Around 453,000 Australians are blind or have low vision - a figure that is expected to increase rapidly over the next 10 years as the result of an aging population.
With this in mind, it’s important we not only aim to improve outcomes and opportunities for our community now, but ensure we advocate for the fundamental infrastructure and systems to support those who will be blind or have low vision in the future.
With a federal election just weeks away, we’re calling on the next Australian government to address key issues facing our community, now and into the future.
Effective and relevant aged care supports and services
With incidence of blindness or low vision being increasingly prevalent in an ageing population, early intervention and support is critical for allowing older Australians who are blind or of low vision to live a better quality of life.
Therefore, we are calling on the government to invest in support services like in-home care specifically for those suffering from blindness or low vision, create a National Assistive Technology scheme to help elderly blind or low vision Australians remain safe and independent in their homes. We also call for a significant investment in proper, improved education of Australia’s aged care workforce.
Investing in the NDIS
The NDIS has been life-changing for tens of thousands of people who are blind or have low vision across Australia, but it must continue to meet the needs of our community going forward.
The NDIS is there to support people with disability and all decisions about the scheme’s future need to be viewed through this lens, not one of concern about cost of the NDIS. People who are blind or have low vision often require specialist supports and it’s vital the NDIA understand this and ensure participants who are blind or have low vision receive adequate funding in their packages to support this. In particular, it’s vital children who are blind or have low vision are equipped with the funding needed to access early intervention services.
Ensuring this, as well as making the NDIS an easier scheme to navigate, for both participants and service providers, will also provide certainty for organisations like Vision Australia and ensure our continued sustainability and ability to meet the needs of our clients.
Offering equal opportunities for employment
We know that just 24% of Australians who are blind or have low vision are employed on a full-time basis.
We believe the public sector has an important role to play in addressing this inequality.
Upon the formation of the next government, we’re calling for Australian Standard AS EN 301 549 to be adopted across the Australia Public Service. This would simplify ICT accessibility requirements within the Commonwealth Procurement Framework and make the APS a leader in providing accessible and inclusive working environments.
We’re also calling on the government to reform the tired disability employment services that currently exist today.
Making education inclusive
Every Australian is entitled to an education, and it is for this reason that we are advocating for an Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) for Australian children who are blind or live with low vision.
The ECC would allow for these children to have access to disability-specific skills programs as part of their school curriculum - a more targeted education approach designed and delivered by educational specialists.
We are also advocating for improved ICT procurement standards across all publicly funded universities in an effort to create more inclusivity and learning opportunities for blind or low vision students at Australian universities.
Making our roads safer
There’s no doubt electric vehicles are set to be more prevalent on Australia’s roads, but that must not come at the expense of the safety of people who are blind or have low vision or other pedestrians.
The blind and low vision community has already been promised that electric vehicles in Australia would be required to be fitted with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS), yet this promise has been left unfulfilled.
This puts our community at risk every time we step into a public space and leaves Australia lagging behind the EU and US who have already put this mandate in place. The next Australian government must act on this to ensure people who are blind or have low vision can continue to be active and independent.
Read more about our detailed election priorities:
- Vision Australia 2022 federal election platform (Word, 3.5MB)
- Vision Australia 2022 federal election platform (PDF, 929KB)