Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2017
Getting into gear for the NDIS journey

Friday 15 September @ NAB The Hall

Closing Address


Friday 15th September, 2017: 3:30pm - 4:00pm


The Hall


Jeff Waters, Journalist, Ethical News

Jeff Waters was a TV reporter for 30 years and has worked in almost as many countries. Learning to film and edit his own journalism, he became the world’s first professional video journalist in 1996. His latest reporting job was as Senior Journalist, Victoria, for ABC TV News, and his video journalism has been broadcast by CNN and the BBC, as well as all Australian and New Zealand Television networks and many others. Jeff is the author of two non-fiction books, and he now works largely as a media consultant for charities and NGOs.

Photo of Jeff Waters, Journalist, Ethical News

Session Summary

SDAC17 was very fortunate to have a ‘resident roving reporter’ who milled around all day, gathering key points and capturing themes and opinions from speakers and delegates alike. In this closing address, Jeff presented his multi-media mash up of the day with his wonderful ‘yes-I-can-do-this-with-no-time-to-prepare’ approach.




So now I’m just going to hand straight over to our resident reporter, Jeff Waters…

(Video played)

Transcript from video:

Good afternoon, everybody.  I’m your last speaker for the day.  Some of you may be relieved to know that.  When I came in today, I saw that there was a massive television set over the stage and I thought that is a TV that I have to be on.  So here I am.  I’ve been asked to do a little report on your conference today.  So let’s take a look at it.  

I think we know the direction we’re going in and the future of the scheme.  

At this time of great change advocacy is important to make sure that the aims and objectives of the NDIS are upheld and that was covered in the keynote speaker today.  

What have you got to learn here today?

Just to hear about what is actually happening on the ground.

Are you getting much out of it?

So far, yes, I think it’s excellent to see where we can head with the NDIS.

I came here to try to network a bit, learn more about advocacy and I’ve already learnt from Alastair McEwin that we really need to keep in mind the human rights framework and use that to advocate, strengthen advocates.  

Well, I think it’s very good to hear what different people are doing in the sector and hear how everything is all coming together at this time of development for the NDIS.

I’m a parent and carer of a child with disability, so we feel we need to empower ourselves in order to navigate this system.

Do you think people will learn from empowering themselves?

I think we’ve learnt to empower ourselves.  However, it’s still very difficult to navigate this system and in particular for our children or our young people who are the more complex, it’s still a very, very difficult system to navigate.  Certainly the NDIS   in Victoria anyway that I can speak for   there’s a real heightened awareness about it’s obviously rollout.  There’s confusion about who, what and how and I think that needs to be explored.  That’s why days like this and our advocates are so important.

It’s important that so many people with disabilities are getting together and finding out what’s going on within the disability sector.  The NDIS, where it’s at at the moment.

Brilliant people here today to talk about advocacy issues and changing the world and we want to be inspired and go out and man the pickets.

Well, that’s it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Now I’ve been on your big television screen, I think I will come now live on to the stage and give you the rest of my speech.  


Hello, everybody.  As Noel once said television is not for watching, it’s for being on.

I’ve been a journalist for 30 years, so I’m used to coming to conferences like this and hearing people’s stories and picking out the best one and trying to turn that into television for the evening and inform people.  I’ve been overwhelmed here today by the number of stories that there are and I can’t believe that the public hasn’t heard about some of these stories.

I don’t think that the wider Australian public has any idea of the travails that you people are going through insofar as the NDIS is concerned.  I think the country has a broad view that this is a fantastic thing that was set up, but they don’t know about the practicalities of it.

Now, of course in a traditional sense trying to get disability issues on to the television or into the newspapers is almost impossible.  We all know that.  We all suspect the reasons, although it’s probably never been mentioned.  So what possibly can you do?  Well, you are living in the most exciting age of advocacy and I’m not talking about individual advocacy here, but I have since I left the ABC a few years ago been working solely in civil society and solely studying and using and employing the new technology that’s available.  You don’t need newspapers anymore, you don’t need Channel 9 or Channel 7 or Channel 10, you don’t need any of them, you can circumvent them.

Now, the federal disabilities minister, he’s in a seat called Pearce, I have a total mental blank now of his name, Christian Porter, thank you very much, Western Australian and I’m a Queenslander too.  Western Australian, a seat that wraps around Perth, a very safe Liberal seat.  However, he did have a 6% swing against him at the last election.

Now, just as an example, I do this for a living, I push politicians in directions and I try to help public opinion in directions.  How would Mr Porter feel if anybody who was annoyed with the NDIS, and you put this message out, took a little selfie of themselves and then you plonked it on Facebook and Twitter and every other method of social media, you can target the seat and you can tell him why aren’t you targeting it at your seat, we’re spending hundreds of dollars, every single person who opens a mobile device or computer in your electorate and only your electorate will see you being complained against.

These are the things that you can do now.  So don’t walk away here today depressed, please.  Our society cannot live and cannot exist with people like you being depressed.  We need you.  So don’t be depressed.  Go out there and kick them.  It is time, you can do it, and it’s extremely inexpensive to do.  So it’s time to be seen, it’s time to be politically active.  You haven’t been seen by the public. In the interviews today that you never see on television, they are more authentic than any politician than you’ll ever see.  (Applause)

It is authenticity that sells concepts now, that sells ideas.  It’s the subject du jour.  It’s something you should be exploiting and I’m very, very excited for you to think that this might be happening and to think of the normalisation, the normalisation of disability in what will become the mainstream media, but it’s up to you to do it.

Thank you very much.


Thank you very much, Jeff.  I’ll make sure that your wonderful video is on our website in pride of place and shared and shared again and I’m sure you will all do the same.

Before I hand over to close today’s proceedings, I would like to thank everybody for coming today.  It’s been a fantastic day with a lot of collaboration and sharing and as always, we’ll be putting together all of the information from today and include all the videos of the sessions, transcripts, links to resources mentioned on our website.

We’ll also send around an evaluation survey to everyone and please make sure you complete that because it feeds back to us what you would like the next conference to look like.

I have a number of people to thank, so bear with me.  First and foremost, I would like to thank every one of you for your contributions today.  Thank you to Llewellyn Reynders, Liz Wright and Colleen Furlanetto for facilitating today’s sessions.  Thank you to all the panellists.  Thank you to Jeff for your fantastic summary.  Thank you to the Disability Services Commissioner for their sponsorship to allow as many people as response to attend today.

Thank you to the NDIA, Every Australian Counts, Fertile Films and our amazing NDIS participants and advocates who shared their stories on videos.  Thank you to Show Division for your partnership on all our audio-visual needs.

Thank you to all who have live tweeted these discussions today.  Thank you to the Auslan interpreters, The Captioning Studio and volunteers.

Thank you to the conference organising committee:  Melanie Muir, Llewellyn Reynders, Leah Katieva, Pauline Williams, and of course the unflappable Natasha Brake.  Now I would like to hand over to Melanie Muir to close the conference for us.

Well, thank you all for coming, we’re very pleased with the turnout, we’re pleased to see all of your faces.  Don’t forget to do the advocacy matters photograph landscape.  Have you got that?  Have you got your phones out?  Good.

Disability Advocacy Victoria, who I’m on the board with a number of organisations here today, would like to thank Melissa (applause) and Natasha for their work in organising the conference.  Thank you Deirdre.  That’s what it’s all about, it’s all about flowers for those two, because they’ve worked very hard to get you all here today.  I’m just going to say one more thing and that is that there is the Victorian Disability Advocacy Network that is very much meeting every month around issues to do with the NDIS.

So if you’re a funded advocacy agency in the state, then please feel free to join the network.  We’ll be having a forum in October.  If you want the contact details, contact DANA, they’ll provide them to you.  Please keep that in mind.  I think it’s a time we all need to work together.  Thanks for coming.  Keep the network going and take your photo.  (Applause)

Thank you.