Stay up-to-date with the latest Australian disability human rights news, views and developments
Welcome to PWDA’s October 2015 E-Bulletin.
Our E-Bulletin goes out to subscribers regularly by email. Please share this E-Bulletin with anyone you might think would like to receive it.
Australian Cross Disability Alliance representatives called for a Royal Commission into violence against people with disability at a recent public hearing as part of the Senate Inquiry into violence against people with disability in institutional and residential settings. Pictured above are Carolyn Frohmader, Jess Cadwallader, Damien Griffis, Therese Sands and Jane Flanagan. You can find out more about our campaign to End the Violence
later in this E-Bulletin.
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Following a report in the Australian Financial Review
that the Australian Government’s Expenditure Review Committee was discussing delaying the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) we responded
very clearly in the media that delays would never be acceptable and would be a breach of the Coalition Government’s promise to deliver the NDIS on time and in full.
I welcomed former Assistant Minister for Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield’s renewed commitment on the ABC’s World Today program
that the Government was still committed to the rollout timetable.
President of People with Disability Australia
While officials may need reminding of the reason that we signed onto the NDIS I can assure them that we don’t and that people with disability, carers, families and allies would form a united front if the NDIS was ever to be delayed. As I mentioned in Pro-Bono News
, following the recent quarterly report the NDIS continues to be on time, on budget and on track in key areas and no case has been made for a delay. People with disability, especially those of us who have been ageing, have been waiting all of our lives for an NDIS and we would use every means in our power to advocate on this issue. This was a point I emphasised during the National Reform Summit and in my piece for Open Forum
Last month I presented as part of a panel chaired by Jenny Brockie, Journalist and Presenter, Insight, SBS at the National Disability Employment Australia conference
, discussing how we can lift workforce participation rates of people with disability in Australia.
One of the key elements to getting a job is obtaining the right skills and I am pleased that our Secretary, Bonnie Millen is maintaining a watching brief over education issues on the Board.
A worrying trend in the United States is the move to push students with disability back into “special” secluded schools, sometimes the very same schools left over from racial segregation, as part of a cost cutting ideological push against inclusive education. There is no evidence that these schools are effective or produce better outcomes for people with disability – in many cases they even dodge rudimentary testing as this piece in The Conversation
makes clear. Sometimes the cages of segregation are literal as the case
of a student caged in a Canberra school shows. As I said in the Canberra Times, this is an iconic image that should remind us of the many cages and restraints placed on students with disability.
As ever, past and current students with disability are almost the last people to be consulted in these discussions which is why your voice is important as this debate rolls on.
Recently in Canberra I was pleased to chair a policy forum at Parliament House on legal responses to the many issues raised for people with disability through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The forum heard about failures in the police and justice system to respond to abuse and possible remedies, such as redress schemes.
I was also privileged to sit in on one of our recent information sessions for the Royal Commission project and have nothing but admiration for the wonderful team of advocates working on the project, especially Jane Rosengrave, a self-advocate and survivor, who has been presenting at these sessions.
I appreciate the continued support PWDA receives from the Australian Government Department of Social Services for this important work as well as the work of Women with Disability Australia and our other partners in the Australian Cross Disability Alliance.
The White Flower Memorial
In light of the work we have done on the Royal Commission and in the course of the Senate Inquiry, the Board have been thinking about ways that we might remember people with disability who have died in institutions over many decades. We know some of these stories as The Uncounted
. Others we will never know.
We do know that untold numbers of our disabled forebears rest in unknown places with no graves to mark them, no words said over their bodies and no stories told. Some lived unmarked lives of pain, indignity and turmoil we can only guess at.
We know their voices were silenced during their lives and their footprint on the earth was erased in the passing of days by denying them a funeral.
In over 200 years of asylums, institutions, orphanages and all the sealed terrible places, too many disabled people have been cast aside without remembrance.
We can, at least, make a start at bringing them into memory.
November 25 marks White Ribbon Day – Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women, and the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
In the wake of the Senate Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect against People with Disability in Institutional Settings and ongoing revelations about the numbers of people with disability who are daily abused, neglected and in some cases murdered in Australia, the Australian Cross Disability Alliance will mark White Ribbon Day with an event for and by people with disability – The White Flower Memorial.
The PWDA Board, people with disability, families and supporters will come together to lay white flowers at a central location in Sydney in a national moment of remembrance and mourning for those who have lost their lives in institutional settings, those who have experienced violence, abuse and neglect and for those who have never been publicly mourned.
The event aims to challenge the culture of discrimination that allows violence and abuse to continue, and promotes people with disability as equal citizens who have the right to be safe from physical and sexual violence, neglect and abuse.
People with disability and allies from around Australia will be able to participate via a social media campaign and by placing their white flower at a location of their choice and photographing it with the hashtag #whiteflowers.
I will always make a strong stand against those who would see the lives of people with disability of lesser value. While I know that there are a range of views on euthanasia in our community, few of us would endorse the way that Peter Singer devalues the lives of people with disability and I was pleased to have an opportunity to rebut these in a piece on the Crikey website
Membership is what makes PWDA strong and I hope you will continue to spread the word about joining PWDA
. Joining us remains online, easy and free.
Election and Annual General Meeting
On 4 September eligible PWDA full individual, organisational and life members were invited to nominate to become a PWDA Board Director.
The PWDA Board currently consists of 11 elected Directors, each serving terms of 2 years.
There are 6 Directors who were elected in 2014 and whose terms will continue. These are President Craig Wallace, Kevin Boyce, Suresh Rajan, Joel Wilson, Bonnie Millen and Stuart Mawbey.
There are 4 Directors who have served one term on the board and may nominate for re-election. These are Samantha Connor, Thomas Banks, Justin Ray and Mark Tonga. There is 1 Director, Faye Druett, who has served two consecutive terms on the board and may not nominate for re-election. The ending of these 5 terms created the vacancies which nominated were called for to fill.
There are 3 additional Directors who were co-opted by the Board in 2014 and whose terms will end in 2015. These are Alex Jones, Suzy Keene and Kristy Trajcevski. They were all eligible to nominate to be elected to the Board.
Following the 14 day nomination period for Board of Directors positions, PWDA received 10 nominations for 5 positions available. Therefore in accordance with clause 40 of the PWDA Constitution an election was required to determine these positions.
Thomas Banks, Samantha Connor, Tom Ferguson, Shane Hryhorec, Alex Jones, Suzanne Keene, Gary Kerridge, Justin Ray, Mark Tonga and Kristy Trajcevski are contesting the election.
At the start of the election voting period in late September, statements from these candidates that outline why they are contesting the election were circulated to eligible PWDA voting members, along with information on how to vote either online or by post.
Corp Vote is an independent organisation conducting the election process on behalf of PWDA. The election voting period ends on Friday 16 October and results of the election will be circulated to all members in the week beginning Monday 19 October.
The AGM will commence at 6pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time, and run until around 9:30pm. Members wishing to attend are asked to arrive from 5:30pm and please be advised the venue is accessible but there is limited parking available.
This event will be webcast live in accessible formats and if you wish to attend, please RSVP by Friday 13 November by emailing email@example.com or calling 1800 422 015.
Please also advise of any access, Auslan interpreter or dietary requirements.
Marissa learns to advocate for herself
Marissa* has mild intellectual disability and for six years she suffered family violence at the hands of her husband.
“He kicked me, pulled my hair and almost choked the life out of me,” Marissa told PWDA. “He stopped me seeing my mum for four years, I had to sneak out to see her. I used to go hungry, it was a living nightmare.”
Marissa said she felt obliged to stay in the relationship because she had two young children, so she continued her relationship with her husband while more violence occurred.
IMAGE: Green road sign. The word Advocacy
is spelt out in white capital letters
“I witnessed violence as a child when my father would come home drunk and smash everything up so for me I think I was used to it,” she said.
Marissa was put in touch with PWDA and provided with support from a PWDA Individual Advocate. “Advocacy helped me realise I needed to think for myself and put the safety of me and my children first,” Marissa said.
Our Individual Advocate helped Marissa access housing and deal with a range of government agencies and services after she decided to leave her husband.
“I had lots of services in my life and advocacy has helped me shrink that down to one. I’m now learning from my advocate, how to advocate for myself.”
* Not this person’s real name
|DISABILITY SUPPORT AND THE NDIS
Landmark NDIS commitment in NSW and Victoria welcomed
From 1 July 2016 eligible people with disability in NSW and Victoria will start entering the NDIS. In NSW, the NDIS is expected to be operating state-wide by July 2018. In Victoria, the NDIS is expected to be operating state-wide by July 2019.
IMAGE: NDIS logo
In the first year of the NDIS rollout in NSW, seven districts will transition to the NDIS including Central Coast, Northern Sydney, South Western Sydney, Southern NSW, Western Sydney, and the remaining populations of Hunter New England and Nepean-Blue Mountains. From 1 July 2017 the NDIS will be begin to be available in the districts of Illawarra Shoalhaven, Mid North Coast, Murrumbidgee, Northern NSW, South Eastern Sydney, Sydney, Western NSW, and Far West NSW.
In the first year of the NDIS rollout in Victoria, three areas will transition to the NDIS including North East Melbourne, Central Highlands and Loddon. In the second year, seven areas will transition including Inner Gippsland, Ovens Murray, Western District, Inner East Melbourne, Outer East Melbourne, Hume Moreland and Bayside Peninsula. In the third year, six areas will transition to the NDIS including Southern Melbourne, Brimbank Melton, Western Melbourne, Goulburn, Mallee and Outer Gippsland.
The specific details on when and how you will be able to access the NDIS will be made available in the coming months. Existing Commonwealth and state-based services and supports will continue until all eligible people with disability start their plans with the NDIS.
Click this link to view our media release welcoming these landmark agreements and urging other states and territories to follow the lead of NSW and Victoria
Universal Periodical Review
Australia’s human rights record was placed under the microscope in Geneva earlier this month at a series of meetings between a delegation of non-government organisations (NGO) and members of the United Nations Human Rights Council
The meetings were held ahead of Australia’s Universal Periodic Review
(UPR) to be conducted by the UNHRC. The UPR is a four yearly review of the human rights record of UNHRC member countries, and in November, Australia is being reviewed along with Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar, Austria, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe.
People with Disability Australia’s (PWDA) Co-Chief Executive Officer, Therese Sands is part of the NGO UPR delegation that is representing the views of a UPR Coalition of over 200 human rights organisations in Australia.
The NGO UPR delegation is made up of:
The NGO delegation is working collaboratively with the Australian Human Rights Commission
(AHRC) in its lobbying of UNHRC member countries, with Darren Dick from AHRC partnering with us in our meetings. (A photo of NGO delegation members with Mr Dick and Roland Chauville from the UPR info event organisers is above).
The key human rights issues that are being discussed with over 30 member countries of the UNHRC include democratic rights and freedoms, administration of justice, poverty, housing and homelessness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, gender equality, refugees and asylum seekers, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex rights, disability rights, rights of older persons and prisoner rights. For a full list of factsheets on all issues click here
For further information contact Therese Sands, Co-Chief Executive Officer, on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Therese on Twitter @TheresePWDA
|ECONOMIC SECURITY AND EMPLOYMENT
Disability Employment Framework – consultation report released
The Disability Employment Taskforce responsible for developing a new National Disability Employment Framework to boost employment rates for people with disability has released its first report.
Earlier this year the taskforce travelled across Australia to find out people’s views on the strengths and weaknesses of the current disability employment support system, and what a successful future system might look like.
IMAGE: A sign on the road that says 'UPDATE'.
PWDA’s Advocacy Project Manager Samantha French attended a consultation forum to put forward our views and we also made a submission to the taskforce’s first issues paper.
The taskforce’s report highlights the main issues that were expressed at the consultation forums and in written submissions. You can visit the Taskforce website to read the report.
For further information on PWDA’s advocacy on employment issues, contact Samantha French, Advocacy Project Manager, on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or email email@example.com
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamPWDA
|PREVENTING VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
UPDATE: PWDA Royal Commission Disability Support Project
PWDA is continuing to travel across Australia to provide information about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to people with disability and their supporters.
IMAGE: Logo for The Royal Commission
into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
We recently ran information sessions about our Disability Support for the Royal Commission project in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart. During our visit to Tasmania we also engaged with local advocacy groups, community-based support services, key government and non-government agencies Public Trustees, Public Guardians and Advocates, and heads of government disability services agencies.
In Tasmania we also held the first focus group session with people with disability, as part of our 'What makes organisations safe for children with disability?' consultative research project.
From 19-23 October we will be in South Australia to run our next round of information sessions and a focus group. For full details please visit our Royal Commission website – rcsupport.pwd.org.au
For further information contact Jess Cadwallader, Advocacy Projects Officer on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Child Sexual Assault, Disability and the Justice System
PWDA held a forum focussed on Child Sexual Assault, Disability and the Justice System at Parliament House in Canberra on 7 September. Speakers from across Australia came together to explore the barriers people with disability, who have experienced sexual assault as children, face when trying to access the justice system.
We have also made a submission to the Royal Commission’s issue paper on Schools. This should be made public soon, and will be placed on our website when it is.
End the Violence – urge your member of parliament to act
The Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) recently launched a campaign called End the Violence
, which is designed to raise awareness of the appalling levels of violence that people with disability in Australia experience.
As part of the End the Violence campaign we are using social media
to regularly share stories of people with disability who have experienced violence, abuse or neglect. When these stories are shared, we are then encouraging people to visit a special website that has been set up, so they can urge their local member of parliament to support our calls for:
- A Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in Australia.
- An overhaul of the criminal justice system
- The establishment of an independent national statutory watchdog to protect, investigate and enforce findings regarding violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability
Preventing violence against women and children
PWDA recently attended a national consultation run by OurWatch, ANROWS and VicHealth, for the development of the National Framework for Prevention of Violence against Women and their Children, and provided supplementary feedback.
This Framework is designed to support a coordinated and collaborative approach to the prevention of violence against women, involving action across the board from addressing structural inequality through to individual attitudes.
PWDA supports the Framework's commitment to an intersectional approach to these issues, and looks forward to seeing the final framework when it is released later this year.
For further information contact Jess Cadwallader, Advocacy Project Manager, Violence Prevention, on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or email email@example.com
|ACCESSIBILITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
In our submission, and when we appeared before the Senate committee, we argued that while there is currently a lot of rhetoric around inclusive education within the education system, this is not realised to any real extent in practice. There is a lack of understanding of what inclusive education means, and this is not necessarily just within schools but also at the government level.
Inclusive education is not embedded as a framework in our education system at the macro level and therefore it is very difficult to implement inclusive education within secondary schools and primary schools and to create inclusive attitudes in our communities. The education system is failing children with disability, creating a daily struggle for these children to receive a quality education.
PWDA argues that it is imperative that article 24 on the right to education in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
is embedded within our education reforms. Currently, there is no national framework which is able to achieve this, but there are numerous ad hoc methods which attempt to create disability inclusion within our school systems, but these are not working. Overall, the system does not embed disability, diversity, or difference and fails to create an environment where children with disability can reach their potential, contribute to society, and participate in their communities as children and also as adults.
Vocational Education and Training in NSW
PWDA made a submission to the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into Vocational Education and Training (VET). PWDA staff Ngila Bevan and Therese Sands also appeared before the committee inquiring into this issue.
PWDA argues the Smart and Skilled reforms introduced by the NSW Government earlier this year do not encourage people with disability to participate in the VET sector. Drawing on feedback from our members, we explained that the impact of the reforms has been to create uncertainty, reduce accessibility, and limit social and economic opportunities for students with disability.
Our primary recommendations were for the Committee to strongly support the role and resourcing of TAFE as a provider of VET, to recommend regulatory mechanisms for course fees and course quality, and to advocate for a flexible, NDIS-style disability support funding model based on person centred approaches to learning as opposed to the provision of generic supports.
Failures by the government and VET providers to address these recommendations will result in uncertain and unsustainable learning environments for students with disability and their continued segregation from our economy.
For further information on these issues please contact Ngila Bevan, Manager Advocacy and Communications, on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Ngila on Twitter @NgilaPWDA
17 September 2015
Pro Bono News
The first National Disability Insurance Scheme agreements have been signed between the Turnbull Government and the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments.
Disability Abuse Royal Commission Calls Get Louder
17 September 2015
Xavier Smerdon, Pro Bono News
The Turnbull Government has said that the state governments should “take the lead” on investigating incidences of abuse against people with disability rather than a Royal Commission into the issue be set up.
How the NDIS is changing the lives of Hunter residents
Jenny Marchant, ABC Newcastle
Families in the Hunter who were among the first in Australia to use the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have reflected on how it's affected them, as Federal and State governments prepare to roll out the scheme throughout New South Wales. Disability care: NSW and Victoria sign off on care package
Sue Dunlevy, The Daily Telegraph
More than half of people with disability in Australia will be covered by the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signed off on the rollout in NSW and Victoria as one of his first acts in the top job.
Qld govt seeks quick release of NDIS funds
Queensland's government wants Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to release NDIS funding to the state more quickly. Disability Action Week: Living in a world without sight
Blythe Moore, ABC North West Queensland
Tristan Bowen is aware he has blue eyes and is quite tall but those are the only things he knows for sure about his appearance. He has no idea what his friends and family look like, and has no way to tell the difference between colours. This is how life has always been for Tristan, who was born blind.
WA’s My Way may work within NDIS
Andrew Probyn, 7 News
The Turnbull Government has indicated it may allow WA to operate its own disability services within a national framework.
WA: NDIS is ‘being left on the shelf’
Rick Morton, The Australian
A senior West Australian government employee has spoken out about internal manoeuvring in the administration that is pre-emptively favouring the full rollout of the state’s disability system in preference to the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme.
NDIS Resources for people preparing for the NSW rollout
Download fact sheets, read blog posts or the latest news and more on this NSW Government website designed to support people with disability who are preparing for the rollout of the NDIS in NSW.
Clickability: Australian disability service reviews
Clickability is an Australian disability service directory which features ratings and reviews from the people who actually use the services
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.
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