About Assistive Technology for All
Assistive Technology for All is an alliance of peak bodies and consumer advocates spanning the ageing and disability sectors. Together, we are advocating for equitable access to assistive technology for people with disability who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), many of whom are over age 65. We have launched a campaign to help us work towards this goal and we need as many people as possible to get involved!
Why assistive technology?
- The term ‘assistive technology’ refers to any aid or piece of equipment that provides a practical solution to help someone complete an everyday task. Wheelchairs, communication aids, prostheses and memory aids are all examples of assistive products.
- Assistive technology plays a powerful role in the lives of people with disability by facilitating independence, social inclusion and economic participation.
- The timely provision of assistive technology can also reduce the risk of people with disability being subjected to violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation. This is because being dependent on others for support is one of the key determinants that can increase peoples’ vulnerability to such experiences.
Why do things need to change?
- While the NDIS is able to fully fund the assistive technology needs of many people with disability, the scheme was only ever intended to provide support to around 500 000 of the 4.3 million people with disability in Australia.
- People with disability who fall outside the NDIS may be eligible to receive support under the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Program, My Aged Care or state-based aids and equipment programs. At present, none of these pathways provide equitable access to assistive technology.
- The lack of funding available outside the NDIS continues to lead many people with disability to sacrifice their limited income to self-purchase equipment or to simply go without the support they need.
What solution are we advocating for?
- The barriers that still exist for people with disability outside the NDIS are largely the result of outdated agreements between State and Commonwealth Governments. For this reason, we are calling on all parties involved in funding assistive technology at a State and Commonwealth level to come together to find a more equitable approach to addressing the needs of people with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS.
- We believe that this matter would best be resolved through the establishment of a nationally consistent assistive technology program that can be accessed by all people with disability who fall outside the NDIS. This program would be aligned with the NDIS Assistive Technology Strategy to address the inequality between the support that is provided under the NDIS and other service systems.
- In the absence of a nationally consistent program, we would welcome any measures that aim to ensure all people with disability who fall outside the NDIS:
- Have access to clear, easy to understand information about the most appropriate pathway for accessing assistive technology.
- Have timely access to skilled assessment and referral for assistive technology.
- Can access adequate and equitable funding for assistive technology irrespective of their eligibility for other services, such as those provided under the aged care system. This also extends to people with disability living in residential care.
- Are not subjected to long waiting lists for assistive technology and can receive the support they need in a timely manner.
- Can access training to enable them to use the assistive technology that has been prescribed both safely and effectively.
How can you help us advocate for change?
- Ask to be added to our campaign distribution list to stay up to date.
- Help us spread the word to as many other individuals and organisations as possible.
- Send us your stories. It’s real stories about real people that will help us influence change. If you, or someone you know has been affected by the lack of access to assistive technology available outside the NDIS, please get in touch and let us know.
- Take action! As our campaign progresses, we will be developing a range of campaign tools that can be used by individuals and organisations who want to help us advocate for change. You’ll be able to use these resources to add your own voice to the cause, so stay tuned for further information!
To join the movement, please contact Lauren Henley at COTA Victoria. Lauren can be contacted by phone on (03) 9655 2140, or by email at LHenley@cotavic.org.au.