“Stand with us!” – Queensland disability advocacy matters

Queenslanders with disability could be left out – call on state government to Stand with us!

Queenslanders with disability and disability advocacy organisations are calling on the state government to continue funding for essential advocacy services, and today have launched their campaign, Stand with us!

The Queensland Government currently provides $4.9 million to the non-government sector to deliver disability advocacy services. However, funding ceases on 30 June 2021 and no further commitment has been made.

“Disability advocacy is a foundation for real inclusion in the community and without it many people with disabilities would be left out,” said Geoff Rowe, CEO of ADA Australia on behalf of the QLD Disability Advocacy Alliance.

Independent advocacy services represent the rights and interests of vulnerable Queenslanders with disability. They are available to help people with disability speak up for their rights and needs, and to ensure access to quality services and fair treatment. They also help bring about changes in legislation and policies that contribute to issues of inequality, through systemic advocacy.

“With over 900,000 people with disability in Queensland, many of whom will need the support of advocacy organisations at some stage in their lives, it is a small investment with immeasurable benefits, both socially and economically.

“Advocacy supports those most vulnerable in our community to have a voice. Support from an advocate can mean staying out of hospital, or the prison system or avoiding homelessness – all high-cost service systems. Cutting advocacy funding will also mean the loss of some 90 jobs and years of expertise in the disability sector,” Mr Rowe said.

Successive Queensland Governments have understood the importance of independent advocacy for people with disability and have funded advocacy services for more than twenty five years. To withdraw this support at this time would make Queensland the only state that does not fund and recognise the vital importance of advocacy support.

Des Ryan OAM, Rockhampton local and Chair of Queenslanders with Disability Network, has joined the campaign to help make sure this vital service continues.

“I don’t know where I would be today without advocacy. A change in circumstances for my primary carer meant I needed to transition to living on my own. Advocacy was critical to me getting the right supports in place, maintaining my independence and continue working. Without it, I would likely have ended up in a nursing home.

“We have a right to these services and there are so many stories where disability advocacy has made a significant difference in people’s lives,” Mr Ryan said.

It was thought that advocacy would become part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). However, the Australian Government is very explicit that the NDIS will not fund individual, citizen or systemic advocacy.

“This goes beyond the NDIS. Around 90,000 Queenslanders are expected to access the NDIS, which still leaves a vast majority of people with disabilities who need access to advocacy support that is unrelated to NDIS matters. It also at a time when people with disability are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

“Disability advocacy has never mattered more,” Mr Rowe said.

To find out how you can support the campaign visit:  www.standwithus.com.au

Visit this page to sign the pledge or download the template letter for contacting QLD member of state parliament:  Take Action — Stand with us