Labor’s election win sees a return of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to the control of the party that first passed legislation for it. Bill Shorten’s appointment as NDIS Minister makes him responsible for the scheme he championed and helped establish.
The NDIS is an incredibly important source of support for people with disability but in recent years a large gap has opened between those who make it on to the scheme and those who don’t. Of the 4.4 million Australians with disability, only around 12% are eligible for the NDIS. Many participants reported significant cuts to their budgets, forcing them to miss out on essential supports and their family members to give up work. Many people with disability are left with no services at all and incur significant out-of-pocket expenses to pay for supports such as allied health.
(Related article here: The NDIS crisis – what’s needed is more autonomy for people with disability).
Churches have been very responsive to disability and inclusion. Here are some examples:
From the Catholic Church on disability and inclusivity
Jesus deeply loves each one of us. Each and every one of us is a unique and unrepeatable child of God. Nothing we ‘do’ or ‘achieve’, gives us this dignity and worth. It is part of who we are and how we have been created. The understanding that every life is precious and sacred – that each person is made in the ‘image of God’ and has inherent worth and dignity – is central to our faith.
The Church seeks to welcome all people into a rich, meaningful experience of the Christian life, regardless of any physical abilities. We are committed to working towards a more just society, in which people with disabilities are free to make their own decisions about their own needs, and where their unique contributions to the life of the community are valued and respected.
In this spirit, the Church seeks to make the sacraments accessible to people with disabilities and to ensure the process of Christian initiation is appropriate to their needs and circumstances. Recent Church guidelines affirm that ‘People with disabilities are called to the fullness of sacramental life … The sacraments are gifts of God and the liturgy, which even before being understood rationally, ask to be lived: therefore, no one can deny the sacraments to people with disabilities’ (Directory for Catechesis, 2020).
The Australian Catholic Disability Council has produced a number of useful resources for parishes on issues surrounding disability and inclusivity, including a pastoral document for parishes, and guidelines for the celebration of the sacraments with people with disability.
Anglican Church on disability inclusion
Significant commitment to ensuring that the public places in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne have disabled access (see 2021 Synod report). The motion called for the allocation of funding in the 2022-23 budget for a full time dedicated disability access and inclusion officer for a period of two to five years. It also called on the diocese to reaffirm a 2010 synod resolution that called on parishes and organisation in the diocese to develop plans to remove obstacles that “prevent people affected by disability from sharing in congregational life”. Additionally, it noted a 2015 motion passed by synod that required the president to report annually on the progress of this disability plan until at least 98% of the diocese’s public places were disability accessible.
A paper on The Anglican Church of Australia and engagement of people living with disabilities (link here)
The Uniting Church on disability inclusion
We are committed to ensuring people with disabilities are full and equal participants in all activities of the Synod.Striving for this goal means engagement and advocacy with individuals, congregations and presbyteries, and a range of organisations beyond the Synod.
Since 2010, our Disability Inclusion Advocates have been involved in developing:
- The Disability Action Plan 2019-2022, in response to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. (Easy English Disability Action Plan summary). These two versions complement each other and need to be read and considered as a whole: it is recommended you initially read the Easy English version.
- A mental health kit for congregations.
- A University of Divinity subject (Pastoral Care with People with Disabilities).
For more information, contact Andy Calder on 03 9340 8844 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Launch of a new book on disability: 2pm 14th June
Reflective Being, Being Reflective: 25 years of multi-faith perspectives on disability and spirituality in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand
This book, edited by Andy Calder, Jayne Clapton and Trevor Parmenter, celebrates 25 years of the multi-faith disability and spirituality movement in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Since the inaugural conference in Brisbane, 1996, a further five have been held. Arising from the conferences, this collection explores issues of faith and meaning in the lived experience of disability. Contributors explore a range of issues including: ethics, care, friendship, discrimination, inclusion, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), love, justice, liberation and ‘cripped’ spiritualities.
(Limited numbers (36) of in-person places are available. Please register by 7 June at the latest if you wish to be present. Register here and more information here)
Reference: The Conversation