PRESS STATEMENT from Ms Maryanne Diamond, AO and Mr Colin Allen


from Ms Maryanne Diamond, AO and Mr Colin Allen

9 January 2015

This Press Statement is available in Auslan at You Tube Clip

Funding Cuts will lead to one of
Australia’s most Vulnerable Groups being Further Disadvantaged.

Just days before Christmas a number of peak organisations of persons with disabilities were advised by the Department of Social Services that their funding will be discontinued.

The department has decided to fund 6 organisations instead of the previous 13 which had been funded for many years, providing valuable advice to government and support to their membership.

This is happening at a time where it has been recognised worldwide that disability is viewed within a human rights framework. This means that people with disabilities speak on their own behalf and make their own decisions. Australia has indicated its commitment to this framework through ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Funding has been preserved for organisations representing various population groups such as women, children, CALD communities and Indigenous groups, all of which play a very important role. However, the organisations representing the specific disability groups such as blindness, deafness and intellectual disability, have had their funding terminated. Peak organisations representing specific disability groups have extensive knowledge in addressing the needs that cannot be covered by organisations representing various population groups. These organisations have significant concerns as to how well broad-based organisations will be able to address the needs of specific disability groups.

Maryanne Diamond, AO, immediate past president of the World Blind Union (WBU) and Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and Colin Allen, President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and First Vice Chair of the IDA, expressed serious concerns about the potential impacts of this decision.

“The membership of IDA is made up of the leaders of global and regional disability organisations.” said Ms Diamond. “The groups representing each specific disability were the founding members of IDA, and played an important role working together in the development and adoption of the UNCRPD. They bring huge experience and expertise to the table which is essential for all our decision making as the global body of persons with disabilities.”

Mr Allen also emphasised the importance of specific disability expertise in shaping policy: “Without the insistence and persistence of the WFD and the WBU, and their members, neither sign language, which is the primary language of deaf and deafblind persons, nor Braille, which is a critical access measure for people who are blind, would have been as prominent in the UNCRPD.”

As past leaders of both Deaf Australia and Blind Citizens Australia, Mr Allen and Ms Diamond urge the Australian government to reconsider this decision and find a way to continue funding to these peak organisations. The voices of these organisations are critical for the development of government policy and service provision to some of Australia’s most vulnerable groups.

Media Contact:
Maryanne Diamond: 0419 312 129
Colin Allen: 0458 125 587 (Text Only)