Media releases

Older Persons Advocacy Network

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations


Peak advocacy groups Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) are calling for an end to discrimination against older people with disability.

A joint OPAN/AFDO discussion paper released today, Supports for Older People with Disability, highlights the failure of the current policy ecosystem to provide older people with disability with the same level of care, support and services as other Australians.

People who turned 65 prior to the roll out of the NDIS and those who acquire a disability after the age of 65 are ineligible for the Scheme.

To remain in their own homes, they are forced to rely on Home Care Packages, capped at $59,593. These packages are only designed to support basic age-related needs.

A 2018 survey[1] revealed that more than 1.9 million older people aged 65 and over reported having a disability – indicating that millions of older people are not receiving the support they need.

On the day of the Disability Royal Commission’s final report being handed down, the peak bodies urged the Australian Government to urgently address this systemic inequity.

OPAN Member, ADA Australia CEO Geoff Rowe said: “Our advocates frequently receive calls from older people with disability who are falling through the cracks.

“Without access to the appropriate levels of at-home support, they are often forced prematurely into residential aged care. That’s a lose-lose situation. It’s a loss for the older person and it often results in a more expensive option for us as taxpayers.

“As the peak advocacy group for older people, we think that is unacceptable.

“Aged care reforms are currently underway, but there are fundamental gaps and differences between the disability and aged care sectors that need urgent attention.

“That’s why we are calling for a national, solutions-focused discussion that includes the voices of older people and we look forward to engaging with the Government and other stakeholders on the matter.”

AFDO CEO Ross Joyce said: “Australia’s approach to disability policy is inherently ageist.

“Our members frequently tell us how difficult it is for the older people with disability they represent to access the supports they need.

“There has been a disproportionate focus on the NDIS over the past 10 years, which has resulted in many older people with disability continuing to fail to receive necessary supports.

“We need to fix the inequities in Australia’s disability support system once and for all.”


Billy Briggs – OPAN – 0474 697 235

Ross Joyce – AFDO – 0402 842 040


OPAN comprises nine state and territory members organisations that have helped thousands of people work through issues with their aged care. OPAN’s members offer free, independent and confidential support and information to older people seeking or already using Australian Government-funded aged care services across the nation, along with their families and carers.


The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) is a Disabled Peoples Organisation (DPO), and a funded Disability Representative Organisation (DRO). Through our national membership of 35 organisations, we have a combined total reach of more than 3,800,000 Australians. We work with and for our members to strive for a community where people with disability can participate in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life.

[1] 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC)

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