PWC (2011) Disability expectations investing in a better life, stronger Australia

Price Waterhouse Cooper (20011) Disability expectations investing in a better life, stronger Australia

This paper provides a brief history of disability in Australia and, as part of its focus, draws on international experience and comparisons. One of the most telling and challenging statistics is that Australia ranks 21st out of 29 OECD countries in employment participation rates for those with a disability. In addition, around 45% of those with a disability in Australia are living either near or the poverty line. These facts alone show us that we need to change. The paper explores the NDIS from different perspectives starting with the person with a disability, then the family, then support organisations, and finally the government or National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

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Every two hours, an Australian child will be diagnosed with an intellectual disability.

There is a large disparity in educational outcomes between Australians with a disability and those without. In 2009, 25% of people with a profound or severe disability aged 15 to 64 completed Year 12.75 In comparison, 55% of people without disabilities completed Year 12. This disparity continues across the education pathway for people with a disability, with approximately:

• 13% of people with a disability aged 15 to 64 completing a bachelor degree or higher, compared with 20% of people without disabilities76
• 58% of 25 to 44 year-olds with a profound/severe core activity limitation having no post-school qualification, compared with 28% of people in the same age cohort without disabilities.77

The National Disability Strategy highlights education as a key pillar in moving towards a more inclusive and productive Australia. Higher levels of educational attainment are linked to better employment, financial and health outcomes. Acknowledging the important links between education
and other key indicators, the COAG made commitments to:
• improve Year 12 or equivalent attainment up to 90%
• double the number of higher education completions by 2020

As part of these goals, it will be important for state and territory governments to focus on the supports and changes needed to ensure that improvement occurs for people with a disability. This is particularly relevant given that just under 90% of students with a disability attend mainstream schools.

State and territory government funding has increased the proportion of students with disabilities
in mainstream schools and promoted an inclusive education for all in the last 10 years.

However, merely being present does not equate to true inclusion and equality in learning opportunity, and many parents would prefer to opt for specialist schools because of the shortcomings of the mainstream system.