Media Release by The Hon John Cobb MP

Reforms to Advocacy Will Ensure Service Is Available To All In Need

Minister for Community Services John Cobb today rejected the statement by Labor Senator for Queensland, Jan McLucas, that advocacy services will shut their doors on people with disabilities.

Mr Cobb said that advocacy available to Australians with a disability will not only continue to be available but will be enhanced as a result of the current review into the Australian Government funded advocacy program.

‘I have received concerns from both clients and advocacy providers that the present advocacy program is not meeting all the needs of people with disabilities, their families and their carers, Mr Cobb said.

‘The Australian government currently provides $12 million a year to fund the disability advocacy program and it would be irresponsible indeed foolish not to hear the concerns of those who are supposed to be the receivers of help.

‘A discussion paper released with the consultants report into advocacy outlines the government’s preferred new model. I am seeking comments from both service providers and clients on both the review recommendations as well as the government’s position, said Mr Cobb.

‘When the present round of consultations is completed by the end of October, I will be making a formal funding offer to all current federally funded advocacy services under a new performance and reporting criteria.

‘Under the proposed reforms, when adopted, funding will be provided for 18 months. This is the strongest financial security ever offered to any advocacy service.

‘I will work with advocacy providers to ensure that deficiencies in geographical coverage and service levels are addressed ensuring that all people in need of an advocate will have one.

‘This will require working with existing Commonwealth funded advocacy services during the coming months, and identifying other potential services or organisations that could enhance the program in the future.

‘The deliberate scaremongering by Senator McLucas will not assist those people with disabilities in need, nor will it help their families or carers, said Mr Cobb.

‘The government’s sole commitment is to provide valuable and appropriate disability advocacy services to individuals, their families and their carers’.