Federal budget takes some steps toward inclusion, but more is needed to address challenges faced by children and young people with disability
While many measures are welcomed, the Federal Budget handed down on 25 October could have gone further to address the inequities faced by children and young people with disability in education, employment, social security and appropriate measures to support people at higher risk of complications during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
[ID: A feminine hand holding a canvas bag with "federal budget" printed on it. Background is a blue sky.]
Children and Young People with Disability (CYDA) is the national peak body representing children and young people in Australia aged 0-25 years with disability. It is a not-for-profit community-based organisation with a vision to ensure all children and young people with disability are valued and living empowered lives with equality of opportunity.
CYDA welcomes the proposed investment in improved disability access to community and sports. Funds dedicated to Changing Places toilets, the new Sports4All pilot project, the National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability, and improving access to TAFE, will contribute to improved access for young people with disability.
However, CYDA chief executive officer Skye Kakoschke-Moore expressed concern that more is needed to address the immediate needs and wellbeing of young people with disability and their families.
“Additional Commonwealth Supported Places for students with disability, and $50 million dedicated to modernising TAFE facilities will make higher education more attainable for young people with disability, however, these measures must be met with genuine mainstream waged employment opportunities on the other side.” Ms Kakoschke-Moore said. “A review of Disability Employment Services is a step in the right direction but a lot more work is needed to make Australian workplaces broadly more accessible.”
Young adults with disability are more than twice as likely to be unemployed compared to their older counterparts. Many young people with disability rely on income support to survive. Tight restrictions and barriers to accessing the Disability Support Pension (DSP) mean that many are forced to live on the much lower JobSeeker payment (less than $50 a day). With the rising cost of living, this is becoming less and less feasible, yet the government has not addressed this issue in this budget.
The budget misses an opportunity to invest in a plan for inclusive education, which would address the inequities present in a system that often sends children with disability into segregated education environments, leading to poorer outcomes later in life.
Ms Kakoschke-Moore emphasises that a National Inclusive Education Plan and improved access to mainstream employment are needed to bring Australia into compliance with our international human rights obligations.
“We need consistent policies and practice across the country that improve life outcomes for people with disability, and that starts with addressing the disadvantage and systemic discrimination that children and young people with disability are facing in the education and employment sectors. We deny young people with disability equality of opportunity, and then we punish them by forcing them to live below the poverty line.”
Missing from the budget was also a plan to support young people to recover from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. This is particularly important for young people with disability who have been disproportionately impacted and marginalised during the pandemic. Development and implementation of a COVID-19 youth recovery response is needed to mitigate negative, enduring consequences.
CYDA welcomes the planned investment in disability systemic advocacy, the National Autism Strategy and the Review of the NDIS. These initiatives represent important opportunities to ensure the voices and experiences of young people with disability are heard and acted on by decision makers.
For enquires please contact:
Sonia Regan (she/her)
Community Impact Manager, Children and Young People with Disability Australia
0458 020 197