Minister Fifield with bongo drumsThe federal government is providing extra payments to disability groups where funding was about to expire. It follows a federal government decision in late 2014 to cut funding to 10 organisations including Brain Injury Australia, Deaf Australia and Down Syndrome Australia. Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield said the decision to extend the funding to June 30, 2015 would assist with a smooth transition to a new funding model.

“I have also directed my department to explore other potential capacity-building projects and funding that may be suitable for organisations to apply for, such as NDIS preparedness activities.”

The minister said one of the key issues confronting the current disability peak sector was that funding was being stretched across a large number of representative bodies with no clear rationale for why groups did, nor did not receive funding, along with fragmented and uncoordinated advice provided to government.

Brain Injury Australia executive officer Nick Rushworth described the decision to F2L as a ‘”stay of execution”, adding however that any funding injection was most welcome. “It gives me breathing space to turn a block funded charity into a financially self-sustaining business. However, if I was advising the Australian Government I would get them to look way downstream beyond June 30 to when they will no longer have a 10-strong network of organisations providing specialist disability advice. “The government will need to rely on the services of five funded disability organisations to do this and I have absolutely no confidence that without the assistance of organisations like Brain Injury Australia and nine other diagnostic groups they will be able to do that sufficiently well.”

In February the Department of Social Services announced a new model to represent the interests of people with disability. The National Cross-Disability Alliance is intended to be the Government’s primary source of policy advice on national disability issues. The five Alliance members, People with Disability Australia, Children with Disability Australia, First Peoples Disability Network Australia, National Ethnic Disability Alliance and Women with Disabilities Australia, will each receive $300,000 per annum to June 2017.