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Policy and Advocacy 2022 Monthly Updates
Every month we will we sharing with you highlights from our Policy and Advocacy team in Sydney and Northern Rivers, New South Wales.
If you would like to contact our Policy and Advocacy team for advice and support please call us on 1800 819 775 or email email@example.com.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
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
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:
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 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
• 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
• $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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.