A recent decision by the NSW state government to transfer funding for disability advocacy services to the federal government has raised concerns for the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW (MDAA). From July 2018, the federal government will take responsibility for provisioning services on behalf of people with disability who have entered the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the MDAA fear it could be detrimental to those most in need.
A peak not-for-profit body, the MDAA has provided advocacy for people with disabilities, their families and carers, for over 23 years, with a focus on people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and non-english speaking (NES) backgrounds.
State government funding makes up approximately 60 per cent of total government funding the MDAA receives. MDAA said that of major concern is when the state funding is ceased, its capacity to effectively advocate for NSW disability rights will be impaired and it believe this poses the risk of people with disabilities from CALD/NES backgrounds being unable to effectively access and negotiate the vital support they need.
Ray Williams, Minister for Disability Services said that advocacy providers have received record funding to help prepare themselves and people with disability for this major reform.
“At full scheme, the Federal Government will provide around $120 million each year for Information, Linkages and Capacity building (ILC), which will include advocacy support for people with disability”.
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MDAA Executive Director, Susan Laguna said not everyone with a disability will be eligible to access the NDIS or disability support programs.
“Without sufficient safeguards in place, such as continued provision of independent and culturally competent advocacy, people with disability, particularly from CALD/NES communities become gravely disadvantaged".
To combat this MDAA is leading a funding campaign and is urging the government to commit to funding of essential disability advocacy support. This is vital for individual and systemic advocacy programs along with youth projects such as ‘Small Stone’ which promote social inclusion and community participation, peer mentoring and personal/professional development.
To help their campaign MDAA will host a fundraising event, "MDAA, Your Mental Health and YOU" to raise awareness about mental health issues and support available for anyone with disability issues. The session, accompanied by a bake sale and barbeque, will run from 11am- 2.30pm on October 18 located at 10-12 Hutchinson Street, Granville.