PWD E-Bulletin

Issue 57 September/October 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 Sidney Sure on one of the numbers listed at the end of this bulletin.

Contents

New South Wales News

           Legal Challenge to Redevelopment of Institutions

           Disability and Domestic Violence in Licensed Boarding Houses project

           Inquiry into Local Government Elections

           NSW Public Sphere Government

           Inquiry into substitute decision-making for people lacking capacity

Other State and Territory News

           The Blue Skies Scenario: An alternate future for people with disability and their families

           Perth audio description service at selected theatre shows

National News

           Report on National Human Rights Consultations

           Violence Against Women Advisory Group

           National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy Release

           Disability Parking Scheme Harmonisation

           National Arts and Disability Strategy

           Review of the migration treatment of disability

           Optional Protocol to CRPD

           National Leadership Workshop for Aboriginal People with Disability

           CRPD Shadow Report project

           Apology to the Forgotten Australians

           Make height adjustable examination tables mandatory for doctor’s surgeries

International News

           Support Pacific people with disability affected by the tsunami

           Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

           Pacific Disabled Peoples Organisations Governance Support Program

           PWD hosts Thailand Government officials on study tour

           Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (DPA) Vanuatu launches website

           Pacific Islands Forum Disability Ministers’ Meeting

           UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities second session

The Inside Story

           Vale Russell Agnew

           Vale Kelly Kljajic

           PWD expands its individual advocacy

           Annual General Meeting and Members’ Event

Conferences

About PWD

·  PWD’s training services

Privacy Statement

Contact Us

Return to top

New South Wales News

Legal Challenge to Redevelopment of Institutions

In the E-bulletin 51 (March 2009), PWD reported that we had filed an application with the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) formally seeking a review of the Minister’s decision to continue to operate the Grosvenor, Lachlan and Peat Island Centres, which PWD says is contrary to the requirements of the DSA Act.  PWD took this action very reluctantly and as a last resort.  However, we would have failed in our duty as a disability rights and representative organisation if we did not act to prevent a return to institutional approaches to providing housing and support for persons with disability.

The first stage of the litigation process involved a formal mediation. Unfortunately, despite genuine attempts to resolve the issues at the mediation, it was unsuccessful and the litigation has continued.

The next stage has involved PWD presenting arguments to the ADT to counter the claims made by the Minister that:

          PWD’s application can not be heard as it was not lodged within the timeframe for such applications; and

          PWD does not have standing (that is, it is not a legitimate party) to bring the present application relating to this issue.

On 2 October 2009, the ADT delivered a judgment as regards these claims and found in PWD’s favour.  The ADT held that PWD had provided a reasonable explanation as to the delay in lodging its application, and that it did not constitute an ‘excessive delay’ as suggested by the Minister. The ADT also found that PWD does have standing to bring the application for review. It found that PWD was not an ‘officious bystander’ with a mere passing or insubstantial interest in these types of matters but is a representative body genuinely engaged in pursuing what it understands to be the interests of its constituency and the wider public interest.

The matter can now proceed to a full hearing before the ADT. A Directions Hearing is to take place on Thursday 22 October 2009 when further orders will be made relating to preparation for the trial.

We will continue to keep members and colleagues informed of the progress of these matters through the E-bulletin.

The full ADT decision can be viewed here.

For further information, contact Matthew Bowden, Executive Director on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at matthewb@pwd.org.au (note that due to legal constraints there may be limits to what it is possible to discuss).

Disability and Domestic Violence in Licensed Boarding Houses project

PWD’s systemic advocacy work has a specific focus on people with disability living in boarding houses.  We are also provided with funding from Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Human Services NSW (ADHC) to provide individual advocacy to people with disability living in boarding houses in NSW.

For some time, PWD has been concerned about the level of violence experienced by women with disability in licensed boarding houses.

It is well-known that women with disability experience higher rates of violence than those without disability. Those with cognitive disability are particularly vulnerable. Once violence has occurred, women with disability experience more severe and prolonged episodes of abuse. This is often due to their social and economic marginalisation and greater dependence on partners and service systems.

Women with disability experience specific types of abuse, such as the withholding of equipment, food and medication; limitations on their access to communication devices; and threats of institutionalisation. Compared with women without disability, restraint and control are more likely to be features of domestic and family violence for women with disability.

Accessibility of services can also impact on under-reporting rates. For women with disability, discrimination, a lack of access to financial and other resources to enable independence, and a lack of accessible services makes escaping abuse or violence extremely difficult.

For women with disability living in licensed boarding houses, there are limited legislation and policy frameworks to promote and, protect their rights.  It is widely acknowledged that women with disability living in licensed boarding houses have limited access to domestic violence services. The domestic violence sector also acknowledges that it is often ill equipped to respond to the specific needs of people with disability.

Through funding from the NSW Office for Women under the Domestic and Family Violence Grants Program, PWD has commenced a Disability and Domestic Violence project.  The key objectives of this project are:

1.         To increase the knowledge of women with disability living in licensed boarding houses about domestic and family violence and domestic and family violence support services; and

2.         To equip the disability and domestic and family violence sector with skills and knowledge about prevention and best practice responses to domestic and family violence in licensed boarding houses.

This project commenced in July 2009 and will end June 2010.

For further information contact Maria Attard, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at mariaa@pwd.org.au

Inquiry into Local Government Elections

The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre (DDLC) and PWD appeared before the NSW Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into the 2008 local government elections.  As reported in E-Bulletin 54 (June 2009), PWD and DDLC provided a joint submission to this Inquiry.

We raised a number of concerns about the conduct of this election after reviewing previous State, Territory and federal 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 move to accessible electronic voting so that persons who are blind can independently cast a confidential vote;

           the need to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

PWD & DDLC outlined a number of proposals in relation to the conduct of future elections. The issues covered included:

           trials of electronically assisted voting;

           changes to the electoral timetable to allow eligible people with disability in remote areas to undertake postal votes;

           earlier identification of polling booths that are accessible.

PWD believes that the Inquiry enabled the Committee to gain a better understanding of the issues facing people with disability when participating in electoral processes. PWD will continue to advocate for wide ranging reform at the local government level, as well as more broadly for increased access to voting at State, Territory and federal elections.

For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at deanp@pwd.org.au

NSW Public Sphere Government

PWD recently attended the New South Wales Public Sphere Government 2.0 seminar on 4 September 2009. The day was organised by NSW MLC Penny Sharpe, along with her office and many volunteers. The day focused on ways in which government can use the internet and web based technology to engage with stakeholders.

Speakers covered topics such as better engagement with the community, access to government data and how the Internet can empower people and our democratic system.

The NSW Department of Education showcased tools it uses to engage with students. These tools included aspects of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, including videos with captioning aimed at increasing the access of Deaf students or students who are hearing impaired.

PWD welcomes this seminar as one part of the ongoing discussion that is taking place within the NSW Government to increase the amount of information publicly available. PWD will work to ensure that this is expanded across government and is in line with internationally agreed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at deanp@pwd.org.au

Inquiry into substitute decision making for people lacking capacity

Over the past eleven months, PWD has been advocating strongly for fundamental reform of NSW legislative and administrative arrangements in the area of guardianship, estate management and legal capacity.  This has been prompted by the merger of the Office of the Protective Commissioner and the Public Trustee and the passing of the NSW Trustee and Guardian Bill, both of which have occurred without recourse to a comprehensive Inquiry process (see previous editions of E-Bulletin - Issue 49 December 2008, Issue 51 March 2009, Issue 54 June 2009 and Issue 55 July 2009).

At the time of the Bill’s passage, the Attorney-General, Hon John Hatzistergos, did acknowledge that further reforms to NSW’s guardianship and estate management laws may be required, and he announced that the Legislative Council’s Social Issues Committee would conduct an inquiry into substitute decision-making for people lacking capacity.

PWD has joined with the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) to provide a submission to the Inquiry, which is available on our website here.

In this submission, PWD and MHCC call for a comprehensive review, and fundamental reform, of NSW civil law related to legal capacity.  We argue that the key driver of this reform process ought to be the human rights of persons with disability to equality before the law, and to equal recognition as a person before the law.  We also highlight that the United Kingdom’s Mental Capacity Act 2005 will serve as a useful comparator for the scale and detail of the reform required.

Our submission focuses on the following issues:

           The human rights context for this inquiry;

           Legal capacity and equality before the law;

           Law, policy and safeguards in relation to legal capacity;

           Institutional arrangements for supported and substitute decision-making and related safeguards;

           Restrictive practices – law, policy and safeguards

We also note that it will be extremely difficult for the Committee to do justice to the scope of review and reform required within the constraints of this Inquiry.  We underline the fact that the key issues included in our submission do not represent the totality of matters that ought to be considered leading up to comprehensive reform in this area. 

We therefore propose that the Committee recommend a thorough review of the area by the NSW Law Reform Commission.  A longer and more detailed review by the NSW Law Reform Commission would provide the opportunity for the Government to properly consult with and engage persons with disability in the law reform process.  Such consultation and participation is a fundamental instrumental dimension of Australia’s international human rights obligations under the Convention Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

On 29 September, PWD appeared before the Committee to provide evidence in support of our submission.  We urged the Committee to go beyond ‘tinkering’ with particular sections of the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act and further stressed the importance of broader reform in this area that would comply with the Government’s obligations under CRPD.

There are further public hearings scheduled for 4 and 5 November with the Committee due to report its findings in February 2010.  More information about the Inquiry, including the transcripts of public hearings and copies of submissions can be found on the Committee website.

For further information contact Therese Sands, Executive Director, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at thereses@pwd.org.au

Return to top

Other State and Territory News

The Blue Skies Scenario: An alternate future for people with disability and their families

In June this year, a number of people involved in Queensland's disability sector - people with disability, family members, advocates, public servants, service providers, peak bodies, academics and other committed individuals - met for three days to undertake the Blue Skies Scenario Building Activity.

The group's goal was to establish a scenario that would ask people to consider an alternative vision for people with disability, their families and supporters. The current reality is one where:

           Queenslanders with disability don’t get the support they need to live decent lives in the communities of their choice; and

           there is a high level of reliance on a funding and a service delivery system that is predominately crisis driven.

Version 1 of the scenario developed by the group - the Blue Skies Scenario – describes the reality for people with disability in 2019:

“In 2019, the community is strong and vibrant and embraces diversity. While the work of growing community will never be complete, wherever a person with a disability lives, whatever their choice of lifestyle, their experience is one of rich inclusion and sense of belonging.”

The Scenario then outlines the drivers for change that were identified in 2009 to achieve this transformation.  It also identifies the role of government, service providers, people with disability and family and carers.

The Blue Skies Scenario is currently informing conversations about a vision for the future across the broader disability sector and key stakeholders.  The next phase of the project is due to be completed in January 2010.

For more information, to provide a response or to share your vision please visit http://www.blue-skies.info/scenario/index.htm

Perth audio description service at selected theatre shows

A number of prominent venues owned by the Perth Theatre Trust trialled an audio description service during a number of performances in 2008. Due to the success of these trials this service was made available for a number of performances throughout the recent performance season.

The audio description service captures the visual elements of theatre performances by describing the ‘unheard’ aspects that are essential to understanding a story line.

Using a small earpiece and receiver, theater goers can access an unobtrusive service where a volunteer describes aspects of the set, costumes and action. The set and other elements are described with sections of the program read to the patron prior to the show.

This type of service has been called for by people who are blind or vision impaired for a long time.

For more information contact His Majesty’s Theatre, the Black Swan Theatre Company, or the Perth Theatre Company.

Return to top

National news

Report on National Human Rights Consultations

On 30 September 2009, the National Human Rights Consultation Committee handed its report to the Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP.  The report is based on the national consultations conducted throughout Australia, and proved to be an enormous success. Over 40,000 people put in a written submission or came to one of the 66 community roundtables at 52 locations around Australia, making this the largest public response to any government consultation in Australia’s history.

The report exposes major problems with human rights protection in Australia, and is built upon the stories of thousands of Australians from across the nation. The Committee recommends a number of remedies for this, including:

          the enactment of a national Human Rights Act;

          better human rights education;

          improving parliamentary scrutiny of human rights; and

          addressing acute disadvantage experienced by groups such as people with disability and Indigenous people.

According to the report 84.7% of submissions that referred to a Human Rights Act support the introduction of such an Act. PWD is pleased that the recommendations recognise the importance that a Human Rights Act should include economic, cultural and social rights, as well as civil and political rights.  Report recommendations also recognise the importance of incorporating human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) into domestic law.

A copy of the report from the National Human Rights Consultation Committee is available at: http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au

PWD’s submission to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee was informed by a disability sector forum and a member’s event, both held in May 2009.  A copy of our submission is available here on our website.

GetUp, an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation, that aims to give Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues, are running a campaign, including an online petition, to ensure that the government acts on the report of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee and enacts a Human Rights Act. If you want to sign their petition, follow this link.

PWD will continue to be involved in advocacy for stronger human rights protections for people with disability in Australia, and will monitor the Government’s response to the Committee report.

For more information contact Therese Sands on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at thereses@pwd.org.au

Violence Against Women Advisory Group

On 19 September 2009, the Australian Government announced the members of the new Violence against Women Advisory Group.   PWD congratulates Ms Annie Parkinson, President of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and life member of PWD for her appointment to this Advisory Group. 

It is critical that the issues and concerns of women with disability are provided in any advice relating to violence against women, and there has been concern for sometime that expertise relating to women with disability has been missing from national councils and advisory groups looking at this issue.

The role of the Advisory Group will be to provide the Australian Government with expert advice on the implementation of the initiatives contained in the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women.

The Violence against Women Advisory Group has been appointed for a period of two years. Its immediate priorities include:

          Establishing a new high quality national domestic violence and sexual assault telephone and online crisis and support service.

          Implementing Respectful Relationships programs into school and non school settings to change attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence.

          Working with the States and Territories to establish a National Centre of Excellence in the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

For more information regarding the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women follow this link.

National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy Release

The Australian Government released the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy (NMHDES) on 14 September 2009. This strategy is designed to be a comprehensive response to the issues people with disability face when seeking and maintaining employment in Australia. PWD contributed to the consultations undertaken in the development of the NMHDES.

The NMHDES contains a number of initiatives, some of which were announced earlier in the year as part of the 2009-2010 Budget measures.  The key initiatives include:

          New Disability Employment Services;

          A Disability Support Pension Employment Incentive Pilot;

          Training and best practice advice for Australian Public Service agencies;

          Improved assessment and support for people with disability;

          Workforce re-engagement through better and fairer assessments for Disability Support Pension;

          The creation of a new Employment Assistance Fund that will bring together resources from the Workplace Modifications Scheme and the Auslan for Employment program;

          An Innovation Fund will help more people with disability into jobs by funding innovative projects that remove barriers to employment; and

          An enhanced JobAccess website to increase awareness among employers of the services available to support both people with disability and mental illness.

The NMHDES is designed to be supported by other national policies and plans, including the National Disability Strategy, the 4th National Mental Health Strategy and the Education Reform Agenda.

PWD welcomes the initiatives contained in the NMHDES.  However, we believe that many of the systemic barriers to employment for people with disability face have not been adequately addressed.  Discrimination in the workplace, for example, is not addressed in the NMHDES.  While this issue may be deferred to the National Disability Strategy, this is one of the major issues faced by employees and applicants with disability. PWD is also concerned that a large number of the recommendations from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (now the Australian Human Rights Commission) Workability Inquiry are not addressed.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, the Hon Bill Shorten, will shortly release a discussion paper outlining the Australian Government’s vision for Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE). PWD welcomes this review. ADE’s are structured on the basis that all employees of ADE’s have no prospects of employment outside supported employment. PWD believes that supported employment services must be focused on training and skills development with a view to transitioning people through the service into open employment. To achieve this goal structural change to these services is required. PWD will be providing a response to the discussion paper once released.

The National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy can be viewed here.

For further information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at deanp@pwd.org.au

Disability Parking Scheme Harmonisation

As reported in E-Bulletin 54 (June 2009), the Australian Government has been 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. After consultation with members and other stakeholders, PWD submitted its response to the National Disability Parking Scheme Harmonisation Discussion Paper.

PWD was concerned with the proposal as outlined in the discussion paper. The proposal was put forward as a minimum set of standards which would allow a baseline of consistency across jurisdictions. PWD believes that this proposal would not reduce confusion across these jurisdictions as different application criteria and the concessions provided would still vary. PWD’s main points are:

          eligibility needs to be based on an real assessment of functional ability;

          the national scheme must bring all states up to the highest level of accessibility and benefit to people with disability;

          Parking in metered and ticketed areas must remain free.

PWD will continue to advocate to the Government for a scheme that does not disadvantage people using any of the current schemes and to ensure the greatest amount of access and independence is provided through a national scheme.

If you would like to contribute views on this issue contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at deanp@pwd.org.au

National Arts and Disability Strategy

On 9 October 2009, the Cultural Ministers Council released the National Arts and Disability Strategy.  This Strategy is part of the broader social inclusion agenda, and complements the National Disability Strategy being developed by the Australian Government.  It focuses on access and participation in artistic and cultural activities for people with disability.

The National Arts and Disability Strategy sets out eight underlying principles that will guide its implementation, with four priority areas for action. These are:

          Addressing barriers to access and participation;

          Supporting artistic and cultural practice amongst those with a disability;

          Developing audiences for disability arts companies and individual artists; and

          Improving policy development and planning within governments.

The Strategy is the result of extensive consultation, including 115 submissions made in response to a discussion paper released in late 2008, targeted consultation with arts and disability peak bodies, and consultation with government agencies at all levels.

The National Arts and Disability Strategy can be viewed here.

Review of the migration treatment of disability

Earlier this year, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services, the Hon Bill Shorten announced an inquiry into the health requirements contained in the Migration Act 1958.

For a number of years, PWD has been extremely concerned that these health requirements discriminate against migrants and refugees with disability.  We have written to Senator Evans, Bill Shorten and other Members of Parliament on this issue and publicly voiced our opposition to the more recent decisions to deny residency to Dr Moeller, who has a son with disability, and Dr Abdi who is blind.  We argue that the health requirements breach the human rights of people with disability contained in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The Inquiry into the migration treatment of disability is currently being conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration.  While the formal submission period has closed, the Committee has announced that it will continue to accept submissions and encourages people with a disability, employers, business organisations, disability and community services providers, and any other interested individuals or organisations to make comment.  There are also a number of public hearings scheduled for Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney throughout the coming months.

PWD has joined with a number of disability, advocacy and refugee organisations to develop a sector wide position statement that calls on the Joint Standing Committee on Migration to recommend:

          Full application of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to the Migration Act 1958 health assessment to remove the potential for any direct or indirect discrimination against refugees and migrants with disability;

          Improved consistency, transparency and administrative fairness for migrants and refugees with disability applying for an Australian visa;

          Withdrawal of the Australian interpretive declaration made upon ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities pertaining to the health requirements for non nationals.

The position statement can be viewed here.

More information about the Inquiry, including dates for public hearings and to view submissions go to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration webpage here.

PWD’s submission to this Inquiry will be available on our website shortly.

For more information contact Therese Sands, Executive Director on one of the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at thereses@pwd.org.au

Optional Protocol to CRPD

PWD congratulates the Australian Government in acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (OPCRPD). The OPCRPD came into effect for Australia on 20 September 2009.  It allows people with disability in Australia to take a complaint to the United Nations, if all domestic options have been undertaken and failed to achieve the desired human rights outcome.

Early in the year, the Australian Government declared the CRPD under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.  This means that the Australian Human Rights Commission is now able to hear complaints about alleged breaches of the CRPD. This is a step that people would need to take before making a complaint to the UN using the OPCRPD.

PWD welcomes these measures as they provide pathways for people with disability to pursue complaints about human rights breaches in Australia.

National Leadership Workshop for Aboriginal People with Disability

On August 5 and 6 the inaugural national leadership workshop for Aboriginal people with disability was held in Sydney.  The workshop was organised by the Aboriginal Disability Network Incorporated (ADN).  The ADN is an organisation whose primary membership is made up of Aboriginal people with disability and their carers.

The National Leadership workshop was designed to further consolidate a social movement of Aboriginal people with disability.  A total of 25 Aboriginal people with disability from around Australia attended the historic event.  Workshop participants were able to learn ways to undertake their own advocacy within their communities as well as share stories about how the needs of Aboriginal people with disability are being met in their communities.  The workshop also provided an opportunity for Aboriginal people with disability to advocate to various government and non-government agencies about the unmet needs of Aboriginal people with disability.

At the culmination of the two day workshop delegates unanimously endorsed the Aboriginal Disability Network as the new national peak organisation of and for Aboriginal people with disability.  The delegates also together unanimously endorsed a statement to this effect called the Sydney Statement which calls upon the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments to support the establishment of state and regional networks of Aboriginal people with disability.

Another gathering is planned to take place in Adelaide shortly where a strategic plan as well as the formalisation of the constitution for the new national body will be developed.

For more information contact Damian Griffis, ADN Executive Officer on telephone (02) 9310 1161 or by email, damiang@pwd.org.au

CRPD Shadow Report Project

Leading disability organisations have partnered to form a project group which is compiling a Shadow Report on Australia's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The overall aim of the Shadow Report is to make recommendations to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These recommendations will provide the basis for the United Nations recommendations to the Australian Government regarding Australia's implementation of the Articles of the Convention. The main focus of the Shadow Report will be reporting the extent to which Australia has implemented its obligations under the CRPD and to provide recommendations for future action by the Australian Government.

The project group gratefully acknowledges the pro bono support of DLA Phillips Fox in providing a team to draft the report and assist with facilitating consultations in each State and Territory in Australia. The project group will be inviting disability advocacy, representative, and legal organizations to provide information about the lived experience of their members, clients and constituents with disability. These stories will identify the degree to which persons with disabilities’ human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled.

The release of the Shadow Report outlining the information collated, including recommendations, is expected prior to the Federal Government submitting its Progress Report to the United Nations in August 2010.

The Project Group is made up of the following members:

          People with Disability Australia

          Queensland Advocacy Incorporated

          Disability Discrimination Legal Centre

          Australian Disability Rights Network

          Disability Advocacy Network Australia

          Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

          Disability Studies and Research Centre

For further information contact: Amelia Dixon, DLA Phillips Fox on (02) 9286 8590 or amelia.dixon@dlaphillipsfox.com

Or contact Therese Sands at PWD on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or by email at thereses@pwd.org.au

Apology to the Forgotten Australians

The Australian Government will formally apologise to people who experienced abuse and neglect in institutional or out-of-home care as children and to former child migrants at a special remembrance event in Canberra on 16 November 2009.

The decision to provide an apology has been made following the June 2009 report from the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the progress of implementing the recommendations from the Committee’s 2004 Inquiry into children in institutional care, which resulted in the report, Forgotten Australians; and the recommendations from the Committee’s 2001 Inquiry into child migration, which resulted in the report, Lost Innocents: Righting the Record.

The June 2009 report from the Senate Community Affairs Committee, Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians Revisited - Report on the progress with the implementation of the recommendations of the Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians Reports recommended that the Australian Government issue an “apology to people who experienced abuse and/or neglect in institutional or out-of-home care as children”.  Within this apology, formal acknowledgement is to be given to child migrants.

An advisory group has been established to assist in developing the apology. It includes representatives from key organisations representing Forgotten Australians and former child migrants as well as Members and Senators from the Government, the Coalition and the Australian Greens.

Recently PWD met with the Australian Government and a member of the advisory group to raise the need for the apology to address the abuse and neglect experienced by people with disability in institutional care, both within the child protection system and the disability service system.  PWD provided our comprehensive submission to the 2004 Senate Community Affairs Inquiry into children in institutional care that highlighted the negative experiences of children with disability in a range of institutional care settings.

We also discussed the Committee’s finding from the 2004 Inquiry that, with regards to an apology, “such a gesture would only be meaningful if accompanied by a commitment to genuine and immediate deinstitutionalisation in conjunction with intensive family support and family-based programs as well as collaborative interagency services including health, police, education and housing.”

For more information contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers list at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at: deanp@pwd.org.au

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) has set up an information page on their website. This site includes information for people who experienced abuse and neglect in institutions on how to attend the apology and how to have input into the apology. The information can be found here or by phoning FaHCSIA on 1800 050 011.

Make height adjustable examination tables mandatory for doctor’s surgeries

PWD has been working with Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) over several years, and more recently with the Physical Disability Council NSW (PDCN) and Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW, to ensure that all general practitioners (GPs) have height adjustable examination beds in their surgeries.

Many people with disability cannot use fixed height examination beds and are concerned they are not getting the level of health care other patients receive.  Some have told us directly of painful and undignified experiences they have had, and others have told us that they have not had a thorough examination for years.  This is a particular issue for women with disability, who often cannot have regular preventative health checks that are recommended for women, such as Pap smears.

Having a height adjustable examination bed also means that it is far easier and safer for Doctors and other medical staff to do examinations and screen for possible illness.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is an organisation that supports GPs, and one of its responsibilities is to develop GP Standards which try to ensure health care services are of the best quality for all patients.  In 2007, our advocacy efforts resulted in the RACGP recommending in its Standards that GPs have height adjustable examination beds, but it wasn’t made mandatory to do so (see E-bulletin 44, July 2007).

The RACGP is now reviewing its GP Standards.  PWD is developing a submission to the RACGP to argue for a mandatory Standard that requires all GPs to have height adjustable examination beds in their surgeries.

It is also important that the RACGP hear personal stories from people who have experienced difficulty or problems when visiting their doctor because there is no height adjustable examination bed.  We are not asking people to name their doctor, but PWD is encouraging people with disability to tell their story so that RACGP can better understand why it is important all GPs have this service.

If you would like to provide your story, then you must do so by 30 November.  Letters can be sent by email to standards@racgp.org.au or posted to:

Standards Review Process

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

College House

1 Palmerston Crescent

South Melbourne VIC 3205

Please also send us a copy of your letter.

For more information, please contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager on the numbers listed at the end of this E-bulletin or email at: deanp@pwd.org.au

Return to top

International News

Support Pacific people with disability affected by the tsunami

On 30 October 2009, a powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake sent tsunami waves smashing into the coast of American Samoa, Western Samoa, and the small northern island of Niuatoputapu in Tonga leaving approx 150 people dead and 1000 people with injuries.

PWD Australia was not able to gain phone access to our partner DPOs in Samoa and Tonga for over 24 hours, and even at this stage, it was not clear how the Tsunami had impacted on people with disability.  Over the next days and weeks, information was provided through the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) email discussion list.

Faatino Utumapu, Coordinator at Nuanua O Le Alofa Inc. (NOLA), the national DPO in Samoa said that “304 persons with disabilities live in the highly affected areas. We only managed to contact few of them on Friday. Yesterday, we have the opportunity to offer some of them our support. Sadly I'm wordless to explain what the Tsunami has done to the properties most importantly the lives of our people. For our members, most of the people we visited are homeless and have been moved to live in very small houses on high grounds temporarily. Some are fairly injured. A family of 4 persons with disabilities have lost 4 members already while a male with epilepsy still remains at the national hospital in very critical condition. At this stage, food, clothes, shelters and water are in real high demand in these areas”.

News reports about the tsunami in Samoa stated that “residents were engulfed by waves 15 to 20 feet high that reached up to a mile inland. The waves splintered houses scattered about the coastline, and Samoans were left with devastated villages”.

Vai Kohninoa, Coordinator at Naunau ‘o e ‘Alamaite Tonga Association Incorporated (NATA), the national DPO in Tonga said that “we have seven members of NATA in the island of Niuatoputapu where the tsunami occurred. They are all fine and safe from the tsunami but the situation of their life at the moment is not good like water, food, clothes etc. Most of them they lost their properties and at the moment they all stay at the Primary school compound. We do really want your help for those people with disabilities”.

PWD Australia encourages everyone to make a donation to assist NOLA and NATA to support its members.  Australia Pacific Islands Disability Support (APIDS), an Australian voluntary organisation that raises funds and provides support for Pacific DPOs has launched a fundraising appeal for NOLA and NATA. 

You can make a tax deductible donation by sending a cheque to APIDS Foundation Fund at 49 Rubiton Crt, Gisborne, VIC 3437 or by using credit card facilities at Our Community: www.ourcommunity.com.au/apids

Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 61/106 of 13 December 2006. Article 40 of the Convention stipulates that “States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.”

The second session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD was held on 2 - 4 September 2009 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The session included:

          Roundtable on accessibility and reasonable accommodation;

          Roundtable on equal recognition before the law, access to justice and support and decision-making;

          Panel discussion on making the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a reality for all: Advancing the disability rights agenda in development;

          Interactive dialogue with UN specialised agencies on updating the implementation of the Convention.

For further information, including documents, papers and associated press releases, see the UN website: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1479

Pacific Disabled Peoples Organisations Governance Support Program

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has partnered with the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) to coordinate and deliver governance support training in 9 countries in the Pacific.  The training aims to build the capacity of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to work with Government to progress the rights of people with disability in their countries.

Key components of the training include:

          Understanding human rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

          Analysing and prioritising country-specific human rights

          Working with Government

          Policy development

          Using CRPD as an advocacy tool

          Components of Good Governance

          Effective member representation

PWD Australia is providing support to the program by developing and delivering key aspects of the training, and working with DPO leaders, who participated in the Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships (ALAF) program hosted by us in Australia in October 2008 (see E-Bulletin 48, November 2008).

Other key program support is being provided by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Regional Rights Resource Team.

Government representatives from various Ministries have been invited to participate with DPOs to build the current level of engagement and responsiveness to disability issues, as well as increase information sharing and strategic links between government and DPOs.

The Progam will be delivered to the following PDF members: Cook Islands National Disability Council (Cook Islands); Fiji Disabled People's Association (Fiji); Te Toa Matoa (Kiribati); PNG National Assembly of People with Disabilities (Papua New Guinea); Nuanua O Le Alofa (Samoa); People with Disabilities Solomon Islands (Solomon Islands); Naunau O' E' Alamaite, Tonga Association (Tonga); Tuvalu Red Cross Society (Tuvalu); and Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (Vanuatu).

This program commenced in September 2009 in Vanuatu. Vanuatu is one of the few Pacific Island countries to have ratified the CRPD and the program was enthusiastically supported by the Vanuatu Government.  Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (DPA) were able use their significant advocacy expertise and knowledge of CRPD to add value to the Government’s planning and initiatives for CRPD implementation.  Overall, the program provided an opportunity for DPA to develop stronger links with government, as well as develop skills and knowledge to enhance their governance planning.

The program is scheduled for completion at the end of August 2010.

For more information contact Maria Attard, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at: mariaa@pwd.org.au

PWD hosts Thailand government officials on study tour

On 10 and 11 September, PWD hosted seven Thailand Government officials from the National Office for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities for two days as part of their study tour to Australia.

The two days aimed to provide an information exchange on advocacy, DPOs and disability service systems aimed at empowering people with disability.  PWD delivered training and organised for specific presentations on topics that included:

          Individualised Funding, Advocacy and the Role of Disabled Peoples Organisations;

          Formal mechanisms for decision-making (the NSW Office of the Public Guardian);

          Technical Aids and Equipment (Independent Living Centre NSW); and

          Systems for people with severe disability to control their own attendant care and in-home supports (Allowance Incorporated).

For more information contact Maria Attard, Advocacy Projects Manager, on the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at: mariaa@pwd.org.au

Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (DPA) Vanuatu launches website

PWD Australia congratulates Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association (DPA) Vanuatu on the launch of their website www.dpaav.org

DPA Vanuatu is a DPO that was established on 4 April 2009 to advocate for rights and promote abilities of persons with disability in Vanuatu. PWD Australia and DPA have worked in partnership for many years, including working on interventions during the development of CRPD at the UN, and delivering statements on the Biwako Millennium Framework at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

DPA played an instrumental advocacy role in the ratification of CRPD by Vanuatu on 24 April 2008, being the first country in the Pacific region to do so.

The website will be an invaluable resource for people with disability in Vanuatu and for all DPOs in the region.

Pacific Islands Forum Disability Ministers’ Meeting

From the 21 to 23 October 2009, the first ever meeting of Pacific Islands Forum Disability Ministers took place in the Cook Islands.  The theme of the meeting was ‘Strengthening Partnerships for Disability Inclusive Development in the Pacific'.

Key themes of the meeting included:

          Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) through the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action;

          Strengthening regional commitment to disability inclusive development; and

          Strengthening Forum Island governments and Disabled Persons Organisation partnerships.

Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, the Hon Bob McMullan lead the Australian delegation, which included AusAID representatives, a representative from the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) and, significantly, a representative from an Australian DPO – Ms Samantha French, PWD Vice-President and international representative for the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).

PWD was extremely pleased that Government and DPO partnership building was a theme of the meeting, with Pacific Islands’ Ministers being asked to attend with a DPO representative.  This facilitated dialogue and the necessary planning required to address greater inclusion of people with disability in the Pacific.

A key outcome of the Meeting was the endorsement of the Pacific Regional Strategy on Disability 2010-2015.  The Strategy identifies several thematic areas that can be realistically addressed by countries. Under each thematic area are selected indicative areas for actions designed to provide guidance to countries in regard to how they might address their own priorities and commitments. The thematic areas for special attention are:

          Strengthen Political Leadership and an Enabling Environment;

          Recognition and Protection of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

          Strengthen Partnerships: Coordination and Collaboration;

          Disability Inclusive Development;

          Enhancing the Central Role of Persons with Disabilities, and

          Mobilisation of Resources.

Strategy targets are linked to regional and international commitments to the Biwako Millennium Framework (BMF) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For more information about the meeting, including the meeting proceedings, go to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website at: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/pages.cfm/documents/

UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities second session

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met for its second session from 19 to 23 October 2009 in Geneva.  This Committee is responsible for reviewing the progress of countries in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and receiving and determining complaints made to it under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The meeting focused on the Committee rules of procedure and the guidelines the Committee will provide to countries for their reporting under CRPD.  Most of the work of the Committee was held during closed sessions, but on 21 October, the Committee held a general day of discussion on CRPD Article 12, Equal Recognition before the Law that was open to the public.

PWD and a number of representative organisations of people with disability as well as other non-government organisations participated in the day’s discussion.  PWD provided a comprehensive position paper to the Committee that provided an analysis of the rights contained in the CRPD and how these apply to people with disability to ensure their equal recognition before the law.

At the conclusion of the meeting, and after a repeated deadlock of votes, the Committee elected Professor Ron McCallum from Australia as Chairperson.  Professor McCallum will commence as Chairperson at the third session of the Committee in February 2010 and continue until the end of his tenure on the Committee at the end of 2010.

Following this meeting, PWD will finalise its position paper and make it available on our website.  For more information contact Therese Sands on the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at: thereses@pwd.org.au

Return to top

The Inside Story

Vale Russell Agnew

PWD was saddened by the news that longstanding member, Russell Agnew died recently, and we pass on our condolences to Russell’s family and friends.  PWD attended Russell’s funeral which was held on 13 October.  The family requested that donations be made to Beyond Blue to mark Russell’s memory. To make a donation go to www.beyondblue.org.au

Vale Kelly Kljajic

PWD expresses its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Kelly Kljajic who recently died unexpectedly.  Kelly was the Disabilities Chair at the Federation of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) and was a committed and passionate advocate for people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

PWD expands its individual advocacy

Since April 2009, PWD has been extremely busy setting up new regional offices in NSW and QLD in order to improve and expand our individual advocacy support. This expansion is possible due to funding from the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) within the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

In late March 2009, PWD was successful in achieving funding to deliver individual advocacy in the following Local Government Areas:

          NSW: Goulburn Mulwaree Council area and Wingecarribee Shire

          NSW: Queanbeyan City Council area

          NSW: Sutherland Shire

          Queensland: Bundaberg Regional Council area

          Queensland: Fraser Coast Regional Council area

          Queensland: Logan City Council area

In September 2009, we were successful in winning the tender we submitted to FaHCSIA to operate a new Individual Advocacy Service for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council Area.

Recruitment for advocates has been finalised and office space established for all locations, except the Sunshine Coast. Recruitment is now underway for an Advocate for the Sunshine Coast area (see PWD Website for details) and office space for this area will be located shortly.

While the Sunshine Coast service will not be operational until December, all other areas are up and running. The new PWD office locations and advocates are as follows:

          Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands Regions office, Kazcare Centre, Bowral: Gareth Elliott, Advocate

          Queanbeyan Region office, Cassidy’s Arcade: Lynette Russell, Advocate

          Sutherland Shire office, Stapleton Avenue Community Centre, Sutherland: Catherine Posniak, Advocate

          Bundaberg Region office, Bundaberg Enterprise Centre: Luke Gale, Advocate

          Fraser Coast Region office, Maryborough Marina: Alan Grimsley, Manager, Individual and Group Advocacy, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast

          Logan City Region office, Logan Women’s Health and Wellbeing Centre, Kingston: Jenny Speed, Manager, Individual and Group Advocacy, Logan City

All six new staff were welcomed to PWD in late August, where they participated in a week long induction program.

For people wanting advocacy assistance or disability rights information or advice who live anywhere in NSW or in the 4 Queensland regions, please call our Disability Rights Information Service on 1800 422 015.

For more information about our new services contact Matthew Bowden on the numbers listed at the end of this E-Bulletin or by email at: matthewb@pwd.org.au

Annual General Meeting and Members’ Event

PWD’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Members’ Event will take place on Saturday 28 November 2009.

Venue: Level 2, Town Hall Room & Outdoor Terrace, Mercure Hotel Sydney, 818 – 820 George Street, Sydney.

Registration: 2.30pm - 3:00pm

AGM: 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Members Event: 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Underground parking is available at the venue via Little Regent St.  To reserve accessible parking call Melissa Farkas, Mercure Hotel, (02) 9217 6675 (0-3 hrs $15.00 / 3 hours + $28.00 Flat rate).

An Attendant Carer will be present and a hearing loop will be in operation.

Please RSVP by Friday 13 November 2009 to Sidney Sure by phone, (02) 9370 3100 or 1800 422 015; by TTY, (02) 9318 2138 or 1800 422 016; or by email, sidneys@pwd.org.au

Please let Sidney know your participation requirements when you RSVP.

Return to top

Conferences

 

  • 2nd Strengthening Disability Advocacy - Working Together Conference 2009. Disability Advocacy Resource Unit in partnership with Self Advocacy Resource Unit and Victorian Disability Advocacy Network: 17th –18th November 2009, Jasper Hotel, Melbourne.  For further information go to: www.daru.org.au

 

  • Families in Law: Investigation, Intervention and Protection. 29 Annual Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law: 26 to 29 November 2009; for further information go to:  www.anzappl.org

 

  • 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

 

 

  • 2010 Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities. Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaii: 12 and 13 April 2010. For more information go to: http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu/

 

  • Women’s Worlds 2011: Inclusions, Exclusions and Seclusions. Living in a Globalised World: 3 to 7 July 2009: Ottawa-Gatineau, Canada: for further information go to www.womensworlds.ca

 

  • Implementing Disability Inclusive Development in the Pacific and Asia: Reviewing progress, planning the future. Australian Disability and Development Consortium, Darwin Convention Centre: 15 – 16 September, 2010.  For more information go to www.addc.org.au

 

Return to top

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 the 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.

Return to top

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.

Return to top

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

Return to top