Individual funding that allows Australians with disabilities to independently access support services could vastly improve their quality of life, a new report by UNSW's Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) has found.
The report shows that Australians who have switched to using individual funding - where a person is allocated a defined funding package to spend on services of their choosing - have been able to meet their life goals by employing their own support workers to help them engage in social activities and by purchasing non-traditional items such as art equipment.
"Individual funding contrasts with traditional block funding, where the government or contracted service provider supplies a defined type of disability support to as many people as possible," says the report's chief investigator, Associate Professor Karen Fisher.
"Individual funding allows people to be self-determining, they can run their own lives instead of relying on the government or service providers," she says.
The report, Effectiveness of individual funding approaches for disability support, was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
Most Western European countries and parts of North America are moving towards this funding approach but Australia, with the exception of some states, is still lagging behind, the report says.
Associate Professor Fisher says concern that individuals will mismanage their funds has overshadowed the positive outcomes of individual funding, but these fears are unfounded.
"People don't waste their funds on gambling or other activities," she says. "Families are highly responsible and use the money most judiciously."
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