The ACT Government today handed down its long-awaited budget. Disappointingly, there is nothing new for people with disability or funding towards disability-specific services in the cards for 2020-21. Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) recognises that much this year’s budget is about economic recovery from COVID-19 through infrastructure. Considering this, the government missed the opportunity to invest in additional community or public housing or invest specifically in making current public housing stock accessible.
Overall this budget is underwhelming for the ACT Disability sector. The Covid 19 pandemic highlighted the vulnerabilities of government approaches towards our most at-risk communities, including people with disabilities, so it is disappointing that their needs and the lessons learnt are not reflected in the budget. In our Budget Submission, we advocated for an investment in community services, which was certainly not included in this year’s budget. AFI and the broader ACT community sector has noted an increase for services with no extra funding or support.
AFI supports ongoing reforms of the National Disability Strategy and Justice Strategy in the ACT. Yet more needs to be done to support people with disability at a community level. We welcome the ACT Health Directorate addressing a significant service gap with the plan to establish a multidisciplinary service to support young people who have mental health needs, co-occurring with trauma, disability and drug and alcohol abuse. While we also welcome increased funding towards homelessness services and mental health support, we need to see funding directed to accessible housing, and intervention and prevention for mental health.
At the end of the day, there is very little to say about disability in the ACT Budget. AFI will be strongly advocating for a renewed focus and inclusion of disability funding in the ACT.