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.

    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

    October 2022

    Individual, Representative and Systemic Advocacy

    INDIVIDUAL ADVOCACY

  • Since April 2022, our advocate, Dee, assisted a single mother whose 19-year-old son has Autism and a moderate intellectual disability.

    His NDIS plan was severely slashed, which put him at risk as the NDIS no longer funded one to one support, his day programs and his Continuity of Support (COS). As a 6-foot young man with no road safety awareness and a history of absconding his one-to-three support was not appropriate.

    After establishing a clear understanding of what supports the family had requested and establishing what other supports the son would benefit from, our advocate made a formal complaint against the LAC, who had provided incorrect information to the family, which resulted in a severely underfunded plan when only the year before.

    The family had been to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to ensure the correct supports. Once the complaint was dealt with, we engaged with a new LAC who was fantastic at working transparently with the family to ensure we collected all the detailed reports, including a Behavioural Support Plan and Carer’s Impact Statement.

    This was crucial for the mother, who was on the verge of carer burnout, as the current plan had not included any support worker assistance or respite funding. Throughout the seven months, our advocate worked closely with the mother to build her understanding of NDIS processes and her son’s rights and that the reports were detailed enough to ensure a positive result.

    In October, we received a new plan with the correct funding. This also included COS funding to ensure the family would get the ongoing support they need.

  • Our advocate, Julia, just had a successful outcome for a young four yr old boy who has severe autism and intellectual disability.

    His mum requested 20 hrs per week of Applied Behavioural Analysis intensive therapy, five hours per day of one-to-one support and special swimming lessons to be funded.

    After many case conferences and discussions, the NDIA agreed to fund these vital and reasonable and necessary supports for this young boy. The plan is for 60 weeks to ensure that he receives this high level of intensive support until he starts school then he will have a plan review.

  • SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY

  • Telehealth

    To be eligible for GP telehealth services patients must have had a face-to-face consultation with their GP or another GP in the same practice, in the 12 months before the telehealth service. There are some limited exceptions, including patients who are subject to isolation or quarantine due to state or territory COVID-19 public health orders. Exemptions may also apply to patients who are living in a designated natural disaster area.

    People who are immunocompromised do not receive exemptions. An immunocompromised person with disability who is receiving individual advocacy support from SCIA has been denied Medicare rebates for failure to meet the face-to-face consultation requirements. SCIA has been requested to treat take this up as a systemic advocacy issue.

    It is essential to reduce unintended inequities in the health system. Therefore, it could be argued that the denial of Medicare rebates to immunocompromised people with disability is making the health care system inaccessible to that cohort.
    The exclusion, denial, or indifferent treatment of people with disability could be grounds for a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act.

  • Letters

  • SCIA P&A continues to write to follow up elected Ministers and Senators. We have received a mixed response from our last round of letters in September which included newly elected Ministers and Senators.

    We have received a favourable response from Catherine King – Federal Transport Minister regarding accessibility at airports and on airlines.

    Key Ministers we continue to follow up regularly include:
    • Bill Shorten (Federal)
    • Natasha Maclaren-Jones (NSW)
    • Anthony Roberts (NSW)
    • David Pocock (Federal Senator ACT)

    With a state election in 2023, our strategy to lobby the NSW Shadow Ministers in important portfolios has been more successful.

    We’ve secured meetings with:

    • Courtney Houssos, MP, (Shadow Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation) pending
    • Jo Haylen, MP, (NSW Shadow Minister for Transport)
    • Kate Washington (NSW Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion)
    • Rose Jackson (NSW Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness) pending

    Inequitable access to medical imaging (also known as diagnostic imaging), women’s health services including mammography equipment.

    Letters sent to:

    • Dominic Perottet, MP, NSW Premier
    • NSW Minister for Transport
    • NSW Shadow Minister for Transport
    • NSW Minister for Disability
    • NSW Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion
    • NSW Minister for Women
    • Federal Minister for Health
    • Australian Human Rights Commission Disability Discrimination Commissioner
    • NSW Shadow Minister for Women

  • Our Systemic Advocacy team attended the Safeguarding a Good Life: Quality and Safeguards National Conference (virtual) – October 18, 2022
  • Engagements with Ministers and Staff

  • Kate Washington – NSW Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion
    Following our meeting with Kate Washington – NSW Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion and Liesl Tesch – Member for Gosford, on September 21, our Systemic Advocacy team provided information that will help to inform action on:

    • The need for increased funding for Advocacy Services in view of the demand placed on SCIA services solely due to NDIS appeals
    • Accessible and affordable housing including the problems faced by people in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
    • The choice and control and abuse risks experienced by people in SDA who have the same provider for tenancy and other services. We followed up with the Department of Communities and Justice on the current supply of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) housing
    • Minimum accessibility standards to the National Construction Code (NCC) in NSW
    • Case studies to substantiate the systemic problems with WAT services

  • Jo Haylen, MP – NSW Shadow Minister for Transport
    SCIA with Jo Haylen, MP, NSW Shadow Minister for Transport, to seek support to lobby the NSW Government to address the current issues of the majority of Sydney wheelchair accessible taxi (WAT) drivers not logging on to the Wheelchair Book and Ride (WB&R) app.

    As you have read in previous entries, this results in the not being able to receive and accept bookings which is causing significant delays in WAT passengers being picked up when bookings are made through the official WB&R booking system.

    We also contacted the NSW Point to Point Transport Commission and the Transport for NSW to seek solutions.

  • Accessibility and Air travel

    Following on from our report on global accessibility standards at airports and on airlines and our recent meetings with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Ben Gauntlett, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Disability Commissioner, SCIA has successfully engaged with the Transport Minister Catherine King’s office.

    Senior Advisor on Transport Michael Crawford has agreed to take up the issue. He is now aware that the only way that people with disability flying within in Australia can complain and receive reparation or recompense for failures by airlines and airports to meet their human rights is to prove that they were subjected to direct or indirect discrimination under the DDA.

    He agrees that reforms to the system may be necessary and he has asked SCIA to condense our report so that he can review the issue.

  • Submissions

  • Our Systemic Advocacy team lodged a submission to “A New Model for Regulating Aged Care” – Consultation Paper No. 1. The Federal Government is seeking consultation on the design of a modern and fit-for-purpose regulatory model will to underpin the new Act and to support other reforms aimed at providing safe and high-quality care and services for older Australians.

    Points of discussion raised include:
    • Assistive Technology
    • Parity in funding for people with disability over 65 with NDIS participants
    • Affordable and accessible housing
    • Restrictive Practices
    • Advocacy and Representation

  • We’ve lodged a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on NDIS to address Capability and Culture of the NDIS.

    While the NDIS is a significant stride in the direction of a more accessible and inclusive society, not all participants have had good experiences.

    Poor outcomes experienced by NDIS participants are caused by many of the same problems that have, for a long time, beset the disability sector and people with disability. They include skilled staff shortages, cost, lack of funding, discrimination, intersectionality, isolation, safety, inequality and lack of access to advocacy services.

    Successful use of the system requires clarity of information; having providers who are supportive of flexibility; and participants being able to navigate the NDIS and its complexity.

    Our Systemic Advocacy team made 18 recommendations and raised other issues including:

    • How inequality in the NDIS is impacting access and service delivery
    • The need for Assistive Technology
    • Reforms to the Planning Process
    • Plan utilisation in thin markets
    • Reforms to Home and Living Policy
    • Perception
    • Nature of Staff Employment

  • September 2022

    Representative and Systemic Advocacy

    REPRESENTATIVE ADVOCACY

    The team have just commenced our NDIS Internal and External review workshops. We have planned for four workshops, over eight weeks. These workshops are a guide on how to review decisions made by the NDIS and then, if required, how to escalate the decision outcome to an external review and appeal through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

    The need for these workshops was highlighted through our initial representative consultations with members which cited confusion and difficulty in understanding the process associated with NDIS decisions. As a team, we want to ensure we communicate a simplified process of escalating reviews to ensure they are accessible to anyone who is dissatisfied with a decision the NDIS has made.

    We are also continuing to have our regular network forums; we hold our forums every six weeks. These spaces have been really popular, as they give the attendees an opportunity to discuss specific issues with their peers and give an opportunity for information sharing. Our October forum is coming up shortly and will feature discussions around;

    • My Aged Care (for people over 65) and updates on reforms planned for 2024, as well as discussions on the class action lawsuit against the NDIS for this age group.

    • Creating a more accessible community for everyone- including how we can engage with our local councils and support to implement access groups.

    The team want to ensure that representative advocacy is a place for us to engage with our members and cohort and discuss issues that specifically affect people with spinal cord and neurological disabilities.

    We are currently forecasting our activities for the coming year. As a representative team, we want to acknowledge that we believe the success of this program so far has hinged on the amazing feedback from our members and cohort and their willingness to engage with us.

    SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY

  • Accessibility and Air Travel

    Following our recent meeting with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Ben Gauntlett, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Disability Discrimination Commissioner, regarding accessibility at airports and on airlines, we decided to review standards as they apply to other countries and airlines. This will be useful information to take to our upcoming meeting with the Aviation Access Forum which has a wide membership including airline representatives and airports.

    The full paper will form part of this report. However, in summary, Australian airlines Qantas and Virgin are required (and therefore able) to meet far higher standards of service and accessibility to people with disability internationally than they commit to here in Australia. Currently the only way that people with disability flying within in Australia can complain and receive reparation or recompense for failures by airlines and airports to meet their human rights is to prove that they were subjected to direct or indirect discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992. In the US, Canada, UK and EU passengers can lodge a complaint if an airline or airport fails to meet one of their regulatory requirements.

    Read the Air Travel Accessibility – Global Best Practice Report

  • Sydney Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) booking issues

    An SCIA delegation met with Mark Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary to NSW Transport Minister to make him aware of ongoing negative impact on people with disability reliant on wheelchair accessible taxis (WAT) due to the WAT drivers not logging on to the Wheelchair Book and Ride centralised booking system app at the start of a shift which is required to receive and accept bookings.

    Although the SCIA delegation was seeking the NSW Government to offer solutions to address the current situation, Mr Taylor suggested that SCIA undertake a publicity campaign and seek the assistance from corporations and businesses to assist.

    However, around 15 years ago, Macquarie Bank obtained 300 WAT license plates that were used on a fleet of WATs, but SCIA understands these WATs were obtained by Combined Communications Network (now 13 CABS) and the fleet was gradually disbanded.

    SCIA P&A will continue to pursue this issue to various other means and report when updates are available.

  • Access to Autonomous Accessible Public Transport Feedback

    SCIA P&A participated in the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) forum to discuss and provide feedback on the access on an autonomous (driverless) buses operating at the Sydney Olympic Park. The forum included representatives from all disability sector representatives.

    SCIA P&A aims to implement a campaign to try to get the issue addressed in conjunction with current actions to try to get the WAT drivers to be compliant with their WAT license requirements, and NSW Transport being responsible for WAT bookings to have the same response times.

    Meetings

  • Transport for NSW Accessible Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC) meeting – September 14, 2022

    SCIA P&A is represented on the ATAC which meets regularly to address current and emerging access or issues for people with disability using public transport and provides the following meeting report..

    • NSW Opal Public Transport Ticketing System upgrade
    In June 2022 the NSW Government announced funding to implement the Opal Next Generation program to uplift the current Opal public transport ticketing system in NSW. At the recent Accessible Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC) meeting it sought feedback from ATAC representatives related to their current experiences using the Opal public transport ticketing system that are beneficial and provide good outcomes, and the experiences that prove challenging and for which there are changes to improve.

    The program is looking to replace and enhance the current Opal ticketing system with a modern, flexible ticketing solution that improves the customer experience for all public transport customers.

    Further information regarding the announcement is contained within the press release available via the Transport for NSW website

    • Transport for NSW Disability Inclusion Action Plan development
    The ATAC members provided input to the Transport for NSW Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) through 2 separate workshops.

    • Electric skateboards requested to be recognised as a mobility device
    The ATAC members discussed a number of issues including Transport for NSW been contacted by a person with a mobility/ambulant disability seeking electric skateboards to be included as a recognised mobility device.

    Transport for NSW is undertaking a review of this request as it is quite complex due to the e-scooter speed and the need for the rider to wear safety equipment and the potential danger for pedestrians due to the electric skateboards being used on foot paths and their speed.

    There are currently two main types of Motorised Mobility Devices (MMD) used in NSW: motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters which cater to the needs of people with impaired mobility and must comply with vehicle import restrictions including speed limiting to a maximum 10 km/h and are intended to be used on footpaths. In addition, the devices often comply with requirements of the Therapeutic Goods Administration as a medical device.

    A device which resembles an MMD but which is capable of more than 10km/h must be registered to be legally used on a road or road related area in NSW, however to be registered, would have to comply with Australian Design Rules and Light Vehicle Standards Rules. The operator would also need a drivers’ licence and would not be considered a pedestrian or allowed to operate on a footpath.

  • Kate Washington (Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion) and Liesl Tesch (Member for Godford) – September 21, 2022

    SCIA Policy and Advocacy requested the alternative state government’s positions on:

    • The need for increased funding for Advocacy Services in view of the demand placed on our services solely due to NDIS appeals
    • Even though it’s a federal issues we discussed parity in funding for people over 65 and reforms to funding of assistive technology (AT) for people with disability over 65 (ACRC Recommendations 72 & 73)
    • Accessible and affordable accommodation
    • Minimum accessibility standards to the NCC in NSW
    • Wheelchair accessible taxi (WAT) services

    They request additional information:

    • Case studies to substantiate the SCIA P&A position for reforms to WAT services.
    • More information on the circumstances of people in congregated housing. Liesl was particularly interested in the issues resulting from having the same provider responsible for accommodation and supports.
    • Are there vacant Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), and Family and Community Services (FACS) housing that could be used or adapted for accessible housing.

    Submissions

    The SCIA P&A team has almost completed a submission to “A New Model for Regulating Aged Care” – Consultation Paper No. 1. The Australian Government is seeking feedback on the design of a modern and fit-for-purpose regulatory model to underpin the new Act and to support other reforms aimed at providing safe and high-quality care and services for older Australians.
    Among other points of discussion SCIA P&A will be addressing:

    • Assistive Technology
    • Parity in funding for people with disability over 65 with NDIS participants
    • Affordable and accessible housing
    • Restrictive Practices
    • Advocacy and Representation

    Other submissions we are commencing include:
    • Submission to Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on NDIS – Capability and Culture of the NDIS
    • Effectiveness of NDIA management of assistance with daily life

    Letters
    The team continues to write to follow up elected Ministers and Senators. We have received a mixed response from our last round of letters which included newly elected Ministers and Senators. Key Ministers we continue to follow up regularly include:

    • Bill Shorten (Federal)
    • Natasha Maclaren-Jones (NSW)
    • Anika Wells (Federal)
    • Anthony Roberts (NSW)
    • Catherine King (Federal)
    • David Pocock (Federal Senator ACT)

    With a state election in 2023, our strategy to reach out to NSW Shadow Ministers in important portfolios has been more successful. We have secured meetings with:

    • Courtney Houssos (Shadow Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation)
    • Jo Haylen (Shadow Minister for Transport)
    • Kate Washington (Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion)
    • Rose Jackson (Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness)

  • August 2022

    Systemic and Representative Advocacy

    SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY

  • Aged Care Reforms Underway

    Members of the SCIA Policy and Advocacy (P&A) team met with Nick Morgan, Assistant Secretary within the Department of Health on August 29, to discuss the current aged care reforms and development of the new Support at Home program starting in July 2024.

    We put forward the concerns and hopes, and to highlight the need to ensure the new Support at Home program adequately meets the needs of people with spinal cord injuries and similar neurological conditions over the age of 65. SCIA P&A raised concerns about the assessment process and how classifications of support will operate.

    Our Systemic Advocacy team were told there is more to be done to address its concerns as well as there will be further consultation taking place. We will be expressing our views as this develops further.
    Make sure you register on the aged care engagement hub to receive the reform updates.

  • Accessibility Standards to the National Construction Code – Private Housing

    Members of our P&A team met with Jane Standish (Director of Policy and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Victor Dominello) and John Tansey (Executive Director, Policy and Strategy, Better Regulation Division in the Department of Customer Service) on August 24, regarding the Accessibility Standards to the National Construction Code (NCC).

    We discussed the public and social housing crisis due to the lack of affordable and accessible housing, and the impact it is having on people with physical disability. We explained that implementing the minimum accessibility (silver) standards for private housing would be a large part of several initiatives that the NSW Government could take to increase the housing stock in NSW. We asked if there was any likelihood that the NSW Government would adopt the Accessibility Standards in the future.

    SCIA P&A’s views will be taken to a regular meeting of Ministers and executives responsible for changes to the building code as part of a regular review process.

  • Meeting with Senator Jordan Steele-John

    The team met with Senator Jordan Steele-John on August 24. Amongst many things, we discussed:

    • Aged Care Royal Commission Recommendations 72 & 73 – $52,000 cap for people with disability aged over 65
    • Accessible and affordable housing
    • Employment services for people with disability
    • Advocacy funding

    The Senator and the Greens maintain their election policy position which is to remove the age eligibility (currently people under 65) for NDIS participation. The Senator also advocates for Recommendations 72 & 73 at every opportunity and he supports all of the policy positions and initiatives that SCIA P&A is pursuing.

  • Meeting with Advisor to the Minister for Social Services

    On August 10 we met with Jaimee Hunt, Disability and Carers Advisor to Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, MP. We discussed the following issues:

    • Crisis in accessible social and affordable housing
    • People with disability over age 65 and $52,000 cap on funding
    • Data (or lack thereof) and specifically disaggregated data gleaned DSS and other agencies to identify people with disability who need support and aren’t receiving it
    • Advocacy funding
    • The importance of regulating services for people with disability

    SCIA P&A concerns and requests will be shared within the Department of Social Services and other departments.

  • Disability Policy Interagency Meeting

    Greg Killeen, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, attended the Disability Policy Interagency Meeting which discusses a variety of issues that the disability representative organisations are undertaking systemic advocacy to try to address.

  • NSW Taxi Council Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Subcommittee Meeting

    Greg attended the NSW Taxi Council Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) subcommittee. The subcommittee membership includes the Sydney taxi networks, the NSW Point to Point Commission, Transport for NSW and Greg from SCIA P&A, as a community representative/advocate.

    The subcommittee receives reports on:
    • Information and data related to number of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis (WAT) in operation.
    • WAT drivers that are receiving written warnings for not accepting or rejecting WAT bookings
    • Data and any issues related to the rollout of the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme (TTSS) smartcard which is replacing the TTSS paper vouchers

    There are less WATs operating in Sydney post the COVID pandemic but unfortunately there are also often lengthy delays for some passengers getting picked up when booking a WAT with the SCIA Wheelchair Book and Ride (WBR) booking service due to the small number of WAT drivers logging on to the WBR app although the WAT are required to logon as part of their WAT license agreement.

    The subcommittee discussed what options or actions can be taken to get this issue addressed ASAP. These actions include:

    • WAT drivers not able to receive the ‘lifting’ fee ($15) if they don’t logon and accept bookings through the WBR app
    • Suspending WAT drivers if they don’t logon to the WBR app

  • The Disability Support Pension conflict with the NDIS purpose

    It was good news to read in the Sydney Morning Herald that Bill Shorten, MP, Minister for the NDIS, is seeking to review the DSP income test to remove the disincentive to employment for DSP recipients.

    SCIA Policy and Advocacy has been advocating to address the conflict between the NDIS purpose of enhancing the economic opportunities for people with disability and the disincentive for people with disability to undertake paid employment if they are Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients as it results in the DSP being reduced by $0.50 for every $1 (gross) of income earned over the $190 per fortnight means test free threshold, plus the $0.19 income tax for every $1 (gross) earned over $18,200 per annum through employment results in the DSP recipient receiving $0.31 for every $1 earned (gross).

    In addition, the NDIA reports there is a relatively small number of NDIS participants that have employment as a goal in their plans so removing the financial disincentive for DSP recipients will hopefully encourage more NDIS participants to seek employment.

    Note: Great to see reported in this evening news (September to 2022) that the outcome from the Australian Government’s Jobs & Skills Summit will enable pensioners to work more hours without negatively impacting on their pensions. However, the details are yet to be worked out and put into legislation, but will provide the updates when they get released.

  • Accessibility and Air travel

    There have been a number of newspaper articles recently on poor treatment experienced by people with disability travelling by airplanes within Australia.

    Some of our P&A team met with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre to discuss its systemic advocacy work in this area, as well as the AHRC Disability Commissioner, Ben Gauntlett.

    We will be taking this up with the Aviation Access Forum which has a wide membership including airline representatives and airports.

  • Sydney Opera House (SOH) Concert Hall access upgrades and other services and facilities

    Greg Killeen had a personal inspection of the SOH Concert Hall upgrades on August 31, 2022, that were done between February 2020 and August 2022. Greg has been providing information and feedback to the SOH for many years, including contributing to the SOH Access Masterplan.

    The Concert Hall renovation and access upgrades include a lift between the Box Office and the Concert Hall foyer, as well as easier access in and out of the theatre and to and from the increased number of allocated wheelchair spaces and companion seating (5 on the left side and 2 on the right side in the Stalls and 2 allocated spaces on the left side of the Dress Circle boxes which has lift access to get to.

    The stage has been lowered 40 cm that will provide improved sightlines to the performance, and the stage is retractable to decrease its size and has technology that enables two rows of seats to be moved in and out of under this stage electronically.

    A tunnel has been created through a staircase on the left side of the Concert Hall entrance that provides access to the northern foyer where there is lift access between the 3 levels of the northern foyer which has 2 bars and a ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilet with a ceiling hoist and adult change table as well as a view of the Harbour Bridge and harbour. This Changing Places facility is 1 of only 3 available in the Sydney CBD, and people are required to bring their own sling.

    The continuous access improvements are welcomed and provide the opportunity for people with severe physical disability to attend the various performance spaces within this iconic and internationally recognised venue.

  • Submissions

  • Randwick Council Disability Action Plan 2022 – 2026
  • Reports

  • Variations in the way OECD and First World Countries Approach Housing Accessibility report looks at the approach OECD and first world countries are taking to housing accessibility and affordability.

    While most countries are grappling with this issue, Britain, Ireland, and Sweden are committed to finding solutions and initiating policies that are intended to be in the best interests of people with disability.

  • Letters

  • The team continues to write to elected Ministers with letters going out to federal independents. In the last month SCIA P&A has written to:

    • Dr Helen Haines (Indi)
    • Dr Monique Ryan (Kooyong)
    • Dr Sophie Scamps (Mackellar)
    • Kylea Tink (North Sydney)
    • Allegra Spender (Wentworth)
    • Dai Le (Fowler)
    • Kate Chaney (Curtin)
    • Zoe Daniel (Goldstein)
    • Zali Steggall (Warringah)

    To maintain momentum on some issues, i.e. transport accessibility particularly on airlines and airports; Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations 72 & 73; housing; SCIA P&A has written to:
    • Catherine King (Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport);
    • David Pocock (Independent Senator for Canberra)
    • Jacqui Lambie (Tasmanian Senator)
    • Tammy Tyrell (Tasmanian Senator)
    • Natasha McLaren-Jones (NSW Minister for Disability Services)
    • David Elliott (NSW Minister for Transport)
    • Anthony Roberts (NSW Minister for Housing)
    • Victor Dominello (NSW Minister for Fair Trade)

    With a state election in 2023, we believe that now is the time to reach out to NSW Shadow Ministers in important portfolios. SCIA P&A has sent letters to:

    • Courtney Houssos, (Shadow Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation)
    • Jo Haylen (Shadow Minister for Transport)
    • Kate Washington (Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion)
    • Rose Jackson (Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness)

  • REPRESENTATIVE ADVOCACY

    SCIA’s Representative Advocacy team held their first Online Network Forum on August 3. We had an overwhelming response and we were thrilled to have so many people tune in on the day.

    We used it as an opportunity to help guide us in how we can best shape this program and its activities.

    July 2022

    Individual, Systemic and Representative Advocacy

    INDIVIDUAL

  • A young gentlemen in his 20’s with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities and non verbal has been residing in full time out-of-home care with CASPA. He had been experiencing financial abuse of varying levels from his immediate family.

    His mother, and next of kin, has ongoing deteriorating health matters and who herself has multiple disabilities. Our advocate applied for Financial Guardianship through NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) on behalf of the client.

    Hearing date set with Financial Guardianship being granted empowering the client to have his finances protected by the Trustees and Guardian, and in support of his SIL provider to help support the client to manage his finances moving forward.

  • A 33 year old woman with Lupus, Complex PTSD, Sjogren’s Syndrome, unable to leave her home sought our support through Centrelink in accessing the Disability Support Pension (DSP). Our Individual advocate supported the client through each step of the process where she was granted the DSP.
  • SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY

  • The SCIA Systemic Advocacy team continued to participate in roundtables and reviews on Stage 2 Reforms of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT). Click here to read the submission.

    Participants in the DSAPT review, including SCIA, were overwhelmingly in favour of:
    • Regulating the reforms in the DSAPT entirety
    • Mandatory reporting to ensure all public transport operators and providers are compliant with the DSAPT minimum requirements or in the process of becoming compliant.

  • Submission sent to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation against people with disability, Stage 2 Reforms of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and Australian Quality and Safety Commission for Health Services which is reviewing the Diagnostic Imaging Accreditation Standards highlights the negative impact on people with physical disability, particularly wheelchair users, due to the lack of hoist, slings and height adjustable tables to access diagnostic imaging services such as CTs, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasounds and mammography equipment, as well as the lack of weight measuring scales needed for people having some scans.

    Read SCIA’s submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
    Read SCIA’s submission to the Australian Quality and Safeguards Commission diagnostic imaging review

  • Consultations and Advocacy continues regarding Recommendations 72 & 73 of the Aged Care Royal Commission and development of the new Support At Home program to replace CHSP and Home Care Packages, and further reforms to the aged care sector.

    • As part of a disability sector representatives coalition SCIA P&A met with Senator Jordan Steele-John

  • Other meetings arranged for the coming month include:

    • Meeting with Jaimee Hunt – Disability and Carers Adviser to Minister for Social Services
    • Representatives from NSW Minister for Fair Trading, Victor Dominello, requesting he reconsider regulating Accessibility Standards for National Construction Code for all housing.
    • SCIA P&A participated in the monthly disability interagency meeting of which there are approximately 20 disability sector representatives attending who highlighted a number of issues and actions they are undertaking to address them including:
    • Vision Australia lodging a Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) class-action to have I-Vote (online voting) remain an option for people with disability

    There was general discussion about:
    • The historic lack of accessible public and social housing to meet the needs for people with disability
    • Inequity of the NDIS eligibility criteria excluding people who acquire a disability after the age of 65 who only have to the Home Care Packages with a maximum Level 4 $52,000 per annum.

  • In addition, SCIA Systemic Advocacy sent letters to Federal Ministers for NDIS, Health, Aged Care and Social Services request for meeting calls, emails and letters have been sent to Federal Minister for Transport, NSW Minister for Transport, NSW Minister for Disability Services, NSW Minister for Housing, NSW Minister for Fair Trading.

    REPRESENTATIVE ADVOCACY

    SCIA’s Representative Advocacy team is getting ready for the first Online Network Forum on August 3.

    We have already had a large registration response and we’re excited to talk about disability rights, inclusion and how we can help move disability equality forward.

    This will be the start of regular Forums and Workshops, topics of which will be dictated by our community.

    The discussion will include:

  • 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 
  • June 2022

    Representative and Systemic Advocacy

    REPRESENTATIVE 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 .

  • SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY

  • 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

    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

    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.

    INDIVIDUAL ADVOCACY

    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

    ALSTONVILLE/TWEED HEADS

    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.

    SYDNEY

    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

    ALSTONVILLE/TWEED HEADS

    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.

    SYDNEY

    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.