A peak body for Canberrans with disabilities has welcomed the release of the report of the Inquiry into Cost of Living Pressures in the ACT chaired by Johnathan Davis MLA and described it as urgent call to action to improve income support, subsidies, housing and transport assistance for people effected by the cost of disability heading into a Canberra winter.
Advocacy for Inclusion A/g Chief Executive Officer Craig Wallace said: “We welcome the release of the report which picks up a number of issues from our submission to the inquiry (no19).
“The committee noted the difficulties faced by people with disability in accessing public housing with a blow out in the waiting times for public housing at the applicants and the need for housing to be built at the gold standard for access. We welcome the committees call for better information about the accessibility needs of applicants on the public housing waiting list in its recommendations.
“The committee noted Advocacy for Inclusions call for free and frictionless travel to make it easier for people to move around by accessible transport and address cost of living issues and we welcome their recommendations for a trial of free public transport.
“We also welcome the recommendations for a review of the ACT‘s taxi subsidy scheme and work assistance to address market capacity issues in obtaining disabled driver modifications in the ACT. We also welcome recommendations for widened availability of free dental services for people with disability.
“AFI welcomes the significant recognition by the committee that disability comes with extra costs which means every day activities are more expensive for people with disability. The report cites examples including people with disability needing to purchase prepared meals and other products, people not being other shop around, make savings and buy in bulk and people with disability using more expensive items or transport modalities such as people using taxis.
“We welcome the recommendation that the ACT government advocate to the Commonwealth government to introduce a cost of disability supplement to respond to these issues.
“Actions by the territory government to address the cost-of-living squeeze being experienced by too many Canberrans with disability and now becoming desperate given the failure of the Commonwealth government to step up for people with disability and income support in the Federal Budget on Tuesday.
“As we enter a cold Canberra winter, managing bill shock from utility prices, as well as soaring housing costs – these issues can no longer be ignored”, Mr Wallace concluded. A list of the key recommendations supported by AFI is at Attachment A.
Contacts: Craig Wallace, A/g Chief Executive Officer on 0477 200 755
Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government expand access to free dental services, particularly for young people and people with disability.
Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government work with GP practices to support the increase the delivering of bulk-billed services to communities in need.
Recommendation 8: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government increase their intervention to reduce problem gambling, through mechanisms such as advertising regulation, cashless gaming, and poker machine regulation
Recommendation 17: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government improve the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme
Recommendation 19: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government promotes the social, environmental and economic benefit of the provision of more public housing.
Recommendation 23: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government substantially increase the capacity of Housing ACT to support the delivery of the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program
Recommendation 26: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government honour its commitment to made in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement to increase its public housing portfolio by 400 properties by 2025
Recommendation 28: The Committee recommends that the Community Services Directorate should continue to build public housing and purchase from the private housing market to grow the overall supply of public housing to cater to all levels of accessibility needs on the public housing waitlist
Recommendation 49: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government continue to advocate to the Commonwealth Government to introduce a ‘cost of disability’ supplement
Recommendation 51: The Committee recommends that the ACT Government advocate to the Commonwealth Government to increase the rate of all income support payments to above the Henderson poverty line.