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Comments on the NDIS Review and Participant Service Guarantee

PWDA welcomes this morning’s announcement of the review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) legislation and rules which will lead to the development of the NDIS Participant Service Guarantee.

We welcome the focus on improving plans and waiting times for people with disability. Our members, people with disability, have told us over and over that they are waiting too long for access to supports and essential equipment, and to get their plans finalised.

People with disability are also finding their plans don’t reflect the support they need, that the plans can be inadequate and can show a lack of understanding about disability. When our circumstances change, reviews and new plans are far too slow to be developed and implemented with potentially dangerous consequences.

However, we are concerned about any moves towards standardisation of plans, or to implementing generic plans, that will undermine the whole aim of the NDIS, which was to provide individualised supports that meet the specific needs of people with disability. We need to see the quality of plans lifted, in addition to shorter timeframes for access and plan development being met.

The old disability support system was rightly criticised for being too inflexible and having rigid support criteria – the NDIS can’t replicate the old outdated system.

Any review of the NDIS rules must centre people with disability, and what we want and need. People with disability need the NDIS to be easier to access, easier to deal with and more focused on us.

To achieve these goals, it is essential that the Government removes the staffing cap and improves the training of NDIA planners, so that we get better access to the scheme and better quality.

Better quality plans would mean less of us are forced into lengthy review processes and help us realise our goals for better access to employment and improved housing.

We also want to see planners trained to focus more on functional assessments rather than medical diagnosis. This review also needs to ensure all people with disability across Australia who should be eligible can access the scheme. This includes people from marginalised groups and communities.

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MEDIA RELEASE: New CEO for national disabled people’s organisation

a head shot of Jeff Smith

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) today welcomes our new Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Smith, who from 12 August takes on the job in a time of change and growth for the organisation, and people with disability.

“I’m so pleased to be taking up this exciting and important role as CEO of PWDA, an organisation that has been leading the work on rights for people with disability for 40 years,” said Jeff Smith, incoming CEO, PWDA.

“As a person with disability myself, I know how far we have come towards being fully included in Australia, but also how far we still have to go before we are truly equal.”

“Jeff brings to PWDA a wealth of relevant and timely experience, including from his 14 years as Director of the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW. He is a solicitor with a Masters of Law from Sydney University (majoring in Environmental Law and Policy) and regularly teaches postgraduate and undergraduate courses at Macquarie and Sydney University,” said Dr David Abello, President, PWDA.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Jeff, given his experience in governance, resilience, strategic planning, capacity building and sustainability. I’m excited about exploring a range of emerging human rights issues for people with disability with Jeff including how people with disability can be at the forefront of measures to deal with climate change.”

Jeff Smith is currently on the Advisory Committee for the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (having been Chair for 8 years), and the Board of the Haymarket Foundation. He was also a long-time Board member of the Total Environment Centre, the Environmental Planning and Law Association, and CLC NSW as well the Strategic Council for the Climate Institute.

“Our current Co-CEOs, Matthew Bowden and Therese Sands, will stay on at PWDA for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition,” said Dr Abello.

“I’m looking forward to working with the PWDA Board, our members, staff and supporters in advancing the rights of people with disability. We have lots of work to do, and I can’t wait to get started,” said Mr Smith.


More information:
El Gibbs
Director, Media and Communications, People with Disability Australia
0408 682 867
media@pwd.org.au

About People with Disability Australia: 
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that undertakes representation and advocacy to achieve the human rights of people with disability.  Our primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.  We have a cross-disability focus – we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability.  PWDA is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride.  This vision underpins everything that we do.

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People with disability call for an end to violence and neglect

17 July 2019

Violence and neglect against people with disability is a national crisis and must be addressed urgently by all levels of government and disability services.

“Tonight, Eden Camac and his family bravely shared his story of the terrible injury and neglect that was done to him, and the immense harm this has caused,” said Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia.

“Every part of the disability, health and justice systems failed Eden, and added significantly to the trauma he experiences. Eden is still waiting for answers and for people to be held accountable for what happened to him.”

Eden Camac was severely injured in his group home, then left without medical attention for 10 hours. When he was in hospital, he was not offered the same treatment as non-disabled people, the police refused to press charges and nine months later, Eden and his family are still looking for answers.

“Eden is strong and resilient, and has worked hard to recover from his extensive injuries. But we are angry and devastated by what happened to Eden, and how hard it has been to get justice,” said Sharon Camac, Eden’s mother.

“I want to make sure this never happens again, to Eden, or to any other person with disability. We need to see structural changes that will prevent future neglect like this.”

“Eden has a right to live his life free of violence and neglect, just like everyone else. We want his story to help people understand what happens to far too many people with disability every day,” said Michael Camac, Eden’s father.

“The upcoming Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will examine these very systems and structures that lead to people with disability getting hurt, and no one being held accountable,” said Luke Gale, Manager, Individual Advocacy, People with Disability Australia.

“We have been waiting a long time for this national examination of what has to change in Australia for people with disability to be safe from violence.”

“People with disability have been excluded from our justice systems, and deemed to be ‘unreliable witnesses’. We call on the Queensland Government to develop a disability justice plan that will ensure that violence against us isn’t swept under the carpet,” said Mr Bowden.

“We need all levels of government, and the disability support sector, to wake up to the epidemic of violence and neglect against people with disability and start to change.”

“Eden’s story is one we hear every day from people with disability around Australia. This isn’t good enough, that people with disability routinely experience violence in our homes, and can’t get access to justice when we do,” said Mr Gale.


More information:
Dr Megan Clement-Couzner
Senior Policy Officer, violence prevention & access to justice
People with Disability Australia
0431 961689
media@pwd.org.au

About People with Disability Australia: 
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that undertakes representation and advocacy to achieve the human rights of people with disability.  Our primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.  We have a cross-disability focus – we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability.  PWDA is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride.  This vision underpins everything that we do.

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People with disability have the right to sex

Logos of Touching Base and People with Disability Australia, with Media Release written underneath

This week’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) about National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding for sex therapy, has been welcomed as a first step towards people with disability having access to support to have sex, say leading disability and sex worker advocacy groups.

“We congratulate the applicant, a brave woman with disability who is determined to have the same rights as non-disabled people to an adult sex life,” said Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia.

“Deputy President Rayment OAM QC of the AAT was considering a specific set of circumstances for this woman with disability but we hope that it now provides the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) with a framework to develop much needed policy in this area. The previous state-based disability support system had long supported people with disability to have funded access to sex work services – now it is time for the NDIS to catch up with this long-standing precedent,” said Matthew Bowden.

“We are pleased that the AAT has upheld the rights of people with disability to sexual expression, which would enable ‘reasonable and necessary’ support through NDIS funding to engage the services of a sex worker to achieve therapeutic outcomes. People with disability should not be denied access to sex on the basis of their disability.”

“Sex therapists do not provide sex work services, but sex workers often provide therapeutic outcomes for their clients through the services they provide. These services are provided by sex workers, some of whom have been trained by Touching Base in honing and further developing their skills in working with people with disability.” said Saul Isbister, President of Touching Base.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Australia ratified in 2008, says that governments have an obligation to ensure that people with disability can enjoy life to the same extent as their non-disabled peers.

The NDIS is underpinned by the CRPD and ensures that the rights of people with disability are paramount in all decisions.

‘We argue that every adult, with a disability or not, has a human right to seek consensual sexual expression. Non-disabled people can masturbate, or find sexual partners, but for some people with disability, they don’t have the same opportunities without access to sex work services. For too long the issue of disability and sexuality has been a taboo topic that was kept shrouded in a veil of secrecy or denial. During our work, over the last 19 years, Touching Base has seen a remarkable transformation in the willingness of governments and the disability service sector to respond in ways that support people with disability to make their own choices.” said Saul Isbister.


More information:
El Gibbs
Director, Media and Communications, People with Disability Australia
0408 682 867
media@pwd.org.au

About Touching Base
Touching Base is a sex worker advocacy organisation focusing on the rights of people with disability and sex workers. It formed in October 2000 and has been advocating for the rights of sex workers and people with disability ever since. Touching Base aims to facilitate the link between these two marginalised societal groups, removing the stigma that impedes their self-expression and raise the public awareness of the issues that affect them.

The organisation encourages information sharing and the expansion of educational tools for sex workers, people with disability and the disability sector.

About People with Disability Australia:
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that undertakes representation and advocacy to achieve the human rights of people with disability. Our primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability. We have a cross-disability focus – we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability. PWDA is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride. This vision underpins everything that we do.

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New leadership coming for national disability rights organisation

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People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is today launching our search for new leadership, as our long-standing Co-CEOs are stepping down after a decade in the role.

“We are excited to start the quest for new leadership for our organisation, starting a new chapter in our growth and development as the leading disability rights body in Australia,” said Dr David Abello, President, PWDA.

“We are so proud of both our outgoing CEOs, Therese Sands and Matthew Bowden, for the incredible legacy they are leaving us and their tireless work in building PWDA into the strong and diverse organisation we are today.”

PWDA is a national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation, established in 1981, that is made up of, led and governed by people with disability.

“Therese and Matthew have been outstanding leaders of PWDA over the last ten years, building us into to the strong, diverse and proud organisation of people with disability that we are,” said Dr Abello.

“This week, our search will start for their successor or successors, who will continue this vital work to achieve our vision of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride.”

“People with disability are facing  a period of change across Australia, with our Royal Commission getting underway, the renewal of the National Disability Strategy and our continued work to make sure the NDIS is working for people with disability,” said Dr Abello.

“We want new leadership to take us into the next decade, and continue PWDA’s role as a disabled people’s  organisation, run by and for people with disability.”

“I also want to say a personal thanks, as a very long-time member of PWDA and as President, to Matthew and Therese for all their incredible work leading our organisation, and in putting disability rights front and centre,” said Dr Abello.

Find out about the recruitment and review the information pack.

 

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People with Disability Welcome Our Royal Commission

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Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) welcomes Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on the formation of our Royal Commission and its Letters Patent into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation against people with disability today, following the Government’s commitment of $527 million in the Federal Budget.

“People with disability have called for this Royal Commission for many years, due to the appalling rates of violence against us, and we look forward to the opportunities for justice, healing and prevention provided by these Terms of Reference. We are particularly happy to see that the Royal Commission will cover all people with disability in all settings and contexts,” said Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia.

“We are glad to hear that there will be $100 million for advocacy and supports, and we are looking forward to seeing the terms of reference in full,” said Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia.

“It’s very positive that hearings will take place around the country,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of First Peoples Disability Network. “Our people have much higher rates of disability than the general population, and we’re particularly keen to be able to tell our stories and see some healing. The Royal Commission will start to provide that.”

“We acknowledge the consultation run by Government in the lead up to the announcement and that 3700 responses were received, many of them from people with disability, including those from our communities,” said Dwayne Cranfield, CEO of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance. “We are also happy to see the commitment of States and Territories to this process.”

“DPO Australia congratulates the new Commissioners on their appointment and looks forward to working with the newly announced Commissioners to ensure our strong disability and human rights expertise is utilised,” said Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia.

“This Royal Commission is a real step towards justice.”

The Commissioners will be lead by the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC, and include Rhonda Galbally AC, Alastair McEwin, Andrea Mason OAM, John Ryan AM, and Barbara Bennett PSM.