A Statement from the Board of People with Disability Australia

Some recommended guiding principles

PWDA welcomes work to clarify the roles and responsibilities for national disability organisations.

We believe that collaboration is necessary and important. We believe that a more collective voice representing all people with disability is overdue and necessary.

We believe the discussions should be driven by Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) which are completely controlled by people with disability as well as being framed around guiding principles which achieve these objectives.

Like other groups in Australia people with disability are able to take charge of our own affairs and provide our own voice through DPOs.

Just as the NDIS puts power back in the hands of people with disability so any new arrangements for national peaks which are supported by the Australian Government should have this at the centre along with our obligations under The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Representative arrangements for people with disability funded by the Australian Government should be organised along democratic lines. This is the Australian way and people with disability needs to be able to join, vote, nominate for and directly elect the leaders of the national representative body in free and fair polls conducted by secret ballot. The representative body needs to have 100% people with disability on the governing body, which is directly accountable to its membership.

There are different ways to achieve a collective voice and bringing organisations into one federated model is not the sole option.

A national voice for people with disability must have a direct mandate from people with disability. There must be no closed shop and the voice of ordinary people with disability must be heard.

Australians with disability must decide how we are represented at a national level and how the sector is organised.

Representative arrangements should not be imposed by the government or decided amongst existing organisations within or outside of the national peaks secretariat program.

Every impairment is different, every individual’s experience of disability is different and disability occurs in the context of gender, ethnicity and culture, age, sexuality, location and income.

A cross disability lens is necessary and appropriate to bring together a potentially infinite set of perspectives and to develop a coherent understanding of gaps, barriers and solutions. It is based on a social model perspective and underpinned by CRPD.

A national representative body and peak funding arrangements which exclude or fail to resource and value that perspective will not be supported by PWDA.

Therefore we strongly believe:

  • New arrangements need to be organised on democratic lines and the national voice for people with disability must draw and maintain a direct mandate from people with disability. It should be governed by and for people with disability.
  • New arrangements need to strengthen collaboration, unity and effectiveness rather than further fragment the sector.
  • New arrangements need to work from the grassroots rather than being top down.
  • New arrangements need to include cross disability perspectives and recognise that disability is primarily experienced through community barriers as well as in terms of gender, ethnicity and culture, age, indigenous identity as well as the origins of impairment.
  • There is and continues to be an important role for a range of specific disability DPOs representing people with different impairments in Australia.
  • New arrangements need to support Australia's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • New arrangements should be best practice and must capture knowledge about what works well in other sectors, from international DPOs and from our regional partners such as New Zealand.
  • New arrangements must be decided by people with disability after broad and comprehensive consultation. There must be opportunities for ordinary people to have a say on how they are represented.
  • New arrangements must not be imposed by governments

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