Friday, January 19, 2018
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Recent submission to the review of the ACT adoption process

As we are beginning to steadily tap louder on the door of child protection issues, we have submitted our latest submission to contest the review of the ACT adoption process. The ACT Government has created a Cross-Directorate Domestic Adoption Taskforce, which has been formed to make recommendations regarding the domestic adoption process to ensure that children and young people are placed in permanent and stable homes. They had requested open recommendations to find out how the ACT adoption process is working out over the past 12 months with its changes to legislation for Out of Home Care. What the process is really about is lessening the ‘burden’ of numbers of children currently in Out of Home Care (OOHC) and placing them with permanent families. It all looks rosy from the outside – BUT! When you are facing a parent with disability, who has had their child taken into custody and then been given a long-term (to 18 years of age) order, the reality is looking grim. Particularly if that parent had not been given the opportunity to learn or develop their parenting skills like any other parent; if they had not provided consent to the adoption in the first instance by law or are denied the opportunity to appeal and consent; had not received appropriate legal or advocacy representation when facing child protection authorities, and being presumed unfit to parent just because they have a disability and do not fit in the ‘normal-society-member’ box. We do not support the adoption of children of parents with disabilities in the ACT, before appropriate support has been offered to the parent as a first response to any concerns raised about their parenting. Presently, a safeguard between the interests of the child and their parents has been built on inaccurate assumptions regarding parental incapacity, the lack of appropriate family supports, predictions of the likelihood of future neglect and harm to children in a risk-averse society. Core Recommendation: Actions should be taken immediately to ensure the rights of parents with disabilities and their children in new adoption changes. Check out our submission here in Word or PDF format: Follow our Twitter: @Adv4I_Policy
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The COAG summit on violence against women

On 28 October I attended the COAG summit on violence against women in Brisbane. This ground breaking summit brought together Australia’s heads of government with experts across a range of disciplines addressing violence against women. I was invited to attend by the ACT government to represent women with disabilities. 


Each state and territory invited key non-government experts in their jurisdiction to attend. The Federal, ACT and Queensland governments invited 1 woman with disability each, so there were 3 women with disabilities present within the 190 delegates to the summit. 


Women with disabilities experience half of the reported cases of violence against women in the ACT (ABS) and this level is similar across all jurisdictions. Yet only 3 women with disabilities were invited to attend the summit, and disability was buried within a discussion group looking at diverse experiences of violence which included violence against men. Despite feeling marginalised and silenced I worked closely with long-time colleague Carolyn Frohmader of Women with Disabilities Australia to put the many concerns of women with disabilities on the table and to have them considered as solutions were proposed.


The summit commenced with each first minister outlining what measures had been undertaken in their state/territory to address violence against women. Most governments focus exclusively on domestic violence rather than the broader issue of violence as outlined in CEDAW obligations. Violence against women with disabilities combines both gender based violence with disability violence and discrimination, what is known as multiple disadvantage or intersectionality, and is often outside legal definitions of domestic violence so women with disabilities are often forgotten or marginalised by government policies. This unfortunately happened again at the COAG summit although we succeeded in having some key conversations with influencers, including some state premiers, about what needs to be done to address this. 


During the summit the third action plan to address violence against women was launched. These action plans are the implementation strategies for the National Action Plan which is now in its sixth year. Women with disabilities are one of four key priority areas for the National Plan, but once again little has been outlined to meaningfully address the levels of violence experienced by them. There is stronger language in the third action plan, but there is still no real commitment by the federal government to back this with action.


Until violence against women with disabilities is considered a high priority issue and is addressed specifically by government policies, the levels of violence will remain high. No government in Australia has yet made this commitment or outlined strategies, except Victoria which held a royal commission into the violence experienced by people with disabilities and is now implementing its recommendations.


Christina Ryan attended the COAG violence against women summit with funding support from the ACT government.

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The role of ongoing Self Advocacy support in recognising abuse and violence.

The topic of women with disability being exposed to violence has been one of our key discussion topics over the past 12 months in our Self-advocacy groups.

Statistics show that women with disability are more likely to experience more severe violence, more often, over a longer period of time than women without a disability.

Many women are often unaware of how to seek help and support and are actively prevented from doing so. Often violence and abuse is not recognized by the woman experiencing it.

As well as discussing violence and abuse, the Self advocates have also given feedback used to develop resources.

The resources are in easy and plain English and help people identify what abuse and violence looks like, specifically for people with disability. We have also developed resources of  what help and supports are available.

Recently, one of the Self advocates disclosed to the group an incident involving violence.

It was heartwarming to see other self-advocates provide peer support, by recognizing and validating the experience and making suggestions of what local supports may be of use.

Twelve months ago, it would have been unlikely that the incident would have been recognized as violence and the behavior involved would have been minimized and normalized.

This scenario speaks volumes about the supportive dynamic of the group and the increasing self-advocacy skills that are being developed both individually and in a group setting.

Find out more about our Self-advocacy gorups: Self-Advocacy Group

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Everyone’s vote is equal no matter who you are

The title of this blog is a quote from one of our self-advocates from our self-advocacy plus group held on Monday. 

With the ACT Election now less than a week away, we had Marie from the Elections ACT office come in and join us as a guest speaker.

There were numerous questions from where and how to vote, pre-voting and voting by mail.

Our self-advocates posed questions about the new electorates in Canberra and how and why the electorates were changed.

There was lots of discussion about why we vote and members shared points that are of importance to them and how to see what the parties are representing for this election.

Following this, some members stated they would be interested in the possibility of running for Parliament themselves in the future. Again the group became a great platform for members to share their experiences and educate others.


The next Self-advocacy Plus group is on 14 November 

B2ap3 Medium IMG 0064

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Disability Rights analysis for ACT Election

Advocacy for Inclusion works on the frontline with Canberra’s most marginalised and isolated people with disabilities. People seek our assistance with advocacy when they are in crisis or facing insurmountable barriers to achieving an outcome. Often they experience violence, abuse, interactions with legal processes, or have had their children taken into care. Many are living in arrangements not of their choosing.


There are very few specialist disability services to respond to the people we work with. In most cases there are none. There are no disability led initiatives across most of the areas that we work, which means people with disabilities facing severe discrimination and marginalisation are forced to rely on generic mainstream services, usually with no staff who are people with disabilities. In the future this lack of specialist, disability led, responses must change so that people with disabilities can begin to address our own disadvantage and marginalisation.


The work of Advocacy for Inclusion centres on the issues that we see every day as part of our frontline advocacy work. The issues we raised with the major parties are not isolated, rather they are the most common issues raised by our consumers. Many of these issues are longstanding as they have never received specific attention by policy makers or government.


This ACT election we had hoped to see this lack of response change. We sought commitments from the major parties on disability rights that the ACT has committed to implement through the ACT Human Rights Act and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

To understand what the major parties intended we interviewed their disability spokespeople, Veronica WensingAndrew Wall and Chris Bourke. The videos of those interviews are available on our YouTube channel.


The responses to the commitments we have sought have been varied. All parties spoke of the need to consult directly with people with disabilities, and all have outlined consultative mechanisms in one form or another. It is disappointing that none would commit to those mechanisms being solely made up of people with disabilities. The continuing insistence on diluting our voices is not something any other minority group is expected to withstand, yet people with disabilities must expect that others are considered to be more expert in matters that concern us.


Advocacy for Inclusion has worked for over 6 years to achieve guardianship law reform in the ACT and is very pleased that all parties have committed to taking the current review process forward beyond the election. This issue is far too important to be subject to parliamentary terms and must continue. The Review Report was released during the caretaker period but carries significant progressive reform recommendations. We look forward to working with the new government to continue the process of implementing CRPD Article 12 in the ACT.


We were also pleased to gain a commitment from the Greens and Canberra Liberals to inquire into current child protection systems. Although neither committed to an independent inquiry focussing solely on the removal of children from parents with disabilities, both parties have committed to inquiries where this issue will be examined – for the first time in Canberra. It is disappointing that ACT Labor still fails to recognise the severity or scale of this issue for parents with disabilities.


Advocacy for Inclusion has high exposure to the justice system and legal frameworks given that over half of the ACT prison population is people with disabilities, mainly with cognitive disabilities. We welcome the commitment of both ACT Labor and the ACT Greens to develop a Disability Justice Strategy. We look forward to progressing this with the new government, and we continue to work with the Canberra Liberals to improve understanding of the urgent need to address this area of policy.


Finally, we failed to gain commitments in 2 key areas of disability rights policy: no major party is currently prepared to commit to amending the domestic violence law so that people with disabilities have equal access to using the law, and the supports available through it, when they experience domestic violence. Additionally, no major party was prepared to commit to ending the reliance on congregate living for people with disabilities in the ACT despite the recommendations of the United Nations, strong evidence of the lack of safety, and the continuing lack of choice such environments present.


Thank you to the major party spokespeople for participating in our interview process. Advocacy for Inclusion looks forward to continuing our work with all of you following the 15 October 2016 election. 


Christina Ryan


Chief Executive Officer


Interview with Greens spokesperson for disability Veronica Wensing -


Interview with Liberal Shadow Minister for Disability Andrew Wall MLA -


Interview with Labor Minister for Disability Chris Bourke MLA -

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Mother's Self-advocacy Group

          “Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I can’t be a good mother’’      

This statement was made by a mother at this month’s Mothers Group.   This comment was a thought that the entire group did identify with. The mothers group is a place where you can come and talk in safe and friendly atmosphere about child protection issues. Your children maybe in care or living with you.

We finally had our first session in our new training room. Everyone was excited at having our own space, in a familiar accessible location. It was a great group with two new members joining us this week.

The Group has been running for six months, with numbers steadily increasing despite the barriers faced by some of the mothers around childcare, transport and organisation of support workers. The group gives mothers a forum to discuss matters that are important to them.

One mother commented that “having a disability makes people not believe me”. This group has provided an opportunity for her to meet with like-minded mothers going through similar situations, to support each other.

Members of the group have said that they are finding the group to be supportive, informative and a place to be heard. The group have asked for the session to be extended with the view to increase the frequency of the sessions. 

With the ACT Election fast approaching we had discussions about the matters affecting the members. The mothers took the opportunity to voice what they would like to see changed. These views were filmed and will be taken to the Party Leaders before the Election. 

Next group: Tuesday 18 October 2016 at 11am.

More information 

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Final Guardianship Report has arrived!

Followers of Advocacy for Inclusion would remember that in 2015, Advocacy for Inclusion had submitted a submission to the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council to urge that people with disabilities remained in control of how they wish to engage in support for their decision making.


It has finally arrived! Advocacy for Inclusion have been eagerly awaiting the completion of the report for ACT Guardianship arrangements for adult people with disabilities since 2014.


The report is not disappointing, yet it will prove interesting in how law reform will support the Supported Decision Making Act. The recommendations that have been highlighted by the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council have demonstrated that enough is known to commence a legislative reform process. The process will see changes of legislation apply to all relevant civil legislation in the ACT as well as changing other legislation.


It has been a long road since Advocacy for Inclusion has argued for major changes in both the laws of guardianship, how it works in our society and in practice. The importance for individuals with disabilities to make their own decisions is paramount and is stepping closer to being fully in line with international human rights law, and specifically the standards contained in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).



Follow us on Twitter:@Adv4Inclusion  and  @Adv4I_Policy

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Catching up with the AFI team

After three months long service leave its been wonderful to spend time catching up with the Advocacy for Inclusion team at the weekly team meeting.

Today we’ve focussed on our purpose and our continuing work to collect the stories of our consumers, self-advocates and members.

As we move to a more justice based focus in our work the team has been building stronger relationships in the legal community and at the ACT Prison.

We are very stretched but making a big difference to highly marginalised people who need advocacy assistance. Advocacy for Inclusion is heavily into ACT Election mode.

Our policy team is ensuring that all parties are aware of our Election Priorities. We are currently interviewing the major parties to understand what commitments they will make on disability rights, and how they plan to ensure equality of access to justice and the law for people with disabilities.

Watch for the interviews on our YouTube channel, and keep an eye on the election page of this website.

The Self-advocacy Team have made major gains in the confidence of the self-advocates to be able to tell their stories. I’m really looking forward to hearing some of them for the very first time.

Many of our self-advocates have never had the opportunity to tell their story or be heard with respect. It’s very powerful to hear and I thank them for their trust and confidence in us.


Christina Ryan Chief Executive Officer

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Disability Rights Law Centre Networking Night with Special guest Graeme Innes

Our first event for the Disability Rights Law Centre was held on Monday 27 June. 

Patron of the Law Centre and former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, spoke to a full house at Smith's Alternative about his experiences of inclusion, advocating for himself and his new book "Finding a Way"


"Inclusion isn't going to come to us: we have to go out and get it"

Graeme spoke passionately about inclusion being everybody's responsibility, and that we would not have an inclusive society until people with disabilities are included and attitudes change. 


“The broader community works consciously and unconsciously to exclude us. Barriers are constantly erected to keep us out… and the attitude barrier, where you exclude us with the soft bigotry of low expectations.” 

 Graeme kindly took questions from the crowd which ranged from the approach to language, the use of quotas and his thoughts on accessible working environments. 


We would like to thank everyone who supported Advocacy for Inclusion on the night. We would also like to give a special mention to our Board, Nigel and his staff at Smith’s Alternative, Mel our Self-advocate, and especially Graeme Innes for his time and insight. 

You can view the entire event on youtube - 

Subscibe to our mailing list to find out about forthcoming events

Graeme Innes at Smiths Alternative


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Sabotaging the NDIS

Until recently Australia Post held the trophy for the most outstanding example of corporate self-sabotage in Australia when it increased its costs while reducing its postal service outcomes. Australians have been turning away in droves, a not surprising response to such a business model.


Now, however, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has made a play for the outstanding self-sabotage trophy by making access to the Scheme so unwieldy that recipients are unable to use it. Particularly those who want to self-manage their NDIS package so that it can be more flexible in meeting their needs.


The NDIS is built on the principle of control and choice. Recipients are intended to have a level of control over their disability supports – choice of who they engage, freedom to design innovative combinations of supports, when and how they use supports – within the context of their approved plan. For many it will be the first time they have had any opportunity to choose their provider, or their support person, or the level and mix of support to achieve their goals. For many more it will be the first time they have accessed the level of support they need to achieve dignity and independence as a person with relatively high support needs. A 2009 AIHW report identified that more than half of people with high disability support needs had access to less than half the supports they needed.


Three years in some systemic failings are becoming clear. Most notable of these is that the central tenet of control and choice is seriously under threat. Some would argue that it is being deliberately undermined by vested interests and by government interference. Others would cynically suggest that the Scheme was always designed to act as it now is, and that control and choice was simply rhetoric used to silence the disability movement.


The most concerning threat is to self-management as a concept. Recently, when asking numerous self-managing NDIS recipients about their experience some disturbing information emerged: without exception every single person was considering abandoning their self-management as it is overly bureaucratic to the point of being overbearing. Additionally, most had not implemented the majority of their plan, rather they had focussed on one or two key supports and the rest had sat there unused because it was too complex and bureaucratic to get it all underway.


Read the full article Sabotaging the NDIS

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Forced cohabitation is not "companionship" or "inclusion"

It seems bizarre to have to spell this out, but it is apparently necessary: forcing a person with disability to live with another person with disability is not “inclusion” or a form of “companionship”.


Advocacy for Inclusion is currently working on a number of cases where NDIS participants who are going through the planning process are being pressured by the NDIA planner to cohabit with another person with disability. Both participants are currently living alone and are very happy living alone. However, the NDIA planner is insisting that the person with disability should live with another person with disability as this is more “inclusive”.


What if they get lonely? Who will be their friend? – these are the sorts of questions the NDIA is asking. The NDIA staff referred our advocate to Operational Guidelines; specifically to the principle of supporting people with disabilities “to be included in the community as fully participating citizens” to back their approach.


Inclusion means genuine access to and participation in the community on an equal basis with non-disabled people. It means having access to accommodation options on an equal basis to the non-disabled community, which is a fundamental human right. Companionship involves freely given relationships with family, friends and other community members, and perhaps mutually chosen housemates. Real companionship cannot be forced onto people – it is something that evolves organically.


It should go without saying that inclusion and companionship does not mean being pressured into a permanent living arrangement with a stranger with disability against your will, based on an extremely outdated and oppressive assumption that if you’re a person with disability, you are better off being grouped together with other disabled people to live, work and be educated.  With the control and choice principles underpinning the NDIS, how is this being misunderstood by NDIA staff?


The issue is quite clearly not about “inclusion” or “companionship” but about the functional purpose of pooling funds; that is, cost cutting. When two or more people with disabilities are accommodated together and share their supports, they generally require a smaller funding package each as it can be pooled and the support workers shared. The pre-NDIS block funding model forced people into these arrangements, because the funding was attached to service providers rather than to individuals, and there was significantly less funding available in general for disability supports. The NDIS is meant to revolutionise this not pour funding into holding up the old broken system, which left people with disabilities excluded, marginalised and at risk of harm.


Forced cohabitation promotes unhealthy and at times violent relationships. When people have no control over their living arrangements they can become trapped and exposed to violence for extended periods. It is misleading and unethical to pressure disabled people into cohabitation and call it “inclusion”, because it is very much the opposite. It is a human rights breach and a form of small scale institutionalisation, which is exactly what the NDIS is meant to move away from.


This is a hugely concerning issue, which from what we hear from our colleagues interstate may be emerging as a pattern across the trial sites for people with high disability support needs. Our advocate continues to negotiate with the NDIA alongside our consumers to secure support for them to live in the arrangement of their choosing.


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Guest Blog: Tom Kesina - Towards World Class Inclusion

As February comes to an end, we are pleased to present a Guest blog from Tom Kesina who is the 2016 Disabilities Officer at the ANU Student Association, running Disabilities Student Association.  His story was recently featured on Faces of ANU.  

In keeping with February’s theme of education for #disabilitydisrupt, we asked Tom to shed some light on the barriers faced by university students with disabilities:  


Towards World Class Inclusion

 After coming to terms with my own disability, I started to think more deeply about the ways that my disability affected the way I studied, and the way I interacted with the entity known as the ANU.

Looking back, I’ve had the privilege of dealing with the ANU’s fantastic Access & Inclusion unit, which draws up plans detailing reasonable adjustments for students registered with it.

I’ve also interacted with the ANU Counselling Centre, which has been an excellent resource for me when I needed to go and have a chat with someone. I’ve also made use of the Academic Skills & Learning Centre, which has been invaluable in learning how to navigate the maze of assessment and gaining the time management skills that being a student requires.

Below I will talk about three things the ANU could work towards to ensure that the experience of students with disability at ANU is world class. These include; implementing a Disability Action Plan, properly resourcing the Counselling Centre, and improving campus accessibility.


1. Implementing a Disability Action Plan

A Disability Action Plan (DAP) is a document produced by an institution that outlines how it plans to eliminate discrimination against people with disability in terms of the services it provides. DAPs from other universities include measures such as disability awareness training targets for staff. Unfortunately, none of this is happening at the ANU, and that’s got to change. It is deeply disappointing that the ANU is one of the only Group of Eight universities not to have a current DAP or equivalent, particularly given the last ANU DAP expired four years ago.


2. Properly resourcing the Counselling Centre

Tertiary students have higher rates of mental ill health than the average population, and so it’s essential to have a properly resourced Counselling Centre. At the ANU, it is not uncommon for waiting times for appointments to be three to four weeks. I can’t repeat this enough - this is not the fault of the Counselling Centre. This is a direct result of the lack of resourcing provided by the university. Until recently, the Centre did not even have an accessible entrance for students who are wheelchair users. Renovations were conducted, but only because the Students’ Association stepped in and arranged the funding.


3. Improving campus accessibility

The last campus-wide access audit was carried out over fourteen years ago. This means that we don’t have an accurate picture of how accessible the campus is overall, and unfortunately certain ANU resources reflect this. Take ANU’s list of teaching and learning equipment. At the moment, it has a checkbox for ‘fully accessible’ but there’s no definition of what this means. Although the Union Court redevelopment might obviate the need for an audit of that area, that does not mean the rest of campus because as accessible as it could be.

These are just some of the issues facing students with disability at ANU today. The ANU provides great support services for students with disability, but it has the capacity to do better.


Tom Kesina

ANUSA Disabilities Officer

ANU Students' Association

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5 Things I have learnt

My name is Rachel and I have officially been a Training Officer at Advocacy for Inclusion for six weeks today! Although nobody bought me a cake, the last six

weeks have been some of the most rewarding work I have done in my career and I am grateful to join such a strong team of women.  

The training team had a huge month. We ran a group for women with disabilities, supporting them while they navigate the difficult landscape of rights and their children.

We had a self-advocacy plus public speaking group for adults with disabilities who are learning how to speak up for themselves, their rights and to share the things they enjoy in life.

We visited a local mental health facility, holding weekly groups supporting adults with disabilities to make informed choices and decisions. This of course includes manoeuvring the NDIS and all that trickiness.

Finally, we had a few individual group home visits with remarkable men and women with disabilities that include everything from dancing to punk music and learning the difference between assertiveness and aggression. 

This month at Advocacy for Inclusion we have focused on education for our #DisabilityDisrupt campaign and I have certainly learnt a giant amount about education and disability thus far. I know I am just on the edge of this topic and there is so much more to learn.


 Here are a few things I have learnt in the last month -

1)    Respect and honesty should always go hand in hand

2)    Every person with a disability has the right to education - how that looks should be individual

3)    Never underestimate the power of music and dance - learning can be fun

4)    Just because someone is having a bad day, never give up on them

5)    To not leave my bags on the floor and my chair 3M from my desk



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Students with disabilities - disrupting the barriers to education

This month our newly launched #DisabilityDisrupt campaign is focused on education.   

Under Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Australia has obligations to ensure inclusive education is available to all children.

In January, the Senate Education and Employment References Committee released its Report on Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability. The Committee examined the huge barriers and difficulties that students with disabilities face in accessing education in Australia. During the Inquiry, hundreds of people and organisations from across Australia contributed evidence and shared their stories through submissions and public hearings.

Access to education can vary greatly depending on 

-          the financial means of individuals and their families;

-          geographical location;

-          cultural background (with particular challenges facing students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds); and

-          the culture of the school.

The practice of schools find ways of unofficially excluding students (dubbed “gatekeeping”) serves to further discriminate against and isolate children with disabilities and their families. The Committee found that far more needs to be done to enforce the law prohibiting the prevention of enrolment of students. (See this short article on The Conversation)

Another problem identified was the “systemic culture of low expectations” that often results in children with disabilities receiving “babysitting” rather than meaningful education that prepares them for a valued and productive adult life. (See this article in the Courier Mail and this column in the Sydney Morning Herald)

Further, it was established that there is widespread ignorance of the Disability Standards for Education 2005, formulated under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. These standards set out the legal obligations of education and training providers in relation to providing access and making reasonable adjustments to assist students with disabilities to participate.

The use of restrictive practices (such as physical restraint or isolation in separate rooms) was strongly condemned by the Committee. The lived experience of violence, abuse and neglect in schools was explored in another recent Senate Inquiry.  

There are huge costs to students and families, and ultimately to the broader Australian community in failing to educate students with disabilities in their school years.  The Senate Committee recommends that the government make funding commitments on the basis of need, according to the Gonski Review, and work cooperatively to establish a national strategy to improve the education of students with disability.

All students need access to real learning  - and Australia is currently failing in its human rights obligations to ensure inclusive education is available to all.

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Disability Disarupt logo

It’s time to change the way disability is talked about and stereotyped.


Let’s disrupt the assumptions about what disability is and isn’t, what people with disabilities can and can’t do, how it should be spoken about, and who should do the talking.


It’s time to set our own rules!


Let’s disrupt the systems that oppress us, and the current thinking about how our world should be structured. Let’s disrupt who makes policy and how governments plan for disability.


We want to disrupt the way disability is talked about, who does the talking and what the disability community gets to speak about.


Join in.


Each month #disabilitydisrupt will focus on a different topic, but it’s up to you to after that. You can email, tweet, blog, post, or whatever works for you. Share an article, quote someone, have an opinion, paint a picture to share, send a photo. Just use #disabilitydisrupt to be part of the conversation.


We’ll start by talking education, and focus on desegregation.


Join in the conversation by using #Disabilitydisrupt 


Join our mailing list to get regular updates and the monthly roundup. Make sure you don’t miss out -


Do you want to DISRUPT the disability conversation?


Email or tweet us with your suggested topic, or just start your own thread.


Have a lot to say on a #DisabilityDISRUPT topic?


Contact or email Email us if you are:

·        An organisation – talk about your work

·        An expert/professional in the area – would you like to contribute a guest article?

·        A Self-advocate – tell us what you think




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Annual General Meeting - a new board

The 2015 Advocacy for Inclusion Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 17 November at the Griffin Centre.


The meeting elected a new board, launched some wonderful videos of our Self-advocates made by Erindale College students, and farewelled some longstanding board members. It was also a great opportunity for an end of year catch up.


The AGM also received the Annual Report for 2014-15.


The new Board is:


Jenni Vincent – Chair

John Koulouris – Treasurer

Ian Tunstall – Committee member

Sue Carbone – Committee Member

Jane Flanagan – Committee Member

Karen Connaughton – Committee member


The board will nominate a deputy chair at its first meeting.


Thanks so much to Dwayne Cranfield, Vincent McCormick, Melissa Guilfoyle, Dougie Herd and Kathryn Rodwell who have all stepped down from the board after many years of outstanding commitment. We shall miss you.



 I can look after myself better than anybody elseAFI team


Dwayne Cranfield chairSelf-advocate




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Representation, consultation and leadership: The right of people with disabilities to participate in legislative and policy decision-making processes

In August, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities released a Questionnaire focused on “the right of persons with disabilities to participation in decision-making” – that is, decision making at a legislative, policy or organisational level, through consultation, engagement and involvement, either directly or through representative organisations.

Disability organisations are recognised in the National Disability Strategy as “essential in promoting the rights of people with disability”.  Despite the UN Committee recommending (in their Concluding Observations in 2013) that Australia “take initiatives to increase the resources available for independent organisations of persons with disabilities” the scarce amount of funding allocated for representative organisations has been substantially reduced by the Federal Australian government. Independent advocacy, including self-advocacy training, is crucial to ensuring all people with disabilities can actively contribute to and participate in decision making processes, yet continues to be grossly underfunded. There has also been a failure to incorporate the perspectives of people with disabilities through their appointment within government and in other leadership positions.

In our ACT Budget Submissions, Advocacy for Inclusion has consistently raised concerns, and made recommendations, about the lack of representation by people with disabilities at both the local and national level. Additionally, we have provided governments with expertise on how to improve their engagement and involvement of people with disabilities at all levels including leadership.

In our Reply to the Special Rapporteur we underlined the need for governments to commit to leadership and decision making by people with disabilities, including through the commitment of resources. Until this commitment is made disabled people’s representative and advocacy organisations will continue to be called upon to retrofit and adjust policies and program development with their scarce resources. While some improvements have been made, they exist due to ad hoc processes. There is no current systemic commitment to ensure consistent and meaningful engagement and representation in line with the expectations of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We look forward to reading the resulting study, to be presented at the 31st session of the Human Rights Councilin March 2016. 

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What's been happening in Self-advocacy?

A lot has happened in the last six months and there are more exciting changes to come!

Wednesday Self-Advocates group will be moving back to the Griffin Centre next week. The decision was made to make this move to make it more accessible to the people living on the North side of Canberra; and to make it more centralised. We would like to thank the lovely staff at Woden Community Services for their use of the community room, and help for the past eight months.

In our time at Woden, over many sessions we have had a diverse range of topics and speakers. Here are just a few of the interesting we had; ACT Capital Metro to come and hear the Self-Advocates thoughts on the light rail, ACT Policing to discuss safety issues and one of our past Self-Advocates come to the group to talk about her experience in safely travelling around Australia. We have also had sessions discussing privacy, voting, money management, health and even planning holidays.

We will be starting in September with the "Everyday Self-Advocacy", a month of how self-advocacy skills can be used in everyday situations. Amanda will be facilitating the group, and everyone is welcome to come and meet some new friends and learn about Self Advocacy for people with a disabilities. The group will be held every Wednesdays in Room 4, Level 1, Griffin Centre, 1pm-3pm.

Then at the same time we will be asking for expressions of interest for the Self-Advocacy Plus group. That will meet once a month and discuss their opinions about everyday concerns and learn more about other aspects of Self-advocacy. This group will be for anyone that feels that they want a challenge and to expand their self-advocacy skills. We hope to make this group fun and educational, expression of interest close the 2nd September 2015.

For more information about our Self-Advocates Group, please check out


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Picture above: Self-advocates ask questions about policing and safety matters to Sgt.Brett Cunningham 

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Self-Advocacy Special Group Meeting 11th December 2014 - NDIS Pre-planning Workshop


Special Group Meeting

11th December 2014 1:00-2:30pm


NDIA are running an
NDIS Pre-planning Workshop

Meeting: 12:30pm Advocacy For Inclusion
(we will walk and bus to venue)


1pm at 212 Northbourne Ave, Braddon

RSVP required to Sharon 6257 4005 or

Please RSVP as soon as possible

This event may be cancelled if
we don’t have enough people RSVP, limited places!

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Supported Decision Making App - Crowdfunding Campaign Update


Thanks everyone who has supported the Supported Decision making App! 

We are 15 days out from our campaigns end and so far we have raised $885. 

We are still along way from our goal so please share. 


What is the Supported Decision Making App? 

The Supported Decision-Making App is a tool to aid people with disabilities to make decisions with or without support from others.

Everybody draws on support to make decisions. For example, you might ask your partner for advice when making decisions about your career, or even aboutwhat dinner you feel like having tonight.

Some people with disabilities need extra support. This might be because they have a cognitiveimpairment and need extra help to weigh up the options. It might also be because they have nothad much practice making decisions. For example, we know that the pre-NDIS disability supportsystem does not offer people with disabilities options to choose from. In this system people withdisabilities get what they are given. Many now have significant decisions to make about theirsupports as they enter the NDIS, which they have never experienced before.

 The Supported Decision-Making App is designed to aid a person with disability through the decision-making process, inside or outside a supported decision-making arrangement. Supported decision-making is a community based skills building model of support. The person with disability nominates trusted others to support them to gather and consider the information necessary to make decisions in their lives. This is different to traditional guardianship models where a person is legally assigned to the person with disability to make decisions on their behalf.

For example, the App will prompt the person to consider the significance of the decision in their lives, what their options are and what the outcomes might be of each option, and who else their decision might involve or impact.

The App will not give the person with disability any answers or make a decision for the person with disability.

It provides prompts to step the person with disability through the things they might like to consider when making decisions.

It can be used as a workbook, where the decision-maker records relevant information to help them work through various aspects of their decision. This App aims to aid the decision making skills of those using it, developing the ability of people to make and communicate decisions with more independence and confidence

 Find our campaign here: Supported Decision Making App

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