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The State Budget has underlined that Queensland is the least supportive state in Australia for people with a disability, according to the CEO of Endeavour Foundation, the country’s largest disability service provider.
David Barbagallo said although the $12.5 million increase in funding announced today was an improvement on last year, on a per capita basis, Queensland was still $200 million per year behind the national average.
“The Government will say that it is a 10 per cent increase on last year, but it is a drop in the ocean of what is required to bring Queensland into line with the other states.” David said.
“Per capita, the Queensland Government spends only two-thirds of the national average on disability services.
“I hate to say it, but the underlying message of this budget is that if you have a disability, then you will be better off if you move to Victoria or Western Australia.”
David said although he acknowledged the efforts of the Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs Annastacia Palaszczuk in getting the Government’s funding and strategy headed in the right direction, there was still much to be done.
“The new initiatives outlined in the budget provide a more just approach by providing families with funding and support to care for their son or daughter with a disability themselves in their own homes where possible,” he said.
“But overall there is still too much of a focus on funding for crisis and emergency services, rather than the far more appropriate and cost-effective strategy of early intervention.
“Rather than assisting families to support their sons and daughters with a disability, the Government appears to wait until the family simply falls apart from financial and personal stress before being forced to step in.
“By any measure this is cynical, inefficient and expensive.
“The analogy is that, rather than building a safety rail at the top of a cliff the Government has spent its money on sending ambulances to the bottom,” David said.
“This is an historic problem and one they need to address.”
David said he understood the pressures on all areas of the budget caused by the global financial crisis.
“But as the economy improves and the state finances improve we are demanding that the State increase its overall expenditure on disability to at least the National average,” he said.
“In the context of the sale of public assets, the community might be less aggrieved if they saw the funds being directed towards disability services — one in five Queensland families is impacted by disability.”
David said the massive disparity in disability funding between the states also underlined the importance of a national approach to funding disability services, such as through a National Disability Insurance Scheme.