$519 million extra disability funding over two years already making a difference

A total of $519 million in extra Commonwealth and State/Territory funding for unmet needs in disability services over 2000-01 and 2001-02 is already proving effective, according to a study released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The study was commissioned by the National Disability Administrators to examine the effects of the new funding and to estimate the remaining unmet need for disability services.

The study shows that on a 'snapshot day' in 2001 an additional 900 people were receiving accommodation support services, an additional 2,350 were receiving community support services and 2,425 additional people were receiving community access services.

'We were asked to do this project so that there would be some information on the table with respect to negotiations for the next Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement' said the Head of the AIHW's Disability Services Unit, Ms Ros Madden.

'As well as being able to put some numbers out, despite it being early days yet in terms of funding effects, we have also had some very positive comments back from people with disabilities and organisations delivering the services.

'For example, one young man with multiple disabilities had lived in 18 foster homes. Now, thanks to this extra funding, he is able to live in his own home, and has found employment.'

Ms Madden warned, however, that unmet needs still existed.

'Our conservative estimates are that nationally 12,500 people still need accommodation and respite services, 8,200 places are needed in community access services, and 5,400 people need employment support.

'As more services come on stream as a result of this funding, the situation is expected to improve further.

'The States and Territories provided us with evidence, however, that for every additional person being assisted, somewhere between 6 and 24 more people (depending on what State or Territory you are in) are registering for services.

'In talking about the unmet needs of people with disabilities we also need to talk about the unmet needs of carers, particularly carers who are ageing themselves. This group was one of the specific target groups for the 'unmet need' extra funding.

'Our study suggests that around 3,000 more carers aged over 65 have been assisted as a result, mostly with respite and similar support services.

'But we also know that many more carers are wanting assistance, in both the over-65 and under-65 age groups.

'We talked to a lot of carers through the course of this study and it's hard not to be affected by their level of commitment and what they had to say-a number of their statements are included in the report.'

28 June 2002


Further information: Ms Ros Madden, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1189, or 0418 295 409
For media copies: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032