Alex Greenwich
Alex Greenwich

Alex Greenwich, the Independent Member for Sydney, moved an amendment to the NSW Government’s NDIS Enabling Bill to protect LGBTQI with disability.

Religiously affiliated disability care providers are exempt from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, meaning they can deny service to or unfairly treat a gay, lesbian, or transgender person with a disability or fire a disability worker who is gay, lesbian, or transgender.

Mr Greenwich said: “The NSW Government has promised that no person with a disability will be worse off with the transfer of services, assets and employment to the non-government sector but as drafted, the NDIS Enabling bill leaves gay, lesbian, and transgender people vulnerable where a religious organisation takes over public sector services.”

“The NDIS is designed to provide people with a disability with a greater choice of services: gay, lesbian and transgender people with a disability should have the same choices as everyone else and not be treated as second class citizens.”

“My amendment also ensures people with a disability, who have a gay disability worker, will have continuity of care and a new religiously affiliated provider can’t deny a gay disability worker a job.”

Mr Greenwich’s amendment is supported by peak body People With a Disability and The Disability Law Centre who have issued a statement saying:

“We note that the NDIS Enabling Bill, as currently drafted, will permit the Minister to transfer disability services assets to non-government religious organisations that may, in certain circumstances, be exempt from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (ADA) pursuant to sub-section 56(d) of that Act.  It is important to appreciate that persons with disability may also be of gay, lesbian, transgender identity and may be persons with HIV/AIDS.  The State of NSW is a duty bearer under the ADA prohibited from discriminating on the basis of HIV/AIDS and/or gay, lesbian or transgender identity in areas such as employment, accommodation, and the provision of goods and services.

This is an important social protection of persons with disability who also fall into these other protected categories that will be lost with respect to disability services assets if those assets are transferred to exempt religious organisations.  In our view, the NDIS Enabling Bill ought to be amended to prevent the transfer of disability services assets to religious organisations.  Alternatively, the NDIS Enabling Bill or the ADA ought to be amended to exclude disability services operated by religious organisations from the exemption provided in sub-section 56(d) of the ADA.”