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Addressing inequality for persons with disabilities

man in a wheelchair on a busy street

With lived experiences of having disabilities, Flinders University alum Michell enjoys her fulfilling work in her role as a disability support officer in Adelaide helping others with disabilities.

But Michelle was recently forced to confront the challenge many Australians with disabilities face in the pursuit of home ownership, with the Adelaide housing market becoming increasingly unaffordable after he rental was sold.

Michelle and her husband are currently living with relatives and she undertakes a long drive to work each day. She says they’d love to live closer to the city but can’t secure a rental property closer to her work and are priced out of the housing market at the moment.

“Unfortunately, I know of many other people with disabilities who have experienced similar difficulties and shared similar stories about securing permanent housing. For each rental there are 150 to 200 applications, it’s a competitive market. My husband and I have visited many rental inspections and have been up against so many potential renters.”

Having already contributed to rising housing unaffordability, the Covid-19 pandemic is also directly impacting Australians with disabilities living in supported housing.

That’s why a new Flinders University study is tackling how the pandemic has affected people with disabilities who are living in NDIS supported accommodation. The survey is wide-reaching and asks about how the pandemic affected many areas of daily life.

Through an anonymous online survey, Dr Darryl Sellwood, Dr Ben Bailey and Professor Joanne Arciuli from the Flinders University College of Nursing & Health Sciences and Professor Tom Shakespeare from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are gathering information about respondents’ experiences before public health measures were most restrictive, during restrictions and after they were scaled back around Australia. Two of the researchers have lived experience of disability.

“The overarching theme for the 2022 International Day of Persons with Disability is focusing on the innovation and transformative solutions which foster inclusiveness, and our research is directly assessing an important topic in access to support services, in line with the UN’s core message about reducing inequality,” says Professor Arciuli.

“This research project, led by Dr Darryl Sellwood and Dr Ben Bailey, will help guide future health policies to better support people with disabilities by informing policymakers about existing challenges in the NDIS framework, thereby ensuring people with disabilities aren’t falling through gaps in the system.”

“We’re hoping participants can take part to paint an informed picture about their personal experiences living with NDIS support.”

Participants in the study need to be:

  • Be living in Australia currently and for at least six months since January 2020
  • Have an NDIS plan which includes support to live independently. This could include living with other NDIS participants, living with family or friends or living by yourself and having paid personal support in your home (including things like providing personal care and cooking meals). If you’re not sure you can check by looking at this website.
  • Be able to interact fluently using English
  • Be able to read sentence-level text independently or with assistance
  • Be able to input sentence-level responses (e.g., type or use voice to text function) independently or with assistance

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on 3 December was launched in 1992 by the UN General Assembly. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

The 2022 global observance is commemorating the Day of Persons with Disabilities with the overarching theme of innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development.

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