It’s no secret that there’s still a lot of stigma about young people with disabilities. While we’ve come a long way in the last few decades, there’s still more to be done to create equity and make it easier for young disabled people to thrive. Many young people end up in residential aged care facilities due to the nature of the support they need and constant care required. The Australian Government has committed to ensuring no young person under the age of 60 ends up in residential aged care, but there are still barriers to living life that young people with a disability face everyday.
1. Education and learning
Access to a good education is one of the most empowering things we can receive. Unfortunately, many young people with disability experience a lack of support, particularly when entering mainstream schools.
The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) suggests that there needs to be more diversity and disability awareness training run in schools, as well as anti-bullying training for both students and teachers. This can shift stigma and make the school environment a more supportive and engaging place for young people with disability.
2. Negative attitudes
One of the biggest barriers for anyone with a disability, regardless of age, are negative attitudes. This is even more of an issue for young people who rely on their social groups to develop a sense of self and define their identity.
Socialising, meeting other young people and participating in group activities like sport, art and culture, are essential. Reliable transport can work to reduce the amount of social isolation young people experience, and knowledge that clubs and organisations have the right plans in place to include them, can make a world of difference.
3. Access to built environments
Physical barriers for young people with a disability are one of the most common, and obvious, forms of exclusion. Sometimes this can take the form of misleading information about access or simply a general lack of access to a variety of spaces.
Accessibility isn’t just about ramps for wheelchairs and disabled car spots, but so much more. Tools like hearing loops or captions can increase access, so too can clear signage and event guidelines that explain what accessibility tools are available.
Earning an income isn’t just about money – for a young person with a disability it’s also about being part of a community, gaining independence and building confidence. Many employers don’t take the necessary steps to make their workplaces accessible, but there are organisations that are paving the way, like Aim Big Employment.
What’s needed is a greater emphasis on disability awareness in the workplace and more employers to take on young people with disability. There are supports that already exist, so often it’s a case of taking the time to explore what’s available.
5. Living options and accommodation
A big challenge when it comes to accommodation is that housing isn’t affordable or there are long wait times for a young person with a disability to find a place that suits their needs. Often they aren’t given a choice and have no control over when and how support services are provided.
One of the best things to offer here is flexibility: in service providers, in living options and availability. There also needs to be more information made available directly to young people about what they can access – for with knowledge comes empowerment and the opportunity to experience independence.
OnSide offers choice, flexibility and control
OnSide offers independent Support Coordination to young people with disability who have an NDIS plan. Our main goal is to give our customers choice and control over the support services they need, building capacity and confidence so they can live the life they want. Give us a call on 1800 322 522 to speak to our team and learn more about what we offer, or contact us here.