Did you know that 4 million Australians (18.5% of our population) have a disability, with 1.25 million Australians having a profound disability?
People with a disability are Australia’s largest minority and unfortunately nearly one in two people with a disability live in poverty. Australia ranks 21 out of 29 OECD countries in employment for people with disabilities. These are not stats to be proud of.
Telstra has a pretty good record of supporting Australians with a disability. We are, by far, the largest telecommunications supplier to people with a disability – currently 90,000 customers use our Disability Equipment Program – and we’re the only Australian Telco with a dedicated Disability Enquiry Hotline. Last year the Hotline answered over 40,000 calls and processed over 10,000 applications for specialised telecommunications equipment.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a proposal to provide insurance cover for all Australians in the event of significant disability and fund long-term care and support for more than 410,000 Australians with the most significant disabilities. Such a Scheme requires over $10 billion in funding each year and, if introduced, would be one of the most significant social policy reforms since the introduction of Medicare.
We know first-hand the transformative effects modern communication technologies can have for people with a disability. And that’s why it makes sense for Telstra to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme proposal.
To build community support for the NDIS the peak disability organisations – the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), National Disability Services and Carers Australia –have established a grassroots community campaign called Every Australian Counts.
Every Australian Counts campaign rallies are being held next week (Monday, 30 April) in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend these events with thousands more to watch on TV and participate online.
I would encourage you to join Telstra and support the Campaign. Visit everyaustraliancounts.com.au to sign up as a supporter and for details of the rallies.