Joint letter on access to assistive technology for older Victorians with disability

As part of Assistive Technology for Older People Alliance (ATOP), PPV sent this letter to Martin Foley MP, Minister for Disability and Ageing on Thursday 13th September 2018

Dear Minister Foley
Re: Access to Assistive Technology for Older Victorians with Disability
I am writing on behalf of ATOP, the Assistive Technology for Older People Alliance, to appeal for your urgent assistance. ATOP is an Alliance of organisations and consumer advocates that has come together to explore the service gaps that continue to exist for those older people with disability who do not meet the age eligibility requirements for the NDIS.

Assistive technology is a powerful tool that facilitates the independence, participation and inclusion of Victorians with disability. Failing to provide people with disability with the assistive technology they require is not only detrimental to the quality of life of those involved, but will also increase costs to health and social services over time. This is because without the appropriate support, many people with disability are unable to remain physically active, cannot participate fully in community activities and are forced to unnecessarily rely on other people for support.

Victorians with disability who are under the age of 65 are now able to have their assistive technology needs met through the NDIS, and we commend the Victorian Government for its ongoing commitment to this scheme. Unfortunately, however, the current policy context does not provide an equitable level of access for those older Victorians with disability who are ineligible to receive support under the NDIS; leaving many people without the vital support they require. Until there is greater clarity about how the needs of this cohort will be met into the future, this situation is only likely to worsen over time.

The ATOP Alliance has been meeting since June 2017 to discuss key concerns in this area and workshop what a better system for older people with disability might look like. Our findings are outlined in the attached communique, which also explains the current policy context in greater detail. In response to this letter, we are hoping that you will champion Call for Equal Access to Assistive Technology for Older People 13 September 2018 our cause by pushing for measures which will ensure the Victorian Government continues to meet its obligations to all Victorians with disability into the future; as outlined under The
Victorian Disability Act 2006 and the Victorian State Disability Plan 2017-2020.
In particular, we are calling on your government to:

  1. Initiate an inter-jurisdictional dialogue on the support needs of older people with
    disability, by requesting that this matter be tabled as an agenda item to be discussed at the next meeting of COAG’s Disability Reform Council.
  2. Confirm that it will honour its legislative obligations to provide support and services to all Victorians with disability into the future.
  3. Confirm the funding arrangements to take effect after 1 July 2019 and provide clear information to the sector about where older Victorians with disability will go to access assistive technology services.
  4. Ensure sufficient funding is available to meet the low cost, and high cost assistive technology requirements of older Victorians with disability into the future.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss this matter in greater detail. To arrange a meeting, or for further information, please contact COTA Victoria’s Senior Policy Officer Donna Swan on 03 96552139 or
email dswan at

Thank you for considering the issues outlined in this letter and we look forward to hearing from you soon in relation to this matter.
Yours sincerely

Ronda Held
CEO COTA Victoria

Maryann Liethof
National Program Manager
Polio Australia Incorporated

Rodney Harris
CEO MND Victoria

Melissa Noonan
CEO Limbs 4 Life

Andrew Giles
National Policy Officer, MS Australia

Emma Bennison
CEO Blind Citizens Australia

Peter Willcocks Post Polio Victoria
Consumer Advocate
Bayside Polio Group

Dr Natasha Layton
Australian Rehabilitation &
Assistive Technology Association

Margaret Cooper OAM PHD on
behalf of Geoff Dean (President)
Peter Willcocks Post Polio Victoria

Karen Knight
CEO Vision Australia