People with disabilities and mental illnesses and our families have been under-represented in public affairs since the beginning of time.
With the end of institutionalised care in the 1980s and 1990s, community inclusion and self-determination have been our goals in disability and mental health. In reality, the barriers to achieving these goals remain strongly entrenched. There is a lot of goodwill in the Australian community for people with disabilities and mental illnesses and our families, but governments, services, businesses and schools have struggled with how to to make community inclusion a reality. Inappropriate support models and dysfunctional service systems are still the norm, despite the advent of NDIS and countless mental health reform strategies. Family carers remain as isolated and marginalised as ever.
The key problem has been the lack of an independent representative voice of people with disabilities and mental illnesses and our families in reforming services and establishing pathways to inclusion. Services are still provider-centred, impersonal and fragmented, yet governments talk only to the service industries, and ignore the experience and insights of people on the ground.
Until we have an independent representative political voice of people with disabilities and mental illnesses and our families, our issues will continue to be poorly served and service systems will remain provider-centred instead of genuinely person- and family-centred.
To turn this around, we will create a political movement of people with disabilities and mental illnesses and our families, positioned in the Sensible Centre of Australian life. We will:
1. Develop a policy agenda to advance our community;
2. Participate in national public discussion to promote and build support for this agenda;
3. Secure the election to parliaments and councils of people with disabilities, mental illness and our families and supporters; and
4. Build the leadership and organisational capacity of participants.
Isabel Tilyard is Director of the Division.
To Express your Interest in participating in the Division, go to this form.