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Vision sector joins ‘Assistive Technology for All’ campaign in response to Royal Commission

Vision 2020 Australia and Vision Australia are among 60 organisations to sign a joint statement calling on the Federal Government to establish equal access to assistive technology.

The organisations, which represent and support millions of Australians with disability plus their families and carers, believe a harmonised and nationally consistent program is needed, in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The commission states that by 1 July 2024, every person receiving aged care who is living with disability, regardless of when acquired, should receive through the aged care program daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids and equipment) equivalent to those that would be available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to a person under the age of 65 years with the same or substantially similar conditions.

“We have joined forces because we believe that urgent change is needed to ensure people with disability who are excluded from the NDIS can access the assistive technology they need,” their joint statement released in January said.

“While NDIS participants are eligible to receive fully funded assistive technology, people with disability who are excluded from the scheme continue to fall through the cracks. They are frequently forced to wait more than 12 months to access funding for assistive technology, part or fully fund it themselves or simply go without.”

The joint statement signatories have highlighted the problems with the current system.

“Funding for assistive technology for people who are excluded from the NDIS is spread across almost 100 different funding streams throughout the country. This patchwork of funding is inconsistent and difficult for consumers to navigate.

“Right now, the level of funding an individual receives can vary greatly depending upon their age, where they live and how and where their disability was acquired,” the statement said.

The 60 organisations who have joined forces to advocate for an assistive technology program believe this approach would maximise the safety, independence, inclusion and participation of people with disability who are excluded from the NDIS.

They claim it would reduce the burden on families and carers, drive nationally consistent outcomes while streamlining access for consumers, and reduce the level of administrative burden on governments.

“[It would] minimise downstream costs by reducing demand in other areas such as acute health and aged and community care, and align with Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” the statement said.

The Assistive Technology for All campaign is coordinated by Council on the Ageing Victoria.

More reading 

Optometry training, low vision aids highlighted in Royal Commission’s aged care report

Aged care residents’ use of eye health services disproportionately low

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