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Added Date: 16th January 2015
Australia: Were disability advocacy groups too successful? It may explain their funding cuts

In the final days of 2014, the meagre funding granted to disability advocacy groups was cut. It ended an annus horribilis for the sector

When there’s cricket on the radio, the sun is shining, and boats and beaches beckon, it’s easy to forget how tough last year was for Australians with disabilities. The final blow from the government, in typical Christmas Grinch style, was the defunding of the peak representative bodies of people with disabilities.

2014 was our annus horribilis.

In May, the Daily Telegraph painted people with disabilities as “shirkers” and “slackers”, and this was reinforced by the “lifter” and “leaner” mentality of federal government commentary. The story was about how some us are “existing” on the disability support pension of less than $20,000 a year.

We lost the position of disability discrimination commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission following the politically motivated appointment of a “freedom commissioner” early in the year. In contrast, both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander commissioner and the sex discrimination commissioner were re­appointed – very appropriate appointments, but demonstrating the relative disregard for the disability sector.

Our voice on the ABC, through the disability portal Rampup, lost its funding.

The Medicare co-­payment, in whatever form it may finally take, will hurt people with disability more because more of us need to attend the doctor more often.

While there was a welfare plan – to move many of us off welfare – there was no jobs plan for people with disabilities, in contrast to the much­-needed initiatives to ensure that older Australians are employed.

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report on decision ­making for people with disabilities, which sets a new paradigm in this area, was virtually ignored by the attorney-general. There was no government representative at the report launch.

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