Absolutely Everyone: State disability plan 2017-2020

This was the third session at the Advocacy sector Conversations forum held at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre on 22 February 2017.

Other sessions at this forum included:

 

Overview

Absolutely everyone: state disability plan 2017-2020 started on 1 January 2017. Mark Feigan, Senior Policy Officer started with an overview of the new plan and was joined by  Angela Healy, Manager from the Office for Disability to take questions from the floor. Table discussion rounded out the session where participants explored how the plan might be used as an advocacy tool.

This was followed by the Office for Disability Update which is a regular feature on the agenda for this forum series, providing a unique opportunity for the Office for Disability to update the sector directly on key government initiatives including ongoing work to strengthen the Victorian Disability Advocacy Program. Felix Neighbour and Angela Healy took questions from the floor.

 

 

 

References mentioned in this session include

 

Transcript

 

 

Absolutely Everyone State Disability Plan 2017-2020

 

MELISSA COE:
Our presentation and our workshop. For the workshop component and I’d like to introduce Mark Feigan and Angela Healy from the Office for Disability. Thank you.

ANGELA HEALY:
Hi everyone, lovely to be here today. Thank you for the invitation. it’s a great opportunity for the Office for disability to talk about the newly released State Disability plan. Not so new now I suppose because the year is indeed flying. What we want to do today is, Mark from the office is also going to do a presentation on the plan. Just to take you through some of the basic information. Then we are going to open it up and happy to take any questions you might have and then, I think we have got some time set aside for discussion at your tables just in terms of how you might be able to use the plan as a tool in your advocacy work.

So, there’s a couple of us here from the office today already, and Mark and I as well, we are happy to move around the tables and be a part of those discussions and answer any other questions you might have as part of that group   discussion. So, that said, I’ll had over to Mark and when he has finished, together we will do a bit of a tag team in answering questions.

MARK FEIGAN:
Thanks, Angela. So, hello everybody. I’m talking about this State Disability Plan Absolutely Everyone. The Minister launched it  on the International day of Disabled People on 3rd December. We will talk to you later about our launch for everyone that will happen later. It’s 62 pages so, it’s also available in other formats.

As Angela just said this is in three sections so I am going to talk to you for about 20 minutes and then we will have questions and answers and then small group discussions and there’s some time for that. So, I am going to go through some details of the plan, and you might want to ask a question as I am going that’s fine but what I might say is; I am getting to that or how about we talk about that in your groups or the question and answer time.

So just a bit of an over view, the background to the State Disability Plan Absolutely Everyone. It is one of the mechanism for the state government of Victoria to implement the National Disability Strategy. It is the way the government is implementing the NDIS. Earlier in the day we have been talking about NDIS topics. The State Disability Plan complements the NDIS. So, local area coordination is very much concerned with the mainstream system being accessible to all people with a disability. The State Disability Plan is a way that it is going to happen from the Victorian Government’s point of view.

So, the other thing I’d say to you about this plan, is that it has an ambitious change of agenda. I was talking to Maree Ireland earlier who was my boss in an earlier life about the question we get asked as people have been around for a while people asking us “is it better now than it used to be?” The answer I give is “Yes of course.” (comment not in microphone range) Yeah. We don’t have large scale institutions anymore but the problem is some of the attitude in all barriers and the way disabilities thought of and taken for granted ways is still an issue for people with a disability. Very much an issue and this plan tackles that head on. It’s about making real change.

So, it has real outcome focus. There’s actually in the detail which will encourage you to look at it later when we are in the small group discussions. There’s an outcomes framework which is very much about monitoring changes in people’s everyday life so that it is more satisfying life. And, it’s in affect now – it is happening right now. It came into force on the 1st January.

So, it’s not the first state disability plan. The Disability Act mandates that the State Government has a state disability plan. There was one before that starting in 2002 and that you would probably know more focused on rights base and individualised service, in pretty much the disability service system. The previous plan 2013 to 2016, it started the whole government approach that I am going to talk about more later. It started that and it also had some high-level goals that were then some action was detailed in implementation plans that went along with it. This plan, takes that whole government approach and uses the leverage the government has as a whole to really advance the agenda of satisfying everyday life for people with disability. So, the way it strengths that is to what I already said the outcomes focus but it also contains concrete commitments from government.

So, let the buzz really is the NDIS and another great about the NDIS is it has really raised consonance of disability and the lives of people disability and issues around inclusion and exclusion and participation. The Victorian Government’s using this period of change to really capitalise on this momentum that eh NDIS is bringing about to move towards to full inclusion. So, its, leveraging from the NDIS in the branch reaching into the mainstream service systems for example, health. As advocates you spend a bit of time in health system related issues, with education, with employment.  With a whole range of issues that are entirely outside of the disability service system and are about mainstream and access in human rights and where the plan uses this heightened awareness but also the opportunity because the sustainability of the NDIS really depends on mainstream systems becoming more accessible and more inclusive.

This isn’t going to take me 20 minutes so we will have time for more discussion.

So, the plan to think about how the Victorian Government vision of an inclusive Victoria which supports people with a disability to live a satisfying everyday life. How can you right that in a plan? How can you think about action and what was decided upon for the plan was to look at areas of satisfying everyday life and these and those? So, inclusive communities where people live their lives, health, housing and wellbeing kind of the supports people need for a satisfying everyday life and fairness and safety. A whole topic that might come as advocacy’s part of the system of fairness and safety ensuring that and contributing lives. The possibility of for everyone having a life of contribution and the support to do that.

So there the four pillars. We call these the four pillars. There were three pillars that came up earlier and there are a lot people talking the term pillar has been used before. It’s not that confusing but to have for consistency with the broader Victorian Government framework. We also in the outcomes framework call the pillars domains. So, just when I was talking about domain pillars for the domains of the outcome framework we really talking about the same thing. Just with consistency with other outcomes framework of the Victorian Government  they talk about domains.

I think I might’ve skipped over about an important thing to remember of this plan is that is does link up with a whole range of other Victorian government strategies and agendas. How many, I think at least 14 probably something like that. So, it is integrated. This isn’t a stand-alone thing it really is very much a combined effort across government to walk across an everyday working life. Just on that it extends also a way of bringing local government disability action plans into alignment with this kind of framework to and that’s something we will be doing on and disability action plans for departments and other government bodies. So, this is about bringing together a policy framework to brink about lasting and positive change.

So, it’s got four pillars, which contains actions I am going to talk about more but it’s got other things as part of this policy framework to. One of those is a set of underlying which I am not going to talk about too much but you’ll see them at the front of the page on human rights (can’t think on top of my head, have to look at them in the plan but) another part of that architecture if I can use that word of the plan is that have some key approaches common ways of going about things that relevant to a whole range of different actions and different areas. So there the key approaches we call them. So, this is them, universal design approaches, economic participation, already it links with other key strategies the from government.

As a principle and a diversity is embedded in the plan in more than one way. So, it is just not to focus on diversity across different groups in our community of Victorians. But, it also means it is a strong focus on a diversity of people with a disability as well and there are specific actions for different groups including women, refugees, LGBTI people and its specifically includes people with psychiatric disability and your (not sure of word) disability. Another key approach is very much a focus on disability awareness raising and disability awareness training. So, you see the first key approach is to do with community attitude but there is also an issue in workforces and that’s taken head on too. So not just for disability services but for workforce strategies in health for example.

So, there were two ways of consultation I didn’t go into that too much because I am sure a lot of you were contributors to of the development of the state plan. Many of you would’ve participated in that and one of the key messages you gave us was how critical accountability was front and centre of a lot of submissions and a lot of the feedback. That it is one thing to have a plan but it needs to be put into practice and you need to be able to report on the progress, monitor what you’re doing and be able to report to us what progress has been made. So, that’s build into the plan. And to do that, that’s a work in progress. Like we want it to be affective, and so its developing the way that we could ensure the best way of ensuring accountability. But you will see in the plan there is the governments annual public reporting. There’s discussion whether what that should look like, so everything is on the table nothing’s been taken off yet. So, for example, parliament report to parliament that’s one of the things being considered.

So, I couldn’t put up a slide with the outcomes framework because it’s too dense with words. There’s 14 outcomes across the four pillars. So, that’s three or four outcomes for each pillar. So, you’ll see the table and the report. So just for example, there for inclusive communities. The first pillar that has four outcomes their connection, inclusion, accessibility and mobility.

Connection – that’s when people with a disability are active participants in communities in aligned with their interests and identities.

Inclusion – the outcome there were the plans working towards Victoria’s communities and places of welcoming and inclusive for Victorian’s with a disability.

Accessibility – the built and natural environment is accessible for people with a disability. How would that be?

Mobility –  people with a disability are able to move around and get to the places they want to go.

So, their concrete statements about what people with a disability should be able to expect in their life, every day of their life. Overtime, it should be taken for granted,  we’re not there yet…

So just to reinforce, this is the plan. It’s got a lot of things in it and over the next four years it’s going to be implementing and monitoring and seeing what the world will look like in four years’ time can show real progress. .

So, that table of outcomes, I meant to check earlier do you have one of these yet, there out the front, Felix has kindly offered to hand them around. Angela also has the summary. So, the summary’s a good check list, you can see a lot of key different key priorities in action, it will be clear when you’re looking at it. (

So if your able to look at page 21 you will just get a sense what I was referring to then. So, their high-level outcomes, so there’s performance measures and indicators were working on developing this year so we can do that monitoring demonstrating progress knowing where we are and where we getting to. Now to help with that monitoring there’s a couple of bodies I want to tell you about.

First up there is VDAC, you’re probably familiar with this, the Victorian Disability Advisory Council which is the ministry advisory  committee to the disability minister. So as well as the VEDAC, there’s also an Interdepartmental Committee on Disability. So, if you hear us say IDC that’s the Interdepartmental Committee on Disability.  That’s a high level, whole of government committee if I can use that word, that sets policy but then in the implementation of this plan, how we go about it, there’s operational decisions, how departments all work together, collaborate what their got to do that all comes together in the IDC.

Look, that’s a really quick overview and it’s a lot to take in when that’s 62 pages in about 10 minutes. So, this is a time for question and answers, where what’s important to you about the plan, you can ask and clarify. So, myself, Angela will take your questions.

QUESTION:
Are you going to investigate different organisations or advocacy groups and talk about the disability and how it’s going to be very effective towards people and how to help them? Because, I still don’t think that the government, I do think that the government still needs to be educated and be aware and knowledge on the people who have a disability because they still lack that knowledge.

MARK FEIGAN:
(inaudible) how departments are implementing actions under the plan that would-be discussion but we don’t have an investigative role, that is not the Office for Disability’s role. This is a policy framework for the Victorian Government, how, what people with disability should be able to expect out of the Victorian Government and other bodies doing things in their other systems for investigation.

Earlier we talked that disability’s services commissioner was mentioned. There’s the office of the public advocate. How its relevant to the plan, is the section on fairness and safety which talks about safeguards about advocacy and a lot of work being done, like talked about from our colleagues from the department earlier around the Zero Tolerance for Abuse. So, there’s a lot going on not all of it’s in the plan but a lot of it is joined up to the plan.

QUESTION:
I’ve done a little bit of work with New South Wales government to assist with their implantation of the NSW disability inclusion plan and they’ve moved towards this mandatory approach were there now requiring all local councils and state government departments to develop their own disability inclusion action plan. So, it’s a more localised plan that reflects the outcomes of the state plan and sets out a bit of a blue print to what needs to be done in a particular local council or department to make sure that they actually implement that state plan.

So, I am wondering what the Victorian Government’s approach is to pushing out this strategy across local councils and government departments and making sure that they reflect the vision of this statewide plan?

ANGELA HEALY:
That’s a really good question and it’s something that we have been quite hard on and we know we have a lot of work to do but, we’ve been talking to local Government Victoria about how we can bring the work that is currently happening at a local government level through disability action planning in line with the core directions of the state plan. Their very supportive so that’s something that we are going to be working really hard on how we might be able to bring those things much more closely together both in terms of the way local government plan for inclusion but also in the way that they report on inclusion and how that links up with state governments planning and reporting as well.

So, just trying to get a much more co-ordinated approach across local and state government but all in line with one approach. Were all heading in the same direction.

So, I think most of you are probably aware that we do have under the Disability Act at the moment a requirement for all government departments to undertake disability action planning. So, government departments do that at the moment and many of the actions and priorities that are in this plan will form part of the disability action plan that departments do.

But, in addition to that one of the things we’re keen to do is look at whether that’s the right mechanism, whether that’s the right tool, whether we can enhance that in any way  and also what needs to happen to support that to be alive document and alive process. So, there’s some work we need to do as we roll out this plan, and I think Mark talked a little about the way strengthen the approach around disability action planning as part of the work to support this plan.

MELISSA COE:
Just a question from one of our livestream viewers.

QUESTION:
Any money in the budget and for what?

ANGELA HEALY:
So, that’s a really good question.  So, you might be aware as part of the last state budget for 2016-2017 the minister announced $3.3 million I think to get started on the state disability plan and that was to support the start of three key pieces of work. One was around economic participation for people with a disability. Another was around civic participation for people with a disability and the third was around 15 new changing places facilities to roll out.

So, that’s for this financial year and then we really need to wait and see in terms of government processes whether there’s any further funding for the next stage of supporting the plan.

So, that’s broadly speaking but there’s also under the plan there’s initiatives and actions that have some funding already attached to them as part of departmental budgets. So, there’s kind of two things that happen as part of this process. Some of these things will get some funding a portion to them through the business of government departments and then there will be some funding for new things or more broadly to support initiatives. Yes, so, we will keep our fingers crossed for the announcement as part of the next budget to see whether there’s any further funding to support the plan.

QUESTION:
I have a few different things. I want to start with your discussion about diversity. Are, because although Mark said in your discussion, women are included for example, there is actually no reference to women in this document as specifically under diversity and one of the issues if you read through pages which I have carefully done over the last half an hour or so, there’s also no recognition that women who also have to be in one of the other groups are severally disadvantaged so indigenous women are in a different category to indigenous people generally.

Having said that there is also a very significant issue when it comes to diversity to the recognition of the right to self-determination for cultural and religious purposes. So, for example, there is not housing that is gendered, so you could have a house with women in it. Virtually no religious organisation will be happy and in fact no one who’s got a young woman who is vulnerable with intellectual disabilities she’s happy to have in the house with the men.

But there’s no recognition that you might need a house that’s developed quite different to meet specific cultural needs so it could be gender, it could be to do with dietary needs, it could be access to a community which says that the person isn’t with just a disability happens to be a Greek person with a disability or a Jewish person or whatever. It seems to be highly problematic the idea of inclusive communities with a presumption that we have one community which we want to be included and that’s factually incorrect.

Similarly, there are multiple communities. I keep getting told my daughter should be very happy about being included in the broader community but it’s not the community she wants to be involved in. And it disappoints me that having known there were submissions being made also about spiritual wellbeing and the ability to participate in a meaningful way, as opposed to a physical way, none of this stuff has appeared in the plan.

So, I’d like you to talk something about what recognition there is and what accountability there is to say you consider about diversity when you don’t mention most of the issues of diversity that are real on-going issues.

MARK FEIGAN:
Thanks for your comment. There’s a lot in what you said there. I hope I can pick up on some of the issues you raised. First up comment of the pillar is inclusive of communities for the very reason you’ve said it’s not inclusive community, it is quite deliberately inclusive communities. The importance of identity and how essential that is to people making their own satisfying life and often in a community with other people of like mind or shared identity. That’s very much the thinking of the plan. It’s hard to write every single nuance about community and what is satisfying in everyday life involves,  in a what is pretty much a government document, about what’s in the realm of government powers and roles to bring about.

So, another missing word in there, I’m sure, is sexuality. There’s not an explicit reference to sexuality either but that is something that most people would think is part of a satisfying everyday life, expressing your sexuality, but it’s not something that government can do a lot of things in that area but it’s still a bit outside what a government traditionally directly intervenes in.

support for spirituality that is something that is about good service delivery. Individualise service approaches, rights base and good quality service delivers. So, we had those kinds of debates in what kind what was in the plan and what was outside and I don’t disagree with your points raised but all I can say is that there isn’t actually space for everything either.

ANGELA HEALY:
The other thing I would probably add to that is we don’t want this plan to be seen as everything that is the government is doing or is responsibility for in relation to people with disability because there’s so many other plans and as Mark said so many other linkages with work happening across different areas of government and we have an expectation all that those plans and those areas are actually picking up on the issues faced by people with a disability and including them part of what their particular focus is.

So, where this plan might not cover off an area in specific detail, like for example, some of the detail you mentioned around gender housing etc. we expect that is picked up in other ways through other plans at that level of detail. We are more than happy to take feedback and advice. This plan sets a direction and a set of activities and key priorities that are very much about the first steps, enrolling this out, that is not to say there the only things, only action and key priorities that will be looking to include as part of our work over the next four years.

They were the first steps. Some of them will take us across the life of the plan, some of them will be more short to medium term activities but there will be other things that start to come into play as key priorities.

So, we need to keep in mind that this plan needs to involve and the action that happens through it needs evolve across the next four years. So, happy to keep talking to people that is what part of our role is to take on board other things that are emerging or currently as issues we need to start responding to.

MARK FEIGAN:
Just before you go into your question, where just at time for group discussions we are going to hand over to you to look at what your first thoughts were about using the plan as an advocacy tool. So, in your hands whether you’d like to ask a couple more questions.

QUESTION:
I heard about the NDIS. Now, I did bring in an article saying you have to what the NDIS what they are thinking about other areas to (can’t properly understand what was said) and about cutting NDIS money. There has to be signed by a minister. I think it has to start with an X but I think if he signed it or not are you aware or watching these ministers or watching these ministers. They may not put out that money for the NDIS and for the people that well entirely need it.

MARK FEIGAN:
Like you, read the papers to and what you will see in this plan is that there’s a whole action I think it is on the Victorian Government’s supporting the leadership role of people with a disability in the NDIS. That whole voice and representation around what’s important to people with a disability being front and centre of the NDIS. So, I think that is all what I can say about that. Angela, would you add anything?

ANGELA HEALY:
No, probably nothing else I can add to that

MARK FEIGAN:
Do you want to have some suggestions for talking points for talking about this plan for an advocacy tool?

ANGELA HEALY:
I think there is one more question.

QUESTION:
Just putting a little context to my question, there’s been some data that came out late December Australian wide and Victoria perspective about participation of people with a disability in sport and recreation. It clearly demonstrates for this cohort of the community the participation rates one of the lowest from any of other cohorts of the population so for an area that has so much potential delivering good healthy and a lot of the outcomes that aspirational within this document participation in sport and recreation is a critical I guess goal for the government. I acknowledge and support some of the comments that are within the plan in that area.

However, I would like to raise one issue, it is mentioned within the document that governments access all abilities program is funded and there is a certain amount of funding is listen in there. We are hearing from the different sports who liaise with us that the funding is a much more broader inclusion program. So there is some risk that some of the funding is purely dedicated towards supporting people with a disability is now potentially  siphoned off to support other inclusion issues such as sexuality coal communities and those sort of things.

I am raising the questions now, is there any sort of checks and balances to make sure that the funding that the funding previously supplied to support sport for people with a disability is going to be maintained through delivery of the plan hope to increase the significant health benefits that will be derived from that.

ANGELA HEALY:
So that is a really good question. It is a tough question to answer as well. What I can say is that we will go back and talk to our colleagues in sport and recreation about the issue that you have raised because I am not across some of the detail around the way in which the funding may have changed. So happy to take that on notice and to get further feedback on that. But what I can say is that there is a commitment in this plan around health and wellbeing and sport and recreation is seen as a vital part of that.

We would certainly be looking to support opportunities for sport and recreation in anyways that we possibly  can, as we’ve talked about, there is an IDC on disability that is trying to co-ordinate work across government and keep accountability. It is about keeping us all honest to the things that we agreed to do and to the spirit of this plan. DHHS, where we are from, and sport and recreation is a part of now and is also a part of that. We also have an internal committee on disability within the Department of Human Health and Services and part of that committee is actually to ensure that we are accountable to what’s in here and to the intent that’s in here.

So I can say quite honestly, that we are right behind the accountability mechanism within this document, that Office for Disability is charged with co-ordinating a number of mechanisms, both within our department and across government, to really make sure that we are across, and on top of seeing, that the actions in this plan and the spirit of this plan is taken on board by all government departments. Specifically, around sport and recreation, I can follow up on your question.

MARK FEIGAN:
Ok, should we move on.

MELISSA COE:
Ok, time for questions has run out.  So, we will start the activity and I believe we need to split up into several groups. Is that right Mark?

MARK FEIGAN:
After that quick overview and I say again I appreciate it’s really quick. Just think that it is something you can use in your advocacy practice for meeting your advocacy objectives or as part of advocacy campaigns that you might be conducting. There’s topics that come in this plan, I’m sure are dear to your heart. So, there’s the possibilities that the plan gives you knew avenues for pursuing your advocacy goals.

So, if I am right just to draw your attention, if you look at the summary again some examples are key priorities and actions such as universal design as key approach and as a key priority, housing.  There was a lot of feedback in the consultation about that, accessible housing, the whole issue of safeguards, voice and leadership which I mention that expressed in a couple of ways, one way in relation to the NDIS but as well the plan has the principle and the outcomes framework and reporting. So are there particular key priorities or actions, there’s a lot of them, there might be some in there which are a particular interest to you that you want to explore. Do these give you new avenues? This policy framework that you can hold the Victorian Government to account on as part of your role. How can you use it?

So we are going to hand out some  butches paper and some textas so you want to write down some points that you maybe want to investigate further or explore or having something to say about. This is for you so we’re not going to take your butches paper away, this is for you and DARU will compile this, put it together into some report back to your further work. I am sorry to give you work when I know you already have a lot but the idea here is this might be helpful to you.

(small group discussions)

MARK FEIGAN:
Ok, where out of time, if you could just bring your conversations to a close. We are cutting into your break time before before we move into the next session so, just think if we have a chance to do some feedback to see what people have come up with. So if each table just wants to raise one of the ideas or issues.

Ok. I really sorry I do have to ask you to stop your conversations now because we are out of time cutting into your break time. So do we have a volunteer table to start through something up raise I should say to discuss?

TABLE 1:
We asked the question how we could use the plan as a tool, we thought we could reference the tool in a letter to the minister or something like that. But we thought there was disconnection between the plan and actual advocacy work that we do. It wasn’t a clear pathway to us and because it wasn’t mandatory doesn’t have the same power so we thought it lacked power as an advocacy tool specifically.

MARK FEIGAN:
Right. Ok. Thanks that’s interesting, thank you.

TABLE 2:
I am going to say something of my own, sorry. For me this document is a wonderful document for my purposes because there is so much in here about the built environment that hasn’t been in previous documents. There’s inclusive schools, there’s access to parks etc. etc. I have just confirmed you have had Michael Walker on your team. So yes for me my purposes, great start.

MARK FEIGAN:
Rest of the table another comment quickly.

TABLE 2:
I have written to the minister last week and that the fact that we thought of questions, how are we going to assure what we want as people with a disability. Secondly, what do we need to add advocates as tools to ensure the activities. We thought of human rights, UN Convention, standards, appropriate funding, people with a disability and have an issue, education which is also quite good to go about.

MARK FEIGAN:
Thanks so much. Felix is there anyone reporting? Last table.

TABLE 3:
We thought the document can provide a really wonderful resource as a tool because when you going for grant applications or sponsors or recruiting volunteers you have a whole range of ideas of outcomes measurement and some really clear data that’s going to show issues that need to be addressed and that we are all in this together to address those issues. We really quite looking forward to showing change over time but also not showing change and then being able to have the government having the courage to allocate resources where they need to try and direct change where it needs to happen. So that’s fantastic.

The second point was using the tool as an advocacy to demonstrate best practice in spheres which might be Federal Government policy, might be local government policy and might be other organisations and their policies but being able to using the tool  as a great reference point for how you want to incorporate whole government or whole of organisation planning around a particular theme which this one is about disability.

MARK FEIGAN:
Cool. Thanks so much. Alright, so thank you. It’s a four year plan so maybe we will do this again at some point down the track. Thanks very much.

MELISSA COE:
Thank you Mark and Angela for a great session. Now before we start the next session, if anyone needs to go to the toilet or have a stretch, we got 5 minutes. We would like you back in 5 minutes. Thank you.

(short stretch break)

 

Office for Disability Update

MELISSA COE:
Ok, for the last session of the day, we have an Update from the Office for Disability with Felix Neighbour and Angela Healy. Please make them welcome.

ANGELA HEALY:
Hi, me again. Sorry no break really from me anyway. Thanks for having this opportunity at the end of the day for this space at the end of the day. I know you are probably all feeling a bit exhausted. Sounds like a really long, but has been a productive day.

Really this is just an opportunity for you to talk to us about any key issues that you might be seeing as advocates. It is a way of us thinking about potentially, bringing in  some people that we could bring in whether it be from across our department or across other departments that might be able to come in and talk to you about key issues if there’s things that you would really like to get some further information around.

But, it’s also an opportunity if you are keen to hear about things are happening across the space we work in and more specifically about work occurring the in the Office for Disability. So, really that said, I am happy to just open it up, if everyone is happy to go that way to you and please whether you want to ask a question or just tell us something. We are happy to take things on board.

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
Nothing to add apart from I gave a bit of an overview about what we are planning terms of advocacy but obviously happy to answer question in more detail if we can at this point.

QUESTION:
Fantastic we have got the new disability state plan and that’s now launched and now in progress. I am just wondering do the Office for Disability co-ordinate any activities around International Day of People with a Disability. Because I know there is a different range of organisations who conduct activities and my organisation, organises a festival that has a whole range of exhibitors and participants who turn up but who would love to partner with the State Government to work together on that and other projects.

So I am just wondering is there anything, is there any co-ordination amongst the office around activities around International Day for People with a Disability?

ANGELA HEALY:
Yeah that’s a good question. It kind of has shifted over the years in terms of the role that we have directly played/paid (not sure which word) in co-ordinating or organising events for the day. The last couple of years what we have focused on at  office is trying to raise awareness across the Victorian Public Service of Disability as so we have had events that involved mainly people from other departments. We have invited people from other departments to come to events really talk about disability issues or get perspectives from people with a disability.

We have last year because we were developing the State Disability Plan and very much caught up in the final stages of that, we didn’t take lead in terms organising something specific but there is a network within the Victorian Public Service that emerged called the Enablers network and they are a group of people with a disability that are employed with in the Victorian Public Service and they took the lead on organising an event for the international day.

This year we haven’t given any thought to that as yet but we’re happy to have further discussions around that. But of course, we are aware that this is one of things we have run in the past, there’s so much happening generally, many of the local governments organise events on that day as do many other organisations and groups. So sometimes I guess it’s hard to think about whether it’s the right thing for us to organise something specifically or be a part of something else or let other groups take the lead.

So, our focus has been more on the public service and raising awareness across that space. But yeah happy to take any advice or thoughts.

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
I can just add to that response that international day is obviously one point in year, we will look at a range of ways to raise awareness, the Annual Victorian Disability Awards will open shortly. There will be a stronger link to the State Disability plan and ever so stronger focus on social inclusion across all the domains or pillars of the plan. So just saying that is another one of several opportunities throughout the year as advocates to nominate people you think deserve recognition and will promote a really strong rights and social inclusion in their work. We will promote that through the DARU Update when we get more information.

QUESTION:
I was going to ask you, do you do a lot of networking across other advocacies? I do know a couple advocate services like Reinforce does network. Do you do that as well because it would essential if that happened because there would be a lot of people in other organisations that would like to hear from you and would like to learn what disability is all about?

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
We work very closely with the sister organisation of DARU, the Self Advocacy resource Unit. So we work closely with the self-advocacy resource unit and self-advocacy groups to hear about what are the issues for self-advocates, taken on aboard those issues and communicating that back to government. So for example, we attended a meeting of all the self-advocacy groups across Victoria last year and we want to keep doing that.

But we also very much rely on you as advocates and rely on self-advocates to help us promote the plan not even the plan, promote importance of people’s rights and social inclusion. No, we see these forums as really valuable opportunities but also linking into self-advocacy groups. As part of our meetings with advocacy organisations we will continually revisit the state disability plan about issues your hearing in your advocacy work and how we can work together to promote the plan. Does that answer your question?

QUESTION:
(inaudible)

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
I am sorry, I should’ve paraphrased the question in the first place. Your question was around, how the office was working with advocacy networks and then your follow up point was you would like us to tell you more and you would be very happy to hear that.

QUESTION:
I look upon myself as an advocate because I can help other people with a disability through my own problems and I’ve overcome them with my remarkable thoughts and of my own strengths. Thank you very much.

QUESTION:
Will there be any education on awareness of this plan mainstream services or how will it be made known to the community so if we raise it, we don’t get blank looks?

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
It was about how are we going to promote this to mainstream services in the community. So when you as advocacy and self-advocates, talk to places in the community and don’t give you a blank look.

So what are we doing to promote it? I think it is fair to say as part of our engagement approach we will be talking to all parts of the community but I think in the first instance, primarily through peek bodies such as the Victorian Employer Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other peek bodies in terms of connecting to at a local level that would be engaging with key networks in the Victorian Disability Advisory Council. I am not answering your question? Angela you might be able to provide a more satisfactory answer.

ANGELA HEALY:
So we are just starting do some work around looking at how we go about promoting the plan and about where are the key targets for us. We’re an office of around ten people. So we don’t have a lot of person power in terms of all the responsibilities we have to spend enormous quantities of time out on the road promoting the plan so we are trying to look at different ways we get the message out there because we know absolutely critical. Part of that is through working with our other government partners and making sure that their working actively to get the messages out there.

But part of it is also looking at the different mechanisms we can use. Mark who is here today is going to be partly responsible for leading the charge around that. So obviously, we will be using online mechanisms but will be using opportunities to promote it through various forums.

I think the point Felix made is a really good one, about the role of VEDAC because VEDAC do see themselves more specifically as having a role to an connection to local government and the government disability advisory groups and we see that as being a real opportunity to work through that network at a local level to promote the plan and really promote inclusion through using the plan. Does that answer your question Marie?

MELISSA COE:
Any other question?

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
Just to say Marie and other people if you want to email or drop the office a line in terms of your ideas of how we can engage different sectors and people in the community would be happy to hear that.

ANGELA HEALY:
We’d be really happy to hear from you, if you think there’s key areas or key sectors that you really think we should focus our efforts on in the first instance because there obviously different ways you can slice this up. One of the ways we need to think about is not only some of broad approaches but are there particular sectors that we need to focus in the first instance. Are there parts of particular sectors we going to get biggest bang for bucks and because of the work you do your really placed to help us to identify that. So we’d be really happy to hear thoughts from you about that.

MELISSA COE:
From anyone else you would like to say?

FELIX NEIGHBOUR:
Anybody in Regional Victoria or via video. No questions.

MELISSA COE:
Thank you very much Felix and Angela. Always good to have the Office for Disability here to answer our questions and concerns.

So it looks like we are going to finish up 10 minutes early today. So I would like to thank you all for coming. I hope you found this useful. You will find some evaluation forms on your tables. I would really appreciate if you could fill them out or there’s one that when into your email inbox today, you can fill out online it is up to you.

I’d like to thank the Auslan interpreters and thanks to VicDeaf for livestreaming today and thank you to everyone who attended online. So safe travels home and see you next time.

 


Author
DARU