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

Friday 15 September @ NAB The Hall



Friday 15th September, 2017: 9:30am - 9:50am


The Hall


Melissa Hale, DARU Coordinator

Melissa has a passion for disability advocacy and to see bridges built where barriers once were. Professionally, Melissa came to DARU after five years managing Deaf Victoria, where she, in conjunction with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, was a major contributor to the Auslan Interpreting in Public Hospital inquiry. She also coordinated a national conference to discuss and create a plan of action for barriers of accessing Mental Health support for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

Photo of Melissa Hale, DARU Coordinator

Session Summary

The day opened with a video Ten Years of Progress, provided by NDIS featuring well known leaders from the disability sector reflecting how rights have impacted on general community attitudes over the past 10 years.

Then Elder Colin Hunter representing VACCHO opened proceedings with a Welcome to Country. Melissa Hale, DARU Coordinator, the MC for the day covered house-keeping and introduce the conference theme.





Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to the 2017 Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference.  My name is Melissa Hale and I am the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit Coordinator and it is my pleasure to be your MC for today. There has been last minute changes to the program due to illnesses.  We still have a fantastic program.

I would like to welcome Elder Colin Hunter to open proceedings with a welcome to country.

Thank you, Melissa.  Firstly, I want to start off by acknowledging that this morning we are meeting on the lands of my ancestors, the Wurundjeri people, and I want to take this opportunity to pay my respects to my Elders both past and present, Elders from all nations.  I’d also like to acknowledge if there are any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here this morning, I acknowledge them.

Wurundjeri welcome.  The Wurundjeri people welcome everyone to the land today.  (In Aboriginal language).  The Wurundjeri people want you to look after and protect the land as they did long before.  Wurundjeri country extends from the inner city of Melbourne.  It goes across the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, west to the Werribee River, and south to the Mordialloc Creek and east to Mt Baw Baw.  And the Wurundjeri people are part of the Kulin nations and of the Woiwurrung language group.

My name is Colin Hunter Junior, or Walert, meaning possum, a name given to me by my grandmother as a young boy.  I’m a proud and passionate seven generation Wurundjeri man and a direct descendant of Bebejan, who was ngurungaeta, or head of the tribe, at the time of first settlement.  It’s through my grandmother Gumbri, meaning white dove, or Nana as she was known to us mob, that I have Aboriginal culture and heritage in my life today, so for that I say “thanks, Nan”.

My grandmother was one of the last Aboriginal people born in the early 1920s up at Coranderrk Mission in Healesville before she got moved up to the Murray River in New South Wales.  In the Aboriginal culture a great deal of respect is given to the land, the plants and animals alike, and these gum leaves are placed on the ground.  I’m going to place these on the front table where I’m sitting.  If you get an opportunity as you move around today, take one and put it in your pocket today please.

While on Wurundjeri country, you’re welcome to the traditional waterways of the people.

Wurundjeri welcome.  Enjoy the morning.  Thank you.  (Applause).

Thank you, Colin.  I’d also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and its elders past and present.

So today we are getting into gear to tackle the long and winding NDIS journey.  So far it has been a rough ride with plenty of potholes and roadblocks to navigate, but it’s important to look up, reflect on how far we have come and what we can do to positively shape the journey ahead.

This conference takes place at a time where we are four years on from the launch of the NDIS amid much celebration to where we are about to commence the biggest and fastest part of the NDIS rollout to date.  The NDIS report card 2017, released by Every Australian Counts, reports that 71% of people with disability in the NDIS are satisfied with the support they receive, and that 64% say that their lives are the same or better because of the NDIS.  However, it was reported that only around half the people in the NDIS felt like they had true choice and control in the process and felt that the system is too bureaucratic.

What about advocacy?  What does that look like in the changing landscape of the NDIS?  Today we have an amazing line up of experts and leaders in our field ready to share their knowledge, hear your thoughts and perspectives, and offer guidance on our collective goals navigating the NDIS and to help you to get one step ahead.

Just some general housekeeping before we start, if you need the toilets, you can use the door that way to my left and left down the hallway and there are accessible toilets.  There are also toilets straight out the door ahead and to your right.

We have attendant carers available all day if you need them.  If you could just put your hands up there.  If you need support today, see them.  Thank you.

We have a roving reporter Jeff Waters.  He might come up to you and ask you stuff.  Don’t be afraid, he’s really cool, he’s really fun.  If you don’t want to be a part of it, just say so, it’s all good.

So morning tea is at 10.30 for 30 minutes, lunch is at 12 for one hour and afternoon tea at 2pm for 30 minutes.

In the event of a fire, there will be a fire warden who will attend and help us exit the building safely, the people with the red hats.

For those of you that use Twitter and Facebook, we have a hashtag and live tweeting available today.  So please make sure you use #SDAC17 and we will have some of your comments on the big screen.

To set the scene, let’s remind ourselves about how we got here.

(NDIS How did we get here? video played)