Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

National Summit on challenges for people with hearing impairments

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, today officially opened the Deafness Forum of Australia’s 6th National Deafness Sector Summit, in Sydney.

As part of a two-day summit, representatives from across the disability sector joined together to discuss how to best support people with disability to live fulfilling and productive lives.

‘People with disabilities like hearing loss are still treated as second-class citizens in this country,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘Forums like this are an opportunity for the disability community to unite and exchange ideas about how they can continue their work to improve the lives of people with disability.’

‘The Rudd Government is working hard to break down the barriers still preventing people with disability from getting an education or a job and being involved in the community, but there is still a lot to be done.

‘We have contributed $5 billion over five years through the National Disability Agreement with the States and Territories to fund disability services and accommodation.

Mr Shorten said the Rudd Government had also asked the Productivity Commission to investigate whether a no-fault social insurance approach to disability is appropriate in Australia.

‘The PC inquiry formally began last week and is an opportunity to rethink how we support people with disability, their families and carers, in the long-term,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘This is fundamental to the Rudd Government’s vision of a fairer, more inclusive, Australia.’

‘An insurance scheme has wide support amongst disability groups, but it is a complex idea that will require rigorous analysis before it can be implemented.’

‘All Australians are entitled to a fair go, and the Strategy will set the direction for all levels of government to deliver real change for people with disability, their families and carers – the direction for today and tomorrow.

‘Bodies such as Deafness Forum of Australia are essential to represent the concerns of people with disability, and fight for recognition and equal treatment.’

‘Deafness Forum of Australia receives nearly $195,000 a year under the National Secretariat Program to contribute to government policy and help improve the quality life for Australians who are deaf, deaf-blind, have a hearing impairment or a chronic disorder of the ear.