As people with disability continue to experience exclusion from social, economic and cultural life in Victoria, this report recommends ways forward.
Circumstances for people with disability in Victoria have markedly improved with shifts away from past approaches that were characterised by segregation and institutionalisation.
Over the past decade numerous national, international and Victorian legislative and policy interventions have sought to create conditions for increased social inclusion. Despite these efforts, people with disability continue to report experiences of exclusion from social, economic and cultural life in Victoria.
This Inquiry is timely. The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013 is contributing to a major transformation of the disability support system. It is shining a light on social inclusion and disability, and bringing the issue to the forefront of the minds of Victorians. It is an opportune time to continue Victoria’s leadership in disability by moving away from a focus on people with disability as recipients of care and strengthening efforts on their social inclusion in the Victorian community.
Social inclusion extends beyond simply being present or passively participating in activities in the community. For people with disability, like everyone, social inclusion means experiencing respect for difference and for individual aspirations. It means having control over their own lives and having opportunities to contribute and participate in society in meaningful ways. It means feeling valued and experiencing a sense of belonging. It involves having significant and reciprocal relationships. It can also mean having the appropriate support to be socially included.
The Committee determined that the Disability Act 2006 (Vic) and the State disability plan 2013–16 provide the Victorian Government with a strong policy and legislative basis to shape its future social inclusion agenda. And the Building Inclusive Communities Program provides local government with a solid foundation to continue grassroots efforts in local communities across the state.
Numerous individuals and organisations took the time to provide written submissions and appeared at public hearings. This valuable evidence assisted the Committee to understand the nuances and complexities of social inclusion (or exclusion) experienced by people with disability. The Committee is grateful for the considered and thoughtful evidence provided to the Inquiry that were fundamental to its deliberations and the recommendations it ultimately makes to the Victorian Government.
In addition to the need to provide clarity of definitions and implement further measurement tools to assess the social inclusion of people with disability, the Committee identified that existing legislated tools could also be further strengthened. This would help determine how the aspirations of people with disability are changing over time, and put greater focus on the importance of creating favourable conditions for sustainable relationships and social connections. The Committee also makes recommendations to provide greater opportunities for people to meaningfully participate and contribute to the social, economic and cultural life of Victoria.
On behalf of the Committee I thank the staff of the Secretariat for their ongoing dedication to the work of the Committee and for their work in producing this report — Janine Bush (Executive Officer), Vicky Finn (Research Officer) and Natalie Tyler (Administration Officer).
And finally, I would personally like to thank Committee Members for their commitment and cooperative approach to this Inquiry — Bronwyn Halfpenny MP (Deputy Chair), Andrea Coote MP, Justin Madden MP, David O’Brien MP, and Jeanette Powell MP.
Dee Ryall, MP Chair