stick up for themselves”.

“One of the vital roles of advocacy groups is to provide people with the support they need, perhaps particularly people with cognitive disability to be able to be active players in civil society to speak up on issues and achieve systemic change,” he told reporters.

Govt ‘recognises role for advocacy’

Disability services minister Ray Williams says NSW is contributing $3.2 billion a year to the NDIS and the government recognises the ongoing role for advocacy to support people with disability.

“We will continue to meet with advocacy groups and people with disabilities to understand their ongoing needs and support going forward,” he told Community Care Review.

Social minister Paul fletcher announced on September 26 that 200,000 people are now receiving support through the NDIS.

The government expects to be delivering the NDIS to an estimated 460,000 by 2020.

You can find more information about the enquiry into the implementation of the NDIS and the provision of disability services in NSW here.

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