SCIA’s Policy and Advocacy team is based in Sydney and Alstonville, NSW.

Get to know your team

Sydney + Alstonville

They provide individual, self, family and systemic advocacy for people with disabilities as well as their families.

Every month we will we sharing with you highlights from our Policy and Advocacy team.

This month, Megan and Kim from our team give us an update about the advocacy work they have been up to.

If you would like to contact our Policy and Advocacy team for advice and support please call us on 1800 819 775 or email info@scia.org.au.

Feature image — Sydney + Alstonville

Individual + Systemic Advocacy

Alstonville, New South Wales

Our team in Alstonville supports the entire Northern Rivers area. Here is a snapshot of our team’s advocacy support and issues that they have faced over the past month.

  • Access to the NDIS – Often, accessing the NDIS requires a fairly detailed report from treating specialists (such as Occupational Therapists and psychiatrists). We’re working with clients to access the NDIS. These reports can be costly and often the person with the disability requires some support to attend. With the state and federal government throwing most of their eggs in the NDIS basket, there is a lack of available (or block funded) support agencies that can help people who are trying to gain access.
  • Accessible Housing – As housing availability remains extremely low in our area, we’re helping clients find suitable accommodation to meet their needs. A client we’re helping has exhausted their crisis accommodation with housing and will be homeless at the time you read this. She has been on priority for some time, but due to a lack of housing options in the region (both private and social), there are extremely limited options.
  • Housing and the NDIS – As people are trying to use reports from NDIS specialists to show a need for accessible housing, these are often “deficit-based” reports that are attempting to argue for increased funding. However, when these deficit based reports get presented to housing, they often see these reports and will decline applications as the person either doesn’t have the funding for the supports they require (based on the specialist report) and therefore (housing believe) won’t be able to maintain a tenancy or requires Specialised Disability Accommodation, with extensive “purpose-built” facilities.
  • Disability Support Pension and NDIS Applications – Applications have started to increase. Clients have expected that application reports for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) can be transferred to NDIS applications, however, this hasn’t been the case. The NDIS wants to see functional capacity whereas Centrelink wants to know if the disability is fully diagnosed, fully treated and fully stabilised. We are assisting clients to access these supports.
  • Individual + Systemic Advocacy

    Sydney, New South Wales

    Our team has been working hard over January to help people on an individual and systemic level. Here are some of the things we’ve accomplished and some we are working on at the present time.

    Individual Advocacy

  • Two people successfully gained access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Two people with a disability had maintenance repairs completed on their houses following complaints to Housing New South Wales
  • One person will be able to access assistive technology via their NDIS plan following an agreement with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
  • A client who is diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome has been home-schooled for the last four years due to bullying. Our service have been able to secure them a position at TAFE. This meant meeting with a Disability Consultant and working through which TAFE courses best suit their needs as well as organising assistance at TAFE.
  • A client currently resides in Housing NSW and has been on the waiting list for a three bedroom dwelling with wheelchair access. Client is an amputee with degeneration in their right arm and their Occupational Therapist has not been able to prescribe a wheelchair due to the current unit having steps and lack of turning space. They will moving to a three bedroom, accessible dwelling.
  • A client had pre and postnatal depression as well as other underlying episodic mental health. After seven weeks of giving birth to her daughter, client had suicidal ideations and attempted suicide and now has a permanent sci. I wrote her a letter of support for custody, which they reported to have helped them immensely with their case
  • A client has heightened anxiety, dyslexic PTSD which meant that they could not finalise her application for the DSP for several months. Client is also homeless and our team assisted them with the application, made representations to Centrelink on her behalf, and she had been successful with receiving the DSP. Indirectly, client had accrued debts with Centrelink (Corona Virus Supplement and rental assistance) which our team had assisted with and the debts were waived.
  • A client had fallen out of their wheelchair and broke their femur as a result of his driveway being broken in his Housing NSW home. Our team had referred them to a lawyer after not receiving a response from Land & Housing Corporation (L&HC) for several months. Client was awarded $100,000 in damages. A complaint was lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on disability discrimination and L&HC contractors have built a new driveway and are also going to build a new bathroom and kitchen.
  • We’re currently working on

  • Issues before the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • NDIS related issues before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • A housing issue that is now before the NSW Civil and Adminstrative Tribunal
  • Issues relating to the NSW Public Guardian
  • Issues relating to Housing, Disability Support Pension, Disability Discrimination, Access and planning decisions by the NDIA, SDA, icare and property disputes
  • Systemic Advocacy

  • Report and presentation on the Advocacy Engagement Project – Our Sydney Advocacy team presented to the board the project and the Advocacy team’s future priorities. Read our Advocacy Engagement Project Final Report and Advocacy Engagement Project Summary
  • Preparing a final report to send out to our SCIA members and the public
  • Preparation and research for a major submission on upcoming changes to the NDIS and the introduction of independent assessments. We attended the ‘Have Your Say NSW’ with the NDIA and other disability sector representatives as well as NDIS participants and family members. Subsequent to this, we conducted a workshop with SCIA to gather feedback on reforms and in February we will make a submission to the NDIA on the proposed changes.
  • If you would like to get in touch with our Policy and Advocacy team in Sydney and Northern Rivers, NSW please email us at info@scia.org.au or call us on 1800 819 775.