Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Australians living with a disability have worst quality of life in developed world

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Australians living with a disability have the worst quality of life in the developed world and their employment opportunities have hit rock bottom, according to a report issued today.

Almost half of Australians with a disability live in or near a state of poverty. Globally, Australia is at the bottom of the heap, ranked last out of 27 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Those with a disability are 2.7 times more likely to be poor. The nation fares little better in employment opportunities, 21st out of 29 OECD countries.

The report, Disability Expectations - Investing In A Better Life, A Stronger Australia, showed there was an employment rate of 39.8 per cent for people with disabilities compared with 79.4 per cent for those without a disability.

The former NSW health minister and national campaign director for the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Every Australian Counts, John Della Bosca, said: ''We should aim to leapfrog our way to the top of those rankings. Fairness is part of our national character, and if we adopt the positions in this report, there is no reason why we can't.''

The report, produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers, carried a message of support from the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, who said it highlighted the need for ''a cultural shift in attitudes towards Australians living with a disability; from passive sympathy and understanding, to actively encouraging and championing a better quality of life.''

The findings bolstered the need for a crystallised commitment from the federal, state and territory governments for the National Disability Insurance Scheme with clear funding outlines, Mr Della Bosca said.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, John Walsh - who is quadriplegic - said it was clear the disability network was broken. ''To bring about change, we need more than a funding solution. Change needs to occur at every level of the system - from people with disability and their families to specialist disability support organisations, to mainstream service providers.''