Advocacy Sector Conversations forum series

Forum summaries

Ben Gauntlett and Melissa Hale on Zoom

National Disability Strategy 2021-31 explained

Posted March 28, 2022

On International Day of People with Disability 3 December 2021, Australia’s new Disability Strategy was released with an initial investment of $250 million over the life of the strategy.  The strategy sets out a plan through which governments at all levels will work with the community, business and people with disability to deliver services to meet the needs of all people with disability and create an inclusive Australian society. Melissa Hale, the DARU Coordinator, hosted this session in conversation with Dr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. They discussed the scope of the strategy, how it works across all levels of government and how advocates can get involved through its implementation over the next 10 years. Continue reading

Georgina Sutherland presenting webinar

Attitudes Matter: Community attitudes toward people with disability in Australia

Posted March 17, 2022

Attitudes are linked to disability-based discrimination and social exclusion, which in turn impact the health and wellbeing of people with disability. The Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health recently conducted the first national survey of community attitudes toward people with disability. The survey, co-designed with people with disability, examined how people in Australia understand disability and their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours toward people with disability in a range of settings including education and employment. In this session, one of the authors of the study, Dr Georgina Sutherland from the Disability and Health Unit, Centre for Health Equity at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, discusses the findings of the survey and what they tell us about where we need to focus future effort across individual, organisational and structural levels of society. Continue reading

SDA and SIL - Your home, your life, your choice

Posted November 11, 2021

The way we think about housing has changed rapidly with the development of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), and in relation to supports, Supported Independent Living (SIL). Join Jamie-Lee Dwyer, Belinda Aitken and Cathy Bucolo, the Summer Foundation’s Lived Experience Team and Clinical Practice Lead to hear their experience of SDA and SIL as they share some hot tips and what they've learnt so far. They'll talk about the National Disability Insurance Agency's person-centred approach to planning and decision making as outlined in the 'Home and Living Supports' policy, how to apply, what evidence you need, and getting the language right. Continue reading

Advocating in Victoria's child protection system

Posted November 11, 2021

Respect for home and family is recognised as a right for people with disability under the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disability. Yet all too often, we see discrimination within our child protection system that separates rather than supports families where one or more parent has an intellectual disability. Denise Boyd works closely with parents with intellectual disability and their families in her role of Executive Officer of Star Victoria. She shares real life examples of the impacts of the barriers and is joined by Robyn Buchanan,the Senior Advocate at Independent Family Advocacy & Support (IFAS, who provides some useful advice for parents and advocates who find themselves involved with child protection. Then Elicia Savvas who manages the Child Protection Program at Legal Aid, unravels the mysteries of the Children's Court. Continue reading

Liz Hudson presenting on Zoom

Gateways and Gatekeepers: An exploration of the issues facing people with episodic mental illness during transition to the NDIS

Posted June 17, 2021

Dr Elizabeth Hudson presents the findings from her PhD research Which involved exploring the experiences of people with psychosocial disability during transition to the NDIS. She discovered that system-level structural barriers and rationing decisions applied by NDIS staff do indeed lead to differential pathways for people experiencing mental illness. Continue reading

James and Bronwyn presenting on Zoom

Renters Rights Rundown: Victoria’s new renting rules

Posted June 17, 2021

James Latham from Department of Justice and Community Safety is joined by Bronwyn Trickett, an Advocate from Action for More Independence and Dignity in Accommodation (AMIDA), and together they provide an overview of the more than 130 changes to Victoria’s renting rules which came into effect on 29 March 2021. The changes apply to all types of tenancies, including private rentals, caravans, residential parks, rooming houses and specialist disability accommodation. Continue reading

Michelle presenting on Zoom

Disability and Disaster Resilience: clearing a path issues paper

Posted June 3, 2021

Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve from the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney, who leads Australian research on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, has compiled the Issues Paper coming out of the Disability and Disaster Resilience Forum that DARU hosted in August last year. In this session, Michelle presents an overview of the consolidated issues and what actions need to be taken by individuals and community organisations, and supported at all levels of government. Continue reading

Teresa Micallef presenting at ASC Forum

Building Community Networks - Circles of Support

Posted March 4, 2021

Advocates stand alongside the person with disability to make sure that their voices are heard in all matters that affect them. However, skilling up people with disabilities to utilise choice and control,  takes time and is not currently recognised under current advocacy funding models. Circles of Support are a process where intentional networks of people are built around a person with disability  to assist them in the creation of a good life in community and support their decision making through developing trusted relationships. Teresa Micallef is responsible for Building Community Networks at Belonging Matters. In this session, she shares her experience of the Circles of Support initiative including the positive outcomes for all involved in promoting decision making support,  as well as the limitations and challenges she encounters. Continue reading

Julie Phillips and Melissa Hale in the Q&A

Regulated Restrictive Practice

Posted March 3, 2021

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission released the Regulated Restrictive Practices Guide  in November 2020 that supports a contemporary positive behaviour support framework and explains what a restrictive practice is. It was developed for registered NDIS providers and NDIS behaviour support practitioners.  As a volunteer advocate, Julie Phillips has supported people with disability  with behaviours of concern over many years.  She brings her experience to explain what the regulations cover and highlight what advocates need to know in order to keep people with disability under a Positive Behaviour Support Plan free from abuse. Continue reading

Presenters in Q&A at advocacy sector conversations forum

Counselling and advocacy support for the Disability Royal Commission

Posted March 2, 2021

Dr Cathy Kezelman, President at Blue Knot Foundation and Mary Mallett, CEO of  Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), talk about counselling,support and referral pathways and where advocacy fits into this crucial work. The important work of the Disability Royal Commission is bringing to light the deeply rooted systemic abuse facing people with disability. As we have heard, the abuse is happening in all areas of life - in the home, in education and employment settings, and within the health and services systems. Almost more confronting than the abuse itself is the apparent indifference of people in power and the general public more broadly who have allowed the abuse to continue. Despite lifetimes of not being heard, people with disability are being asked to step up and tell their stories in the hope that this time they will be believed and that things will change. To do this, people with disability need support. Continue reading

Your Story, Disability Legal Support

Posted October 22, 2020

Your Story Disability Legal Support is a free national service funded to give information and legal advice to people about safely sharing their story with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. National Legal Aid and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal services are funded by The Australian Government to deliver the national service. There are three lawyers who work for Your Story in Victoria – Dayle Partridge and Michelle Bowler based at Victoria Legal Aid and Anna Potter based at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. They will outline the scope of the service and referral pathways and how to work together effectively with advocacy organisations. Continue reading

DSP Help: An online resource

Posted October 22, 2020

Applications for the DSP are too often rejected due to the lack of sufficient medical evidence. DSP Help has a medical evidence bot that helps you to get the best supportive documentation from your medical specialist which gives you the best chance of having your application approved. Dermott Williams is a Community Lawyer at Social Security Rights Victoria who has been involved with the development of DSP Help and he introduces you to the bot and many other features of this exciting new online resource. Continue reading

New Guardian and Administration Act (2019)

Posted October 22, 2020

The new Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 came into effect on 1 March 2020. The new Act includes a presumption that a person has the capacity to make decisions unless evidence is provided otherwise and recognises that a person also has decision-making capacity if they can make decisions with support. This is an important shift away from the best interest approach to one where it is acknowledged that decisions should reflect the person’s will and preferences, unless it would cause serious harm to the person. Join Dr Norman Chia, an Advocate Guardian at the Office of the Public advocate, as he step us through the newly created Supported Decision Maker roles under the Act. Continue reading

Victorian Disability Worker Registration Scheme

Posted October 22, 2020

The Victorian Disability Worker Commission forms part of the Victorian Government’s “zero tolerance” approach to abuse of people with disability. It opened for business, launched on 1 July 2020. The role of the Commission is to ensure that people with disability receive greater safety and quality services, workers have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications and stop people who pose a serious risk of harm from providing disability services. Dan Stubbs is the Victorian Disability Worker Commissioner and he joins us to provide information about the new regulations introduced for disability workers. This includes new compliance obligations for workers and service providers under the new Disability Service Safeguards Code of Conduct , mandatory notifications and notifiable conduct, along with a new complaints service for sector audiences. Continue reading

Disability and disaster resilience event banner

Disability meets disaster - case studies

Posted September 21, 2020

Disasters amplify the existing fault lines already experienced by people with disability to live an ordinary life. The best way to truly understand the impact of disasters on people with disability is to hear their stories first hand. Let’s hear what Mark, Tim and James experienced in the midst of 2020’s disasters. Continue reading

Disability and disaster resilience event banner

Bridging the gaps and playing safe in crisis

Posted September 17, 2020

People with disability have the right to be supported and stay safe through disasters just like everyone else. This panel session distilled the issues and failures that have been thrown up so far in this year of disasters, and then moved the focus to finding practical solutions to make crisis management inclusive. Bridget Tehan is the Policy Advisor Emergency Management at VCOSS and she facilitated this discussion with her guests Christina Ryan, CEO, Disability Leadership Institute, Adrian Terranova, Executive Officer, Gippsland Disability Advocacy Inc, Michele Watson, Coordinator for Community Programs, Aged & Disability Services and Deputy Municipal Recovery Manager at Yarra City Council and Angela Cook, Project Manager, Community Engagement, Country Fire Authority. Continue reading

Disability and disaster resilience event banner

Preparing Vulnerable People Project & Person Centred Risk Assessment

Posted September 17, 2020

Angela Cook, Project Manager, Community Engagement from the Country Fire Authority shares details of the 'Preparing Vulnerable People’ project. The resources that have been developed as part of the project recognise that people with disability are in the best position to plan for their own safety in the event of a bushfire, because they know what they are able to do for themselves and what assistance is needed before, during and after an emergency. Continue reading

Disability and disaster resilience event banner

Disability inclusive disaster preparedness

Posted September 17, 2020

Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney, led the DISABILITY INCLUSIVE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN NSW project. She outlines the key findings and steps to making a disaster management plan that is truly inclusive of people with disability. Continue reading

Disability and disaster resilience event banner

Helicopter Overview to the Rescue

Posted September 10, 2020

Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp provides the opening address. Then Professor Anne Kavanagh, Chair in Disability and Health, Disability and Health, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne, measures the protections outlined in the policy framework against the  experience  of people with disabilities, particularly during COVID-19, and outlines the substantial shortfalls and issues of concern. Continue reading

Supporting people with cognitive disabilities to access supported decision making in contracts for goods and services

Posted September 10, 2020

This was the second session of the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on Zoom webinar for the first time, on 29 July 2020 (due to COVID-19  event restrictions not allowing large gatherings). Yvette Maker, Senior Research Associate, Melbourne Social Equity Institute (University of Melbourne) is part of the research team who has been working with essential and basic service providers, people with cognitive disability, and their representative organisations to develop tools to promote the consumer rights of people with cognitive disability. Continue reading

'Our right to safety' Project

Posted August 15, 2020

This was the first session of the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 28 July 2020. WDV have long promoted best practice in supporting women with disability to recognise abuse, stay safe and seek support if they experience violence. In this session, Rosie Granland, Our Right to Safety Resources Project Officer and Nadia Mattiazzo, Program Manager, Community Inclusion and Womens Empowerment from Women with Disabilities Victoria, provide advocates the opportunity to view and discuss the ‘Our Right to Safety and Respect’ video and its accompanying Video Guide, which has been produced in a variety of accessible formats. Continue reading

Improving interactions and communication  with people with little or no speech

Posted August 13, 2020

This was the third session of the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 30 July 2020. People with complex communication needs are often denied the right to make decisions about things in their lives that affect them. Just because a preference is expressed non-verbally doesn’t mean that communication isn’t happening. There are many ways to communicate other than speech and many ways we can support those who do not use speech to communicate. Dr Sheridan Forster and Dr Meredith Prain are both speech pathologists and researchers with many years experience working with people with complex and profound disabilities, including deafblindness. Both are accredited Video Interaction Guidance practitioners through the Association of Video Interaction Guidance UK , and both  have used this approach to foster improved interactions and relationships between people with complex disabilities and the family members and staff who support them. Continue reading

Victorias Bushfire Response, whats next?

Posted March 19, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will present on their work and response in assisting people with disability in the affected areas, recovery efforts, and where to go to get help if needed. The Department is interested to hear from disability advocates about what additional support is needed on the ground. Continue reading

Jax (Jacki) Brown and Jess Mattar from queer space presenting at ASC forum

Advocacy at the Intersections: Working alongside LGBTIQ+ people with disability

Posted March 19, 2020

Accessibility and inclusion is more than just a checklist. This interactive workshop reflects on the first six months of the Advocacy at the Intersections project which is being developed by queerspace in partnership with DARU. Jax (Jacki) Brown and Jess Mattar from queer space race through LGBTIQ+ inclusion 101 using some of the co-designed videos and information sheets that are ready for their first test run. Damian Cavenagh , Project Officer at DARU,talks about his role in developing the online module and working with the co-design group and Jade from Youth Disability Advocacy Service shares her perspectives as a participant in the co-design process. The final package will include a 4 hour professional development session, one on one training and an online module. Continue reading

Marian O’Rourke and Fidelma Carolan

Worker Registration and Quality and Safeguarding people with disability in Northern Ireland

Posted March 19, 2020

In Northern Ireland, social care workers have been regulated since 2016 which was phased in via a four year rolling programme starting in 2012.   In that time over 36,000 workers from a range of social care disciplines across residential, community, housing and advocacy services were registered.   As a public protection measure, the process involved engagement from a range of stakeholders including employers, people who use services and their families, government and trade unions.   As part of this a Code of Fitness to Practice was introduced and standards developed to improve quality of delivery and consistency.  Marian O’Rourke,  Interim Director for Regulation and Standards, Northern Ireland Social Care Council & Fidelma Carolan, Senior Consultant, Leadership Centre, Health & Social Care Service Northern Ireland, share their experience and learning from the process and how the lessons might relate to the current process taking place here in Victoria. Continue reading

Melissa Hale presenting at an ASC forum

Update on sector projects:

Posted March 19, 2020

DARU recently received funds from the Office for Disability to manage two sector projects. The first is a feasibility study to investigate a central intake/referral process for Disability Advocacy Organisations in Victoria, and the second is a research project to measure the impact of the NDIS on Disability Advocacy Organisations. Melissa Hale, Coordinator at DARU, outlines the project scope, outcomes and methodology for each project and encourages advocacy organisations to engage to ensure that the sector gets the best results possible out of the projects. Continue reading

Australian Network on Disability (AND) logo

Connect50 Advocacy Project

Posted December 10, 2019

Australian Network on Disability (AND) is coordinating the Connect50 Advocacy project. This project connects university and TAFE students with disability to an intern opportunity within Victorian disability advocacy organisations. Emma Henningsen talks about the scope and benefits of the project. Continue reading

Hannah Dodd and Natalie Staub

Using consumer law in the NDIS context and reforms to SDA tenancy legislation

Posted December 10, 2019

Using consumer law to test the fairness and validity of Service Agreements within the context of an NDIS plan is a new and evolving area. The Consumer Law Action Centre has been tracking developments. Hannah Dodd, Solicitor at CLAC, shares some emerging trends and tips. Then Natalie Staub, Project Manager, Specialist Disability Accommodation Implementation Project at the Department of Justice and Community Safety, explains the changes to specialist disability accommodation (SDA) rental agreements in Victoria which are now regulated by Consumer Affairs Victoria via the Residential Tenancies Act 1997(RTA). This came into effect on 1 July 2019 and impacts Victorians who need SDA, residents already living in SDA, and SDA providers. Continue reading

Aidan McCarthy and Di McCarthy

National Redress Scheme for Child Sexual Abuse

Posted December 10, 2019

The National Redress Scheme is available to anyone who might have been a victim or survivor of child sexual abuse whilst experiencing institutional care. Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) is a support service ensuring that children and young people with disability, the families and supporters are assisted in an inclusive trauma-informed framework to understand their choices relating to redress, and receive not only information but warm referral support to their closest National Redress Support Service. Di McCarthy steps us through the process for accessing the scheme.  Then AidAn McCarthy, a Lawyer at knowmore, gives an overview of some legal issues arising from the National Redress Scheme, particularly in relation to institutions joining the scheme and a little bit about know more. Continue reading

Rachel Mathison

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission In Victoria

Posted December 10, 2019

The Victorian office of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has been established and opened for business on 1st July 2019. Rachel Mathison, Director of Complaints- Victoria, discusses the scope and processes for making complaints and provides information about other work and functions that the new office is undertaking. Continue reading

Patrick McGee and Lauren Henley

2019 UN Outcomes Report

Posted December 10, 2019

Recently, a delegation of people with disability went to the United Nations to report on Australia's compliance to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Lauren Henley, Disability Advocate, gives us a first hand account of the goings-on in Geneva. Firstly though, Patrick McGee, National Manager Policy, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) provides a summary of the findings from the Outcomes Report published by the UN Committee. The report covers positive developments, areas of concern, as well as listing the committees recommendations for Australia to action. Continue reading

Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships presented at Advocacy Sector conversation Forum.

Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships

Posted August 2, 2019

Sexuality is often overlooked, or left until last in the practice of supporting people with disability. Deakin University has long reflected on the broader themes in research and practice relating to sexuality and disability including developing a rights approach, sexual ableism and how to promote voice and lived experience, particularly for people with intellectual disability and acquired brain injury. Dr Amie O’Shea, National Co-ordinator and a Research Fellow, Monica Wellington, Program Assistant and : Linda Stokoe, Lead Peer Educator, introduce the rights-based program Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships that they have all been involved with. Continue reading

 VicHealth Indicators Survey: Supplementary Report Disability

Posted July 30, 2019

The VicHealth Indicators survey is conducted every 4 years. It’s a population-level survey focused on behaviours and attitudes associated with chronic disease risk. The findings show inequities in health and wellbeing exist between Victorians with a disability and those without.  VicHealth consulted with organizations working to improve outcomes for people with disability in Victoria around what could be done to address these inequities. Maya Rivis, Manager Health Promotion Operations at VicHealth, shares key insights from this consultation along with an overview of the survey’s findings. Continue reading

Daniel Leighton presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Information, Linkages and Capacity-building (ILC) Information Session

Posted July 30, 2019

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is looking to invest almost $400m in inclusion programs across the nation over the next three years. During August and September 2019, funding rounds open for the Individual Capacity Building Program, Economic and Community Participation Program and Mainstream Capacity Building Program. Daniel Leighton, Branch Manager, Information Linkage & Capacity at National Disability Insurance Agency, provides an outline of the strategic intent of each program and the inclusion outcomes they are looking for. Continue reading

Deb Verdon and Lance Yousten presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Disability advocates working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Posted July 26, 2019

Grampians DisAbility Advocacy (GDA) and Rights Information Advocacy Centre (RIAC), both received project funding through the Disability Advocacy Innovation Grants round.  Over the past 2 years these organisations have engage with, and facilitated out reach, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability and the communities they live in.   Lance Yousten (RIAC) and Deb Verdon (GDA)  present the outcomes and learnings of their work. The challenges presented by NDIA/Indigenous understandings of disability and associated issues, will also be discussed and reference ‘Culture is Inclusion’, produced by First People’s Disability Network. Continue reading

Felix Neighbour presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations Forum

Office for Disability Update

Posted February 26, 2019

This session provides 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, Manager stakeholder Engagement talked about the progress being made with the State disability Plan amongst other initiatives. Continue reading

Eliza Hull presenting at advocacy Sector conversations forum

We’ve Got This: Parenting with a disability

Posted February 26, 2019

There is still a societal view that people with disability shouldn’t be parents – how can you look after another person if you have complex needs of your own? As the recipient of the ABC’s 2018 Regional Storyteller Scholarship, Eliza Hull decided to use this opportunity to change misconceptions by giving parents with disability a voice through her podcast series, We’ve Got This: Parenting with a Disability’.  Eliza talks about the project and the impact it is making.  Continue reading

Lauren Henley presenting at an Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Meeting the needs of older people with disability when the NDIS falls short -

Posted February 25, 2019

There has been a strong focus on the NDIS over the past few years – but it isn’t the only scheme that is relevant to people with disability in Victoria. There are many people with disability who are over the age of 65 who do not meet the age eligibility requirements for the NDIS. Most of these people will be forced to turn to the aged care system to access the disability-related support they need.  Lauren Henley, Policy Advisor, Council of the Ageing (COTA) tells us about some of the tools and resources available to help older people with disability make the most of what’s currently on offer. We will also discuss some of the policy gaps still preventing older people with disability from accessing support in a timely and equitable manner. Lauren will tell us more about work that is already being done to address some of these shortfalls and how we can get involved. Continue reading

Scott Avery presenting at Advocacy Sector conversations Forum

Culture Is Inclusion

Posted February 19, 2019

‘Culture is Inclusion’ is the first book of its kind about the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability across Australia.  It presents unique and valuable data gathered over a four year period of community-led research and includes both statistics and narrative/testimony. Scott Avery from First Peoples Disability Network presents the key findings from this research. Continue reading

Geoff Southwell presenting at lectern with auslan interpreter

The Strength of Advocacy Shared Intelligence

Posted January 17, 2019

Demand for advocacy  is growing while, at the same time, the rules seem to be changing every day. Advocates are increasingly challenged to keep their knowledge base up to date in order to respond to new situations. Geoff Southwell from Leadership Plus, demonstrates a new app that they have developed. It is a secure platform where advocates  can connect to share information, advice and fresh perspectives with links to relevant resources and information. Continue reading

Jenny Bretnall at lectern with auslan interpreter

The NDIS and mental health: A game of snakes and ladders

Posted January 17, 2019

While the tussle for the provision of mental health services continues between state health departments and the NDIS, mental health consumers are feeling abandoned and confused. Jenny Bretnall presented a paper at the National NDIS Mental HealthConference in October, representing the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, where she talked about the  detrimental effect of uncertain support services. Jenny gives a repeat presentation here even though she has now moved on to a new position at Independent mental Health Advocacy (IMHA). Continue reading

Miranda Bruyniks at Lectern

New NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

Posted January 17, 2019

The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework has considered the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities and provides an avenue of accountability for upholding these rights. From 1 July 2019 the recently formed NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission will assume the responsibilities currently undertaken by the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner.  Miranda Bruyniks, NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework Complaints Commissioner, introduces the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission and provides an overview to the transition of powers. Continue reading

Monique Sweetland presenting at lectern with auslan interpreter

Teachers Toolkit for Students with little or no speech

Posted January 4, 2019

Communication Rights Australia developed this toolkit through a collaborative process with educators, speech pathologists, students with communication support needs and their families, and the Victorian Department of Education. It provides teachers with the latest information and practical step-by-step recommendations for supporting students with little or no speech,   to reach their highest potential both academically and socially. Monique Sweetland steps us through the scope of the resource. Continue reading

Office for Disability presenting an update at ASC forum

Office for Disability Update

Posted August 3, 2018

This session provides 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, Manager of Strategic Engagement invited Michael Cromie, Manager, Engagement, NDIS Transition and  Peter van Vliet, Assistant Director, Disability and NDIS Branch to join the discussion and take questions from the floor. Continue reading

Disability Resource Centre talk about their Accessible Public Transport project and the new Taxi Services commissioner gives an overview of her goals for the sector

Transport Accessibility Project & meeting the new Taxi Services Commissioner

Posted August 3, 2018

The Transport Accessibility project was undertaken by the Disability Resource Centre to capture the experiences of Victorians with disabilities who use (or want to use) public transport, taxis and Uber. Kerrie Cassidy and Katherine Marshall share their findings and outline the next steps arising from the project. Then Colleen Furlanetto takes the floor. She started her new role as the Disability Commissioner at the Taxi Services Commission in January 2018.  Colleen outlines her plans for the industry and  what her focus will be during her term. Continue reading

Presentation from the Summer Foundation talking about SDA in the NDIS

The NDIS, Housing and the SDA

Posted August 3, 2018

The Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Framework has changed the way people with disabilities access housing. The focus should be on choice and control, however it seems that only people with "extreme" disabilities are receiving funded support for housing. Dr George Taleporos and Penny Paul from the Summer Foundation, present the pathway to SDA under the NDIS, some useful housing resources, and a discussion of the emerging systemic advocacy issues related to the implementation of the SDA framework. Continue reading

Office of the Public Advocate presenting on the new arrangements under the Medical treatment and Planning Act.

New arrangements under the Medical treatment and Planning Decisions Act 2016

Posted August 3, 2018

The updated Medical Treatment and Planning Decisions Act 2016 came into effect in March 2018, following on from the changes to the Powers Of Attorney Act 2014.  Guardianship and Administration Act is next in line to continue the transition of decision-making laws to bring them into line with international human rights law to protect the right of people with cognitive disability to make decisions about matters that effect them. Sharon Cutrale, a Medical Decision Support Officer at the Office of the Public Advocate, provides an overview of what the changes are, how to work with them and the impact they will have on people with limited decision-making capacity. Continue reading

Michael Cromie and felix Neighbour presenting at the February ASC forum

Office for Disability Update 

Posted February 27, 2018

This session provides 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 from the Office for Disability and Michael Cromie from the NDIS branch in the Department of Health and Human Services took questions from the floor. Continue reading

Stephanie Gotlib presenting at the 'Back to School' forum

Progress towards an inclusive education for children and young people with disability in Australia

Posted February 27, 2018

Stephanie Gotlib, CEO at Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), set the scene by giving an overview of the variable experiences of children and young people with disabilities across Australian educational jurisdictions. All the reports that have come out over the past decade show that students with disability continue to experience exclusion on a daily basis. However education departments describe their practices and cultures as inclusive which only seeks to perpetuate the inherent ableism in the system rather than embracing a reform agenda towards education that is truly inclusive. Continue reading

Leah van Poppel presenting at the 'Back to School' forum

The students perspective of education in Victoria

Posted February 27, 2018

Leah van Poppel, Executive Officer at Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS), shared the findings from a consultation YDAS conducted with students with disabilities aged 12 -24 where they were asked about their views and experience of inclusion in education and employment. Surprisingly, attitudes came out as the number one barrier identified. Continue reading

Julie Phillips presenting at the 'Back to School' forum

How much more can advocacy achieve in our quest for inclusive education? 

Posted February 16, 2018

Julie Phillips, Manager at Disability Discrimination Legal Service (DDLS), ponders why, despite the glut of inquiries, reviews and research, the rights of students with disabilities to be included equally in education, has seemingly done nothing to increase the understanding of what inclusive education means. Recent case studies highlight how this ignorance by teachers, principals and departments of education results in dire , unacceptable consequences and far from satisfactory educational outcomes for children with disability. Continue reading

Llewellyn renders presenting at an Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Disability Advocacy by the Numbers 2012-16 Report & DARU Strategic Planning workshop

Posted December 14, 2017

DARU has published the Disability Advocacy by the Numbers report which interprets the data collected by disability advocacy organisations funded through the Victorian Office for Disability.  Llewellyn Reynders, Policy Manager at VCOSS gave a summary  of how some of the advocacy issues are trending and then followed up with a consultation on future resourcing for DARU to feed into the next strategic planning process for 2018-21. Continue reading

Mary Mallett presenting at an Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Cost Benefit analysis of Disability Advocacy Report Launch

Posted December 14, 2017

Melanie Muir, President of Disability Advocacy victoria, introduced Mary Mallett, CEO at Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), who presented the findings from the research that investigated the true cost of disability advocacy Australia wide. This ground-breaking research was supported by Leadership Plus, Disability Advocacy Victoria (DAV), VALID and Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). Continue reading

Felix Neighbour presenting at an ASC forum

Office for Disability Update

Posted December 14, 2017

Felix Neighbour, manager Strategic Engagement at the Office for Disability provided the participants at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum an update on what the Office has been doing since the last time we met. Continue reading

Sue Smith and Dean Dadson from SARU with 2 self advocates, Bec Biddle and Fran Lee, presenting at an Advocacy Sector Conversations forum.

Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) Projects Update

Posted November 27, 2017

To determine the sustainability of self-advocacy and self-advocacy groups in the shift to individualised funding, the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) have been leading several projects. Sue Smith, Dean Dadson and self advocates, Bec Biddle and Fran Lee, provided updates and findings from the initiatives SARU has been involved in over the past year. Continue reading

Alison McDonald Presenting on Family Violence with Interpreter

Family Violence and People with Disability-

Posted May 26, 2017

Alison McDonald from Domestic Violence Victoria discussed the family violence reforms and how they impact on people with disability experiencing family violence. She also covered protections available for people with disability, and other information that advocates working with people with disabilities in vulnerable situations need to know. Continue reading

Llewellyn Reynders Presenting on the Disability Advocacy By the Numbers Report with Interpreter

Disability Advocacy by the Numbers 2012-16 Report Launch

Posted May 26, 2017

Llewellyn Reynders, Policy Manager at VCOSS, showcased Disability Advocacy by the Numbers report that uses the data collected by the Victorian Office for Disability advocacy program through the Quarterly Data Collection (QDC) provided by organisations funded under the program. He stepped us through the advocacy issues and identified trends through graphic representation and analysis. Continue reading

Carl Thompson presenting on plan management options, with Interpreter

Self-managed vs Agency-managed supports in the NDIS

Posted May 23, 2017

Carl Thompson from Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) provided an   in-depth overview, including pros and cons for the various support management options, that would assist advocates when working with people with disability through their NDIs plan implementation phase. This was followed by an update from Felix Neighbour from the Office for Disability. Continue reading

Barbara Carter presenting on Child Protection with an Interpreter, and Kate Fitt sitting in the background

Child Protection

Posted May 23, 2017

Barbara Carter and Kate Fitt discussed issues around child protection and provided some practical tips on how to support parents with disability in their dealings with child protection agencies. Continue reading

Catherine McAlpine presenting on NDIS Readiness with Intepreter

NDIS readiness for advocates

Posted March 21, 2017

The NDIS is rolling out across Victoria giving thousands the opportunity to start new plans for the first time while investigating local support options. Catherine McAlpine, Manager Disability Loop at AFDO introduced a new ‘Tip Sheet’ for the planning process and provided some perspectives on the Local Area Coordinators and the Service Coordination roles at the NDIS. Continue reading

Mark Feigan presenting on the Plan with Interpreter and Angela Healy sitting in the background

Absolutely Everyone: State disability plan 2017-2020

Posted March 20, 2017

Absolutely everyone: state disability plan 2017-2020 started on 1 January 2017. Mark Feigan, Senior Policy Officer and Angela Healy, Manager from the Office for Disability provided an overview of the new plan which was followed by Q&As and small group discussions to explore how the plan might be used as an advocacy tool. Continue reading

Vanessa Stevens-Downie presening on Zero Tolerance with an Interpreter

'Zero Tolerance’ of abuse: Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services

Posted March 20, 2017

Zero Tolerance’ of abuse in disability services is the focus of the Victorian Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services. The response was tabled in Parliament on 26 November 2016. Anna Guglielmucci, Assistant Director and Vanessa Stevens-Downie, Principal Policy Officer, Safeguarding and Disability Supports, DHHS provided an update on implementation of the response and discussed opportunities for collaboration with the advocacy sector. Mary Mallet, CEO at Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) was present in the audience and obligingly presented an overview of the recently released NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Disability Support Pension changes and the appeals process

Posted December 16, 2016

Peter Norbury from Social Security Rights Victoria updated us on the changes Centrelink made to the impairment tables in 2012 highlighting the contradictions and identifying the hurdles that need to be overcome to pass the eligibility criteria. Len Jaffit, who has been working with the Centrelink Appeals Tribunal at Victoria Legal Aid for many years then stepped us through what you need to do if you are unhappy with a Centrelink decision. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Q&A with the Office for Disability

Posted December 15, 2016

Felix Neighbour, the Acting Manager Strategic Engagement at the Office for Disability brought Martin Turnbull, Assistant Director, Diversity and Disability along to this Q&A session to fill us in on the boost to advocacy funding announced as part of the 'Zero Tolerance' initiative. An update with the ongoing dialogue with NDAP and NDIS and the launch of the State Disability Plan to start in 2017 was also discussed. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Review of the Victorian Housing Register

Posted December 15, 2016

Tony Newman, the Assistant Director of the Implementation support department at the Victorian Housing Register outlined the changes to the Housing Register. This was followed by Steve Staikos from Community Housing Federation Victoria who spoke about the impacts of the changes. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Who's not eligible for the NDIS?

Posted December 5, 2016

The panelists represented people with disability who are either not eligible for the NDIS or who have complexities that make interaction with the agency difficult. A range of issues were raised, and information shared, however many more questions than answers were left in the air. Continue reading

photo of Pual Brady and Carol Okai at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

Becoming a NDIS Provider

Posted July 4, 2016

session at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 23 June 2016 at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre. Paul Brady, Coordinator at Colac and Otway Ranges Advocacy Service (CORAS), and Carole Okai, Executive Officer at Assert 4 All, will step us through the process in becoming an NDIS Service Provider. Both advocacy organisations have undergone this process and have been operating successfully in the NDIS Barwon trial site. Continue reading

Catherine McAlpine presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

NDIS Opportunities training series

Posted July 4, 2016

Catherine McAlpine, Senior Manager of NDIS Disability Loop, from Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) introduced the NDIS Opportunities training series that have been developed to resource and assist small community organisations as they navigate the significant changes the new market environment brings. Particular emphasis was given to how advocacy might fit within the NDIS Price Guide and Support Clusters. Continue reading

image of a discussion group at the State Plan consultation

State Disability Plan 2017-2020 consultation

Posted June 29, 2016

This was the first session at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 23 June 2016 at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre. This session was dedicated to a consultation process to provide feedback for shaping the next State Disability Plan 2017-2020 The facilitators were Llewellyn Reynders, Policy Manager, and Carly Nowell, Policy Analyst from VCOSS. Continue reading

Catherine McAlpine presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

NDIS training workshop series

Posted March 10, 2016

This was the third session at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 1 March 2016 at the Jasper Hotel. In this session, Catherine McAlpine, Senior Manager, NDIS Disability Loop at Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) told us about the NDIS workshop series for community organisations and train the trainer workshops for people with disability that have been developed. Continue reading

Toni Van Hammond presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum

NDIS planning

Posted February 29, 2016

Toni Van Hammond, Assistant Director - Engagement & Community Strategy, NDIA Barwon office, explained the role of an NDIA planner and took us through what happens during the planning process. Continue reading

From left to right: Len Jaffit, Rosalinda Casamento, James Keith, Kylie McCutcheon

NDIS review and appeals process

Posted February 29, 2016

This panel provided different perspectives of the NDIS appeals process and included Kylie McCutcheon, NDIS participant and AAT complainant, James Keith , Geelong Area Advocate, Coordinator of SPSP, EMRS Support Officer, Rights Information & Advocacy Centre Inc (RIAC), Len Jaffit, Manager Commonwealth Entitlements Civil Justice, Victoria Legal Aid and Rosalinda Casamento, Senior Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid, Civil Justice Program. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

NDIS roll out in Victoria

Posted November 23, 2015

Michael Cromie, Manager Strategic Engagement, DHHS Office for Disability, introduced Noble Tabe, Acting Director, NDIS reform branch who provided an overview of the work of the Victorian Government to roll out the NDIS in Victoria. Continue reading

Helen Rushford from the Office of the Public Advocate

Powers of attorney application and resources

Posted November 23, 2015

On 1 September 2015, the new Powers of Attorney Act came into effect. . It includes a new supportive attorney appointment provision. Helen Rushford, Coordinator Advice and Education Service, at the Office of the Public Advocate talked about resources developed by OPA to assist people with disability and disability advocates to understand and use the new law. Continue reading

Deborah Glass portrait

Reporting allegations of abuse

Posted November 23, 2015

In June 2015, the Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, released Reporting and investigation of allegations of abuse in the disability sector: Phase 1 – the effectiveness of statutory oversight. The report has informed the current Victorian parliamentary inquiry into disability abuse. The Ombudsman spoke about recommendations arising out of the report and discussed the issues facing people with disability. Continue reading

photo of Mary Mallett

NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity (ILC) Framework consultation process update

Posted November 10, 2015

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has provided funding to some disability support organisations to conduct consultations about activity areas which should be funded by the ILC Framework. Mary Mallett, CEO of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) gave a brief presentation about the consultation process and explain how DSS plans to develop a commissioning process to fund delivery of ILC. Submissions for the framework close on 30 October 2015. Continue reading

front cover of the Powers of Attorney Act 2014

New Powers of Attorney Act

Posted September 14, 2015

This forum was held on 30 July 2015 at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. On this page you will find transcripts, contact information and links to resources for the following sessions: 1.Setting the scene for housing services in Victoria 2.Advocacy and housing 3.New Powers of Attorney Act 4.Q&A with the Office for Disability Continue reading

photo of Pauline Williams

Setting the scene for housing services in Victoria

Posted September 14, 2015

Navigating appropriate housing options in victoria is complex. Public , community, private and supported housing tenures all operate under different acts with different application processes and eligibility criteria. Pauline Williams, Housing Rights Coordinator at Action for More Independence in Accommodation (AMIDA), facilitated a panel discussion to identify what support and information services are out there and how these can be utilised by advocates to get the best outcome for their clients. Continue reading

photo of Pauline Williams

Advocacy and housing

Posted September 14, 2015

More than 5,000 Victorians with disability live in state funded disability supported accommodation. In this year’s State Budget, the Victorian Government announced the provision of 830 more individual support plans. Whilst this will go some way towards addressing the unmet housing and accommodation needs of people with disability, there are many more Victorians with disability requiring housing. Pauline Williams, Housing Rights Coordinator at Action for More Independence in Accommodation (AMIDA), focussed the  discussion on supported accommodation with panel members. Continue reading

Michael Cromie head shot

Q&A with the Office for Disability

Posted September 14, 2015

Robyn Gaile, the DARU Coordinator, facilitated a conversation with Michael Cromie, Manager Strategic Engagement from the DHHS Office for DisabilityMichael updated the sector on staffing at the Office for Disability and assured everyone that Service Agreements are on their way for the 2016-19 period. Other topics covered included the Disability Awards, State Disability Plan consultations and VDAC. Continue reading

Photo of Mary Mallett

Influencing government: telling the disability advocacy story

Posted April 15, 2015

Mary Mallett, CEO of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) presented on the importance of advocates contributing their 'on the ground' experience in submissions to national inquiries to support systemic advocacy issues. This was followed by Robyn Gaile, DARU Coordinator introducing the 'PUSH' key messages tool kit. Continue reading

left to right: Giang Pham and Czenia Mangubat from Berry Street Child and Family Services, Elisa Whittaker, Women’s Legal Service Victoria, DianeJones, Barwon Centre Against Sexual Assault, Rodney Vlais , No To Violence and Men’s Beahvioural Change , Jax Brown, Advocate and Women with Disabilities Victoria Gender and Disability Workforce Development trainer

Violence against women response services

Posted April 2, 2015

This forum was held on 24 March 2015 at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. On this page you will find session summaries, audio podcasts and transcripts for each session: ◾Violence against women response services ◾Influencing government: telling the disability advocacy story ◾Q&A with the Office for Disability Continue reading

Michael Cromie head shot

Q&A with the Office for Disability

Posted April 2, 2015

Michael Chromie, Manager Strategic Engagement, Office for Disability, provided an update on the activities of the Office and took questions from the floor relating to current service agreements for disability advocacy organisations. He announced that all Victorian Government funded disability advocacy organisations will shortly receive contracts for the rollover of funding for the next financial year. Continue reading

Photo: Advocavy Sector Conversation Forum at Victoria Room

Advocacy Sector Conversation Forum - September 2014

Posted September 3, 2014

This was the third Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held at the queen Victoria Women's Centre on 2 September 2014. Presentations included how Victorians can be involved with the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, how to make a successful representative complaint with VEOHRC, issues facing deaf people accessing hospital services and the regular segment with the Office for Disability. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Advocacy Sector Conversation - June 2014

Posted September 1, 2014

This was the second in the advocacy Sector Conversations forum series held at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre on 5 June 2014. Presentations included an introduction on how the NDIS will safeguard the rights of people with disability, showcasing a successful self advocacy partnership between New Wave and ASSIST in Gippsland, the rules advocacy organisations need to know regarding incident reporting and the open forum with the Office for Disability. Continue reading

dialogue speech bubbles icon

Advocacy Sector Conversation - October 2013

Posted October 25, 2013

This is the first in the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum series that aims to support disability advocates to regularly get together and discuss matters which directly impact on their work, as well as to provide informal time to network. Continue reading

Upcoming forums