A Senate report tabled today has called for the Commonwealth Government to substantially boost funding for people with disabilities.
Disability Services Minister Tony McRae said the Senate Inquiry had exposed the Commonwealth’s failure to provide adequate resources for disabilities services, which was in stark contrast to the Western Australian Labor Government, who would have doubled the State’s disability budget by next year.
Mr McRae said the primary recommendation from the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into the funding and operation of the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) stated that extra money was urgently needed for essential services such as accommodation support.
“I welcome the Senate’s report and am delighted that the committee agrees with the arguments I have put to the Commonwealth over the past year,” Mr McRae said.
“People living with a disability in WA receive just eight per cent of the federal funding pie, but make up more than 10 per cent of the national population.
“This continuing funding inequity means that each Western Australian with a disability receives $200 less than in New South Wales and a massive $600 less than those in South Australia.
“We have asked for the CSTDA to treat Western Australians with disabilities as equal citizens and the Senate report has supported our request,” the Minister said.
“We provided graphic examples of how people are desperate for a range of support services, particularly accommodation, because of a lack of Commonwealth funding.
“The State Government also strongly advised the Commonwealth to raise its indexation level in line with the costs of delivering services; currently WA provides indexation at 3.4 per cent while the Commonwealth gives a paltry 1.8 per cent.”
The Minister said the report was a significant win for WA, but it remained to be seen whether the Commonwealth would act on the recommendations.
“Federal Minister Mal Brough should come to the table with an offer that takes the needs of people with disabilities seriously and commits substantial funding to implement the Senate Inquiry’s recommendations,” he said.
“The State Government’s commitment to the current CSTDA is $1.173 billion, which is $77million more than required under the agreement.
“The Howard Government could end its injustice to Western Australians by matching our funding dollar-for-dollar.
“Senator Kay Patterson today admitted the situation was embarrassing for the Howard Government and I call upon the Federal Government to support those who cannot benefit from the current buoyant economic times.”
Mr McRae said that the Federal Cabinet would meet in Perth on February 20 and 21, which would provide the disability sector with a good opportunity to have their say on the future funding of disability services.
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