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What we mean by an ecosystem of supports

What we mean by an ecosystem of supports

Professor Kirsten Deane OAM

We've heard loud and clear from people with disability, their families and their representative organisations about their frustration on the lack of progress in areas covered by the Australian Disability strategy. We've also heard from just about everyone about the lack of support for people with disability and their families outside the NDIS compared to those who are in it.

We think one of the reasons for that is that support for people with disability and their families are not planned or governed or operated as a whole system. It's just a bit here and just a bit there and it's not all connected. And that's what we said in our what we have heard report. So we really want that to change.

We want to create a whole ecosystem so that everything works together more effectively. And we think the best way to do that is to create a new high level, high status intergovernmental agreement. And while that might sound all a bit bureaucratic and not very exciting, we think it's the best way to bring everyone to the table and commit to real action.

We want a real agreement with real teeth, real accountability and real consequences for failing to act. So what would be covered in this agreement is everything that's currently in the Australian disability strategy. All the things like transport and justice and education. We want to have real targets and be able to take action if they're not met. We also want to make sure other national agreements, like the agreements on education and housing, also have actions in them to meet the needs of people with disability, something that doesn't always happen at the moment.

The agreement would also cover all the bilateral agreements that govern the NDIS, and the last part of the disability agreement is something we're calling foundational supports. Foundation of supports would be some of the things that are currently called tier two or information capacity building ILC. But it would be much, much more. Foundational supports would be disability specific supports available to all people with disability and where appropriate, their families.

It would be things that are currently funded through ILC, like independent information and peer support, but at the moment they're done in a really patchwork short term way and we want them to be provided much more broadly and on a much longer term basis. Foundational supports would also include some limited, individually funded supports for things like shopping and cleaning, and that would be for people who are not eligible for the NDIS. While calling it an ecosystem

sounds all a bit of a mouthful. It's probably best to think about it this way. At the bottom layer of this new ecosystem is universal and mainstream services. We want those to be accessible and inclusive for all people with disability. That doesn't happen at the moment and we really want all of their services to up their game and meet their obligations to people with disability.

Then sitting on top of that would be foundational supports and then right at the top would be individually funded packages provided by the NDIS. So what we're trying to do is two things make sure all people with disability have access to the same mainstream and universal services as every other Australian, and that these services meet their obligations to people with disability.

We're also trying to make sure that there's more support for people with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS. So there's not such a big gap between being in and out of the NDIS. So that's what we mean when we talk about creating a new disability ecosystem.