A social policy is a plan by the government or other Non-governmental agencies formulated to improve or reform society. It also includes actions that help to address the social issues and are meant to enhance the well-being of the people through the allocation and accessibility to goods and resources in society or a specific group of people. The main objective of a social policy is to improve people’s living standards in the community and empower them to attain social and economic stability. In Australia, the government came up with a disability support social policy in 2010. It was called the National Disability Strategy. This was the first time all governments in Australia joined hands and agreed on the need to improve the lives of people with disabilities and assist their families and caregivers while imparting leadership for the society-wide shift in attitudes.
History of the National Disability Strategy
The Australian Governments’ Council endorsed the National Disability Strategy in 2021. The making of this social policy was a historic moment for the thousands of people living with disabilities in Australia. The policy was to run for ten years and is subject to renewal for another ten years (Mellifont et al., 2016). The policy was formulated to ensure equality in access for all Australians, including 20% of Australia’s people living with various disability issues (Mellifont et al., 2016). The group of people living with a disability had for a long time been underappreciated by the government, and the formulation of the law regarding the empowerment of these people was a breakthrough plan to equality for all in Australia. The strategy exhibited six areas of action: inclusiveness and accessible communities, rights protection, legislation, justice, economic security, community and personal support, and health and well-being. Besides, the National Disability Strategy also stated for the appointment of a disability Champion Minister whose role was to represent people with disabilities at the natural levels and was to be in charge and ensuring that the strategy is a success (Goggin et al., 2014). After its expiry, the government was committed to formulating new policies that ensure the continuity of the disability support social policy for another ten years, from 2021-2030. The government of Australia continues to increase its yearly budget on the policy, with the introduction of disability Insurance being the avenue where a lot of money is allocated.
The Creation of the Policy
The National Disability Strategy was created as a result of the values of government decision-makers. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a global organ that highlighted the need for nations to make a special deliberation on assisting people with disabilities (Hirsch et al., 2019). Thus, the government of Australia was under pressure to address the issues of people living with disabilities. United Nations notes the need for a special organ or policy that manages the rights of disabled people. Hence this triggered a reaction from the Australian government. There was a need to address the ever-increasing cases of inequality in the country, and that could not be a success without the formulation of policies. The government of Australia has for a long time been trying to an agreement with all the devolved governments, and it came to be a success in 2010. After years of misunderstandings, all the governments unanimously agreed to the National Disability Strategy policy-making (Goggin et al., 2014). The motion was passed by the legislator, who made it an Act. It would be wrong to say the policy was formulated as a result of a genuine identified social need. However, there was the need for policy formulation as the people with disabilities had suffered for many years without the government recognising their hardships.
Nevertheless, people with disabilities in Australia wanted to witness the transformation of their normal life and the sense of their human rights recognised by the state. Besides, these people also wanted things that the nation and people took for granted. Such items include a place to live, required better healthcare services, and needed a job and good education as the two would empower them to be self-reliant and not to always depend on donations. Besides, people with disabilities needed people they could call friends and actively participate in community projects. They wanted to find meaningful ways to assist society and not just sit and wait for free assistance from the public members (Hallahan, 2015). The government was under pressure to find a solution. Their best shot was to develop the National Disability Strategy social policy to look into the matters raised by people while also regarding the will of the United Nations Convention of Rights for People with Disability. The government had an obligation to react to the wishes of the people and the international community. Also, the government wanted others to see the benefits of building a more inclusive society, where all groups are represented, listened to, and their interests looked into by the organs responsible for their affairs.
The government had an inclusive agenda. The agenda included involving and incorporating all kinds of people into the government. That could not be attained without focusing on the people with disabilities, which spearheaded the creation of a National Disability Strategy in the early 2010s (Whitburn et al., 2017). The government identified that all people living with a disability require specific needs and priorities based on their personal conditions. The government knew they needed special support to acquire education, better healthcare services, and representation at the national level. Thus, the strategy was the best way to attain those needs. After the policy was formulated, people with disabilities were assigned a Minister to oversee and ensure that their needs are well taken care of and that the society is assisted in taking care of the disabled people, while also ensuring they are socially and economically empowered hence those are the motives that led to the creation of the policy.
The policy has had a lot of impacts on the millions of Australian people. Firstly, low-income families who have some of the members disabled were relieved of some of the responsibilities. The introduction of the health Insurance fund made it easier for disabled people to access better health care services (Mellifont et al., 2016). Access to good care services meant that, together with their families, their social and psychological well-being was improved. A community that exhibit social well-being is mentally stable, and these people can concentrate on other thongs that would otherwise lead to growth and development. Besides, those suffering from mental problems could acquire better psychological and mental treatments from various governmental and private healthcare. Some of them were in full recoveries, and they could get back to the community and be productive people. Their social life was rekindled, and they can now live a normal life. Such occurrences could not have happened without the introduction of the National Disability Strategy.
Secondly, the policy created equal opportunities for all and enhanced independent living. People living with disabilities could acquire education, access better healthcare services and get employments from various institutions (Whitburn et al., 2017). The community benefitted a lot from the policy as they could now worry less as most of them could now cater for their needs and assist the community. People who were a burden earlier and even providing for their families and helping the community. They have been empowered socially and mentally, and they are now more productive people in society. Besides, they can currently actively get involved in community social works, which is great to witness.
Lastly, the policy has led to a significant reduction in depressions and social isolation. For a long time, people with a disability experienced a lot of limitations in their lives. People with a disability experienced many regulations as most of them could not work because of their physical and mental limitations (Hirsch et al., 2019). However, with the introduction of the policy, they were given equal opportunities to education, healthcare access, etc. Thus, they can work and provide for themselves and their families, and there is so little to depress them, and they have established a strong social and psychological wellness. Besides, social isolation has reduced, and these people can now positively interact with others. This has been a result of mental stability that makes them friendly and sociable.
The government of Australia has done commendable work in the implementation of the National Disability Strategy policy. People with disabilities can now feel loved and wanted in society. The government has been increasing Healthcare Insurance funds every year, and this is notably a great step towards offering equal opportunities for all. Also, the government has another policy that runs for another ten years and shows a commitment to assisting people with disabilities. Many families have been touched, and they have been relieved of a lot of financial constraints. Therefore, the policy has had positive impacts on the social systems and has led to the creation of an enabling environment for all to live in.