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Commonwealth disability assistance.
COMMONWEALTH DISABILITY ASSISTANCE
I am pleased to announce today a $1.8 billion package of assistance for people with disabilities, their families and carers. This assistance will be available from 1 July 2007. It is on top of the $3.275 billion which the Commonwealth has already offered to the states and territories for delivery of disability services.
Under existing arrangements, the Commonwealth has primary responsibility for disability employment assistance and total responsibility for income support while the states and territories have primary responsibility for specialist services such as supported accommodation, respite care and community support.
One of the greatest areas of need is for supported accommodation to help people with disability and their families. In April 2007, the Commonwealth asked state and territory ministers to provide plans to address unmet need for disability accommodation that the Commonwealth would consider funding with new money on a 50:50 basis. Some jurisdictions have responded and I welcome their proposals.
I am aware that the level of unmet need for supported accommodation and respite care is causing distress and worry for many carers, particularly older carers who have been caring for a son or daughter with disability for a long time now. They are concerned about the future care needs of their children. In May this year when I was asked about disability services funding, I indicated that if we did not get a satisfactory response from the states to our offer, we would have to look at some other way of dealing with this very significant issue. Today I announce that the Commonwealth is stepping in to assist.
The measures I am announcing will make a significant contribution to addressing the needs of people with disabilities, particularly the sons and daughters of ageing parent carers who have been caring for a significant period of time.
We will ensure that some of the additional Australian Government supported accommodation funding in today’s package is earmarked to match the commitment of new funding from those jurisdictions that have responded to date.
I hope that the other states and territories, even at this late stage, will put additional resources into their continuing areas of responsibility for disability services, including more supported accommodation.
Helping children with disability and their families
From 1 July 2007, the Government will provide funding of $721.2 million over five years for a new annual tax free payment of $1,000 for families with children with a disability under the age of 16. People who are entitled to payment of the Carer Allowance (child) as at 1 July this year will receive the $1000 payment. This will improve the quality of life of around 130,000 children with a disability and their families. It can be used for anything that helps - purchase of a wheelchair, installing a hoist in the family home, modifying the family car or purchasing respite care or therapy services.
The Government will provide $23.6 million over five years for existing specialist services for children with a disability which both support the developmental needs of children and also provide suitable care so that their families can have a break or work.
Helping older carers and their children
A new Commonwealth high quality supported accommodation service will be introduced with funding of $562.6 million over five years. Parent carers who are aged 65 years or more, who have provided care for a significant period of time for their adult son or daughter will have priority access. Over five years, there will be around 1750 new places in 175 new facilities.
The Commonwealth will provide $270.3 million over five years to give older parent carers access to additional in-home and centre-based respite services to assist them to continue in their caring role. About 7,500 carers aged 60 years or more, and their children aged 25 years and older will benefit from this measure through access to additional respite services - around 800 new respite places over five years.
In addition, funding of $115.3 million over five years will provide a new in-home support service for people with disability who are being cared for by their parent carers aged 65 and over. Services will also be provided to enable a son or daughter previously cared for by their parent to continue to live in the family home after the parent can no longer provide care.
New transition support services with funding of $13.8 million over five years will help older carers and their adult son or daughter with disability work through their options and plan their future care needs.
More support for people in disability business services
The Government will provide more than $100 million dollars over five years to ensure additional support is available to people in disability business services. This will include: - 500 additional supported employment places in disability business services ($21.6 million);
- continuing support for people participating in non-vocational activities ($31 million); - increased funding to disability business services ($26.5 million); - temporary assistance to disability business services facing short-term financial difficulties
in rural and regional areas ($21.8 million).
Disability Accommodation - Inquiry into delivery options
To address the longer term, the Government will provide $1.5 million to set up a high level inquiry to explore ways to provide greater choice and flexibility in delivery of supported accommodation, including the potential for support from corporate and philanthropic sources to develop a market for private disability accommodation.
Further information is available from the Disability Assistance Inquiry Line on 1800 101 888 and TTY: 1800 260 402 or at the following website:
28 June 2007