The newsletter of People with Disability Australia Incorporated
This Election edition of LinkUp is about the upcoming Federal Election. Voting is an important democratic right for all of us and this edition contains our four key messages
for the 2013 Federal Election. People with Disability Australia’s election platform focuses on sustaining the NDIS, ending the barriers, stopping the abuse and making the Convention real, as realised through the National Disability Strategy.
We have taken a nonpartisan approach in developing this edition of LinkUp as well as our campaign strategy. This edition contains statements from the major parties on their respective disability policies in order to help you make an informed decision on Election day. We have also included information on accessible voting.
PWDA’s high profile work on the levy for the National Disability Insurance Scheme shows the power of political action. This, along with the members' decision to move to online membership at last year’s Annual General Meeting is changing the whole way we do business. Our move to online membership will also change the way we communicate with members so please also take a few minutes to respond to our Members Survey
and tell us how you would like to communicate with us in these new ways.
Guest Editor PWDA Director
This is a vital election for all of us as we work to consolidate the political consensus and reforms around disability driven by thousands of advocates across Australia over the last few years. We cannot imagine that the journey is over, but we can say it is the end of the beginning with disability back on the political map in a way that none of us imagined just five years ago.
People with Disability Australia was started in the International Year of People with Disability in 1981 so we know how easy it is for disability to fall off the map. That is why we have been out there in the lead up to this election working hard and fast for you.
We have developed a PWDA Disability Election Platform 2013
with four priorities and these are enclosed with this edition. These are to Get Real on Jobs (increase the employment levels of people with disability), Deliver DisabilityCare (Build a sustainable, person-centred NDIS), Stop the Abuse (Embed a holistic strategy of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership) and Make the Convention Real (implement the National Disability Strategy). They recognise that DisabilityCare is not the silver bullet that fixes everything in one go.
We have visited more than 30 candidates, Members and Senators, including people in leadership positions from The Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Labor Party and The Greens. We have started a petition on change.org to reframe the discussion on jobs. We have held seven social media forums since January 2013 to build a community conversation. We have published articles online and in the newpapers. We have given dozens of media interviews and spoken at many events, from the ACOSS election launch to the ABC Peoples Parliament. By the time you get this edition of Link Up, we will be shaping up to hold a Q&A style forum
bringing together the disability community and candidates in a conversation about the future.
The next steps are for YOU. This edition of Link Up contains information about how to get involved as well as statements from the parties. We know now that the disability community is a force to be reckoned with, so enrol to vote, chat to candidates on all sides, find out where they stand, help the candidate you identify with, comment on articles, get out on social media and ring talkback radio to say where you stand.
Most of all encourage your friends and allies to join PWDA
- its online, easy and it’s free. The online membership strategy agreed by you last year is delivering results. Over the last twelve months PWDA has experienced a 210% increase in membership. That’s great news and it also means that we’ve got some important decisions as we move from a paper based model to an online model.
The Board feels LinkUp cannot continue in the same form as before but we want your views about different ways we can provide information in future through a survey that is part of this edition.
There are millions of us and the future is ours if we continue to work hard and make a solid case to the Australian people.
Voting in the 2013 Federal Election
Voting in the 2013 Federal Election is important. It’s your chance to make your voice heard about who you want to represent you in Government. Election Day for this election is Saturday 7 September 2013.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has been working with a range of disability organisations to make voting more accessible for people with disability. The Federal Election Guide
and other information is now available in a range of formats and languages. Telephone voting is also available for some people. There is also information available regarding the current accessibility of polling places.
Please note that you can only vote if you have already enrolled to vote. The electoral roll closed on 12 August 2013 for this election. If you have not enrolled to vote before this date, you cannot vote in this election. However, you should enrol now to make sure you don’t miss out on voting next time, or in State or Local elections, or in Referendums. If you are enrolled and you don’t vote, you will receive a fine from the AEC, because voting is compulsory in Australia.
Assisted Voting Information
If you have a disability you can access assisted polling. You can either nominate a friend or relative (except a candidate) to assist or the polling official in charge of the polling place can help.
The following electors may seek help:
- the elderly;
- people with a disability (including vision impairment);
- non-literate people;
- people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Polling staff are trained on how to assist you. If you cannot sign your name, you must make a mark on the roll and your nominated assistant must witness this and write “her mark” or “his mark” and print their name next to it. If you are blind or have low vision, you can contact the AEC for voting information in Braille or audio form by phoning 13 23 26.
Voting information in Auslan
Voting for blind people or people with vision impairment
The Federal Election Guide and Candidate lists are available in a range of accessible formats here: http://www.aec.gov.au/election/guide.htm
. Hard copies, including audio CDs and braille, can be accessed by calling the AEC on 13 23 26.
Telephone voting is new at this election. You can choose whether to use telephone voting, or whether to vote (with assistance, if necessary) at a polling place or via a Postal Vote.
To make use of telephone voting, you must register. You can register by calling 1800 913 993 after the 19 August 2013, and up until 12pm (AEST) on election day, 7 September 2013. You will select a 6-digit numerical Personal Identification Number, and be given a Blind and Low Vision registration number. These numbers will be sent to you, and you can choose whether to receive these numbers by email, telephone call, SMS, or post.
When you call to make your vote, these two numbers will ensure the anonymity of your vote. The voting assistant who will fill out your ballot paper will also be supervised to ensure your vote is cast in accordance with your wishes. You can call to cast your vote any time between the 20 August 2013 and the close of polling at 6pm (AEST) on the 7 September 2013.
Voting information in Easy English
The Easy English Federal Election Guide
is also available in Easy English for the first time. The Easy English guide tells you how to enrol and how to vote. It also gives you information about how the Australian Government system works. It will also help you to plan how to vote.
Voting information in other languages
Voting at a polling place
Polling places are open from 8am until 6pm sharp on Saturday 7 September 2013. You should first check your electorate, as these can change between elections. Then check a list of polling places in your electorate
. Please note that this will continue to be updated until the election.
Accessibility at polling places
The list of polling places released on the AEC website includes some guidance as to the accessibility of different polling places. ‘Yes’ refers to fully accessible polling places; ‘No’ refers to polling places which are inaccessible, especially to wheelchairs; and ‘Assisted Access’ refers to those which are partially accessible or accessible with some assistance. In the case of ‘assisted access,’ some of the essential requirements for accessibility are not fully met, but access for wheelchairs and other people with disability is possible with assistance.
Examples of partially accessible features include:
- Ramps steeper than 1 in 14 (4.1 degrees)
- Handrails that are only one side of steps/ramps
- Steps greater than 3mm in path of travel
- Doors narrower than 850mm but greater than 740mm
It is worth noting that the assessment of accessibility is taken from the street to the polling place, as well as from specified off street parking to the polling place (if available). All early polling places have also been assessed for accessibility and details about these are available on the AEC website.
Please note that if you are enrolled, you are entitled to vote.
If you can’t make it on the day
There are a range of different options if you cannot attend a polling place in your electorate on 7 September 2013.
If you can attend a polling place outside your own electorate but within your own state, you can cast an absent vote at any polling place.
You can vote ahead of the election under certain circumstances. These are called pre-poll votes, and are cast in person at an early voting centre or an AEC Office. Early votes became available on 20 August 2013. For more information, see http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/ways_to_vote/
You can apply for a Postal Vote, either via www.aec.gov.au
, or with a form found at Australia Post outlets. The AEC must receive
your Postal Vote application by 6pm on Thursday 5 September 2013 (that is, two days prior to the election). Please note that you can upload your signed Postal Vote application via the AEC website.
If you are unlikely to be able to attend a polling place in the future, you may wish to become a General Postal Voter
. This means that your ballot papers will automatically be forwarded to you as soon as an election is called in the future. Please note you must already be enrolled to vote.
General tips on voting
- You might be offered ‘how-to-vote’ cards as you enter the polling place, but you do not have to accept them. You also do not need to follow the ‘how-to-vote’ card, even if you want to vote for the party who produced it.
- You might have heard a lot of information about preference deals between parties. It’s important to know that the Australian electoral system allows you to specify your preferences. This is why you must number all the boxes on your House of Representatives ballot.
In addition, if you number all the boxes below the line on your Senate ballot, your preferences will override the preference deals created by the political parties. These deals only apply to those who vote above the line. Some ballots are very big, so it might be a good idea to plan your vote ahead of time to avoid accidentally invalidating your vote. www.belowtheline.org.au is a website that can help you prepare.
- This year, the big political parties are sending out Postal Vote Application forms with their political party materials. This has been quite confusing. To clarify, you do not have to use this form to vote. If you do want to use this form, you can send it back to the political parties, who are then obliged to forward these votes to the Australian Electoral Commission. You can also send it directly to the Australian Electoral Commission, or upload it via the website. Visit this webpage for more details.
- If you make a mistake, you can always ask for a new ballot paper.
- You can take your own pen or pencil if you would prefer.
2013 Election Platform launch and Disability Q&A Event
You are invited to join us at our 2013 Election Platform launch and Disability Q&A with Tim Ferguson and special guest panellists Senator Mitch Fifield, Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator the Hon Jan McLucas.
On Friday 30 August, come along to this event to ensure the voices of people with disability are strongly represented during this election period and into the future. Follow the conversation on twitter using hashtag #pwdaqanda
At this Q and A - you ask the questions!
Please submit your question when you RSVP.
Please ensure you RSVP as soon as possible
as there are limited places.
Please advise of any access requirements
(Auslan interpreters etc) or dietary requirements.
Attend in Person:
Where: Mercure Hotel, 818-820 George Street
Haymarket Sydney NSW
5.30pm for a 6pm start (AEST)
Friday 30 August
Pete Darby, Projects Liaison Officer.
Telephone (02) 9370-3100 or
The event will be followed by light refreshments.
Photograph of Tim Ferguson
Credit: James Penlidis
If you can’t make it in person, you can still participate.
Twitter: Follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #pwdaqanda
On the Panel
- Senator Mitch Fifield - Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
- Senator Rachel Siewert - The Australian Greens Spokesperson for Family Community and Disability Services
- Senator the Hon Jan McLucas - Senator for Queensland, Minister for Human Services
- Joan Hume - Founding and Life Member of People with Disability Australia; Former Director of PWDA; and recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to people with disability
- Sam Connor - Member of People with Disability Australia; Member of NDIS Expert Committee on Workforce Development and Sector Capacity; and Member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability WA
- Craig Wallace - President of People With Disability Australia; Deputy Community Co-chair of the NDIS Expert Committee in the ACT; Member of the Leaders for Tomorrow Advisory Group; occasional opinion editorial commentator for ABC Ramp Up and recipient of the Centenary Medal for Services to People with a Disability
PWDA 2013 Federal Electoral Platform
In our 2013 Federal Election campaign People with Disability Australia focuses on a socially just, accessible and inclusive community using four key messages to the next Australian Government.
- Get Real on Jobs Word 102kb
Increase the employment levels of people with disability
- Deliver DisabilityCare Word 107kb
Build a sustainable, person-centred NDIS
- Stop the Abuse Word 101kb
Embed a holistic strategy of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership
- Make the Convention Real Word 103kb
Implement the National Disability Strategy
PWDA Members' Survey
Last year at the Annual General Meeting members agreed that membership of PWDA should be available online, easily and free.
This change has been very successful and PWDA now has many more members than before, most of them online.
Many organisations with online members are moving from hardcopy publications to online publications.
PWDA will continue to provide E-Bulletin in a hard copy format to people who request it each year but we are looking for sustainable ways to provide information to members.
The level of response to the survey and the feedback we receive will help us make some important decisions about how we provide information including alternatives to LinkUp in its existing form.
Parties and Policies
There’s been substantial movement on disability policy during the last Parliament, specifically in relation to DisabilityCare. But there are still many questions remaining regarding the disability policy positions of the various parties, and it’s important that we don’t lose the momentum built up through the ‘Every Australian Counts
We invited the Liberal National Party, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens to contribute their perspective about what changes are needed in relation to disability. Their responses can be found below.
The Coalition (The Liberal and National Parties)
"The Australian Parliament has a shared commitment to provide a better deal for Australians with disability. The Federal Coalition has enthusiastically supported each milestone on the road to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In the words of the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MHR, “the NDIS is an idea whose time has come.”
If elected, the Coalition will honour the Commonwealth agreements with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory for launch sites. The Coalition will honour the Commonwealth agreements for full jurisdiction-wide rollout with all the states and territories. The Coalition will maintain announced funding for the NDIS. The Coalition is committed to delivering the NDIS in keeping with the Productivity Commission’s vision and the timetable detailed by the intergovernmental agreements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. Our support for the NDIS is unequivocal.
The NDIS is a once-in-a-generation reform that will unfold over the life of several parliaments and should be the property of the Parliament as a whole, on behalf of the Australian people, rather than that of any particular political party. The Coalition will expand the responsibilities of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the NDIS to ensure that this project remains on track through three parliaments. The Coalition envisages the Committee having a role in examining the experience in the launch sites, including eligibility issues, before progressing to full roll out.
Australians with disability don’t want to be objects of care. They want to be supported, independent, in charge and in control of their lives. That’s why the Coalition will revert to the term ‘NDIS’ rather than DisabilityCare Australia.
The Coalition will improve accountability and transparency by putting all policy and programmes for employment of people with disability under the responsibility of the Minister for Disabilities. At present, disability employment is split between two portfolios: Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). This creates unnecessary duplication and complexity, blurs accountability lines and makes it more difficult for people with disability to access the services they need. Under a Coalition government, all employment issues for people with disability will be the responsibility of one minister.
Every day, tens of thousands of Australians with disability require the assistance of a carer. We will protect Australia’s carers and maintain the Carers Payment, Carers Allowance and Carers Supplement. Young carers in particular carry a difficult responsibility looking after family members. To assist young carers, the Coalition will establish a Young Carer Bursary Programme to assist hundreds of young carers and help with the cost of study while caring for a family member.
The best guarantee for the NDIS in the long term as well as support for carers is proper management of the Budget and the economy by a government that can live within its means. Economic policy and social policy are not alternatives. Good economic policy is necessary to support good social policy.
Australians with disability and carers can have confidence that the Coalition will deliver on our commitments because the Coalition will build the strong economy that will underpin the implementation of a better deal for Australians with disability.
Labor knows the current system of disability care and support is underfunded and unfair for those who rely on it. That’s why we're introducing DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, to completely transform the disability care and support system in this country by taking a tailored, life-long approach to providing care and support for local people with disability. Labor also developed the National Disability Strategy an equally important policy which address the needs of all people with disability living in Australia.
DisabilityCare Australia will work with people with disability, their families and carers to identify their plans and goals for the future. This will ensure they receive individualised care and support packages, are assisted by local coordinators to help manage and deliver their support, and are linked to mainstream and community services.
DisabilityCare Australia will mean more choice and control, more independence, and more opportunities for people with disability to be involved in school, work and community life. Importantly, it gives all Australians peace of mind that if they or a loved one are born with or acquires a disability, they will get the care support they need.
Labor has invested $1 billion to deliver the first stage of DisabilityCare Australia, beginning from July 2013. The first stage will benefit more than 25,000 people in five locations across the country and a historic agreement has been reached between the federal and NSW state governments to roll out DisabilityCare Australia across the state by 2018-2019. Western Australia has now signed up to DisabilityCare meaning that every State and Territory is participating in the Scheme. On funding Labor listened to the voices of the disability community, which included strong advocacy by People with Disability Australia, and passed a bill instituting an amendment to the Medicare Levy which will ensure a substantial portion of the cost of DisabilityCare is assured. Labor fully funded the Commonwealth’s share of DisabilityCare Australia with an investment of more than $14 billion in additional funding in the 2013-14 Budget.
DisabilityCare Australia will also work in close partnership with local communities to improve inclusion and people with disability. The Agency will also look at fostering innovation, research and best practice to better support people with disability. In building awareness of disability across the general community we can address the things that can make a difference to everyday life for people with a disability, their families and carers.
DisabilityCare is a transformative reform for people with a severe and permanent disability. The ambition of DisabilityCare is to insure that all Australians with significant or profound disability receive the care and support they need and have choice and control over their care, regardless of how they acquired their disability in the future.
"Thank you for the opportunity to share information about the Australian Greens’ disability policies with your members.
The Australian Greens are the political party that cares for people. We believe that people who experience disability, and their families and carers, deserve access to life-long support and services that meet their individual circumstances. We strongly support the NDIS (DisabilityCare) and are pleased that the scheme, which people have worked hard to see come to fruition, is now being rolled out at launch sites.
The Greens believe that DisabilityCare holds great promise for providing people with the individual supports and services they need. We will continue to work towards seeing this become a reality right across Australia. We look forward to DisabilityCare providing a fundamental shift of control to people over the choice and management of their disability supports. We do not believe that access to supports and services should be different for someone who acquires a disability after the age of 65 and tried to amend the NDIS legislation to reflect this, unfortunately our amendment wasn’t supported. However, we will ensure that this issue is a priority during the review of the NDIS legislation, before the roll out of the full scheme, so that older Australians are not left behind again.
The Greens believe that access to an ongoing and fully funded national disability scheme should not be dependent on where people live. In particular we recognise the extra barriers that Aboriginal people face when it comes to living with disability. We will continue to work to ensure DisabilityCare supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and that they are able to access culturally appropriate services and support through the scheme. The Greens saw the development of the 2010-2020 National Disability Strategy as an important step in the improvement of the lives of people with disability. Unfortunately some of the momentum behind the creation of the strategy seems to have been lost as political will and attention is directed toward the NDIS. We believe that both the Strategy and the NDIS are important and we will continue to work to regain the momentum behind the National Disability Strategy. We will continue to push for people with disability to be fully involved in and, where possible, in control of the planning and delivery of policies, services and supports in areas such as education, health, housing, mobility, employment and social engagement.
The Greens believe that priority should be given to increasing the employment levels of people with disability and we support a range of strategies to achieve this. We would like to see greater effort given to supporting school leavers with disability to go from school into meaningful employment, educational and vocational programs or other community-based activities.
The Greens are aware of importance of strong and well-funded disability advocacy services. We have spoken out strongly about the need for advocacy and the critical role it plays in achieving positive change. We want to ensure there is provision for both individual and systemic advocacy and funding for legal advice and advocacy support agent services. We are concerned that funding for advocacy services still isn’t secure and will continue to campaign for this.
We believe there should be greater national legislative protection for people with a disability. This includes giving the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) more power in discrimination complaints, and being able to make complaints to enable systemic change and lessen the onus on individuals to make complaints. We support the extension of anti-vilification laws to include vilification on the basis of disability.
The Greens will continue to work for inclusive communities that are accessible to everyone. We believe that as a society we have a responsibility to accommodate diversity in people’s individual abilities and to remove barriers to access for all. Our goal is to ensure that universal design is a key feature of public planning, and that public places do not exclude anyone from participating in our communities. We will continue to build on the work we have been doing to raise public awareness about this issue and to push for stronger national access standards.
The Greens believe that despite widespread support in the community for the provision of better services and supports under a National Disability Insurance Scheme, there remains a lack of understanding and awareness amongst the broader population about the everyday challenges and barriers faced by people with disability. We support a range of measures to address this including community education programs to promote public awareness of human diversity and disability issues, and to reduce discrimination.
Newsflash – the Greens’ new Access All Areas app
I would also like to share with your members the news that the Australian Greens have developed and launched a smartphone and tablet app that will allow people with disability, family, friends and the community to report accessibility trouble spots from anywhere around the country. The reports people provide to us will be summarised on our website for people to view.
We'll also make the formal report publically available and provide information to Parliament, governments and other organisations, such as the Australian Human Rights Commission. Access All Areas is available for free download for iOS and Android devices. You can download a copy of the app and our initiative paper from www.rachelsiewert.org.au/access
There are a lot of political parties in this year’s election, including a number of new parties. To help you navigate your choices, we have scoured each party’s website for signs of a disability policy. Less than 20 of the 54 registered parties mention disability, and as you can see below, many of these are in passing.
Has a brief policy focussed on disability, and also discusses disability in relation to their housing and euthanasia policies.
Have an extensive set of policies in relation to disability, carers and Seniors.
Policy focussed on the sexual rights and freedoms of people with a disability and the elderly.
‘Disability and Ageing’ policy is focused on ‘senior citizens’.
Health policy focussed on including the voices of people with disability and carers in the rollout of DisabilityCare
Single mention of disability is in acknowledging the vital role of Carers in the management of our senior and disabled residents.
Extensive discussion of disability across numerous policies
Two mentions of disability in their policies: one in relation to their pro-life position, and the other in relation to health.
Extensive and quite comprehensive policy regarding disability.
Extensive and quite comprehensive ‘Disability Support’ policy, focussed especially on care.
Mentions disability once, specifically in relation to the introduction of driverless cars.
Single mention of intellectual disability, specifically in relation to training and employment.
Single mention of disability is in relation to their position on Digital Rights Management.
Comprehensive and specific disability policy.
Expansive policy on disability.
If you would like advocacy support call us on 1800 422 015
Bundaberg Region – Luke Gale
Office hours: Mon-Fri 11am–4.30pm
PO Box 1630 Bundaberg QLD 4670
Fraser Coast Region – Rhonda Perkins
Office hours: Mon-Thurs 9am–5pm
PO Box 3295 Hervey Bay DC QLD 4655
Logan City Region – Tracey Moffatt
Office hours: Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm
PO Box 62 Kingston QLD 4114
Mt Isa and Lower Gulf Communities – Valerie Brown
Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am–5pm
PO Box 1615 Mt Isa QLD 4825
Sunshine Coast Region – Grace Stevenson
Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am–5pm
PO Box 21 Buddina Post Shop Buddina, QLD 4575
New South Wales
Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands Regions – Gareth Elliott
Office hours: Mon–Thur 9am–5pm
PO Box 1254, Bowral NSW 2576
Sutherland Shire – Cath Posniak
Office hours: Mon–Thur 9am–5pm
PO Box 616 Sutherland NSW 1499
Queanbeyan Region – Lynette Russell
Office hours: Mon–Thur 9am–5pm
PO Box 615 Queanbeyan NSW 2620
People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation. Our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations committed to the disability rights movement.
PWDA was founded in 1981, the International Year of Disabled People, to provide people with disability with a voice of our own. We have a cross-disability focus and represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability.
As a non-profit, non-government organisation we depend on public donations, bequests and fundraising activities to maintain our commitment to improving the lives of people with disability. As a deductible gift recipient, all donations of $2 or more are fully tax deductible. Your tax deductible donations support the work of PWDA. If you are able to support us, please visit pwd.org.au/take-action/donations.html
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People with Disability Australia Incorporated
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Phone 02 9370 3100, toll-free 1800 422 015
TTY 02 9318 2138, toll-free 1800 422 016
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