Down Syndrome Queensland (DSQ) supports Disability Action Week, which aims to empower people with disability, raise awareness of disability issues, and improve access and inclusion throughout the wider community; and encourages all Queenslanders to consider the role they can play in moving Queensland towards a fully inclusive State.
DSQ aims to build community awareness and to support, advocate for and empower people with Down syndrome in order for them to take their rightful place as valuable and contributing members of their community.
DSQ CEO, Darryl Steff said “Disability Action Week is a time to celebrate the contributions of people with Down syndrome to the State of Queensland and acknowledge the significant progress that has been made over recent years. However, it is important that we recognise that there are still steps to take to address issues being encountered by people with Down syndrome throughout our State and that we all do everything we can to work towards addressing these issues.”
As part of Disability Action Week, DSQ are calling on the State and Federal governments for changes to key systemic issues which have significant impacts on people with Down syndrome and their families.
DSQ have highlighted eight key issues and recommendations in the following table including; prenatal screening, health inequalities and sustainable funding for peak organisations.
Disability Action week is also a time to acknowledge the important and varied contributions people living with a disability make to our State.
As part of that acknowledgement and celebration, DSQ has recently launched its annual StepUP! for Down Syndrome events across Queensland.
StepUP! for Down syndrome is a community event which brings people with Down syndrome and their families and friends together to celebrate the significant contributions people with Down syndrome make to our communities.
During October, StepUP! events will be held in Hervey Bay, Ipswich, Brisbane and Townsville. More details can be found at www.stepupfordownsyndrome.org.au.
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Table 1: DSQ Issues and Recommendations for Government
1. Prenatal screening
Government must ensure that families have the information they need to make informed decisions about prenatal screening for chromosomal conditions. It is unethical to have a screening program in place without access to good information and support.
Government must ensure that people with Down syndrome get the services and supports they need through NDIS, including automatic eligibility.
3. Health inequalities
Government to invest and prioritise funding to address the poorer health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in the Australian community through an investment in primary care programs and university training.
Government must set a goal of ensuring a universally accessible and fully inclusive education system and move expeditiously and effectively towards that goal by adopting clear targets and timetables.
Government must commit to improving access to open employment for people with an intellectual disability. This includes addressing barriers, supporting specialised Disability Employment Service (DES) providers, ensuring appropriate supports are provided under NDIS, and developing better support for transition from school to open employment.
Government must remove the discrimination in the migration regulations based on whether a person has a disability.
7. Sustainable funding for disability-specific peak organisations
Government must commit to ongoing, recurrent funding for disability-specific peak organisations to ensure the important role they provide in advocacy and informing government is sustainable.
8. Affordable housing
Government must commit to increasing the supply of affordable housing and ensure housing is available in areas with good access to public transport to enable access to support services and employment.
Notes to Editor:
To arrange an interview with an individual local family, highlighting the work of the DSQ in your region and raise awareness of Down syndrome generally, please contact DSQ on (07) 3356 6655. DSQ is a not-for-profit organisation serving all of Queensland, with regional representatives located across the state, providing practical and emotional support to people with Down syndrome and their families.