Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Better care for younger people with disability

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that the Australian Government’s investment into an initiative to reduce the number of young people with disability in residential aged care has made important progress toward delivering more appropriate care for young people with disability.

The report said that the number of people in nursing homes under 50 years had reduced from 1,007 in July 2006 to 715 in June 2010 – a 29 per cent drop.

More than 1,140 younger people with disability had been assisted through the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care initiative to June 2010.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today welcomed the release of the report – Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care: Update from the 2009-10 Minimum Data Set.

“Younger people with disability have different needs than older Australians – that’s why we are working to provide these younger people with better options and better choices,” Ms Macklin said.

“We can’t take this progress for granted. There is much more work to be done.”

The Australian Government has invested $122 million over five years to June 2011 into the initiative through the National Disability Agreement, which provides matched funding to the states and territories. This funding is ongoing and is now part of the National Disability Agreement. The National Disability Agreement includes the highest ever level of indexation for disability services, at 6.3% for 2011-12.

As part of the National Health Reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments, all governments have agreed to reforms to aged care and disability services.

As part of these reforms, states and territories have clearly committed to take responsibility for specialist services for people with disability under 65 years and the Australian Government is responsible for those over 65 years, and 50 years and over for Indigenous Australians.

In line with their responsibilities all State and Territory Disability Ministers in December 2010 affirmed their continued commitment to delivering appropriate accommodation options for younger people with disability beyond 30 June 2011.

In addition to our commitment to this initiative, the Australian Government has committed $60 million to expand accommodation options for people with disability through the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund and in 2008 provided $100 million to the states and territories to provide more than 300 new supported accommodation places.

Senator McLucas said that whilst the AIHW Bulletin clearly showed progress in providing more tailored support and care for younger people with disability, more work was required to assist young people with disability.

“We have a clear expectation that the state and territory governments will meet the commitments set out in the National Disability Agreement. It is simply not acceptable that so many young people are still living in nursing homes,” said Senator McLucas.

“While we have made important progress, this problem is by no means fixed.”

“We need better links between the State and Territory Government specialist disability service systems and mainstream services, such as health and housing, to ensure the right support and services are available to these younger people.”