Carers for disabled plan protest on PM’s doorstep
CARERS are stepping up pressure on both sides of politics for a big increase in the availability of longterm accommodation for people with severe disabilities.
Campaigners are planning a second sit-in at John Howard’s campaign office in Eastwood, part of his Bennelong electorate, on October 17, after a previous one at his Gladesville office last week attracted some 60 protesters.
Katrina Clark, one of the co-ordinators of last week’s action, said while the subsequent announcements from Howard and Opposition leader Kevin Rudd on improved autism services were welcome, they did not change the focus of her campaign.
‘‘ Autism is a huge issue, but it (the Government’s plan) doesn’t help at all the lack of long-term supported accommodation,’’ she told Weekend Health this week.
Howard this week announced a $190 million five-year program to tackle autism, comprising $20 million for new Medicarefunded services to diagnose autism spectrum disorders and provide early-intervention treatment; and $116 million over five years for new early-intervention services, including up to 200 new autism-specific playgroups by 2012 and one-on-one or tailored group programs for up to 4000 eligible children.
The Government’s plan will also provide $20,000 for eligible services over two years for 1200 severely affected children, and $30 million over five years for new training and support for parents and carers to learn intervention techniques.
The Labor opposition was accused of trying to hijack the Government’s announcement by announcing the same morning proposals for a network of six autism centres across the country to assist in the provision of intensive autism-related services.
After the first sit-in, Clark — president of the Association for Children with a Disability in NSW — said the issue at the centre of the protest was the share of funding provided by the federal Government towards the Commonwealth, State and Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA), under which longterm supported accommodation was provided.
‘‘ In July this year they recognised there’s a crisis in accommodation,’’ Clark said. ‘‘ But they are only targeting (disabled) people in the community who are still living with their parents and are over 40. If you’re over 40 your parents have probably got one foot in the grave. That still leaves a huge gaping