Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2016
Putting rights centre stage

Friday 2 September @ NAB, The Hall, 700 Bourke Street, Docklands

Righting the script: Moving legislative and cultural barriers facing people with disability

Legal instruments such as the Disability Discrimination Act, Victorian Disability Act, Equal Opportunity Act, the State Disability Plan and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities are often applied by dvocates to defend the rights of people with disability. The discussion focused on how these instruments might work in an NDIS environment and what still needs to happen to shift societal behaviours, attitudes and assumptions towards people with disability.

When

Friday 2nd September, 2016: 5:00am - 6:00am

Where

The Hall

Speakers

Facilitated by:

Tricia Malowney, Consultant

Legal instruments such as the Disability Discrimination Act, Victorian Disability Act, Equal Opportunity Act, the State Disability Plan and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities are often applied by dvocates to defend the rights of people with disability. The discussion focused on how these instruments might work in an NDIS environment and what … Continued

Photo of Tricia Malowney, Consultant

Panelists include:

Professor Keith McVilly PhD, Professor of Disability & Social Inclusion, Melbourne University

Professor Keith R. McVilly PhD is a Registered Clinical Psychologist and the Foundation Professorial Fellow for Disability & Social Inclusion, in the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His work addresses the translation of research into policy and practice, with a focus on promoting the well-being and community inclusion of people … Continued

Photo of Professor Keith McVilly PhD, Professor of Disability & Social Inclusion, Melbourne University

Alastair McEwin, Disability Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Alastair’s background is in arts, law and business administration. Alastair’s previous roles include CEO of People with Disability Australia and Manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law. He is currently President of the Deaf Society of NSW and Chairperson of the NSW Disability Council, the official advisory board to the NSW Government on disability issues.

Photo of Alastair McEwin, Disability Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Sharon Granek, Program Manager- Womens Empowerment Program, Women with Disabilities Victoria

Sharon Granek is the program manager of the Empowering Women’s Program at Women with Disabilities Victoria – WDV. She has worked for many years in community development in various capacities but always in the field of diversity including case management, residential and respite care, policy development, housing, education, training and employment, and advocacy. Sharon helped to … Continued

Photo of Sharon Granek, Program Manager- Womens Empowerment Program, Women with Disabilities Victoria

Catherine Dixon, Director of the Commissioner's Office at Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Catherine Dixon has 17 years’ experience in legal, policy and management roles in both the public and private sector, with a focus on anti-discrimination law and human rights issues. Ms Dixon has also worked as Special Counsel, Human Rights and Managing Principal Solicitor, Human Rights in the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, Manager Human Rights Unit within the Department of Justice, and Manager Legal Policy and Services with the Department for Victorian Communities – Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.

Photo of Catherine Dixon, Director of the Commissioner's Office at Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Session Summary

Led by long-time disability advocate Tricia Malowney, this panel session looked at how human rights instruments and approaches can defend the rights of people with disability and help shift societal behaviours, attitudes and assumptions towards people with disability.

 

 

The story board

The session offered the first chance for many in the sector to meet newly appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin.

 

 

In talking about his role, he highlighted a letter to the editor complaining about the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard trying to “rush through” the NDIS. He saw his role as trying to change that sort of conversation in the community so that people understand “why should we have waited any longer, that’s our right”.

“However, the NDIS would not be able to resolve every issue of importance to people with disability, including housing, employment, education and access to property, unless there was a strong interconnection across sectors and issues,” Alastair McEwin said, identifying that bringing these together will be his biggest priority in the next five years.

Hear more from Alastair McEwin in this interview with Marie McInerney:

 

Catherine Dixon outlined how the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) was able to help people with disability to challenge breaches of their rights and community attitudes through a range of tools: dispute resolution, legal intervention, education, research and addressing systemic discrimination. As an example, she highlighted current work with the Judicial College of Victoria to make the courts more accessible to people with disability. She said disability is the highest area of complaint for the VEOHRC, with employment issues of greatest concern.

In response to a question from the floor, she conceded there are fundamental problems with a system that relies on individual complainants to drive systemic change and said VEOHRC will be taking a more restorative approach in future rather than just mediation.

 

 

Keith McVilly talked about the NDIS research agenda, which is currently focused on innovations in housing for people with disability and on the most effective way to develop NDIS plans. Next stages will include looking at outcome measures for participants and families, and then for Tier 2 specialist supports (ILC), particularly in regional and remote areas.

He acknowledged the “burden of research” on people with disability, but urged conference participants to get involved in the research agenda, to offer their feedback and expert insight to the NDIS process, to contribute to collective knowledge, and to become researchers themselves.

 

 

For Sharon Granek, an important way to ensure the NDIS meets its human rights obligations is to focus on the “gatekeepers” to choice and control. “It’s not just about access,” she said. “Mainstream services have to be welcoming and inclusive, that’s the real cultural change.”

 

 

Gathering the right data on the right outcomes is also vital for women with disability, she said, challenging organisations and researchers to ensure data is gender disaggregating and that information is gender and disability specific and accessible. Finally she said, people with disability need to be on boards of a whole range of services, not just those that are disability focused, “so we are seen beyond our disability.”

 

Resources