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Building a Disability Inclusive Australia
June 2016
 
ISSN 2202-0705
Welcome to this Federal Election 2016 E-Bulletin.
The Federal Election will be held on Saturday 2 July 2016, and this E-Bulletin provides information about why it is important to vote, how to vote and voting accessibility.
This E-bulletin also outlines the Election Platform 2016 of the Australia Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA), Building a Disability Inclusive Australia. Our Election Platform provides key policy priorities that we will be promoting to all candidates and political parties up until the election.
Contents
Message from the Australian Cross Disability Alliance
 
The Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) is an alliance of national disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), or organisations that are made up of people with disability and led by people with disability.

In this 2016 Federal Election, the ACDA is uniting people with disability to call on voters, government, politicians, the media and business community to join with us in Building a Disability Inclusive Australia.

2016 marks the 10 year anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and this is an apt time to consider as a nation how far we have come and the ground ahead that we are still yet to cover. The roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) brings much cause for celebration, yet there is still much work to be done.
 
 
Photo of Gayle Rankine, Chair of First Peoples Disability Network
Photo: Ms Gayle Rankine, Chairperson of First Peoples Disability Network
Ms Gayle Rankine, Chairperson of First Peoples Disability Network:
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are amongst the most disadvantaged people in Australia.  As the NDIS becomes a reality, it is vital that we ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability share in the benefits this reform will bring.  There is also a critical need for investment in concrete action that will address systemic disadvantage, including the unacceptably high levels of imprisonment rates of our people.  This election, we want a strong commitment to closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability."
 
 
Mr Suresh Rajan, President of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance:
"This election, we are calling for action to end mandatory and indefinite immigration detention.  People with disability in immigration detention are at heightened risk of physical and sexual violence and are subjected to inadequate health care, a lack of necessary aids, equipment, medication and communication supports, such as hearing aids and sign language interpreters.  This is completely unacceptable.  We also call for an end to disability discrimination in immigration policy.  People with disability are consistently denied visas and permanent residency because they are viewed as ‘cost burdens’ to our society.  The failure to consider the social, economic and cultural contributions that people with disability make to our communities undermines the values of inclusion that as a nation we should be seeking to uphold."
Photo: Mr Suresh Rajan, President of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance
Photo: Mr Suresh Rajan, President of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance
 
Approximately 20% of people living in Australia are people with disability. Yet we are too often shut out of civic life, jobs, and the community. We are often subjected to numerous forms of violence, exploitation, discrimination and segregation. We are hindered by negative attitudes; a lack of disability support; unimaginative programs; and inaccessible transport, buildings, communications and information. People with disability have been excluded from Australia’s ‘fair go’ ethos.
 

Photo: Ms Karin Swift, Acting President, Women With Disabilities Australia
Photo: Ms Karin Swift, Acting President, Women With Disabilities Australia
Ms Karin Swift, Acting President, Women With Disabilities Australia:
"It is now widely known that all forms of violence and abuse of people with disability is widespread, and that women and girls with disability are at particular risk.  This can no longer be ignored.  It’s a national epidemic warranting urgent national leadership and concerted action.  We deserve justice.  It is time that all political parties support our call for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability, and our call for a national Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse.”
 
Mr Craig Wallace, President of People with Disability Australia:
“The days of being second class citizens are over, and people with disability must be able to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of our communities.  Australia must be accessible to all of us, and this election we are calling on candidates and political parties to prioritise a Jobs Plan and a fair social welfare system, to invest in affordable, accessible housing, to ensure our education system is inclusive, to guarantee an equitable support system for older people with disability and to make our infrastructure and communications accessible.”
Mr Craig Wallace, President of People with Disability Australia:
Photo: Mr Craig Wallace, President of People with Disability Australia:
 
In providing a blueprint for equal access to all aspects of community life, the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) is pivotal to achieving a disability inclusive society. It is also a precursor to the ability of the NDIS to deliver the goals of increased social and economic participation for people with disability. The NDIS and NDS must be progressed in parallel so that the contribution of people with disability to the ongoing strengthening of our institutions, culture and communities is fully realised, recognised and celebrated.
 
We call on all political candidates and political parties to commit to 13 policy priorities which will help to shape and strengthen our nation through the realisation of inclusion, equality, respect and human rights for all people with disability. These policy priorities are set out below and on our website.
 
 
Why Vote
 
It is really important for all Australians, but particularly Australians with disability, to vote in any local, state or national election. This is because your vote will help decide who makes the decisions that affect the lives of all Australians.
Australia is a representative democracy, which means we elect representatives to make decisions on our behalf. It is the right and responsibility of every Australian to vote. This ensures that everyone's voice is heard and our elected representatives genuinely are those preferred by the majority of the electorate.
As people with disability, we already represent a minority voice in Australia, one which is often unheard or marginalised in the greater discussion on national policy making. As a result, many policies and laws pass, or are left unchanged, because the decision makers who run the country haven’t heard or don’t listen to our views.
Our views do matter. Therefore it is essential that you vote.
The Federal Government makes decisions about issues that affect all people in Australia. Its responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • the national economy;
  • defence;
  • foreign policy;
  • Immigration and asylum seeker policy;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy;
  • social services including pensions and family support;
  • trade and commerce;
  • status of women;
  • children and youth policies;
  • education;
  • disability support and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

How to Vote

The 2016 Federal Election is on Saturday 2 July 2016.
Voting opens two weeks before election day – on 18 June 2016 - at pre-polling outlets across Australia. On election day, you can vote at polling places between 8am and 6pm.
The locations of pre-poll and election day polling places are available on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website.
If you are in your home State or Territory but outside your electorate, you can vote at any polling place. This is called an absent vote.
If you will be in another State or Territory you can only vote at special interstate voting centres. Locations will be on AEC website at the time of the election. Alternatively, you could cast an early vote before you leave home, or you can apply for ballot papers to be sent to you.
Remember, the way to vote for the Senate has changed, so see information available from the AEC for more details.
The AEC has a range of information and services available to support voters with disability.
Voting at polling places
70,000 voting premises have been tested for accessibility for the 2016 election. Over 100 questions were asked of each venue about accessibility issues including those relating to the carpark, lighting, kerbs, steps, toilets and lifts among others. People working at polling booths have received training about accessibility issues.
All of this information is available on the AEC website for people with disability to see what best meets their needs. Each polling place has been given one of three categories: full, assisted and no access. The website will contain details about each of them.
Voting by telephone
There is a two part process for blind and low vision voters and other voters who wish to cast a secret ballot using the telephone from their home.
Firstly, you will need to register with the AEC between 13 June and 2 July 2016. The operator will go through a series of questions which will then provide the individual with a registration number. The individual is then required to select a pin which can be sent to the individual via email, or SMS, or post.
This registration number and pin is used to mark their name off the electoral roll while protecting their privacy.
When actually voting, a call centre voting assistant will record the voter's preferences on the ballot papers. The vote will be secret and a second voting assistant will ensure the vote is recorded according to the voter's intention.
The vote remains secret because the call centre voting assistants will not know the voter's name and address. Once the vote is complete, the voting assistant will place the ballot papers in secure ballot boxes.

More information is available on the AEC website.
 
More election information
Information about voting is available on the AEC website in 18 languages.
For Deaf and hard of hearing voters, or people who use Speak and Listen services, please use the following contact numbers:
  • TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 13 23 26
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 23 26
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 13 23 26.
The AEC website is accessible via screen reader and audio reader and is mobile friendly. YouTube channels are captioned.
An updated AUSLAN video will also be available.
A printed version of the official election guide will be delivered to every household in Australia. It provides information on when and where to vote, assistance available at polling places and how to vote correctly. The official guide will be available from the AEC in e-text, large print and audio MP3 - please contact the AEC to request a different format.
Electors will also be able to request from the AEC to have a Braille, DAISY or audio CD sent to them.
For more information on voting, please visit the AEC at www.aec.gov.au or call 13 23 26.

ACDA's Election Platform

ACDA’s platform for the 2016 Federal Election outlines 13 policy priorities for people with disability that need to be addressed by the next Australian Government.
These policy priorities are:
Recast the National Disability Strategy as a mechanism for change
Coordinated investment in concrete actions is required in order to achieve full inclusion and substantive equality for people with disability across all spheres of community life and mainstream services, such as transport, education, communications and information access, jobs, rights protection and justice, housing and healthcare.
 
Engage with people with disability and their representative organisations
Despite the momentous changes in the disability rights landscape over the last 10 years, there are few mechanisms to support people with disability to fully participate in public life and to engage in the reform agenda.
 
Fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme
In ensuring that people with disability finally get the support they need, the NDIS will become an essential pillar of our social infrastructure. It is critical that there is sustainable funding for the NDIS into the future, and that this funding is taken out of the budget cycle and not reliant on cuts to welfare spending and revenue shifts from other social services. 
 
Prioritise closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability
Despite the high prevalence of disability, policy attention which is sensitive to the unique circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability has been negligible. Further there is little investment in research and data to address the gaps in understanding, which present a significant risk to the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
 
Establish a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability
The perpetration of violence against people with disability is not restricted to a few rogue individuals, is not confined to disability support settings, and is not limited by state or territory borders. It is a national epidemic warranting urgent national leadership and action.
 
Establish a National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse
Although it is not possible to fully compensate people with disability for the sexual abuse that occurred while they were children in institutions, a National Redress Scheme would address some of the barriers to justice they have faced, and ensure that an apology (if sought), life-long psychological support and monetary compensation would be within reach for all survivors with disability.
 
End disability discrimination in immigration policy
Multiple policy and procedural mechanisms operate to exclude people with disability from settling in Australia. These policies are discriminatory; fail to take into consideration the social, economic and cultural contributions that people with disability make to our communities; and undermine the values of inclusion that as a nation we should be seeking to uphold. Mandatory and indefinite immigration detention must end as a matter of urgency.
 
Guarantee equity of support for older people with disability
People with disability over the age of 65 are not eligible for the NDIS – unless they entered the NDIS prior to this age - and are expected to access specialist disability support through the aged care system, or My Aged Care. The key features of choice and control and integration and participation in community life are absent for people with disability in the aged care system.
 
Prioritise a Jobs Plan for people with disability
The most recent OECD ranking placed Australia 21st out of 29 OECD countries for employment participation of people with disability. In 2015, the Australia Bureau of Statistics reported that labour force participation for people with disability has not changed since 2012, staying at 53%, and that Australians with disability are still more likely to be unemployed than their peers without disability.
 
Guarantee a fair and equitable social welfare system
An adequate safety net must be available to all who need it, and provide for an adequate standard of living in relation to the rest of the community. This safety net is particularly important for people with disability who face significant and complex barriers to economic participation.
 
Invest in affordable accessible housing
Access to appropriate, affordable and accessible housing presents one of the greatest barriers to inclusion for people with disability, limiting participation in all aspects of life. There is an urgent need for synergy between the development of housing policy and the development of disability policy.
 
Ensure our education system is inclusive
Schools receive inadequate funding and resources to meet the needs of students with disability. This undermines the ability of schools to implement measures that would underpin inclusion.  Students with disability experience disturbing rates of bullying and restraint and seclusion, and there are increasing numbers of incidents of children with disability being placed in fenced off spaces, cages and cupboards.

Make our infrastructure and communications accessible
Access to the built environment, telecommunications, our communities, services, premises and transport is critical for people with disability to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of our communities. However, people with disability face inaccessible communities, services and facilities on a daily basis.


Download the full platform at ACDA website.
In the weeks before the election, we will be highlighting key areas of our platform via social media and the ACDA website.
 

About the Australian Cross Disability Alliance

The Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) is an alliance of national disabled people’s organisations (DPOs). Our key purpose is to promote, protect and advance the human rights and freedoms of people with disability in Australia by working collaboratively on areas of shared interests, purposes and strategic priorities and opportunities. The ACDA is made up of four national cross-disability DPOs: First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN); Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA); National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA); and People with Disability Australia (PWDA). We are funded by the Australian Government to be the recognised coordinating point between Government/s and other stakeholders, for consultation and engagement with people with disability in Australia.
 
First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) is the national cross-disability DPO representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families. FPDN utilises a range of strategies in its representative role, including through the provision of high-level advice to governments, and educating the government and non-government sectors about how to meet the unmet needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
 
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the national cross-disability DPO for women and girls with all types of disabilities in Australia. It operates as a transnational human rights organisation and is run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. WWDA’s work is grounded in a human rights based framework which links gender and disability issues to a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
 
National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) is the national peak organisation representing the rights and interests of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse/Non English Speaking Backgrounds with disability, their families and carers throughout Australia. NEDA advocates at the federal level so that people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse/Non English Speaking Backgrounds with disability can participate fully in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life.
 
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is the national cross-disability rights and advocacy organisation run by and for people with disability. Working within a human rights framework, PWDA represents the interests of people with all kinds of disability. Its primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations primarily constituted by people with disability. It also has a large associate membership of other individuals and organisations committed to the disability rights movement.
 
The key objectives of the ACDA are to:
  • work to advance the rights of all people with disability from all walks of Australian life, in relevant policy frameworks, strategies, partnership agreements and any other relevant initiatives;
  • promote and engender a collaborative, co-operative and respectful relationship with all levels of Government in the efforts of the ACDA to advance the human rights of people with disability;
  • build on and further develop networks, strategic alliances and partnerships at state/territory, national and international levels to advance human rights of people with disability;
  • promote the ACDA at national and international levels as the coordinating point for engagement with the Australian DPO sector; and.
  • build respect for, appreciation of, and faith in the DPO sector in Australia.
 
 
 

13 questions on disability inclusion for candidates and political parties

 
You can use these questions to ask candidates about their disability policies for the upcoming election.
 
The NDIS
  1. What do you and your party see as the top 3 benefits of a fully funded and rolled out NDIS?
  2. How will you and your party fund the NDIS into the future?
  3. What steps do you and your party think need to be taken to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have equal access to the benefits of the NDIS?
  4. What steps do you and your party think need to be taken to increase the numbers of people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the NDIS?
 
Economic security
  1. What steps will you and your party take to increase job opportunities and job retention for people with disability? How will you ensure that the specific needs of female jobseekers with disability are addressed in your strategies?
  2. If you and your party were in power what changes would you introduce to the welfare system to reduce the number of people with disability living in poverty?
 
Justice and human rights
  1. What would you and your party do to address violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability?
  2. If you and your party were elected, what steps would you take to ensure that migrants and refugees with disability can be fairly assessed for visas, and can be supported to live in Australia?
 
Accessibility
  1. Have you asked your constituents what would make their communities more accessible in terms of public transport, public buildings, telecommunications and information? What did they tell you and how are their responses reflected in the policies of your party?
  2. How do you and your party intend to respond to the crisis in accessible and affordable housing?
 
Disability Inclusion
  1. What is your vision of a Disability Inclusive Australia?
  2. If elected, what steps would you take to engage with people with disability in order to achieve this vision and realise our human rights?
  3. Have you asked children and young people with disability in your constituency for their views on what an inclusive Australia should look like? What did they tell you and how are their responses reflected in the policies of your party?

Keep up to date with the ACDA election activities