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Disability supports in the community have garnered have a lot of media attention in recent weeks. The action isn’t contained to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), where only 10% of people with disability receive a funded package of support, but extends across the entire community. Read on for a summary of what has been going on.

Many eyebrows were raised at unspent NDIS funds, reportedly around $2.5 billion, being returned to Government revenue for the betterment of the budget bottom line. Disability advocates and service provider groups argued that instead these funds should contribute to supporting people with disability and improving well known problems with the Scheme.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morrison has launched the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse and Neglect of People with Disability. Disability groups largely welcomed the announcement, which comes as the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission revealed 1,459 reports of serious incidents in its first six months of operation. The Royal Commission will examine abuse and neglect in institutions, workplaces, schools, homes and the wider community. The announcement is not without controversy. While counselling and advocacy supports for those who participate are funded there is disappointment that redress for survivors has not been included in the terms of reference. Disability advocacy groups have also come together to ask that two Commissioners, John Ryan and Barbara Bennett, stand down due to their previous employment as public servants in NSW and Federal Government Departments that will likely come under scrutiny during the Royal Commission. Information about how and when the Royal Commission will commence will be found here.

If you are interested in resources already out there that can help you and your organisation safeguard the rights of the people you support, check out the Zero Tolerance framework.

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is drawing to an end, and consultation is open to develop a new one. The Strategy aimed to build an inclusive society that enables Australians with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens. The roll-out of the NDIS and shut-down of ADHC in NSW has changed the policy and service delivery context significantly. Serious challenges and barriers remain for people with disability accessing mainstream services. Have your say on the new National Disability Strategy to make sure it reflects the realities faced by people with disability in this new policy environment.

It seems likely that the Royal Commission and review of the National Disability Strategy will highlight the need for stronger supports, checks and balances within and outside the NDIS. Independent disability advocacy is unequivocally key to this, yet the NSW Government has failed to make a commitment to continue funding it. NCOSS supports the Stand By Me campaign in the continued fight for ongoing commitment from the NSW Government.