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 Old Parliament House, Australia

Welcome to another edition of the e-news. Over this past month, the political debate has been dominated by the Government’s proposed Resource Super Profits Tax. While this doesn’t relate directly to disability policy, issues such as tax reform do have implications for our nation’s ability to keep improving the lives of people with a disability, their families and carers into the future. Tax reform should not be dismissed as the realm of economists – these issues affect all of us, so it’s a debate I would encourage you to follow. Meanwhile, I have been working on some important issues with the State and Territory Disability Ministers. You will find more details below. I hope you enjoy this edition of the e-news.

Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference Report

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Last Friday, Community and Disability Services Ministers from all States and Territories met with myself and Jenny Macklin in Adelaide to discuss progress on a number of projects aimed at getting the State and Federal Governments to work better together. This CDSMC meeting made real progress on a number of issues.

  • More consistent access to aids and equipment

Ministers agreed to keep working to give people with disability more consistent access to the aids and equipment they need live independently, participate in the community and reach their potential.

Ministers agreed to establish, by December 2010, a nationally consistent list of core equipment that all people with similar disabilities should be able to access, no matter where they live. All jurisdictions will also strengthen their portability protocols to allow people who move across state borders to retain their access to core equipment they need for their disability.

  • Early intervention and prevention revised framework

Ministers endorsed a National Framework and work plan for Early Intervention and Prevention. This enables each jurisdiction to examine their systems and identify gaps to improve the effectiveness of their early intervention programs. This will lead to better outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers, particularly in the early years and at key transition points, such as the transition from early childhood settings to school, from primary school to secondary school and adolescence, and from school to post school settings and adulthood.

  • National Disability Strategy

Ministers noted the draft National Disability Strategy (NDS). The final NDS will be forwarded to the Council of Australian Governments for endorsement at their next meeting.

The NDS will set out a ten year national plan for improving life outcomes for Australians with disabilities, their families and carers. It will aim to increase participation of people with disability in society, and to reduce prejudice. The NDS will be built around six policy areas: health and wellbeing; personal and community support; economic security; learning and skills; rights, protection, justice and legislation; and inclusive and accessible communities.

  • Disability Parking Permit

We also reached agreement on the Australian Disability Parking Scheme, which has been referred to the Roads and Transport minsters of each state for final approval. The new national permit will be rolled out by the end of the year and the new system will be in place when States have changed their legislation. The Scheme includes national minimum standards for concessions, although States which have better concessions than the minimum will be able to keep them, to ensure permit holders are not worse off.

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  • Full CDSMC Communiqué

If you want to read the full CDSMC Communiqué it’s available here.

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People with hearing impairments catch World Cup fever

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For the first time, the official website of the FIFA World Cup will broadcast all 64 World Cup soccer matches in International Sign. Videos will be available for download from FIFA’s official website, www.fifa.com, shortly after each game. It’s fantastic to see FIFA embracing the opportunity to make their sport more inclusive.

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Queen’s Birthday Honours

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Congratulations to the disability advocates who were rewarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Bruce Bonyhady, Kevin Cocks, Patricia Brougham and Dr Jeanette Rosen all were made Members of the order of Australia, while another 18 people were awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

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World MS Day

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May 26th was World MS day, a day to remind the community of the suffering caused by MS and the fact that MS sufferers too often still get the same 2nd-rate treatment given to people with disability. The Australian Government has increased funding for medical research and we have now announced an extra $750,000 for research into MS.

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Changes to the Disability Support Pension

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The Rudd Government recognises that the DSP is a key part of our welfare system, and provides for people with serious disabilities who are unable to find work. While we want to make sure that the DSP is only given to people who need it, it has become clear that red-tape is holding up legitimate applications longer than it should. We have decided to make it easier for people with serious disabilities, or diseases, to claim the payment quickly and solely on the basis of a medical report. I hope this eases the stress of applying for the DSP for people with these conditions. The changes will apply from July 1, 2010.

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Special Disability Trust reforms

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We introduced Special Disability Trusts to make it easier for families or other carers to provide long-term support for a person with a disability. Trusts are not the solution for everybody, but for some families they can make a big difference. We have been reviewing the way the trusts work because we want to make sure they reflect the real problems and experiences that families are facing. We have now introduced legislation which will expand the operation of these trusts and increase the tax concessions available.

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Latest media releases
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Latest speeches & transcripts



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