Access to services in the community by the estimated 191,000 Western Australians with some form of disability, will be enshrined in State legislation.
Disability Services Minister Eric Ripper said today the landmark State Disability Services Bill would be put to Parliament before the end of the year.
Mr Ripper made the announcement while launching `A Fair Go for Everyone: Disability Services Policy for Western Australia' which had been endorsed by State Cabinet.
He said the legislation would work to protect and improve the lives of the estimated one-in-eight Western Australians with disabilities. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that half of these had severe or moderate disabilities and 80 per cent were older than 30 years. Three-quarters had problems with mobility.
Four key principles of equity, access, participation and rights underpinned the milestone policy which included stated objectives for services; -
· to have as their focus, the achievement of positive outcomes for people with disabilities, such as increased independence, employment opportunities and integration into the community;
· to contribute to creating everyday life conditions for people with disabilities which were as close as possible to norms and values in the general community; and -
· to be integrated, wherever possible, with services generally available to everyone.
"Both the policy and legislation are significant milestones for the proper community recognition and acceptance of people with disabilities in this State," the Minister said.
"They stem from comprehensive and lengthy consultation with Western Australians with disabilities, their families, carers, service providers, Government and non-Government agencies, together with input from the Advisory Council for Disability Services."
Mr Ripper said the policy was a clear statement which protected the rights of Western Australians with disabilities and provided the framework for the Government and the community to advance disability interests.
The legislation would cover all services provided by Government agencies and instrumentalities, and non-Government services receiving Government funding or subject to licence or regulation.
Specific State legislation would also enable the Commonwealth/State Disability Services agreement to be finalised. Under this agreement, the administration and funding of all services for people with disabilities, except employment services, would be transferred to the States.
Copies of the policy were also available in braille, audio-tape and on IBM compatible disk on application to the Bureau for Disability Services.