The State Government has vowed to keep Western Australia at the forefront of all Australian States in the provision of services for people with disabilities.
A comprehensive package has been unveiled today to better ensure a fair go for the estimated 191,000 Western Australians with some form of disability.
The access of people with disabilities to mainstream services will be boosted, building on landmark new legislation which requires Government departments to report specifically to Parliament on what they are doing to help people with disabilities.
The major objectives are early intervention to ameliorate the impact of disability as soon as possible, increased assistance to families in their major support role, and improvement to the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Disability Services Minister Eric Ripper said today the package - `Adding Value for Western Australians with Disabilities' - would seek to ensure fair access to services taken for granted by the general community.
"The Government is also committed to working to improve the general community's understanding of the needs and rights of people with disabilities," Mr Ripper said.
Key aspects of the package included:
· expansion of Disability Support Services (previously called Local Area Co-ordination) by an extra 50 officers to cover the whole State, with eligibility also expanded to cover all types of developmental disabilities. The officers arrange services at a local level to help people with disabilities - such as providing in-home respite care, help with cooking or shopping, and recreation.
· increased specialist accommodation for an extra 50 people with disabilities each year, with priority given to people with no family support, and people with ageing parents who are no longer able to cope.
· the establishment of a pilot Community Transport System, involving special mini-buses to provide dependable and regular transport for people with disabilities, based on the successful Leichardt scheme in Sydney. The system will be tried in four metropolitan and two country centres. The Government was also committed to improving the general public transport system to make it more accessible to Western Australians with disabilities.
· expansion of out-of-home respite care with two additional facilities - one for children with severe and multiple disabilities, and the other for people with acquired brain damage.
· a $300,000 boost each year for disability support grants to provide equipment or services to those who did not have access to Disability Support services.
· the provision of up to an extra 200 places each year to provide constructive day activities for all school-leavers with disabilities.
· the encouragement and development of the design and manufacture of disability equipment in WA not only for local use, but also with a view to developing an export market.
Mr Ripper said the Government recognised that country people with disabilities were doubly disadvantaged and proportionate allocations of all initiatives would be made to country areas.