Australians living with disabilities have been demanding more commitment from both sides of politics. The battle for disability rights turned nasty early in the election campaign.

Georgie Hewson reports.


Dickson has been one of the most-watched marginal seats.

It’s been held by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton since 2001.

But when he suggested his Labor opponent was using her disability as an excuse, it backfired badly.

Ali France, an amputee, seized the opportunity to echo the concerns of the electorate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ali France, ALP Candidate Dickson: “The big issue with NDIS at the moment is that not enough people are getting plans that actually deliver the services and support they need.

The Minister was eventually forced to publicly apologise for his comments.

The NDIS problems have become a key issue for many voters.

Not only did the last Federal Budget underspend allocated funds by around one and a half billion dollars, disability support groups say there are lots of problems even accessing the scheme.

Geoff Rowe, Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia: “We’re hearing people have got concerns about the NDIS, the rollout of the NDIS, the inability to access services or when approved for services actually get services and receive support.”

Two and a half years after the NDIS rollout, some Queenslanders still don’t know if they are eligible to access the scheme.

Delays in implementation mean far less Queenslanders are accessing the scheme than expected, leaving a strain on less appropriate services.

Bill Shorten has now pledged to protect the funds if elected, as he believes the underspend highlights the current government’s lack of attention to disability.

Geoff Rowe, Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia: “Government in inverted commas saves money, no they don’t.”

Advocates want urgent attention, whoever wins power.

Geoff Rowe, Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia: “We’d also be asking, with the royal commission, that we not wait to the end of the process to start making the changes that are required and as they are identified the government takes the lead and addresses these issues.”

Georgie Hewson, QUT News.