A delegation to the United Nations later this month will raise the difficulties people older than 65 face when accessing specialist disability support services – particularly assistive technology.
COTA Victoria staff member Lauren Henley is part of a delegation representing people with disabilities who will travel to the UN in Geneva.
The UN is reviewing Australia’s progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 12 and 13 September 2019. As part of this review, it will listen to the views of a delegation of people with disability.
The federal government is a signatory to the convention and must report every four years to the United Nations about how it is meeting its obligations.
Disability advocates may assist the UN with its review by submitting and speaking to a shadow report. The shadow report is available here.
A survey of nearly 900 people with disability was undertaken for the report, which found high levels of disadvantage, poverty and a lack of support.
The delegation is recommending that Australia develops a national disability and ageing strategy to ensure that people with disability over the age of 65 have the same access to specialist disability support services as those under 65.
People older than 65 are not eligible for the NDIS.
‘We are increasingly concerned about the level of unmet need that exists for older people with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS,’ Lauren said.
‘People over 65 are not eligible for the NDIS. Any needs that they might have – for example, for assistive technology – must be catered for within the aged care system,’ Lauren said.
‘These people continue to be treated like second-class citizens as they are filtered into an aged-care system that lacks specialist disability expertise.’
‘Assistive technology’ (AT) describes the products and services which enable individuals’ functioning and participation. It refers to devices, equipment, instruments and software used by or for persons with disability.
Examples include wheelchairs, hearing aids, electronic speech synthesisers, and talking scales for people with a vision impairment.
‘The NDIS specialises in working with people with disability. This is not always the case with the aged care system,’ Lauren said.
‘Assistive technology facilitates independence, social inclusion and economic participation for people with disability,’ Lauren said.
COTA Victoria CEO Tina Hogarth-Clarke called for greater equity of access to assistive technology.
‘Under the current system, people over 65 often wait longer to get the technology they need, or in some cases go without. Access to specialist support services should not be based on age.’
Lauren is a Policy Officer with the COTA Victoria. In 2014, Lauren was one of seven young people with disability selected to attend the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD at the United Nations. She also joined the Australian Public Service as Advisor to the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), where she provided high level policy advice on a range of issues impacting upon the full and equal participation of people with disability. In 2015, Lauren moved into the AHRC’s Education and Training Team and developing a training package on the practical application of the CRPD, targeted towards policy and projects staff working across the NSW public service.
What is assistive technology?
According to the World Health Organisation assistive technologies maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being. Hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, prostheses, pill organizers and memory aids are all examples of assistive products.
Media enquiries: Phillip Money COTA Victoria 0407 329 055