2023 Policy Initiative - Disability Accessibility & Inclusion

There are over 1 million people in New South Wales with a disability. Disabled people have a right to live full and active lives alongside everyone else – but significant barriers still remain in our society for the one in five people in NSW who have a disability. 

People with disabilities continue to fall through the cracks and are often denied the same rights as everyone else. Successive Liberal and Labor governments have perpetuated and exacerbated discrimination against disabled people, often denying them access to inclusive education, meaningful employment, adequate services, and the support they need. The current government has shown that even in a crisis it relegates people with disability to an afterthought.

The Greens know that disability is created when society denies people living with impairments equal access and perpetuates physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers, and we are committed to dismantling these barriers. We also know that an accessible and inclusive society benefits everyone. That’s why we will continue to fight so hard in the NSW Parliament for full inclusion for disabled people in every aspect of our community.

THE GREENS WILL: 

  • Centre disability inclusion in all areas of government and provide the Disability Council with the independence needed to hold the government to account
  • End state-sanctioned ableism by recognising disability discrimination in the Anti-Discrimination Act, ending paternalistic guardianship arrangements, and prioritising employment for people with disability
  • Ensure homes are built for every body through compliance with national minimum accessibility standards and improved rights for tenants with disability 
  • Implement inclusive education policy and practice in NSW schools
  • Fast-track planned public transport accessibility upgrades and extend transport accessibility standards in NSW to ensure our transport network is accessible to all people with disability
  • Improve accessibility standards in planning and construction of public spaces
  • Ensure democratic inclusion for people with disability through improvements to governmental, parliamentary, judicial and electoral accessibility measures

CENTRING DISABILITY IN GOVERNMENT

One in five people have a disability, but too often governments treat disabled people as an afterthought. The Greens are committed to ensuring that people with disability, as well as experts, advocates and carers, are given a voice and listened to.

The Greens will: 

  • Move responsibility for disability affairs into the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure disability inclusion is prioritised across all areas of government
  • Empower the NSW Disability Council by making it independent of the government of the day, expanding its membership to include greater representation of different disability experiences, and increasing its funding to enable the Council to widen its activities including outreach
  • Work with the disability community and sector to identify gaps in mainstream supports, including where people fall outside the scope of the NDIS, and develop pathways to accessing support at a state level 
  • Introduce grants for local councils to facilitate better consultation with people with disability at a local government level

ENDING STATE-SANCTIONED ABLEISM

People with disability are too often discriminated against and shut out of decision-making about their own needs. The Greens are committed to empowering disabled people and breaking down individual and systemic ableism.  

The Greens will: 

  • Recognise disability discrimination in the Anti-Discrimination Act
  • Address unemployment of people with disability through public sector employment programs, including with targets relating to employment of people with intellectual and cognitive disability
  • Support pathways to employment for people with disability leaving school with a personalised work transition pilot program
  • Review the Guardianship Act with a focus on replacing adult guardianship and administration arrangements with supported decision-making
  • Regulate the use of restrictive practices
  • Support community-led disability pride efforts
  • Guarantee adequate long-term funding to individual and systemic disability advocacy services
  • Resource the Ageing and Disability Commission to meet service demand and ensure the Official Community Visitors Scheme has appropriate oversight of supported accommodation

HOMES FOR EVERY BODY

Everyone has the right to a home — so why do we still build homes that not everyone can live in? Three in four people with a mobility impairment currently live in a home that does not meet their needs. The Greens will change that. 

The Greens will:

  • Mandate compliance with National Construction Code minimum accessibility standards in all new residential builds to meet Livable Housing Australia Silver level standards
  • Build all new public housing at a Livable Housing Australia Platinum level
  • Provide tenants with disabilities the right to access NDIS and Commonwealth Home Support Programme funded home modifications
  • Require rental property listings and advertisements to publish accessibility information
  • Fast-track public housing improvements and maintenance requests relating to disability accessibility

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION 

Every child deserves access to education delivered in a way that suits their learning needs, but when our schools are under- resourced and inclusive education policies are not championed, students with disabilities miss out. 

With four in five students that are suspended from school having a disability and only a third of people with disability over 20 years old having finished Year 12, compared with almost two thirds of people without a disability, it’s clear that our educational system isn’t working for students with disability. 

Our schools are microcosms of wider society. When we ensure all children are welcomed into and catered for in the classroom, we grow a more inclusive and accessible community at large. The Greens are committed to ensuring that our education system is completely inclusive because we know that students with disabilities deserve better and inclusive classrooms benefit all of us.

The Greens will: 

  • Develop and implement a transparent improvement framework for inclusive education in line with the Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education’s Driving Change roadmap for achieving inclusive education
  • Require inclusive education and universal design for learning training for pre-service teachers and phase in a requirement for accreditation (undertaken on paid time) for current teachers
  • Phase out disability segregated classrooms and schools and support all schools to provide high-quality education for students with disability
  • Eliminate the use of restrictive practices in schools 
  • Minimise use of exclusionary discipline, suspensions and expulsions and instead prioritise reasonable adjustments to better allow students to participate 
  • Deliver 100% of the School Resourcing Standard across NSW to ensure that teachers are not stretched thin and can effectively implement inclusive education policies 

ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT

Public transport should be for everyone. But for people with disabilities, getting around on public transport is often much harder than it should be. The Greens will ensure that our public transport network is completely accessible for all people with disability.

In 2002 NSW committed to a thirty year public transport infrastructure upgrade under the national Disability Discrimination Act that would see all states and territories in Australia ensure all train stations are disability accessible by the end of 2022, but at the start of 2023 a third of NSW stations do not comply with these obligations and so remain inaccessible to people with disability. 

The Greens will:

  • Fast-track upgrades required under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 so that NSW is compliant with overdue national obligations
  • Develop a plan for further accessibility improvements to our transport network, with a particular focus on accessibility for people with sensory disabilities, neurodiverse people and people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities
  • Provide additional incentives for taxi drivers to invest in wheelchair accessible taxis and improve service outcomes for disabled point-to-point transport customers

PLANNING FOR ACCESSIBILITY

Accessibility should be the norm not the exception when it comes to planning decisions. While planning codes have improved in recent years, retrofitting of existing spaces is rarely prioritised. It’s time to ensure all spaces accommodate all needs. 

The Greens will:

  • Provide grants to local councils to improve footpath wheelchair accessibility 
  • Require all new accommodation and entertainment venues to meet accessibility minimums to accommodate for at least 16% of patrons at any one time having physical accessibility needs
  • Require and, where appropriate, support the retrofitting of accessible adult changing facilities in all classes of venues that if built today would require installation under the National Construction Code
  • Require installation of hearing loops in live entertainment and tertiary education venues
  • Support the adoption of best-practice accessibility information advertisement for all spaces and venues accessed by the public, including accessibility information for neurological and cognitive disabilities. 

DEMOCRATIC INCLUSION

Democracy is a defining pillar of our society,  but people with disabilities have been excluded from the halls of power, with electoral processes that make exercising the right to vote difficult and government information provided in language that is inaccessible for many. 

The Greens know that the right to political participation is fundamental and more diversity in our democratic institutions creates a better society for everyone. We are committed to ensuring our democracy includes us all. 

The Greens will: 

  • Resource the NSW Electoral Commission to expand electoral inclusion measures, including both education and support for people with disability to exercise their right to vote independently and secretly
  • Make all publicly available Government information and resources available in Easy Read, and develop an Easy Read style guide to ensure consistency
  • Allow Deaf people to serve on juries with the assistance of an Auslan interpreter 
  • Ensure every pre-scheduled Government press conference is interpreted into Auslan
  • Ensure that all Parliamentary debates and proceedings relating to or of interest to the Deaf community are live interpreted in Auslan
  • Work with the Deaf community to develop a strategy and implementation plan to address the Auslan interpretation workforce shortage

HOW THE GREENS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR YOU 

In the last parliament, it was the Greens who:

  • Initiated the Parliamentary Inquiry that resulted in Parliament introducing Auslan interpretation for select proceedings 
  • Fought alongside disability advocacy organisations to win continued funding
  • Led the Parliamentary campaign for NSW to adopt the National Construction Code minimum accessibility standards
  • Exposed the Liberal-National Government’s chronic underfunding of the Ageing and Disability Commissioner
  • Centred impacts on people with disability of Covid-19 and secured free Rapid Antigen Testing for people with disability
  • Improved the Disability Inclusion Act to better meet United Nations obligations and recognise the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people with disability

FIND ALL OUR POLICIES:  greens.org.au/nsw/platform

 

Note: The NSW Greens use both person-first and identity-first language regarding disability to ensure all community members are represented.

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