Why is community participation important?

The Productivity Commission report assessed that addressing the relative lower levels of community participation and inclusion of people with disability will have important benefits.

The Productivity Commission reported that:

  • It can lead to improved wellbeing outcomes for people with disability and their carers (in relation to health, employment, education, income and life satisfaction outcomes)
  • It can lessen the longer-term costs of care and support for people with disability indeed, it may prevent people who have modest disability care and support needs from requiring more costly levels of care and support. For example:
    • The provision of public or community transport that are accessible to people with disability can reduce the need for them to use taxis and, so, the associated costs of taxi vouchers
    • The design of shopping centres that are accessible to public or community transport can enable people with disability who can use these transport options to shop for themselves, rather than to have others shop on their behalf
    • The provision of orientation and mobility services to people with moderate levels of vision impairment can reduce the likelihood of them falling or having accidents that lead to further disability or impairment
  • Support for people with disability and unsustainable care by carers, is also likely to have economic benefits by increasing participation in the workforce
  • The community as a whole benefits from inclusive arrangements, not just people with disability. In the broadest sense, inclusion can enhance Australia's 'social capital' by engaging more people within the community and, through that, better reflecting the community's diversity
  • To the extent that it creates better networks among people and breaks down stereotypes, it can promote economic (such as employment) as well as social participation.

Social capital relates to the social norms, networks and trust that facilitate cooperation within or between groups. It can generate benefits to the whole community by reducing transaction costs, promoting cooperative behaviour, diffusing knowledge and innovations, and through enhancements to personal wellbeing and associated spillovers (PC 2003a).

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