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VLA backs disability scheme

VLA backs disability scheme

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) has signed on as an official supporter of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) aimed at making it easier for people with a disability to access care and support services.

Speaking on the eve of this week’s Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference in Melbourne, VLA managing director Bevan Warner said he saw great value in the initiative.

“Legal problems often go hand in hand with poverty and social exclusion,” he said. “This scheme would go a long way to addressing that disadvantage. Unfortunately, people with a disability are almost twice as likely as the rest of us to experience a legal problem, ranging from discrimination, debt, Centrelink problems, fines and family breakdown.”

The proposed NDIS was recommended by the Productivity Commission in 2011. It would deliver a new, national approach to support services for people with a disability, as well as a Medicare-style safety net.

Work has commenced on an Australian Government pilot project which will include the design, modelling and implementation of the scheme.

The Victorian Government has indicated its support for the scheme and a desire to host the first stage of implementation.

In a recent survey of VLA clients, around 30 per cent reported having a disability.

“People with an intellectual disability are over-represented in our prisons, and they find it harder to integrate back into community life because services like housing, welfare payments and post-release support don’t fit well together,” said Warner.

“Better integration of services is something the proposed scheme will address. Disability can affect anyone at any time. If this scheme comes to fruition there will be many more opportunities for people with disabilities to contribute fully to our community and not be confined to the margins, and this is why we are proud to lend it our support.”

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