Policy and Advocacy Monthly Update 2022

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Policy and Advocacy 2022 Monthly Updates

Our team provide individual, systemic and representative 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 in Sydney and Northern Rivers, New South Wales.

  • Click here to read SCIA Policy and Advocacy highlights from 2021.
  • 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.


    76% of our clients reached a completely suitable outcome

    95% of our clients believed they had improved confidence to advocate for themselves in the future

    December 2021 – May 2022 client results of our Advocacy team

    June 2022

    Representative and Systemic Advocacy

    SCIA has a new stream of funding provided by the NSW Government, based around representative advocacy and membership engagement to address issues affecting those with spinal and neurological disabilities.

    We are looking to set up an initial online SCIA network forum in the first week of August – which we plan to be the first of many – with the purpose of connecting with our membership and those we represent. It’s an opportunity for us to get to know the people we hope to be engaging and collaborating with on an ongoing basis, and most importantly, to listen and hear about important issues in people’s lives.

    This program is new, and that in itself is exciting, but, ultimately, we need to ensure this program is built on communication with our people to best understand what activities and resources are required to fill the gaps that people are noticing.

    We have a few ideas based on previous consultations:

  • Targeted workshops educating around particular issues
  • Resources explaining how to draw attention to issues
  • Setting up and promoting virtual and community based groups (peer led and self-advocacy groups)
  • Feeding back big issues to our systemic team
  • Sending through issues to our individual team for one-to-one support 

    But ultimately these activities should be directed by what the wider SCIA community tells us and we need to be responsive to that. If you would like to join the first Online Representative Advocacy Forum, it will be held on Microsoft Team August 3, 2022. Register your attendance here .


  • The Systemic Advocacy team participated in roundtable discussions on Stage 2 Reforms of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Review.
    The consultations address current issues faced by people with disability who use public transport and any situations where discrimination may occur. The reforms will improve accessibility, remove discrimination, ensure all operators and providers are aware of their obligations and integrate cost and safety efficiencies and other benefits for all stakeholders.

    Over three sessions the following topics were discussed:
    • List of reform options
    • Principles scope and implementation list
    • Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Reporting
    • Reflections

  • Our Systemic Advocate, Greg Killeen, attended the NSW Taxi Council WAT Subcommittee and the following issues were discussed:

    • Reluctance to use TTSS smartcards – vouchers preferred payment option by drivers despite being the slower option
    • TTSS incentive scheme – (ride subsidies) does not seem to be working
    • People with disability still waiting 1-2 hrs for a ride in some instances

  • We lodged a submission to the Department of Social Services to assist with draft of the new National Disability Advocacy Framework
  • Consultations and Advocacy continues regarding recommendations 72 & 73 of the Aged Care Royal Commission. We’ve had ongoing collaboration with coalition of advocacy groups as part of the over 65 forum. Issues discussed include:

    • $52,000 Home Care Package cap
    • Goods, Equipment and Assistive Technology (GEAT) and other funding and care shortfalls
    • SCIA meeting exclusively with Senator Jordon Steele-John in August

  • Finally, we’ve made communicated via email. phone and letters to Minister for NDIS Bill Shorten, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth, Assistant Minister for Health and the Federal Opposition about the ongoing issues for people with disabilities.
  • May 2022

    Systemic Advocacy


  • Our Systemic team is still working on the campaign to address the inequitable access to medical imaging and women’s health services for people with physical disability. After the initial online survey was distributed in May 2021 , our team identified the issues adversely affecting people with physical disability and writing to the NSW Premier, opposition leader and the ministers and shadow ministers for disability, health and women. SCIA Systemic Advocacy will continue to address these barriers and report on the progress.
  • Our Systemic Advocacy is a member of a number of committees including the NSW Government Accessible Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC).

    We’ve been preparing to contribute to the Stage 2 Reforms of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT). There are a long list of proposed reforms of which SCIA P&A and the disability sector which were discussed at the May ATAC meeting.

  • SCIA P&A has also contributed to the NSW Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) safety project survey to be distributed to WAT passengers. The SCIA P&A feedback included amendments as well as additional information relating to the NSW Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme (TTSS) Smartcard, WAT driver skills and attitude and the complaints process.
  • SCIA’s Systemic Advocacy team is also a member of the NSW WAT Subcommittee as well as the WAT Disability Reference Group (DRG) of which the DRG is attended by disability sector representatives.

    The DRG has prioritised 30 issues addressing taxis, such as taxi driver awareness training in regard to guide dogs and service dogs as there has been a history of some taxi drivers refusing to accept bookings with these dogs.

  • April 2022

    Individual and Systemic Advocacy


    In 2021, in Partnership with the Physical Disability Council of NSW, Paraquad NSW, Muscular Dystrophy NSW and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, SCIA commissioned a survey to investigate the experiences of people with disabilities when accessing medical imaging / diagnostic imaging, and women’s health services in New South Wales.

    The survey conducted received 112 responses and described 118 specific services. We would like to invite you to read the results from the survey. You can read the results here.

    You can also read more about the background of the project here.


    A client with autism approached SCIA to help them increase their supports through the NDIS.

    We helped take them to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal and an agreement has been reached at the tribunal with increased therapy supports as part of capacity building.

    They are now receiving:

  • 30 hours of psychology
  • 64 hours of occupational therapy
  • 26 hours of personal Trainer support for fortnightly sessions
  • Increase in Core Support for community access of one-to-one ratio for weekday, weekday evening and Saturday.
  • February/March 2022

    Individual and Systemic Advocacy


    This month, an advocate in our Northern Rivers area successfully assisted a client with Schizoaffective Disorder to access the NDIS.
    The client lives on an isolated rural property with no computer or mobile access, with all communication taking place via a landline or in person. Add in COVID lockdowns; last year, it made this case quite challenging!

    After working closely with his medical team and the client where possible, our advocate submitted an NDIS Review, which resulted in a successful outcome.

    The whole process took 11 months which is well worth it considering this fantastic outcome will be life-changing for the client. He will now have the support to confidently approach his supports and feel safe to build a social network by accessing the community with a trusted support worker.


    Systemic Advocacy

    Our Systemic Advocate, Greg, wrote a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS Current Scheme Implementation and Forecasting

    SCIA participated in a forum hosted by The State Spinal Cord Injury Service on disability supports for those aged over 65.

    The forum brought together SCIA, Forward Ability (formerly ParaQuad) and The Physical Disability Council of NSW (PDCN) to look at the current state of play on support for people with disability over the age of 65, the reforms underway to My Aged Care in response to the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission.

    Also discussed was how we can partner and work collaboratively to ensure any reforms meet the needs of those we support and represent, and with the coming election, to ensure these issues are front and centre for decision-makers. We will be doing more in this space! You can find out more on the changes to aged care services here

    Individual Advocacy

    A client has been awarded the Disability Support Pension (DSP) after a lengthy preclusion period due to being awarded compensation. On first application the client was refused the DSP as they did not meet the 20 points on the impairment tables.

    With the help of the advocate a review was lodged. They gathered new medical evidence to support the claim and participated in a medical assessment where the client’s claim was finally approved!

    January 2022

    Individual and Systemic Advocacy


    Three years ago, a client of our Northern Rivers team was suspended from an adult educational institute part way through his Certificate 3 in Commercial Cooking, due to some minor past behavioural issues. Recently, they wanted to continue with commercial cooking and the place he worked at wanted them to continue the Certificate.

    They reapplied and the institute refused because the institute didn’t believe that they would be able to pass the course, possibly because they had a high functioning intellectual disability, and may be a distraction to other students because of his past behaviour.

    He self-referred and our advocates made contact with the institute to arrange a meeting. At the meeting the institute laid out their concerns and made him take an aptitude test, to ascertain their ability to complete the theory of the course, and requested an individualised behavioural agreement.

    They were delighted to be accepted to continue their Certificate 3 course with recognition to prior learning and will commence the course on their days off of his current job.


    Systemic Advocacy

    In 2021, we put together a survey about Medical Imaging and Women’s Health Services Survey in New South Wales out to our members in partnership with Physical Disability Council of New South Wales (PDCN), ParaQuad (now Forward Ability Support), Muscular Dystrophy NSW and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

    The survey received 112 responses and of 118 specific services described, challenges and barriers were identified in 57% of experiences.

    The following challenges and barriers were mentioned, but not limited to:

  • Lack of assistive technology or other accessible features on the premises of the medical facility
  • Lack of wheelchair manoeuvrability for power wheelchairs
  • Lack of disability awareness across staff and health professionals
  • Undue burden on people with disability to find alternative solutions when medical imaging or women’s health services of their choice are inaccessible
  • Increased wait times or delays obtaining diagnoses or abandonment of health screening altogether
  • Emotional impact of poor experiences and treatment by health professionals
  • Read the full report here.

    Individual Advocacy

  • Client “Mariah” approached SCIA in January 2021 to seek assistance with her housing needs. Mariah is a single parent who had escaped a domestic violent situsation, but was living in an unstable housing situation. She was at high risk of homelessness and needed an accessible space for her disability needs.

    All her private applications had been denied due to her financial situation, and social housing was unable to provide housing due to low capacity. With our support, Mariah was able to receive a Private Rental Subsidy in March from Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) which would contribute 75% to her rent. After over fifty private rental inspections, she was able to move into a safe home in January 2022.

    Mariah was also linked to financial assistance programs including Salvation Army, Mission Australia, and Good Shepherd. They provided free spectacles and financial assistance vouchers for her food, energy, and medical needs. We are linking her to a local caseworker who can continue to support her financial assistance needs and link her children to the local schooling system.

  • Client “Fred” is an involved member of the community and acted as a captain for the local fire rescue service. He enjoyed using his heavy vehicle HR license to drive the water tankers necessary for his service.

    Due to an unrelated accident, Fred experienced a disability which prompted Service NSW to downgrade his licence to a normal car licence. As a result, Fred could no longer driver his water tanker. Fred paid out-of-pocket for specialist and therapy reports to demonstrate he was capable of safely driving a heavy vehicle, but Service NSW denied his request.

    Fred’s advocate filed a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman to request a meeting with a Transport NSW representative. After the meeting, the representative decided to restore Fred’s HR licence based on his current reports. Fred was pleased with the outcome and excited to rejoin his community efforts.

  • Client “Donald” is a keen car hobbyist and takes pride in his community involvement. However, Donald is living with an SCI and requires daily support for his health services including personal care, social engagement, and respite.

    He did not have enough NDIS funding to support him, and Donald’s family was experiencing carer burnout. His request for additional funding was denied by the NDIS. As a result, his advocate escalated his matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

    After five months of negotiation and three case conferences, Donald received approval for all his requests totalling $176,000 in additional funds. Donald will now be able to freely engage with his hobbies while encouraging his family to maintain their own interests and hobbies.