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Advocacy for Inclusion Blog

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MAR
26

Fabulous guest speakers for Men's Self-advocacy!

Our second last week was a great one with guest speakers from SHFPACT and Canberra Men’s Centre.

Rose and Mel from SHFPACT (Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT) came along to speak with the men about safe relationships. We talked about kinds of relationships and what’s OK in them. We also talked about consent and ways of saying “no” and “yes” to sexual touching, or touching of any kind. We also learned about the services they provide in their clinic including sexual health and contraception.

You can find out more about SHFPACT on their website http://www.shfpact.org.au/ and their disability program here http://www.shfpact.org.au/index.php/community-health-promotion/disability-services-programs

Alastair from the Canberra Men’s Centre spoke with the men about recognising and managing emotions, including anger. One of the men had previously done an Anger Management course with CMC and told us how much it had helped him with remaining calm and dealing with issues.  Alastair also spoke about their services including counselling, accommodation for men at risk of homelessness or in the criminal justice system, and a program for men with disabilities. Find out more about CMC on their website http://www.menscentre.org.au/

Afterward the men commented how interesting they’d found all the information.  Thank you so much to Rose, Mel and Alastair!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about SHFPACT they are holding a morning tea for service providers:

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT - the hard to say acronym!) would like to invite service providers from the ACT and NSW to come along to morning tea on Friday 28 March 2014 from 10.00am - 12.00pm.

We would like to inform people of the services we provide including the clinical, education, disability and training programs we run. Come for a relaxed morning tea, a short presentation, take a tour of the clinic and browse the bookshop for a gem that might help in your work.

We have lots of resources and knowledge to help you understand more about sexual and reproductive health, the development of healthy relationships and a positive sense of self through providing everyone with access to comprehensive and current information.

If you would like to come along and catch up please RSVP to training@shfpact.org.au or call 6247 3077 and ask for the Education Team.

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MAR
25

RE: Is the NDIS actually taking choice away from people with disabilities?

Although the NDIS is about improving control and choice for people with diabilities by introducing individualised funding, some people are upset with the changes. Recently Todd Winther wrote for ABC about his very positive experience living at Youngcare Appartments. He criticised the NDIS for threatening his arrangement by phasing out block funding (where a number of people share a pool of disability support funds):

‘Quite rightly, the government has expressed reservations about giving those with high care needs (and/or their advocates) access to large buckets of money to use at their discretion. Block funding provides the ideal solution to this problem, as long as individuals agree to this choice… the individualised funding model proposed under the NDIS won't work for us.’

 I couldn’t agree more with Mr Winther on the fact that his own living arrangements ought to be his own choice. But in my view, people shouldn’t have to ‘agree’ to a ‘choice’; they should be able to make choice from options on an equal basis with non-disabled people. This is what real choice is about and this is what individualised funding will help achieve.

 Mr Winther implies that it’s not ideal for people with ‘high care needs’ to have individual funds. As Dr George Taleporos has also pointed out, these criticisms might hinder the much needed change happening with the NDIS. It also unnecessarily feeds community fears surrounding the NDIS and reinforces the all too common belief that people with ‘high care needs’ are burdensome and not worthy of the money it might cost to maximise their independence and quality of life.

 I wonder if Mr Winther spoke to each person individually at Youngcare (not ‘or their advocates’, who sound a bit like substitute decision makers in his article) to find out what they actually want? Just because they might want to stay at Youngcare now it doesn’t mean they don’t want autonomy over their support packages or that they won’t change their minds in the future. Regardless of disability support needs, everyone has the right to choose their living arrangements on an equal basis (Article 19 of the UN CRPD).

 The NDIS legislation specifically says that each consumer’s existing networks and supports should be considered. This offers the capacity for individuals transitioning from a block funded arrangement to draw up their own plan with consideration for how their existing living arrangement might enable the continued sharing of supports, if this is indeed what they want to do. The NDIS creates the opportunity for people with disabilities to make these choices. It provides the long overdue alternative to being forced to ‘agree’ with the only option available, which is what happens under the block funded system.

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MAR
13

Independent advocacy is vital to the success of NDIS

Independent advocacy organisations are working hard to ensure a successful launch for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), including here in the ACT which launches on 1 July 2014. Independent advocacy organisations are uniquely placed to understand the pressures and constraints of the NDIS nationally as close to 100% of our consumers will become recipients of the new scheme.

 

No other sector is as exposed to the NDIS as the independent advocacy sector, and no other sector is facing this level of demand as a result. The NDIS will cover approximately 10% of the national disability population, yet the people who the NDIS is targeted at are the same people who need advocates and who look to DANA member organisations for support.

 

Many people with disabilities will actually need advocacy support to even apply for the NDIS and to be able to express their needs and wishes about what their support should look like.

 

Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have also been actively engaged in NDIS preparations yet for most their exposure to the NDIS will be about 10% of their membership as they more closely represent the whole disability population. Of course there are a few who will be different, particularly those who focus on diagnostic groups who have high support needs, but even then it won’t be 100% of their members.

 

The key focus for both sectors (independent advocacy and DPOs) is for the human rights of people with disabilities and equitable access to the NDIS.

 

DANA member organisations, including Advocacy for Inclusion, are already experiencing a large increase in demand for advocacy and are working hard to meet that demand with our scarce resources. We are already a poorly funded sector which struggles to provide as much advocacy as people with disabilities need, and the NDIS is estimated to at least double the current levels of advocacy required.

 

When considering the NDIS advocacy needs of our consumer base it is probable that demand will be even more than double what is currently delivered.

 

Another contribution to the success of the NDIS roll out by advocacy organisations is our role in highlighting where it needs tweaking to work better. Advocates are in the front line when things go wrong or they don’t work as planned. By raising these issues with our peak body, DANA, we can inform the NDIA and government quickly about what might work better or more effectively.

 

We are monitoring some of the areas where the NDIS will make real change, for example, how many packages will include parenting support? Will this make a real difference in the lives of the many women with disabilities who have their children removed into out of home care? We certainly hope so.

 

We expect to see many more people with disabilities involved in the community. This should lead to better mental health outcomes and a drop in the high rate of mental illness amongst those with high support needs.

 

Advocacy for Inclusion is looking forward to making the NDIS a success in partnership with our independent advocacy colleagues around Australia. Our contribution will be large, and exciting, but we embrace the challenge.

 

 

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MAR
12

Local Matters Donation

In January Advocacy for Inclusion participated in Grill'd's Local Matters program.

grill'd local matters jarThis initiative aims to get local groups/charities a greater awareness within the local community by getting diners to  pick, (by placing a token in a jar) 1 of 3 charities/groups that they would like to see go in the running for $300 donation, with the  runners up getting $100.

Advocacy for Inclusion came away with a donation of $100, which will go towards funding our  self-advocacy  course for people with disabilities. 

We would like to thank Grill'd Canberra Centre for their lovely service and support. 

We would also like to thank everyone who put a token in our jar!

$100 may not seem like much, but for us as little as:

  • $25 Buys fresh food for one week of our Nutrition and Self-advocacy course 
  • $50 Provides one comprehensive Self-advocacy manual, a resource for future self-advocacy
  • $80 Pays for a return trip by taxi for a self-advocate to attend training or our self-advocacy network
  • $123 Hires a training room for one session of Self-advocacy education

A small donation can go a long way to help people with disability speak up for themselves, but without donations we cannot keep these courses running. 

If you would like to donate to Advocacy for Inclusion you can donate Online through Hands Across Canberra or by downloading a donations form off our website  

Grill'd certificate

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MAR
05

Men's Self-advocacy - Weeks 3 & 4

Week 3 of our course focussed on the men identifying what they need from others in order to be strong self-advocates.

In Week 4 we spent time discussing aggressive, passive and assertive styles of behaviour and why they are or aren't effective. We watched the locally made movie Beautiful http://www.artsaccessaustralia.org/news/230-beautiful and identified and discussed behaviour styles and more effective ways of dealing with issues.

Each week we spend time discussing individual goals for change, and a group goal. The group's goal will culminate in an outing at our final session.

We also read and discussed several recent or relevant articles of interest:


People with learning disabilities need to be empowered to fight their cause
http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/feb/20/learning-disabilitychange-charity


Judge gives test for disabled an F
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/judge-gives-test-for-disabled-an-f/story-fn59nokw-1226551452138

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MAR
04

Counting Parents with Disabilities IN - CSD Out of Home Care Strategy Discussion Paper

The Community Services Directorate released a discussion paper late last year about the development of an Out of Home Care Strategy for children and young people in the ACT. We made a submission highlighting the issues facing parents with disabilities in the child protection system.

 

Although people with disabilities have more recently achieved greater recognition of their family and reproductive rights, they are widely viewed as ‘childlike’ and are not understood and accepted as people who can or should become parents. This is especially the case for people with cognitive impairment. International research shows that parents with disabilities can indeed parent with support as needed.

 

Australia is a signatory to the CRPD, which places obligations on the ACT Government to uphold the right for parents with disabilities to care for their children with appropriate supports. At the moment, parents with disabilities are an incredibly marginalised group in the ACT. Resources that are accessible and meet the needs of this group are scarce. In several cases at Advocacy for Inclusion, children have been removed from parents because no appropriate support was available to help them care for their children.

 

The development of the Out of Home Care Strategy 2015-2020 presents a pivotal opportunity to respond to the rights of parents with disabilities in accordance with Government obligations. It outlines some positive directions, which Advocacy for Inclusion commends. In our response we outline several initiatives for inclusion in the Strategy to ensure that parents with disabilities are counted in as valued family participants:

 

1.    Ensuring that parents with disabilities are actually on the agenda in the first place;

2.    Placement prevention strategies that specifically target the needs of parents with disabilities;

3.    Reunification strategies that target the specific needs of parents with disabilities;

4.    Strategies to support the contact between children and parents when a child is in a permanent care placement.

 

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FEB
26

Submission to UN CRPD Committee Draft General Comment on Article 12

This month Advocacy for Inclusion made a submission to the CRPD Committee’s Draft General Comment on Article 12 (equal recognition before the law). You can see our full submission here. Overall, the Draft General Comment proposes a robust and progressive framework, which has the potential to clarify ongoing misunderstandings about expectations under Article 12 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

In particular, Advocacy for Inclusion applauds the clear statement that legal capacity must not be granted on an assimilationist basis, and that support to exercise legal capacity should never amount to substitute decision-making, which is fundamentally a denial of legal capacity.

 

We outlined for the Committee some areas for further development, including clarification that in supported decision-making, the person with disability is the decision maker and the support people are the decision supporters. We also recommended that restrictive practices be discussed in the General Comment.

 

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FEB
19

Week 2 - Men's Self-advocacy training

For week 2 of Men’s Self-advocacy Training the men talked human rights. People with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else, anyone who is a human being on Earth has human rights! We should all be treated with respect and not be discriminated against because of our disability.

 

We looked at some particular rights:

-        the right to privacy

-        the right to family & relationships

-        the right to be part of the community

-        the right to work,

-        the right to an education

-        the right to live where you choose & with who you choose

-        the right to leisure & time off work.

 

A number of the men participating in the course have goals associated with these rights.

 

Everyone thought about how they can use their rights to be more confident about speaking up. For homework the men are going to observe how some of these rights appear in their daily lives. When we are strong inside we can be stronger about using our rights and speaking up about what we want.

 

 

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FEB
13

February 2014 Training Update

Read and share our latest Training Update - February 2014 http://createsend.com/t/j-3EF4483A34147706

 

In this Update

Coming Soon...

Self-advocacy Group Update

Our NEW Blog!

NDIS Update

Supports for People Accessing the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Assault

Interesting Links & Resources

Contact Us | Find Us

 

Subscribe by emailing training@advocacyforinclusion.org

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FEB
13

Make Control and Choice Real - Supporting Self-advocacy Workshop

Want to learn more about supporting people with disabilities to speak up
for themselves?

* Gain confidence to support people with disabilities making their own
decisions
* Recognise when you are supporting self-advocacy and how not to
overstep the mark
* Gain skills in this emerging contemporary service development
* Support people with disabilities to take advantage of the NDIS and
self-directed funding

Come along to Advocacy for Inclusion's Supporting Self-advocacy
training.

Who: Anyone who wants to support people with disabilities to speak up
for themselves: Community and support workers, family members, teachers,
coaches, neighbours - you.

In this course you will learn about:
* Advocacy, self-advocacy and supported decision making
* Skills and strategies to assist people to develop their self-advocacy
skills
* Human rights for people with disabilities
* Balancing duty of care, dignity of risk and self-advocacy
* Local resources & information

Where: Griffin Centre, 20 Genge St, City

When: Wednesday 26 February
9:30 - 4 pm

Cost: $110 per community organisation participant + GST
$150 per government / corporate participant + GST

Please give our training team a call on 6257 4005 for further
information or complete the registration form on our website
http://www.advocacyforinclusion.org to book a place

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FEB
12

Complaint management in government agencies - Making the system work for people with disabilities

Yesterday we attended a roundtable for the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s investigation into complaint management across Commonwealth and ACT government agencies. It was an engaging and productive meeting, with some clear themes emerging across stakeholders. Of course, we shared our experience working with people with disabilities, who face some specific barriers to making and pursuing complaints. Some ideas to make the complaints process easier and more accessible for people with disabilities include:

 

Introducing a single doorway for people to initiate a complaint about any government service in the ACT. Often there is no clear contact point for making complaints and once a complaint is lodged it can become lost, or responsibility passed from agency to agency. People give up because it costs so much time and energy working through the maze. Everyone would benefit from a single, clear and accessible contact point to make and pursue a complaint, where someone is available to support the person to articulate their complaint and navigate the system.

 

Facilitating change toward positive complaint cultures. A sense of gratitude for a service, albeit inadequate, inappropriate or even discriminatory, often prevents a person with disability from making complaints. Compounding this, service providers also harbour the mentality that the person should feel grateful to receive any service. If their involvement with the service is mandatory the idea that the person has a right to expect a certain standard and quality of service seems incongruent to some. Service providers can become defensive, disengaged and even vengeful. Complaints are key to developing quality, effective and efficient systems. Agencies need to embrace this and be proactive about gathering and handling complaints from people who are often unlikely to speak up and initiate the process.

 

Transparency. Too often consumers are kept in the dark after lodging a complaint. When anyone lodges a complaint we want to know what is going on and why certain actions are being taken. Agencies must explain at each point, in formats accessible to the person, what is going on and why in a timely manner. This on its own can show the person that they are being heard and taken seriously, and helps to rebuild trust and productive relationships between the person and agency.

 

Ensuring access to independent advocacy. People with disabilities sometimes need someone on their side to help them understand the process, organise their concerns and expectations, and to ensure that they are being heard by the service provider. Some people would never have pursued a complaint without the assistance of an advocate; they struggle to be heard and believed due to prejudice against their disability. It is also a daunting and complex process, with the person with disability feeling very small and powerless compared to the government agency. Advocates help the process to become fairer and clearer for the person with disability.

 

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FEB
12

Men's Self-advocacy Week 1

Week 1 of our Men’s Self-advocacy course was a huge success!

Six men eagerly signed up to do the course and week 1 was spent getting to know each other and identifying the content of the course. Each course is tailored to the needs and preferences of the men participating.

In this course we are going to be covering:

·         Our strengths & abilities

·         Dealing with Crisis and Stress

·         Men’s Health

·         Relationships & Sexuality

·         Managing Emotions, and

·         Being Assertive, plus more.

The men identified some areas of their life they would like to improve and we will be working on strategies and resources to achieve those goals over the next 2 months.

 

The course proved so popular that we have changed our training calendar to fit in another men’s course in May. If you or someone you know is interested in attending please call 6257 4005 or email training@advocacyforinclusion.org

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FEB
06

Human Rights Day 2013 - a personal reflection

Human Rights Day 2013 – a personal reflection

 

Christina Ryan

 

Human Rights Day is always exciting for human rights activists worldwide. It’s the time when we all have a look at what is happening, acknowledge the tremendous work each other is doing, and reflect on where we might be going with all this hard work.

 

10 December 2013 was just like any other in this regard. Messages on twitter first thing in the morning, a stream of messages about specific subjects highlighting the most recalcitrant rights abuses, and various events and panel discussions. Some activists and organisations focus on specific rights or demographics; others use the time to fundraise for their work to continue.

 

This year I chose to focus on the intersection between disability and gender. No surprises there, this is my special subject and it’s a big one, but where is it going and how do we get better at addressing intersecting human rights abuses?

 

Speakers at the ACT Human Rights Commission event at the National Library of Australia all specialised outside disability and/or gender, but just about all of them referred to areas that intersect with these two. Both Tom Calma and Hilary Charlesworth acknowledged that intersectionality is where the future of our human rights work lies.

 

Dr Calma raised awareness about young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. A shocking 45% of the 18-24 age group has disabilities, yet this isn’t formally addressed as a factor in why they are over represented in Australian corrections processes. He noted that we must get better at intersectionality to be able to address the broader range of issues facing Aboriginal people.

 

Professor Charlesworth reminded us all that the language of human rights is superior to language about discrimination, and that it holds the key to addressing intersecting disadvantage. This was similar to her message at a recent Women with Disabilities ACT Hypothetical which examined the intersection of disability and gender.

 

So, how do we get better at desiloing? At recognising that a person is a whole being and not just their disability, or just their gender, or just their cultural background? Is approaching our work by considering intersectionality one way to progress it across a range of human rights areas, and will we become more effective by doing this?

 

I’ll go out on a limb: it is time to consider the rights of the whole person across the range of their life domains. Sometimes this will be about disability, sometimes about gender, sometimes about cultural background or age, but usually it will be about some combination of all of them coming together in that person. Everyone is somehow an intersecting bundle of attributes and demographic labels. Some have privilege, many certainly don’t.

 

If we safeguard the rights of people rather than safeguard them according to their attributes or circumstances then we might be making a good start. This approach allows us to consider the whole person across the range of rights that everyone has, and by using all of the various human rights instruments that Australia is party to. A person with disability can become a whole person, with rights and inherent dignity regardless of the nature of their disability or where they may find themselves if we acknowledge them as such.

 

Another Human Rights Day passes, but perhaps this one contributed to setting us on a path to greater things.

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