Get To Know Your Team
Policy and Advocacy Monthly Update
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individual, Family and Systemic Advocacy
This month, our Alstonville/Tweed Heads team had a successful NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) application for NSW Trustee Financial Management Order at the request of a client with disability.
Previously, our client and the family had been under the NSW Trustee Private Managers Team who provided him with positive supported financial decision making to manage his Disability Support Pension (DSP). He had expressed that he was unable to independently manage his finances and had requested this additional support.
At the time of the review it was decided amongst all parties (client and family) that they would remove the formal financial support and start informal financial supports via his family. This was due to the inability to afford the fee of the formal supports.
Unbeknown to all parties, informal financial support that is led by family means that the decision makers don’t have legal rights on that individual’s bank account. Client had been restricted by the family and issued him a personal budget of $1.00 a day, occasionally increasing so he can go out for a meal once in a while.
The family reasoned that the restrictiveness was due to the health of the client and they were only looking out for the client’s wellbeing.
Our advocacy team in Tweed Heads attempted contact with the family with no response.
The NCAT pointed out informal financial supported decision-making cannot have their names on an individual’s bank account and there is no legal right to force an individual to make a lifestyle change by restricting their budget as it’s a personal choice that requires an individual change.
Informal supports were removed and our client is currently placed under NSW Trustee Financial Management Order meaning he now receives a personal spending budget of $150.00 per week which is a huge difference for someone’s self-esteem and personal freedom.
It is an unusual situation for someone to have a better financial experience relying on the NSW Trustee Financial Management Order rather the informal supports. However, personal financial freedom was unattainable under the informal supports given.
This situation really highlights the vulnerability of people with disabilities when it comes to financial management and the importance of positive financial substitution. Our client’s health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance, but this should be a lifestyle decision made by the client themselves and not a third party against their will.
It also highlights how important it is to speak out on behalf of someone who may not be able to. Our client lives in Supported Disability Accommodation (SDA) and a staff member noticed the issue and flagged it with SCIA.
Our client is now able to go out and integrate with his community, go out to a gig every now and then and live a happier life.
Our individual advocates in Sydney have had some incredible wins this month, supporting people with the National Disability Scheme (NDIS) to get the supports that they need.
Highlights of the month include:
There have been lots of developments on the systemic advocacy front with debate on the NDIS and accessibility.
Policy work this month has included:
If you would like to read further about our policy engagements head to our Policy work, Submissions and Alliances page.
Individual and Systemic Advocacy
We’ve had some great wins this month for advocacy.
A client with a spinal cord injury came to us wanting assistance with an icare dispute which resulted in her support worker’s hours being reduced by half the amount.
We assisted by engaging with all parties via email and over the phone meetings to inform our client of her of her rights and the icare dispute process.
Our intervention resulted in icare agreeing to reinstate the appropriate support worker hours for her current 12 month plan.
Our individual advocates in Sydney have been working hard to ensure that people are being fairly represented.
Highlights for this month include:
We located assistance animal providers with capacity for new clients, most had a waitlist of minimum two years, however one particular provider with capacity helped us design a proposal for the NDIA.
A wonderful and compassionate lawyer helped support us and the client at the AAT conference, and finally as of March this year the NDIS approved funds for a psychological assistance animal.
At the AAT, the DSP was refused on the grounds that the condition had not been “fully treated”. In the interim, we applied for Job Seeker with an exemption due to her medical condition.
After various home visitations, supporting medical documentation and telephone interviews with Centrelink, as well as a Centrelink appointed doctor, our client was successful in receiving the DSP in March 2021, backdated to January 2021.
• Staff were sleeping during a night shift where it is required that support workers must be alert for any emergency
• Support workers speaking over client and making decisions on her behalf
• Items missing
• Support workers dispatched who cannot drive to assist client. This specification has been stated in client’s care plan
• Reports of staff covering surveillance cameras
Fortnightly meetings were taking place with the provider to speak about these and addition issues that were arising, and to plan strategies to ensure duty of care and due diligence.
The provider was reluctant, but after a face-to-face meeting with our client, general manager of the agency and other management we are now successful in having two agencies engaging, with intention of including a third agency, to ensure that one is not dominant.
The Systemic Advocacy team has had another busy month with ongoing challenges surrounding the proposed changes to the NDIS; introduction of the Disability Support for Older Australians Program (DSOA) and possible reforms to the National Construction Code to enforce mandatory minimum accessibility standards. This included:
Individual and Systemic Advocacy
It’s been a busy month for the Advocacy team up here in Alstonville, the year is now in full swing and we’re seeing lots of new advocacy issues coming in!
Our admin wizard, Donna, up here in Alstonville has helped piece together an NDIS Eligibility Toolkit, with some handy hints for you and your health care professionals, aimed at ensuring you tick all the required boxes for access.
We spoke with them, provided some information around what was required, helped them compile the information needed and submit it to the NDIS reviews team. This was submitted within the 100 days the NDIS give you to review a decision.
However, over the course of a couple of weeks, the submission ran over the 100 days without us hearing back from the NDIS. Our advocate called up, explained the situation, but was told that due to it now being outside of 100 days, the review can’t be actioned in our central office.
The review was forwarded to the NDIS Northern team, and our advocate escalated the issue to our contact in the NDIS complaints department. The next day, an NDIS representative called up our client to say they had been successful in being admitted to the scheme! What a great outcome!
If you or someone you know needs help with accessing the NDIS or reviewing a decision they have made, feel free to get in contact and we would love to help out! If you would like to get a copy of the NDIS Eligibility Toolkit fill out our Policy & Advocacy Request Form.
The systemic advocacy team has had a very busy month, focussing our efforts on responding to proposed changes to the NDIS, housing and preparing our 2021 Advocacy Strategy.
Highlights from the month include:
Individual and Systemic Advocacy
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.
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.
We’re currently working on
If you would like to get in touch with our Policy and Advocacy team in Sydney and Northern Rivers, NSW please email us at email@example.com or call us on 1800 819 775.