Desperate Measures Report
ACD has strongly advocated in many quarters for government to shine a light on the causes that lead to families feeling they have no option but to surrender the permanent care of the child with a disability. Such a situation would have to be a family’s worst nightmare and it beggars belief that this is still occurring in Victoria in 2012.
Fortunately, others share our thoughts and in May the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) released findings of an investigation into ‘relinquishment’. Aptly titled ‘Desperate Measures’, the research found that there has been a steady increase in the number of children being surrendered into permanent care, and that invariably the causes relate to insufficient support and/or early intervention to assist families to continue their caring role.
The report outlines the impact on children and families, the urgent need to invest in families, develop models of care that prevent surrender and better respond to crises. VEOHRC has urged the government to develop an action plan for preventing relinquishment in Victoria. Thanks to all the brave families who shared their stories in an effort to create change with the researchers. The report includes recommendations for supporting families, providing more effective early intervention services and developing a risk identification mechanism to generate appropriate responses.
Although ‘Desperate Measures’ is a first for Australia, at this stage, it is still only a report. Our staff worked closely with VEOHRC in the planning and development of this work and we will continue to push for recommendations to be implemented. Children have a right to grown up with their own family, and families have a right to be supported to do so without qualification.
- Desperate measures: the relinquishment of children with disability into state care in Victoria - May 2012 (PDF, 961KB)
- Desperate measures: the relinquishment of children with disability into state care in Victoria - May 2012 (DOC, 1.2MB)
- Desperate measures - Summary of main findings (PDF, 237KB)
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
We would like to thank everyone who continues to support the NDIS by attending rallies, promoting and explaining the reasons why it’s so important that Australia has an NDIS. The Every Australian Counts Campaign is still busy building support and has a supporter target of 200,000 before the end of the year. ‘Make it Real’ is such a true statement, and there is still a long way to go before the NDIS is properly developed, properly funded and properly supporting families to live better lives.
More Support for Students with Disabilities Program
The Victorian Government is rolling out its one-off share ($37 million) of National Partnership funding to achieve the goals of this program. Minister Dixon has stated that schools in partnership with their parent communities will have the freedom to make decisions that best suit the needs of students and of their school.
Opportunities may include purchasing additional specialist technology, enhanced support for students starting primary school or moving into secondary school, greater curriculum support for teachers and extra training around better supporting students with disabilities, including online learning modules. Fifteen schools will also trial the Autism Inclusion Support Co-ordinators project which is also being funded. We encourage you to talk to your school about how they will be using the More Support for Students with Disabilities Program funding.
Respite for School holidays
Even though our advocacy on the need to improve outside school hours care and our report ‘Beyond the Catch 22’ brought early results, ACD’s voice continues to make a difference. Last budget, the Victorian Government responded to our call by providing $12 million to improve options for children with a disability during school holidays. Thirty services have been selected to deliver programs. To access this type of support, contact a provider in your region:
Barwon South Western
Encompass Community Services
Mpower Inc “Youth Group”
Gateways Support Service
Leisure Networks Assoc
Autism Plus Eastern Region
Interchange Outer East
Extended Families Australia
Interchange Inner East
Interchange Centre Gippsland
Pinarc Disability Support
Goulburn Valley Family Care
Upper Murray Family Care
Community Living and Respite Services
St Luke’s Anglicare
North and West Metro
Interchange Western Region
MacKillop Family Services
Extended Families Australia
Joint Councils for Access for All Abilities
Kingston City Council
Arts Access Victoria
Cardinia Shire Council
Extended Families Australia
Life Without Barriers
The Draft Victorian State Disability Plan 2013−2016
The draft Plan highlights four key policy directions:
1. A strong foundation for learning, jobs and health
2. Protecting rights and promoting participation
3. Access to neighbourhoods, spaces, buildings and transport
4. A contemporary approach through system reform and continued work towards a viable National Disability Insurance Scheme
The Victorian State Disability Plan 2013−2016 will be implemented from 1 January 2013.
Two implementation plans will be developed. The first implementation plan will be developed for 2013−2014. The second implementation plan will cover 2015−2016.
More information about the State Disability Plan 2013−2016 is available at www.dhs.vic.gov.au/statedisabilityplan
About our advocacy work
Systemic advocacy is a term we use to describe our role as a voice to tell governments and other decision-makers about changes required to improve the service system for families of children with a disability.
Our systemic advocacy work includes media, participation in committees, submissions to government policy review processes and direct representation to politicians and other key decision-makers.
Individual advocacy is where we directly assist parents/families to resolve an issue of specific relevance to their family. For more information on individual advocacy see our Parent Support Service.
We also undertake various community education activities to educate students, professionals and the general public about the reality of life for families of children with a disability and the improvements needed to better assist families.
If you have any experiences or suggestions you'd like to contribute to our systemic advocacy work, contact Elizabeth McGarry firstname.lastname@example.org or on 03 9818 2000 or 1800 654 013 (rural callers).