PWD E-Bulletin

Issue 54 June 2009 - ISSN 2202-0705

Welcome to PWD’s e-bulletin. The e-bulletin goes out to members and interested others regularly by email. For members who do not have access to email, a printed version of the e-bulletin will be sent by post. To be added to or removed from our mailing list, or to change your email address, please email pwd@pwd.org.au or contact PWD on one of the numbers listed at the end of this bulletin.

Contents

New South Wales News

  • NSW Budget
  • Restructure of NSW Government agencies
  • NSW Trustee and Guardian Bill
  • Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into 2008 Local Government elections
  • SafeStart Private Rental Subsidy Scheme launched
  • NSW Government response to PADP Inquiry
  • PADP Campaign
  • Other State and Territory News

  • Queensland Budget
  • Call for Queensland Electricity Subsidy Scheme
  • Mobility scooters on public transport
  • Towards a National Women’s Health Policy for women with disability
  • Queensland Plan for Mental Health, Community Sector 2009-1017 - consultation
  • Human Rights Charter used to scrutinise Victorian Mental Health Review Board
  • National News

  • Enhanced protection for the rights for people with disability
  • Towards a National Disability Parking Scheme
  • Parliamentary Committee Reports on the Access to Premises Standard
  • National Human Rights Consultation Update
  • Inquiry into Migration and Disability Launched
  • Blind Teacher Spared Deportation
  • Same Sex Law Reform Advisory Group
  • Disability and Development Bulletin Launched
  • Building Accessibility into the Education Revolution
  • Australia signs UN Optional Protocol on Torture
  • ANZ Abilities Program
  • Government responds to the Senate Report on Special Disability Trusts
  • Print Disability Services Program Review
  • Telecommunications award to honour Christopher Newell, AM
  • Information resource on mobile phone accessibility
  • International News

  • Pacific Regional Disability Forum 2009 Conference Outcomes Document
  • Pacific Sisters with Disabilities: At the intersection of discrimination
  • National DPO established in Tuvalu
  • Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals – Expert Group Meeting Outcomes
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Second Session of the Conference of States Parties
  • The inside Story

  • Welcome to new PWD Board Director
  • PWD Members contribute to national human rights consultations
  • Join the PWD cause on Facebook
  • Conferences

    About PWD

  • PWD’s training services
  • Privacy Statement

    Contact Us

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    New South Wales News

    NSW Budget

    On 16 June 2009 the NSW Treasurer handed down the State Budget for 2009-10. The Treasurer announced that $2.3billion has been allocated to the NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care for the 2009-10 financial year, which incorporates an increase of $238million over the previous year.

    This budget is the fourth year of the NSW Government’s Stronger Together strategy, and PWD is pleased that planned fourth year allocations for key support and service initiatives contained in the strategy have been delivered.

    The disability-related budget increases principally relate to previously announced initiatives under that strategy ($50.6million) or to new Commonwealth commitments under the Disability Assistance Package ($55.7million). The principal measures announced are:

    1. $45.8 in additional funding for supported accommodation – 349 extra supported accommodation places are to be delivered by the end of 2009-10.
    2. $5.6 million in additional funding to prevent young people entering nursing homes, and to improve services to young people living in nursing homes.
    3. $23.5 million in additional funding for attendant care places which provide up to 35 hours of assistance per week to people with disability with high support needs – an extra 319 attendant care places will be delivered in 2009-10.
    4. $3 million in additional funding for intensive support packages for young people with disability and their families.
    5. $10.6 million in additional funding for post-school options programmes – over 1000 school leavers are expected to join these programs in 2009-10.
    6. $4 million in additional funding for therapy places including occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy for young children with disability – an extra 560 therapy places are to be provided in 2009-10.
    7. $1.5 million in additional funding in 2009-10 to provide intensive assistance for 410 children and families with managing problem behaviours.
    8. $17.2 million for flexible respite packages to provide a short-term break from care to families and older carers of people with disability – over 800 additional places will be delivered in 2009-10.
    9. 90 Aboriginal disability support workers are planned to be recruited in 2009-10 as part of the Building Pride through Opportunities plan.

    An additional $145.4 million in capital funding has also been appropriated in relation to disability services. Most of this money is for the development of new institutional accommodation facilities associated with the Peat Island and Lachlan Centre redevelopments, and for new cluster housing developments.

    PWD remains extremely concerned about the ongoing commitment to redevelop and build institutional accommodation for people with disability. This is a significant budget allocation, which could have been spent on providing innovative, community-based supported accommodation for people with disability. Such an investment in redeveloping and building institutions is a regressive step for the human rights of people with disability. We will continue to strongly oppose these measures.

    To read the budget papers go to www.nsw.gov.au and then to ‘news’. The DADHC agency budget statement is available on the Department’s website at www.dadhc.nsw.gov.au

    Restructure of NSW Government agencies

    In the lead up to the 2009-10 NSW Budget the Premier, Nathan Rees, announced a major restructure of NSW Government agencies. The Premier said the aim of this restructure was to achieve greater coordination and efficiency.

    Under this restructure the existing 160 NSW Government agencies are combined to create 13 ‘super-departments’ which in turn are grouped into 6 ‘Policy Groups.’ There remain 23 Ministers assigned to various policy areas within the super-departments.

    The NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care has been amalgamated into the NSW Department of Human Services which is part of the Social Development Policy Grouping. The Government has announced the appointment of Director-Generals for each Policy Grouping. The Department of Human Services will be headed by Ms Jennifer Mason, formerly the Director General of the NSW Department of Community Services.

    PWD will be monitoring the implementation of the restructure to assess whether it improves service delivery and outcomes for people with disability in NSW.

    NSW Trustee and Guardian Bill

    In early June 2009, the NSW Government introduced legislation to merge the Office of the Protective Commissioner and Public Guardian with the NSW Public Trustee. This legislation has now been enacted into law, despite major concerns that aspects of the legislation create or perpetuate violations of the human rights of persons with disability and compromise the institutional independence of the Public Guardian.

    PWD was successful in persuading the Government to amend the legislation so as to reverse the onus of proof regarding a person’s capacity to manage their financial affairs. Under the existing legislation a person with disability had to prove that he or she was capable of managing their financial affairs, whereas under the new legislation the applicant (who will usually be the psychiatrist) bears the onus of proving that the person is incapable of managing their affairs. This is a marginal improvement. However, in many other respects the legislation will continue to violate Australia’s international human rights obligations in relation to equality before the law and legal capacity for persons with disability.

    The Government has also agreed to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry into the legislation, although at this stage it is not clear what this inquiry will encompass. PWD proposed such an inquiry as essential work to be done before the Bill was enacted into law. Now that the Bill has been enacted it is difficult to have confidence that such an Inquiry will have any real impact.

    PWD will continue to seek reform to these oppressive laws and practices, and to publicly expose their impact on persons with disability. We will be working with our advocacy colleagues to make this a major State election issue for March 2011, and will ensure that the issues are brought before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when Australia reports to the Committee in 2010.

    For further information contact Therese Sands, Executive Director, on the numbers below or by email at Thereses@pwd.org.au

    Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into 2008 Local Government elections

    NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre and PWD have made a joint submission to the NSW Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matter’s inquiry into the 2008 Local Government elections.

    Our submission raised a number of concerns about the conduct of past elections and made a number of proposals in relation to the conduct of future elections. The issues covered included:

    • the failure of the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure that all polling sites are fully accessible to persons with disability;
    • the need to ensure that all polling venues are close to accessible transport modes;
    • the need to ensure that information on how to vote etc. is made available in accessible formats well in advance of election day;
    • the need to repeal the automatic disqualification of persons of ‘unsound mind’ from voting in elections; and
    • the need to move to accessible electronic voting so that persons who are blind can cast a confidential vote independently.

    For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers below or by email at deanp@pwd.org.au

    SafeStart Private Rental Subsidy Scheme launched

    The NSW Department of Housing has launched the SafeStart Private Rental Subsidy Scheme which will provide additional housing assistance to women and children who are escaping domestic violence.

    The Scheme aims to reduce the number of women and children who are forced into homelessness because of domestic and family violence, and the number of women who return to dangerous home environments from crisis accommodation.

    The SafeStart Scheme will provide women and children who are eligible for social housing with a short-term housing subsidy that will allow them to obtain safe and appropriate housing in the private rental market. The scheme will also link these women and children with support services where required. The subsidy covers the difference between the market rent and the subsidised social housing rent. The subsidy is offered for a minimum of 3 months and can be extended up to a maximum of 12 months.

    The Scheme is to commence in October 2009 on a trial basis in a small number of locations in the Western Sydney, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra regions. State-wide roll-out is planned to commence in the 2010-11 financial year.

    For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager on the numbers below or at email deanp@pwd.org.au.

    NSW Government response to PADP Inquiry

    In early June 2009, the NSW Government responded to the recommendations made by the NSW Parliament’s General Purpose Standing Committee No 2 in its report from its inquiry into the Program of Appliances for Disabled People (PADP). The Committee made 21 recommendations. In its response, the Government supported 12 of these recommendations, supported 3 more in part, undertook to note or further consider three, and rejected three recommendations.

    The recommendations supported include the application and publication of performance indicators in relation to the PADP waiting list; ensuring that PADP Advisory Committees meet monthly to consider high cost and complex applications; initiating negotiations with the Federal Treasurer to increase tax relief for costs associated with disability; and, the collection of data on current, unmet and future demand for disability related equipment.

    Recommendations partially supported include proposed increases in the recurrent funding level for PADP to $36.6million (2008/09), and to proposed modelling of the costs of moving PADP to an entitlement based program.

    In effect, the Government response rejects the Committee’s recommendation that PADP move to an entitlement based framework at this stage, and that the co-payment for PADP be abolished.  The Government also rejected recommendations relating to the implementation of a vehicle modification subsidy scheme and in relation to the fast tracking of the existing PADP reform process.

    A copy of the Government’s response can be obtained from the NSW Parliament website at www.parliament.nsw.gov.au or by contacting PWD.

    PADP Campaign

    PWD has joined with a number of other agencies to form the PADP Community Alliance. The purpose of the Alliance is to campaign to achieve an appropriate funding level, and appropriate policy and administrative arrangements for the PADP Program.

    This campaign draws upon the recommendations arising from the NSW Parliament’s General Purpose Standing Committee No 2 2008 inquiry into PADP. Key campaign targets are a major increase in funding for PADP, the conversion of PADP to an entitlement based program, abolition of the PADP co-payment and the implementation of measures to meet the needs of Aboriginal people with disability.

    A position statement that outlines the Alliance’s seven priorities has been formulated to underpin this campaign. The position statement is available on PWD’s website at www.pwd.org.au.

    For more information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager on the numbers below or email deanp@pwd.org.au.

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    Other State and Territory News

    Queensland Budget

    On 16 June 2009, the Queensland Treasurer handed down the Queensland Budget for 2009-10. The following measures were highlighted in relation to persons with disability:

    • The Growing Stronger suite of reforms will receive $15.3 million in 2009–10 to redesign the current specialist disability service system to deliver a fairer, more sustainable system.
    • A pilot project to provide a system of self-managed funding, auspiced through a non-government organisation, geared towards families with children and young people with a disability will receive $0.52 million additional funding in 2009–10 ($1.1 million over two years).
    • Youngcare will receive $1 million in 2009–10 ($3 million over three years) for accommodation and support for young people with a disability at a new residential complex on the Gold Coast.
    • Purpose-built accommodation in Brisbane for adults with an intellectual or cognitive disability will be upgraded with a $3.4 million capital investment in 2009–10 ($16 million over three years) and $0.8 million recurrent in 2009–10 ($2.2 million over five years).
    • The Home and Community Care Program (HACC) will receive $44 million in increased funding, including $28.5 million from the Australian Government, for additional services across Queensland to support the needs of the frail aged, people with disability and their carers.
    • Support will be provided for the establishment of community-based businesses that employ people with mental illness. $1 million will be allocated in 2009–10 ($2 million over three years).
    • Early intervention for young people showing early signs of mental illness will receive a boost with an additional $2.2 million allocated in 2009–10 ($6.5 million over three years) to trial two community residential programs.
    • $5 million has been allocated to develop sustainable service responses to support vulnerable people.
    • $56 million in capital funding to progress projects to address health service demand management requirements throughout the state.

    Additionally, $65 million (rising to $125 million in 2012-13) has been appropriated to assist the Queensland non-government sector (including agencies providing disability services) meet the costs of industrial award increases, and $1.2million has been appropriated to support the continuation of the Homeless Persons Court Diversion Program and Special Circumstances List (persons with disability constitute a significant proportion of those persons dealt with by the Court).

    Commenting on the budget, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated’s Executive Director, Kevin Cocks, applauded the self-managed funding pilot, the funds to be made available to assist the non-government sector meet additional employee-related costs, and the extension of the Homeless Persons Court Diversion Program and Special Circumstances List. He also anticipated that there may be some additional ‘good news’ still to be announced in the detail of the appropriations for the Department of Health and Attorney-General in relation to deinstitutionalisation and access to justice.

    However, Kevin expressed great concern about expenditure that continues to be directed to institutional accommodation models.

    To read the budget papers go to: www.budget.qld.gov.au.

    Call for Queensland Electricity Subsidy Scheme

    Cairns based disability advocacy group, Rights in Action Inc, has launched an E-Petition calling for a power subsidy for Queenslanders with disability who are unable to control their body temperature (referred to as Thermoregulatory Dysfunction).

    This group of people relies upon either air-conditioning or heating to maintain a safe body temperature, and this entails extensive power usage above average power consumption. Most members of this group rely upon a pension or benefit as their only source of income.

    Thermoregulatory Dysfunction is experienced by persons with a variety of medical conditions including Stroke, head injury, spinal injury, neuro-degenerative conditions (such as Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone and Huntington’s Diseases). Electricity subsidy schemes for people with Thermoregulatory Dysfunction already exist in Western Australia and Victoria. If you would like to support Rights in Actions’ E-Petition you can do so at: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/Epetitions_QLD/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetNum=1191&iindex=-1

    Mobility scooters on public transport

    The QLD Department of Transport and Main Roads have engaged SAHA to undertake research and assessment of the suitability of mobility scooters on public transport, with the initial focus on buses and ferries.

    SAHA is a specialist advisory practice that provides advice on a number of sectors, including transportation. Their website is www.sahainternational.com/SAHA/HOMEPAGE/pc=HOME.

    SAHA have already met with the Disability Council to obtain their views on the subject, but are looking for feedback from mobility scooter users on the following:

    1. What issues do you face when travelling by public transport on your mobility scooter, in particular buses and ferries? (For example: difficult access, lack of manoeuvrability, lack of stability);
    2. What are your thoughts on the level of assistance provided to you when travelling on buses or ferries?

    Non-Queensland residents who have used QLD buses and ferries, or have been visitors to QLD can provide feedback but need to let SAHA know they are not resident in QLD.

    To provide feedback to these questions, please contact the consultant directly: Alan Parr on email AParr@sahainternational.com, or telephone 07 3230 3303.

    Towards a National Women’s Health Policy for women with disability

    Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and the Queensland Disability Network (QDN) are planning a joint forum to contribute to WWDA’s response to the National Women’s Health Policy.

    The forum aims to bring women with disability together to share their experiences of the health system and to ensure that the voices of women with disability are heard in a National Health Policy agenda.

    The forum also seeks to progress the work of the QDN Women’s Network. The forum will be held at QDN, in Bowen Hills Brisbane on 16 July 2009. For further information contact Karin at WWDA on 0408 123 221 or at email wwda@wwda.org.au.

    Queensland Plan for Mental Health, Community Sector 2009-1017 - consultation

    The Queensland Government is seeking input into the development of a strategic plan for the mental health non-government sector in Queensland. In developing the plan, the Department of Communities (Disability Services) wants you to have your say on priorities and areas for development in the sector.

    The Mental Health Plan, Community Sector 2009-2017 was a commitment under Priority 3: Participation in the Community of the Queensland Plan for Mental Health 2007-2017. The plan stated the 'Queensland Government will support cross-sector collaboration to develop and implement a strategic plan for the mental health non-government sector in Queensland'. The intent of the Strategic Plan is to enhance workforce capacity and infrastructure, service quality and review, and research, evaluation and outcome reporting.

    To find out how to participate in this consultation go to www.disability.qld.gov.au.

    Human Rights Charter used to scrutinise Victorian Mental Health Review Board

    In the most important case decided to date under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has determined that the Victorian Mental Health Review Board violated a person’s human right to a fair trial because it failed to conduct reviews of his involuntary and Community Treatment Order within the periods specified under the Mental Health Act.

    The case illustrates the potential benefit of a human rights act in protecting the rights of persons with disability. More specifically, it highlights that the right to a fair trial may be applied with considerable force in relation to the proceedings of tribunals such as Mental Health Review and Guardianship Tribunals.

    If you would like to read more about this case go to: www.hrlrc.org.au/content/topics/esc-rights/kracke-mental-health-review-board.

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    National news

    Enhanced protection for the rights for people with disability

    On Thursday 25 June 2009, the Attorney General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, announced two major initiatives for human rights for people with disability:

    1. the Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 was passed by both houses of the Federal Parliament; and
    2. the Australian Human Rights Commission will be given specific responsibilities for monitoring Australia’s implementation of the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

    Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes welcomed these initiatives as “milestones on a long road to equality and human rights for people with disability and their families”.

    “Human rights for people with disability present some of the biggest emerging human rights issues in Australia and internationally, and it's great to see today’s announcement recognising that," Commissioner Innes said.

    PWD is particularly pleased at the formal recognition given to the CRPD as part of the human rights framework within Australia. The Australian Human Rights Commission can now consider the rights contained in the CRPD and report to Government on how it is being implemented.

    PWD will be seeking further information on the practical application of this initiative and providing information in future editions of E-Bulletin.

    Towards a National Disability Parking Scheme

    The Australian Government is seeking community feedback about the proposed Australian Disability Parking Scheme. The Scheme aims to provide a new permit that is recognised across Australia and improved rules around its use. The Australian Government announced $3 million in the 2009/10 Federal Budget to develop the Scheme across Australia.

    On 26 May 2009 the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, launched a discussion paper and announced that public consultations will take place about the Scheme.

    To have your say about the proposed Scheme you can attend an information session or fill in a submission form which is attached to the Discussion Paper. The Public Information Sessions are in June 2009 in each capital city as well as Alice Springs, Cairns and Townsville. The Discussion Paper can be obtained by calling 1800 630 740 (or 1800 555 677 (TTY)).

    The Discussion Paper is also available on-line at www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/progserv/people/disability_parking_scheme Submissions must be received by 31 July 2009.

    PWD will be making a submission to the Government. If you would like to contribute views on this issue contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers below or by email at: deanp@pwd.org.au

    Parliamentary Committee Reports on the Access to Premises Standard

    On 16 June 2009, the House Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs reported on its Inquiry into the draft Disability Standards on Access to Premises. The Committee has recommended that the Standards be adopted with a number of key improvements which include:

    • requiring common areas of apartment blocks to be accessible;
    • improving access and safety features on all stairways;
    • clarifying and limiting some of the exemptions in the current draft; and
    • ensuring a timely and effective review process on the implementation of the standards.

    PWD welcomes the Committee’s report and calls upon the Government to act immediately on its recommendations.

    Also welcoming the report, Human Rights and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes said: ‘The development of Disability Standards on Access to Premises has been under discussion for almost a decade, during which thousands of buildings have been built or renovated without sufficient access for persons with disability. The Committee has now delivered a thorough and realistic set of recommendations which will allow us to move forward quickly to complete the project.”

    A link to the Committee’s report, and other information about the Disability Standard on Access to Premises, are available on the Australian Human Rights Commission website at: www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/buildings/access_to_premises.html.

    National Human Rights Consultation Update

    PWD has lodged a detailed submission with the Australian Government’s National Human Rights Consultation calling for the enactment of an Australian Charter of Human Rights. The consultation is examining which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted in Australia, whether human rights are sufficiently protected and promoted, and how Australia could better protect and promote human rights.

    PWD actively engaged in ensuring the voice of people with disability was included in the consultation process. On 8 May, in collaboration with the Disability Discrimination Legal Centre (DDLC), we held a forum for representatives of the legal and disability advocacy sectors to identify and discuss key issues for people with disability. On 15 May, PWD held a Members Event to provide PWD members with an opportunity to have input into PWD’s submission. Members were also provided with a ‘Have Your Say About Human Rights In Australia’ submission form, which they could use as the basis to submit their own personal submission.

    PWD’s submission calls for a Charter that would incorporate civil and political rights (such as the right to life and the right to a fair trial), economic, social and cultural rights (such as the right to health, education, and social security), as well as the human rights set out in thematic human rights conventions, especially the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (such as the right to accessibility and the right to live independently and be included in the community).

    PWD also called for such a Charter to incorporate a wide range of implementation mechanisms that would ensure that these rights are achieved in practice and can be enforced by individuals whose rights are subject to violation.

    PWD highlighted that people with disability expressed concern that a Charter would not necessarily benefit people with disability unless it was supported by measures to increase human rights activism and understanding within the community; increased grassroots advocacy; and the implementation of outreach strategies to ensure that people with disability understood their rights.

    The public submission stage of the consultation has now closed with approximately 34,500 submissions having been made (the largest number of submissions to any inquiry in Australian history). The Consultation Committee will shortly commence a public hearing stage of the inquiry, where key commentators will be invited to discuss their views in depth with the Committee.

    The public may attend these hearings which will be held in the Great Hall at Parliament House. For more information about these hearings go to www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/nhrcc.nsf/Page/Home.

    PWD’s submission is available on the PWD website at www.pwd.org.au.

    For further information contact Sonya Price-Kelly, Advocacy Projects Manager on the numbers below or at email sonyapk@pwd.org.au.

    Inquiry into Migration and Disability Launched

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, the Hon Bill Shorten have announced the terms of reference for an inquiry relating to the health requirement in the Migration Act 1958 which is frequently used to deny applications for citizenship made by persons with disability. The Joint Standing Committee on Migration will conduct the inquiry.

    While PWD welcomes this inquiry, we are concerned that its terms of reference fail to properly situate the issues in terms of the human rights of persons with disability and the obligations that Australia has accepted under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    Details for public participation in the Inquiry are yet to be announced. For further information contact Therese Sands, Executive Director, on the numbers below or by email at: Thereses@pwd.org.au.

    Blind Teacher Spared Deportation

    In April 2009, a Kenyan man who had been living in Australia on a study visa since 2004 had his application to stay in Australia refused on the basis that he did not meet the health criteria for entry to Australia. Dr Siyat Abdi is blind and, like most people with disability wanting to live in Australia, he cannot meet the health criteria for entry.

    Dr Abdi has recently completed a doctoral degree in disability studies at Flinders University, and makes significant contributions to the Australian community through his work supporting newly arrived members of the Ogaden / Somali community.

    Following representations by supporters, including PWD and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, exercised his discretion to grant a temporary bridging visa while he considered new information about Dr Abdi’s application. At the end of May, Dr Abdi was granted a visa that allows him to work while further determinations about his case are assessed.

    Dr Abdi has since taken up a position working for the South Australian Government. PWD is hopeful that the Inquiry relating to the health requirement in the Migration Act 1958 (see previous article) will identify the discrimination inherent in the health requirement and recommend changes based on human rights obligations.

    For further information contact Therese Sands, Executive Director, on the numbers below or by email at: Thereses@pwd.org.au.

    Same Sex Law Reform Advisory Group

    PWD will join a national advisory group that has been established to guide the development and implementation of two major projects that will assist in the implementation of the Same Sex Law Reforms introduced by the Australian Government in response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry into this issue in 2008. The Australian Government is funding these projects, and they will be managed by ACON and the Welfare Rights Centre.

    The objectives of these projects are to inform same sex attracted persons about the implications of the 2008 same-sex relationships federal law reforms, in particular, about their rights and responsibilities, and to provide advice and advocacy for same-sex attracted persons in relation to Centrelink policies and administration.

    The 2008 same-sex law reforms have major implications for same-sex partners, including those where one or both partners have disability, particularly in relation to Centrelink benefits. It is therefore essential that affected persons have access to accurate information and support so that they can adjust to these changes.

    The projects will run for a 13 month period. For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager on the numbers below or by email at: deanp@pwd.org.au.

    Disability and Development Bulletin Launched

    The Development Studies Network at the Australian National University has published a special issue of its Development Bulletin focused on disability and development. This special edition incorporates a number of papers delivered at a conference on Disability, Disadvantage and Development in the Pacific and Asia held at the Australian National University in September 2008.

    The papers included are authored by representatives of human rights practitioners, development practitioners, donors, and disabled peoples organisations, including PWD and the Aboriginal Disability Network.

    The Bulletin was launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Mr Bob McMullan.

    The bulletin is available free on the Development Studies Network website at: www.devnet.anu.edu.au.

    Building Accessibility into the Education Revolution

    The Australian Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has released a fact sheet that outlines the interaction of the proposed new Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards with the Building the Education Revolution (BER) Program.

    The BER Program is part of the Australian Government’s financial stimulus package and will provide infrastructure funding to more than 9000 schools throughout Australia over the next 3 years. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve access for all students, staff and parents with disability.

    Although the Premises Standards are not yet law, the government is encouraging education authorities and schools to consider them in the development and construction phases of BER projects, giving particular attention to: accessible sanitary facilities; circulation space in lifts and doorways; passing or turning spaces along long passageways; access to upper floors, either via ramp or lift; and, appropriate access for persons with hearing or vision impairment.

    Australian Human Rights and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, has applauded this initiative saying “It is very important that students with disability, and their teachers and parents who may also have a disability, have the greatest possible access to the school environment”.

    More information about the BER can be found at www.buildingtheeducationrevolution.gov.au.

    Australia signs UN Optional Protocol on Torture

    On 19 May 2009 the Australian Government signed the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. On 22 May 2009 it also announced that it will enact a specific Commonwealth offence against torture.

    Australia became a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment under the Hawke Government in 1989, but under the Howard Government refused to sign or ratify its Optional Protocol when it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.

    Australia’s signature of the Optional Protocol does not make it binding upon Australia. It signifies an intention that Australia will become a Party (or accede) to the treaty at some point in the future. The Government has not commented on this issue, but it appears likely that this will occur once domestic legislation criminalising torture has been enacted. Australia enacted a law against torture in 1988, but this is very narrow in scope and only applies to acts done by Australians outside Australia (and not within Australia).

    Once in force within Australia, the Optional Protocol will require Australia to permit periodic international inspections of places where persons are held in detention. It will also require Australia to establish formal domestic mechanisms to enable regular examination of the treatment of persons in places of detention.

    Under the international law ‘places of detention’ has a broad meaning and includes institutions, residential centres and treatment centres etc. where persons with disability are held involuntarily, or are obliged to stay (for example, in order to obtain support services). 
    The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has recently commissioned research in relation to an appropriate model for domestic monitoring of places of detention. The final report on this research can be obtained from the AHRC’s website at www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/publications/opcat/index.html.

    ANZ Abilities Program

    The ANZ Bank has launched a workforce diversity strategy – called the Abilities Program - that aims to recruit 35 persons with disability into the bank by 30 September 2009. This strategy is designed to assist the bank to ensure that its workforce better reflects the makeup of the communities in which the bank operates.

    The ANZ has a Disability Action Plan in place and has Accessibility Managers who work to ensure work tools such as technology are accessible to everyone. It also has established a Disability Network that brings employees with disability together from all over Australia.

    ANZ encourages people with disability who have an interest in working for the Bank to contact the organisation for a confidential discussion about the Abilities Program, what it has to offer, and to discuss current professional opportunities that are available.

    For further information contact: Joel Kilgour, ANZ Abilities Program Manager, on (03) 8685 5368 or email Joel.Kilgour@anz.com.

    Government responds to the Senate Report on Special Disability Trusts

    In May 2009 the Australian Government tabled its response to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ report on Special Disability Trusts, Building Trust: Supporting families through Disability Trusts. This report proposed a range of measures to make it easier and more attractive for families to establish trusts that will provide for the future financial support of a family member with disability. The Government has agreed to the following measures:

    1. Starting from the 2008-09 financial year unexpended income of a Special Disability Trust will be taxed at the beneficiary’s personal income tax rates, rather than at the highest marginal tax rate;
    2. From 1 July 2009 the Government will extend the capital gains tax main residence exemption to include a residence that is owned by a Special Disability Trust and used by the relevant beneficiary as their main residence;
    3. The Special Disability Trust guidelines on care and accommodation needs will be revised to expand the list of examples of reasonable care and accommodation needs.

    The Government has indicated that it is continuing to consider other measures. For more information go to www.fahcsia.gov.au/about/news/2009/Pages/response_specia_disability_trusts.aspx.

    Print Disability Services Program Review

    The Australian Government is conducting a review of the Print Disability Services Program administered by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Print Disability Program produces printed material in alternative communication formats for persons with print disability.

    A discussion paper has been released to support public participation in this review. The discussion paper argues for a new service delivery model to support the production of print material in alternative formats. For a copy of the discussion paper and to find out how to contribute views go to www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/progserv/providers/print_disability_review.

    Telecommunications award to honour Christopher Newell, AM

    The Telecommunications Society of Australia has announced an annual award in honour of Christopher Newell, AM who died in 2008.

    The award, which will be known as the ‘Christopher Newell prize,’ will be awarded to the author(s) of the best original paper offered to the Telecommunications Journal of Australia that demonstrates the tangible benefits that an innovative use of broadband or other telecommunications technology can provide for persons with disability.

    Christopher Newell, AM was a leading disability activist and academic who worked extensively in the area of telecommunication policy.

    To find out more about this award go to: www.acs.org.au/acstsa/index.cfm?action=show&conID=2009awardrules.

    Information resource on mobile phone accessibility

    The Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) has been established to provide a central information source about accessibility in mobile devices. On this website you can learn about the various features that a phone may have and link to manufacturers’ websites for specific information on particular models.

    As part of the GARI project all phones released by participating manufacturers after 1 October 2008 will have a GARI template available for them providing specific information on the accessibility features that a particular model offers.

    GARI is an initiative of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA). For further information go to www.mobileaccessibility.info.

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    International News

    Pacific Regional Disability Forum 2009 Conference Outcomes Document

    The Pacific Disability Forum’s First Regional Conference on Disability in the Pacific was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 20 to 23 April 2009. The ‘Outcome Document’ from that Conference has recently been released. It makes a number of key recommendations addressed to Pacific Island Governments, inter-governmental agencies and other stakeholders in the region.

    These recommendations relate to the importance of recognising and building the capacity of disabled peoples’ organisations to enable them to secure the rights of persons with disability; the importance of building collaborative partnerships between disabled peoples organisations and Pacific Island Governments; and the importance of building collaborative relationships between disabled peoples organisations, Pacific Island Governments and development agencies. The recommendations also include a specific focus on gender issues and perspectives.

    The Outcomes Document was received by the Vanuatu Government at the end of the Regional Conference and will be tabled at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in Cairns in early August 2009.

    To read the outcomes document in full go to: www.pacificdisability.org/news.aspx

    Pacific Sisters with Disabilities: At the intersection of discrimination

    In May 2009, the United Nations Development Program Pacific Centre released a report on a study it commissioned into the issues and challenges faced by women and girls with disability in the Pacific region.

    The research report is entitled Pacific Sisters with Disabilities: At the intersection of discrimination. The study looks at the experience of discrimination and disadvantage at the intersection of gender and disability. It draws attention to the limited laws, policies and programmes in the Pacific for women and girls with disability. It identifies the key issues that require attention if the discrimination and disadvantage experienced by women and girls in the Pacific region are to be overcome.

    In particular, it calls for urgent work to develop and implement laws, policies and programmes that advance the rights of women and girls with disability, and that will raise the level of educational attainment, increase access to comprehensive and quality health care and reduce unemployment and improve access to all buildings and transportation. The report is available on the UNDPCC website at www.undppc.org.fj/pages.cfm/publications/democratic-governance-reports.

    National DPO established in Tuvalu

    In May 2009 a national disabled peoples’ organisation was established in Tuvalu, in the Pacific Islands, following capacity building work undertaken by the Pacific Disability Forum. The new organisation is called the Fusi Alofa Association Tuvalu (FAA). ‘Fusi Alofa’ means ‘unity in love.’

    A committee has been elected to manage the organisation and held its first meeting on 18 May 2009. FAA will work to bring attention to the rights and needs of persons with disability in Tuvalu and will work regionally with other members of the Pacific Disability Forum to ensure that persons with disability receive equitable attention in human rights, good governance and development initiatives within the region.

    PWD welcomes the establishment of FAA and looks forward to FAA contribution to the work of the Pacific Disability Forum.

    Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals – Expert Group Meeting Outcomes

    On 14-16 April 2009, the United Nations Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Health Organisation held an Expert Group Meeting on Mainstreaming Disability in Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) Policies, Processes and Mechanisms. The MDGs are development goals set by the United Nations in 2000 that aim to halve world poverty by 2015.

    The meeting was held under the banner “Development for All” at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Eleven experts with experience in MDG policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation and disability were invited to participate in an individual capacity. Selected United Nations agencies and inter-governmental and non-government organisations participated as observers. The meeting reviewed existing policy frameworks, resources and tools, and mechanisms for mainstreaming disability in MDGs processes. The key findings and messages from this event included:

    1. The MDG’s cannot be achieved without the full and effective inclusion of persons with disability and their participation in all stages of the MDGs processes.

    2. The existing data gap on the situation of persons with disability in the context of the MDGs continues to be a major challenge and limitation.

    3. Action to ensure the inclusion of persons with disability can be taken at different levels – global, regional, and national – with a view to short-term, medium-term, and long-term results – three to six months with a view to impact on the 2010 review session of the MDGs; through to 2015; and beyond 2015.

    4. At the global level, two main areas of strategic action for short-term results are the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the organisation to be presented to the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly in 2009 and the Millennium Development Goals report 2009.

    5. Strategic action with a view to medium term results would be including disability in the MDGs reporting guidelines, and the need for disaggregated data on disability in the Handbook on MDG indicators. Working within regional processes would also be effective to mainstream disability in the MDGs.

    6. Strategic actions with a view to long-term impact would including mainstreaming disability in the preparatory processes looking at the next steps beyond 2015.

    A full report on this event can be found at www.un.org/disabilities.

    Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Second Session of the Conference of States Parties

    The Second Session of Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is scheduled for 2 to 4 September 2009 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Conference of State Parties is established under Article 40 of the Convention and has the broad role of monitoring and guiding implementation of the Convention.

    Since the CRPD opened for signature in March 2008, 139 nations have signed the Convention and 89 have signed its Optional Protocol. The act of signature indicates an intention to become a party to the treaty at some point in the future. As at the end of June 2009, 58 nations have formally ratified the CRPD and 36 have ratified its Optional Protocol. Ratification results in the terms of the treaty becoming binding on the nation.

    Australia ratified the CRPD in July 2008, but has not yet signed (or acceded to) its’ Optional Protocol. A decision on this issue is expected from the Australian Government shortly.

    For further information on the Conference of States Parties see www.un.org/disabilities.

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    The inside story

    Welcome to new PWD Board Director

    PWD warmly welcomes Mary-Anne Bath as a Director to the PWD Board. Mary-Anne is President of People with Disabilities Western Australia (PWD WA), the peak representative body of people with disability in WA.

    Mary-Anne brings a wealth of experience from the disability rights movement which will enhance the work of PWD Australia as well as our collaborative initiatives in WA.

    Mary-Anne will participate in her first face-to-face meeting of the Board on 25 July in our Sydney office.

    The PWD Board looks forward to working with Mary-Anne in our goal of achieving rights for people with disability.

    PWD Members contribute to national human rights consultations

    On 15 May, PWD conducted a successful consultation and social event that enabled members to contribute views to the Australian Government’s national human rights consultations.

    The PWD Board thanks members for their valuable contributions, which enabled PWD to strongly put forward the views of people with disability to this major consultation process. With approximately 34,500 submissions having been made, our members have contributed to the largest inquiry (in terms of submissions made) in Australian history.

    Join the PWD cause on Facebook

    At the members’ event on 15 May 2009, PWD announced that it now has its own Facebook page. Since this time, our Facebook membership has grown from 75 to over 600 people.

    Members of the PWD cause can share views and opinions about local, national and international issues, such as the National Disability Parking Scheme and the move to close all institutions worldwide.

    If you are a Facebook member, you can sign up to be a member of the PWD cause. Join the PWD cause today!

    For more information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager on deanp@pwd.org.au.

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    Conferences

    • Disability Studies and Research Centre, University of New South Wales Research Seminar Series; available at dsrc.arts.unsw.edu.au.

    • Disability and Communication: New Directions in Creativity and Global Citizenship? In Australian and New Zealand Communications Conference;
      8 to 10 July 2009 Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. For details www.anzca09.org.

    • Healthier Lives – pathways to better health for people with intellectual disability; 11 August 2009; Sydney Masonic Centre; Sydney;
      For further information contact Lee-Anne Whitten on (02) 9211 1611 or view the website at www.nswcid.org.au.

    • Accessing the Future: Assistive Technology in Education and Employment Forums: Sydney 19 August 2009: Newcastle 21 August 2009:
      For further information see: www.newcastle.edu.au/ndco/atforums.

    • Beyond Identity Politics? Intersecting disability, ethnicity and religious identities: 21 and 22 October 2009: Stockholm, Sweden:
      For details contact Nicola.magnusson@ped.su.se.

    • Present Difference: The Cultural Production of Disability: Manchester Metropolitan University in conjunction with BBC Northwest and the Cultural Disability Studies Research Network: 6 to 8 January 2010; Manchester, United Kingdom.
      For further information contact Dr Lucy Burke email: l.burke@mmu.ac.uk.
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    About PWD

    People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWD) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation. Its primary membership is people with disability and organisations primarily made up of people with disability. PWD also has a large associate membership of other individuals and organisations committed to the disability rights movement. PWD 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; we represent the interest of people with all kinds of disability. PWD is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

    For information about membership, contact Sidney Sure by email or on one of numbers below.

    PWD’s training services

    PWD has extensive experience in the development and delivery of professional training across a wide range of disability areas, including:

    • Disability awareness;
    • Communication with people with disability;
    • Developing information in alternative formats;
    • Human rights and disability;
    • Effective consultation with people with disability;
    • Anti-discrimination;
    • Disability, development and capacity-building;
    • Diversity in the workplace and employment of people with disability;
    • Creating flexible and accessible services for people with disability.

    Training packages developed are flexible and tailor-made to meet the needs of the particular organisation. To find out more about PWD's training services or to discuss your specific training needs, contact Fiona Godfrey, Manager, Training.

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    Privacy statement

    We are committed to protecting your privacy. In doing so, we commit ourselves to conforming to the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000, which came into effect in December 2001 and the National Privacy Principles issued by the Australian Privacy Commissioner. This newsletter is distributed by email. You have provided us with an email address. This email address will be used only for the purpose for which you have provided it and you will not be added to any other mailing lists unless you specifically request that this be done. Your email address will not be disclosed without your consent. You can have your email address removed from the mailing list for this newsletter by sending an email to pwd@pwd.org.au. This newsletter contains links to websites. We cannot be held responsible for the privacy practices (or lack thereof) or the content of such websites.

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    Contact us

    Please note that PWD publishes items contributed by other organisations at our discretion. While we will assist where possible in the dissemination of information, we do not take responsibility for the promotion or advertisement of events organised by other organisations.

    If you would like to receive PWD E-Bulletin in an alternative format or have an enquiry, contact PWD by email or by one of the means below.

    People with Disability Australia Incorporated
    PO Box 666 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
    Phone 02 9319 6622, toll-free 1800 422 015
    TTY 02 9318 2138, toll-free 1800 422 016

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