Disabled condemn government neglect
By Sean Healy
SYDNEY — People with Disabilities (NSW) Inc held a public meeting on July 31 to condemn the "unprecedented disability policy and funding crisis". More than 8000 people with disabilities in NSW are seeking urgent accommodation support, 6000 urgently need a day program placement, and thousands require attendant and respite care.
"Although it is the most developed and wealthiest state, NSW contributes far less on a per capita basis to disability than do a number of other states, including Victoria and Western Australia", said PWD spokesperson Phillip French. "Indeed, it can be said with some justice that Jeff Kennett and Richard Court have more concern for people with disability and their families than Bob Carr."
The group also criticised the attitude of the Coalition federal government to disability services. "In May, the commonwealth was supposed to have made a major funding offer to NSW to assist it to address unmet need for disability services. A meeting was called with much fanfare, but no offer was made", French stated.
He added: "We hold grave fears that the commonwealth is pursuing a stalling game, waiting for GST legislation to take effect. We fear it will then divest itself of all funding responsibility for disability services, making this crisis worse.
"Both the commonwealth and NSW governments are in a very sound financial position and both have posted big budget surpluses. If there was ever a time when governments could afford to resolve the crisis, it is now.
"Yet despite the rhetoric to the contrary, they ruthlessly ignore it. The level of their neglect borders on depravity."