THE CRISIS IN APPROPRIATE HOUSING
People with a disability or mental illness are in severe housing stress. It is estimated that 42 percent of people with mental illness are homeless or living in tenuous housing, yet a stable home is a crucial component of mental health recovery. Many people living with a disability are forced to live with their aging parents, who increasingly struggle to provide support. Some young people with disabilities are living in old-age nursing homes as there is no age-appropriate supported accommodation available.
With the introduction of individual support packages as part of the NDIS, more people with disabilities and mental illness will have the support required to move into independent and supported accommodation. Demand shortfalls for supported and accessible accommodation are expected to sky rocket without planning and investment.
Since the NDIS was announced, we have seen the Victorian Government try to shrink away from its responsibility in some areas, including housing. The new NDIS funding for housing will go a long way, but it cannot fund all the housing needs for people living with disabilities and social housing will remain critical, particularly for those who want to live independently.
The Greens want to see the Victorian Government take a lead role in ensuring the appropriate supply of housing options and in the development of new supported accommodation.
THE GREENS’ PLAN
The Greens will develop a Victorian Disability and Mental Health Housing Action Plan. This would include joint planning between the disability, mental health and housing arms of government, and with the NDIA, to meet current and future affordable supported and accessible housing needs.
The action plan will identify vacant and underutilised public land upon which these new publicly supported residences can be developed and set targets for provision of accessible accommodation for people with a disability in urban renewal sites and new residential developments.
The Greens do not support the use of NDIS funding to develop privately run housing such as Supported Residential Services. Investment in new supported accommodation from NDIS funds must be made by the Victorian Government, or not-for-profit community housing agencies in partnership with disability support providers.
The Greens are also committed to boosting investment in public housing. For more information, see our Secure Housing for All policy initiative.
NATIONAL DISABILTY INSURANCE SCHEME
The Greens strongly support the introduction of the NDIS. It will mean far more people get the support they need through a funded individualised and high quality support packages.
The Greens are committed to the full implementation of the NDIS without delay or reduction in scope. We support honouring the current agreement between the Victorian Government with the Commonwealth, to increase Victorian Government investment from $1.67 billion to $2.5 billion over the next five years. We can be trusted to resist any efforts to slow it down or reduce its scope.
While the NDIS is a big step up from where we have been, it is not a panacea.
Some 100,000 Victorians with the most severe disabilities or mental illnesses will receive improved and decent supports as a result of NDIS. However, there are approximately 900,000 Victorians with a disability won’t qualify for the NDIS but will still need access to appropriate supports. Further, NDIS provides individual support packages, but does not address the many barriers to inclusion in our economy and communities.
So in the focus on getting the NDIS right, we cannot lose sight of the need to progress better access and inclusion of people living with a disability in other mainstream areas, such as housing, but also transport, health, education, employment and the justice system.
The Victorian State Disability Plan (2013-16) provides an important framework for the disability services sector but needs investment and concrete targets to actually deliver meaningfully for people and our community.
The NDIS doesn’t reduce the responsibility or need for State Government to deliver on the goals and outcomes outlined in the plan. You can trust the Greens to hold the government to account on improving the lives of Victorians living with a disability.
The housing needs of people living on low incomes have been neglected by both Coalition and Labor Governments with long term under-investment. People with disabilities and mental illness have had a particularly rough deal, and many have been left in terrible situations for years on end.
Like education or health care, Victorians should have the right to affordable, secure, appropriate and accessible housing.