Shadow Minister for Disability Services Peter Collier has announced that the Liberal Party, if elected, will commit to the re-establishment of the Disability Services Commission as a standalone autonomous department with responsibility for the delivery of services to the disability sector throughout Western Australia.
“The decision by the Labor Government to dissolve the Disability Services Commission (DSC) and locate it in the mega Department of Communities has been an umitigated disaster,” Mr Collier said.
“Labor have completed a Functional Review into the operations of the Department of Communities and refuses to release its findings. It is widely accepted and assumed that the review has found that the amalgamation of the service delivery areas into one department overseen by five separate Ministers has not worked.
“It is critical that the Disability Services Commission again becomes a standalone department.
“The Richard Court Liberal Government established the Disability Services Commission in 1993. This decision was enthusiastically supported by the community and reflected the need for a dedicated body to support and assist people with disability.
“For more than 25 years DSC served the disability sector extremely well and became the envy of the nation in terms of its capacity to interact effectively with people with disability. With the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) throughout the nation over the past five years, the necessity to have a dedicated department to deal with the unique challenges of Western Australia’s 411,000 people with disability is more important than ever.
“The decision of the previous Liberal Government was to implement the NDIS locally through DSC as opposed to the national body located in Geelong. This decision was widely supported throughout the disability sector. Upon its election the current Labor Government reversed this decision, which meant the implementation of the NDIS throughout WA was co-ordinated from the eastern states. This has resulted in delays and frustration for many people with disability in terms of securing their financial packages.
“These problems have been accentuated with the decision of the Labor Government to dissolve the DSC with its Machinery of Government changes and to locate Disability Services within the mega Department of Communities. In addition to Disability Services, Communities also has responsibility for Housing, Aboriginal Affairs, Child Protection and Community grants – amongst other areas – overseen by five Ministers.
“The establishment of the mega Department of Communities has meant that some of the most marginalised members of our community are being ignored. The individual attention that was previously provided to people with disability through DSC has now evaporated. This has caused considerable anxiety amongst the disability sector at a time when it has been required more than ever.
“The Labor Government has proposed the establishment of an office of disability contained within the Department of Communities. Unfortunately, this will not resolve the multitude of problems that have existed within the sector since the dissolution of the DSC.”
Mr Collier said that in addition to reverting to its previous responsibilities under a Liberal Government, the Disability Services Commission would:
- Be overseen by a dedicated Minister for Disability Services.
- Implement the 10 year State Disability Strategy and its Action Plan.
- Work cooperatively with the disability community to effectively implement the NDIS in WA.
- Act on behalf of the Western Australian Government as the provider of last resort.
- Provide expert advice to the Department of Education and the Department of Training and Workforce Development to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet disability sector workforce demand.
- Provide expert advice to the Department of Education to ensure an adequate supply of teachers and education assistants specialised in supporting students with disability and to promote inclusive education practises in schools.
- Work co-operatively with government departments and all sectors of industry to promote the employment of people with disability.
- Work co-operatively with government departments and the housing industry to ensure the provision of accessible and affordable housing (with minimum accessible standards) for all people with disability.
- Provide sufficient resources to enable eligible people with disability Specialist Disability Accommodation through the NDIS.
- Promote accessibility and inclusivity within government and the community for people with disability.