The recent high court immigration decision (LINK) demonstrates the level of legal and media support available to those seeking to become Australians. Whereas, Australian citizens with a disability get little legal and media support in comparison.
There is an enormous amount of legislation and regulation governing the lives of people with a disability, especially those with an intellectual or multiple disability.
Yet these Australian citizens and their families, have little real access to legal support to help ensure the legislation and associated regulations are effective and implemented to ensure their often limited lifestyle is enhanced to the best possible.
In Victoria, residents of government supported accommodation group homes are denied residential tenancy rights under section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act, despite they pay rent.
When those unable by reason of their disability to make reasonable judgements in respect of all or any matters concerning their personal circumstances and/or estate become adults, their family support is legally cut by common law which says any person is an adult, with adult ability and responsibilities, at 18 years.
Families who try to reinstate support for their member, through plenary guardianship, face the wrath of VCAT in its use of section 22(c) of the Guardianship & Administration Act to block the family’s application. This is despite their adult family member may be functioning at the level of a 3 year old child.
Even those families who are formal (VCAT) Administrators, for their family member with limited intellectual capacity, face legal constraints. These administrators are legally responsible for the finances of their family member. Yet, legally, they are not permitted to check their family member’s clothing and property, especially if their family member lives in a group home.
Families, naturally, have concerns about the treatment of their family member with limited intellectual capacity living in a supported accommodation group home, and is attending an adult day centre.
These facilities are often covert, with their clients unable to communicate concerns. Yet families are legally blocked, under the common law rule, from accessing their family members activity records.
So no one independent of the service provider ever sees these records. With such barriers to scrutiny and credibility (transparency), it is perhaps not surprising many families are looking towards self-directed services (SDA), through individualised service packages (ISP), in an attempt to move away from the service barriers produced by entrenched bureaucrats.
Whereas, families should not have to seek alternatives to questionable services and processes, as the legal and media fraternity should be willing to assist, as they have and are doing for those seeking to be new Australians.
We call on the legal and media fraternity to give people with a disability and their families more profile and assistance to break down the bureaucratic, restrictive practice, barriers.