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On Thursday 7 April, a media release from Senator Anne Ruston (Minister for Families and Social Services) and Senator Linda Reynolds (Minister for the NDIS) announced “$100 million to uphold the rights of people with disability”.

This announcement and letters to the organisations confirmed continued funding through the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP).   

“From 1 July 2022, more than $73 million in grants will enable 59 organisations across Australia” to continue delivering this program.

Minister Ruston “said the program provided people with disability access to advocacy services to promote their interests and protect their welfare.

“An advocate can identify the issues that the person needs help with, give them information about all of their available options and help them to express their views to others and understand and defend their rights,” Minister Ruston said.

“Our commitment to supporting the rights of Australians with disability includes ensuring they have the best possible access to the world-leading NDIS, which is now transforming the lives of more than 500,000 Australians with significant and permanent disability,” Minister Reynolds said.

Before these grants commence on 1 July 2022, current NDIS Appeals providers will receive an additional $4.5 million in the 2021-22 financial year to support the increased demand on their services.

“Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) chief executive Mary Mallett welcomed the Government’s continued investment in disability advocacy.

“The Government’s funding provides certainty and continuity for advocacy organisations, enabling them to plan and deliver better outcomes for people with disability”.

Interviewed for an article in The Australian (paywalled), Mary Mallett said:

“People with disability often need to navigate quite complex systems, such as accessing the disability support pension and the NDIS, and they may have a disability that makes this even harder, which is why our advocacy services are so important.”

She also indicated the additional funding for advocacy and legal support to challenge NDIA decisions in the AAT may not be enough given the rising number of cases. “I don’t think that will be seen as sufficient funding, and the sector will be looking for more support in that area,” she said.

As DANA has heard from organisations around Australia who deliver NDIS Appeals advocacy this stream of funding has been completely overwhelmed by recent levels of demand.

Rachael Thompson of Rights Information and Advocacy Centre told ABC Radio, that so many people with disability are appealing their NDIS funding cuts advocacy groups are having to turn them away. “We’re turning away people that we would never have said no to before, but we just don’t have any more capacity.”

Listen here: Disability advocates forced to turn people away as appeals to NDIS cuts grow – PM – ABC Radio

Read more media coverage about NDIS cuts and surging appeals: