The Aids and Equipment Action Alliance have made a submission to the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into Social Inclusion. You can click here to view our submission.
The AEAA have been called to give evidence on Thursday 20 March, and the resulting record within Hansard will record our messages and policy suggestions formally.
Natasha Layton, Peter Willcocks and Carl Thompson will represent the AEAA to the Committee, with the following key messages:
- Aids and equipment or assistive technology (AT) are facilitators of social inclusion
- Evidence regarding performance of State AT funding bodies in delivering social inclusion
- The role of community attitudes and understanding
As an example, here is what Carl Thompson will present:
Much of my assistive technology has been funded out of my ISP to top up excess costs. Although I know that my ISP is not recommended to be used in this fashion, it has been necessary to use it as such in order to afford appropriate assistive technology. Unfortunately, when my ISP is used to subsidise assistive technology its resources are diminished, meaning it cannot serve its original purpose to the fullest extent, i.e. personal care.
Long wait times, often in excess of six months have meant that assistive technology that is custom to the individual may no longer be relevant, due to new technological advances or changing needs/medical conditions. This means that the wait time directly influence the effectiveness and relevance of prescribed assistive technology solutions.
This has happened many times through personal experience, for instance I was fitted for wheelchair seating, and then needed subsequent fittings due to the long SWEP wait times and my needs changing during this period. This resulted in an increased cost, both opportunity cost and financial cost for the occupational therapist and wheelchair manufacturer needing to see me again.
Sufficient, timely and relevant assistive technology can help reduce other costs of managing disability and ageing. For instance, in my case, installing a remote operated door has allowed me to enter and exit my house freely, without the use of a carer. This saves money by reducing care hours and extends the value of my ISP.
Further, this assistive technology reduces my reliance on informal support, including my parents and other family members, freeing up their time to contribute economically and socially to the community.
Peter Willcocks will present the following five ideas to help make social inclusion a reality:
- Ensure social inclusion is a priority for all people, regardless of ability, and should be seen as such
- Remove financial barriers and time delay with the supply of assistive technology
- Encourage future proofed adaptable housing — a manageable incentive for future proofing housing may be via home owner grants, just as we have with solar power
- Manage public transport access needs by employing access consultants who work with the community and who have a direct impact upon design
- Provide financial support for public awareness programs that are managed by organisations that work with and employ people in an inclusive manner and that understand the impediments and consequences of isolation