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Advocacy for Inclusion Blog

Welcome to the Advocacy for Inclusion Blog!
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Enhanced Self-Advocacy Group Project - Summary Report

Self-advocacy is central to the capacity for people with disabilities to achieve self-determination. It should be seen as a priority area for development as the NDIS is rolled out and as concepts around supported decision-making gain momentum locally. Advocacy for Inclusion established a Self-Advocacy Group for people with disabilities in November 2011. After significant improvements in attendance with increased resourcing (funded by the ACT NDIS Taskforce) from April until beginning August 2014, we decided to divert funds from the Self-Advocacy Courses we previously delivered toward the Self-Advocacy Group. This was to enable the Group momentum gained during the Enhanced Project to continue.

The Self-Advocacy Group is a cost efficient model for offering intensive and ongoing self-advocacy support to people with disabilities who are highly marginalised and/or have significant disability support needs. Its purpose is to nurture a space for people with disabilities to reinforce and continue to build self-advocacy skills via giving and receiving peer support, with the assistance of a qualified and experienced facilitator.There is an explicit focus on maximizing Self-Advocates’ control and ownership of the Group, which is central to facilitating concrete learning experiences for people with disabilities in exercising self-determination.

Important program features include the open, ongoing and flexible nature of the Group, which is embedded in the real life experiences of Self-Advocates, and is continuously tailored to suit their changing needs. These features made it more successful in engaging Self-Advocates than the more structured, pre-designed Self-Advocacy Courses that we previously delivered. Critically, with increased funding and resources during the Enhanced Project the Group was facilitated more frequently, enabling it to gain momentum. This was key to achieving familiarity and comfort levels among Self-Advocates, particularly new members, which in turn led to a much higher level of engagement and better outcomes for Self-Advocates.

Key self-reported Self-Advocacy Group outcomes include:

·         Increased confidence through altruism, feeling valued and a sense of social connectedness,

·         Improved skills in self-advocating (speaking up);

·         Better awareness of human rights;

·         Improved skills, knowledge and familiarity in navigating service systems (including the NDIS);

·         Clearer and more hopeful visions for the future and how to get those visions underway;

·         The development of facilitator skills among those Self-Advocates who were employed or volunteered for the position of co-facilitator, which is a major achievement for these individuals in terms of their employment aspirations and future employability.

Additionally, Advocacy for Inclusion observed Self-Advocates raising significant issues in their lives for the first time, which opened up the capacity for these issues to be addressed. We also observed a reduced need for the Individual Advocacy service among Self-Advocates who had previously accessed this service.

You can find the full report outlining the approach and outcomes of the Self-Advocacy Group here.

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AGM Wrap up

AGM Wrap up

On Tuesday 18 November 2014, Advocacy for Inclusion presented its al Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The AGMs official proceedings saw the re-appointment of the Board. We farewelled long-time serving Board member Jane  and welcomed Kathryn, one of our Self-advocates, to the Board.


The evening ended with presentations by our Self-advocates, about how Self-advocacy has helped them achieve their goals and ability to speak for themselves.

You can now read our report on Enhanced Self-advocacy here:


You can donate to help run our Self-advocacy program here:


Our financial statements and annual report are also available on our website here:


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Join us at our Annual General Meeting: 18 November 4:45- 6 PM

This has undoubtedly been the busiest year yet for the Advocacy for Inclusion team!

We invite you to come to our Annual General Meeting so we can share with you our work over the past year.

The AGM will include nominations to the Board and official proceedings then feature stories and milestones from our Self-advocates who have attend our Peer networking program.

When: 18 November 2014 from 4:45 – 6pm

Where: Room 6, Griffin Centre, 20 Genge St Canberra City 2601

*This room has a hearing Loop

We have achieved some impressive things with such a small team, limited resources, and funding. Please share this evening with us, RSVP by Monday 17 November by:


Calling: 02 6257 4005

Or registering online:






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If it’s not Self-advocacy call it something else

If it’s not Self-advocacy call it something else


The global self-advocacy movement is about people with cognitive disabilities speaking for themselves. It’s an important part of the disability rights movement and must be recognised as owned and designed by the people involved – people with cognitive disabilities.


Recently Australian governments at all levels have developed greater awareness of the language of the disability rights movement. This is positive and well overdue. It’s particularly pertinent in the context of the development and design of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and many of the buzz words recently adopted are as a result of bureaucrats engaging in NDIS work.


What is less well respected and understood is that this language belongs to the disability rights movement, not to governments, and it is not open to being reinterpreted by anyone other than the disability rights movement.


For the self-advocacy movement this is really important. People with cognitive disabilities are one of the most marginalised and isolated groups in our community. They are often the ones living in residential care / institutions, who require support to engage in the community or to undertake work, and are often subject to guardianship orders (substitute decision making). They are usually the most unheard in government consultation processes, and are sidelined or invisible at the representative level. They will be a large cohort of NDIS participants yet they have had little or no role in designing the Scheme.


The self-advocacy movement is their movement. This is a fundamental principle of the work and operational style of self-advocacy organisations. To take self-advocates’ language, reshape it and take ownership of it is to undermine the self-determination of the very people that governments claim to be supporting. It perpetuates the sidelining and invisibility.


A popular euphemism at present is “capacity building”. Sure, building self-advocacy skills does build capacity, but building capacity isn’t necessarily “self-advocacy”. In fact, it’s patronising and overlooks the disability rights aspect of self-advocacy. The aim isn’t self-determination or equality it’s just more training. It’s also the governments’ agenda not the self-advocates’ agenda.


Another popular euphemism is supported decision making. Sure supporting people to make decisions is a critical part of disability rights, but it is not self-advocacy. Rather it is a facet of the overall self-determination that is underpinned by self-advocacy.


There have also been “self-advocacy kits” which are simply information kits about something (pick your subject) dressed up with the term “self-advocacy”, but which provide absolutely no self-advocacy training or ongoing support, and no recognition that they are part of the self-determination of people with cognitive disabilities.


So, when using the term self-advocacy use it correctly. Use it proudly to indicate the global movement of some of the most marginalised people in our community who are taking control of their own voice and building their self-determination. Use the term self-advocacy to recognise that all people with disabilities have a right to be part of the community and a right to speak about and make decisions about their communities.


If people with cognitive disabilities don’t own the process, haven’t designed the process, and aren’t part of the outcome and what it does, then it’s not self-advocacy and should be called something else.


Advocacy for Inclusion provides self-advocacy training and ongoing support for people with cognitive disabilities and significant communication barriers. Our Self-advocacy Group is co-facilitated by self-advocates.

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Self Advocacy Group Update

This week's topic of "Preparing for meetings" fitted in well with the taking of photos for Advocacy for Inclusions NDIS pre planning kit. The kit has been put together to help people have ideas ready for their first NDIS meeting with their individual planner. Recent evidence has shown the importance of the pre planning process in the successful outcome of NDIS planning.

Also fitting in was our discussions focusing on our very own self advocacy group meetings and how they will look for next year. As part of meeting pre planning and setting of agendas, the group has brain stormed some topics that we would like to discuss and guest speakers we would like to hear from - some examples of ideas for next year are; contraception, personal safety in the community, fire safety in the home, personal training/exercise, diabetes education, medication safety and Volunteering ACT.
Recently, we started running our meetings slightly different with a set Agenda format. As a result self advocates are successfully taking on a greater role in the running of the group. An agenda has been helpful as it has provided a visual flow chart which amongst other things, helps keep us on topic and running to time.

Another change discussed this week was meeting times. With many of our group working and taking on new and exciting challenges, our current day and time of meetings (Thursday 1-3pm) is not going to work for next year. At this point we are looking at Tuesdays from 1pm-3pm for next year. We would appreciate any feedback from people who are attending or who wish to attend, on days and times that would suit you.

With the start of the new year, a new volunteer co facilitator will be needed to assist with the running/chairing of the group. Our most recent co facilitator, Kathryn R , will be standing down. We thank her for her time as co facilitator of the group. Kathryn has done a wonderful job and will continue on as a valued member of our self advocacy group next year.

Before the year is out we have a few more topics to be discussed.
6th November - Social Media with our own self advocate Anthony V guest speaking.
13th November - Discovering our strengths.
20th November - Advanced Care Planning and Wills - with an expert guest speaker
27th November - Self-esteem - feeling good about ourselves
4th December - End of year Celebration  - we will being go to a local café for afternoon tea (make sure to bring some money)
11th December - NDIS pre planning workshop in Braddon (RSVP required)
(This will be our last meeting for the year)

The group meets every Thursday from 1 - 3pm in the Griffin Centre. All people with disabilities are welcome to attend and groups are free. No registration necessary - just turn up

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Submission to the ACT Government Budget Consultation: Summary

Key areas for the ACT Government’s consideration in the upcoming budget include:


1.    Establish Disability ACT as the central policy coordination unit within government regarding disability matters.

There is no central policy coordination unit regarding disability matters, resulting in major gaps in government policy and an ad hoc response. Government funds could be saved were there a central policy coordination unit to review all policies as they are developed.


2.    Separate the dual appointment of the Public Advocate and Human Rights Commissioner.


The dual appointment hinders the capacity for people with disabilities to raise human rights complaints regarding guardianship practices and must be addressed immediately.


3.    Introduce a system for the continuous collection of data regarding people with disabilities across all areas of social policy.


The ACT Government must collect data about people with disabilities and the issues they face. The collection of this data is minimal in the ACT and yet it is vitally necessary to inform local policies if they are to include and meet the needs of the disability community.


4.    Address the high prevalence of violence against people with disabilities.


There is a high prevalence of violence against people with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, yet resources targeted at addressing this in the ACT are scarce. The ACT Government must further develop strategies, programs and legislation to address this.


5.    Bring people with disabilities into the design and delivery of disability specific and mainstream policies and programs.


The Government should immediately establish a strategy that commits government agencies to meaningfully engage and support people with disabilities in consultations and as equal partners in leadership and representative roles, and in paid positions in the public service.


6.    Count people with disabilities as valued parents, worthy of the support they need to parent well.


The ACT Government must target policies and resources at supporting people with disabilities to fulfil their parenting rights and responsibilities as outlined in Article 23 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

See our full submission here.

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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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Self-Advocacy Group Update - 7 October 2014

The Self Advocacy group has recently farewelled Karen and welcomed back Sharon. Our plans for Karen's farewell at Floriade were cancelled due to the wet weather so we decided on afternoon tea at a local cafe instead. We wish Karen all the best for the future and she will be missed by the group, many of whom have attended her groups for over 4 years.

There are some big changes happening within the self-advocacy group with group members wanting to take on a bigger role in running the weekly meetings. The sessions will now be run from an Agenda with each person having the opportunity of taking on an assistive role if they wish. This is also in conjunction with the role of our volunteer co facilitator. 

Another change that will come into effect this week is extending the times of our weekly group session. The group will now run on Thursdays from 1pm - 3pm in the Griffin Centre. This has come about through increased participation and as we have grown more confident in sharing our opinions and ideas. 

The group will be meeting every Thursday from 1 - 3pm in the Griffin Centre. Our planned topics for the next 8 weeks are:
. 9  October 
Dealing with Neighbourhood Problems
. 16 October
    Communication & Active Listening
. 23 October
   Communication & Being Assertive
. 30 October
    Preparing for meetings
. 6 November
   Social media accounts
. 13 November
    Identifying our strengths
. 20 November 
   Advanced Care Planning

All people with disabilities are welcome to attend and groups are free. No registration necessary     - just turn up


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Beijing +20 Caravan: Perspectives of women with disabilities

To contribute to the NGO review for Beijing + 20 on women’s rights, Advocacy for Inclusion and WWDACT hosted a Caravan for women with disabilities to share their perspectives. They told us that the major issues facing them as Australian women include:


1.       Having a say – being recognised as the decision makers in their own lives as well as participants of decisions affecting the community more broadly.

2.       Access to employment, fair pay and fair work conditions. The women want real jobs for real pay and they want to be treated with respect.

3.       The right to be safe from violence in intimate relationships, at home with support workers/carers, in the work place, and in the community.


The women related all three of these major issues back to the need for better community inclusion and respect for people with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities.


See our full Caravan Report here.

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Support independence & decision making for people with #disability

Dear friends


People with disabilities need your support. We need your support.


Advocacy for Inclusion has launched our first ever crowdfunding campaign. We are making an App to support people with disabilities to make decisions. This will be a big help in many people becoming more independent. There is no other App anywhere that does this, particularly in plain or easy English format.


Everyone can make their own decisions – it’s just that some people need some support to do so.


How can you help?


1.            You can donate to the campaign! Go to you have until 22 October 2014 to do this, and because we are a charity your donation is tax deductible.


2.            Set up a workplace giving station and encourage your colleagues to make a contribution.


3.            Use social media to spread the word. However it works for you: twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – get the word out there that you support this campaign.


a.            You can embed our campaign into any website you might have, by cutting and pasting this code onto your website where you’d like the campaign to appear:

<iframe width="100%" height="415" src="" frameborder="0" style="max-width:310px;border:0px solid #fff;" allowfullscreen></iframe>


b.            If you’ve got a Facebook page, you can add a ‘Donate’ button for your campaign in 5-clicks by heading to  


c.            Use the Hashtag #SDMApp


4.            Tag some friends to contribute. After you have made your own contribution you can tag 3 friends to do the same. Send them the link and let them know you’ve nominated them to be next to support this great innovation.


5.            Forward this email to everyone you know and encourage them to support the campaign.


It’s that easy.


Thanks for your support. We look forward to achieving our fundraising target of $25,000. Better still, we are looking forward to greater independence for people with disabilities by building this App.


Christina Ryan

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Supported Decision Making App - Crowdfunding Campaign

Supported Decision Making App - Crowdfunding Campaign


Everybody has the ability to make their own decisions, but some people need support.

Advocacy for Inclusion hopes to provide support with an interactive plain English app.  This app steps through the decision making process so that people with disabilities can identify preferences and build skills towards independent decision making. 

In order to develop this app we need $25 000. As a registered charity who doesn’t charge people with disabilities for our services, we need your help to raise these funds.

Join our crowdfunding campaign here at

Every contribution, big or small, will help us reach our goal and will make a big difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

Currently there is no such app available anywhere in the world that specifically targets people with cognitive disabilities in an easy read or plain English format. 

All people can and should be encouraged to make the decisions that will affect their lives. People with disabilities have the Human right to have control and make choices about their lives. People with disabilities have the right to be supported to make their own decisions.

Join our campaign today and support the rights of people with disabilities





 Read our Reports on decision making here: 



Ask me. I make my own decisionsMay 2013

A report into the findings of a study into the experience of control and choice of people with disabilities in the ACT

Word PDF

Plain English version:

Word  PDF 



Report on Supported decision Making, legal capacity and Guardianship2012

Word PDF



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Everyday Human Rights

The self-advocates in our Self-advocacy Group have a nearly unquenchable thirst to learn about Human Rights.

The concept of human rights can be a hard one to apply to your everyday life. Knowing about human rights and recognising breaches in your own life can be very different and difficult. At today’s meeting we discussed several rights and the often shocking personal examples self-advocates had of breaches of these rights.

Article 16 (UDHR*) / Article 23 (CRPD*) – the Right to marry, have relationships, have a family etc

Self-advocates have experienced:

·         Being told they shouldn’t get married because of their disability

·         Being forced into a relationship

·         Having the right to choose whether to have sex or not taken away

·         Not being informed about safe sex

·         Being discouraged from a relationship because others don’t approve of the person

·         Relationships that are inequal in power, with a lack of respect and trust

Article 23 (UDHR) / Article 27 (CRPD) – the right to work of their choice, fair pay and equal conditions, join a union

Member of the group had experienced:

·         Being paid unfairly – a lot less than others doing the same job

·         Being segregated and only being allowed to work with others with disabilities

·         Sheltered workshops as discrimination

·         Being rejected for a job because of their disabilities

·         Being stuck in a job they hate because no one will help them to find a new job

It was refreshing to learn that none of the group had experienced bullying or discrimination while working in a job.

Article 5 (UDHR) / Article 5 (CRPD) – the right to be free from torture, cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment

Self-advocates have experienced this treatment from those they trust most (family members, intimate partners etc) even as adults:

·         Being hit for being “naughty”

·         Being sent to their room without dinner

·         Having TV removed as a privilege

·         Being told who they are allowed to see, talk to and how it will happen

·         Being yelled and screamed at

·         Being threatened

·         Put-downs and name calling

Being able to recognise these everyday breaches of their human rights is the first step to being able to speak up and stop this inappropriate behaviour. These kinds of behaviour are not acceptable, and self-advocates should be able to receive the support they want to deal with it. Please contact us if you’d like to know more.


* UDHR = Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CRPD = Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability

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Pre planning needed for NDIS success

Pre planning needed for NDIS success


Knowing what you want from the NDIS is very important. More critically it is becoming clear that you need to know this BEFORE you meet with an NDIS planner.


Many people with disabilities need to work through what their current arrangements are, and whether they are happy with them, before they then start looking at what they would like their arrangements to be. All NDIS applicants should do this to get the most from their application process.


Our self-advocates have been working through their current arrangements and deciding if they are the right thing for them. Most say that they would like to change something. Most also say that they have big gaps in support that they need, or the way that arrangements are made for them. Many have whole areas of their lives that aren’t supported at all, like social engagement or having the right job.


Evidence from other NDIS trial sites is showing that the better outcomes for NDIS recipients are when some pre-planning is undertaken before meeting an NDIS planner. Those who have an idea of what they want have an easier planning process, and more satisfying outcomes.


The person with disability hasn’t met the NDIS planner before, and the planner doesn’t necessarily have a good idea of what that person’s experience of disability is. They don’t know how disability affects that person, nor how that person has built their life around their disability. No planner will understand every disability, and they can’t be expected to know how disability impacts on every person.


What is needed is a pre-planning process. When the NDIS is starting an intake with a person with disability they should first ensure that the person has worked through their current arrangements and what they want to keep, what their vision is and how to get there. Expecting this to happen with a planner, whom the person has never met before, and to do it within a short time window will increase the likelihood of the planning process missing crucial elements of that person’s vision.


Advocacy for Inclusion recommends that the NDIA introduce a requirement that a person with disability meets with someone (like an independent advocate, or other independent supporter not engaged in service provision) to ascertain what they would like the NDIS to achieve for them. This could happen individually or in small groups like Self-advocacy meetings.


We recommend using our “My NDIS” toolkit for this.


Pre-planning would improve efficiencies for the NDIS and also provide more certainty that NDIS plans and packages are controlled by the person with disability and reflect their choices. Pre-planning would also speed up the availability of planners by reducing the need for multiple planning meetings to get the right plan developed.


It is vital that this is undertaken in an accessible way, with appropriate format resources, and is built around the person with disability and their vision. Self-determination, using self-advocacy and supported decision making techniques, will support people with disabilities to know what they want from the NDIS and to be confident in asking their NDIS planner to support their individual vision.

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Self-advocacy Group update

The Self-advocacy group met today to plan out the next few months and talk about “Safety in the Home”.

The group will be meeting every Thursday from 1 – 2:30pm in the Griffin Centre. Our planned topics for the next 8 weeks are:

·         21 August – Safety in the Home, part 2

·         28 August – Human Rights

·         4 September – Friendships and Relationships

·         11 September – Reviewing your goals / NDIS progress chat

·         18 September – Health & Wellbeing

·         25 September – Floriade visit (weather pending) & Wellbeing

·         2 October – All about work

·         9 October – Dealing with Neighbourhood Problems

All people with disabilities are welcome to attend and groups are free.

Discussion about “Safety in the Home” was interesting with at least half of the self-advocates having recently had problems with abusive or difficult neighbours. The group worked together to share ideas for feeling safer at home and in the community. We also used the recent report from NDS “Speaking Up About Safety - Issues for Service Providers to consider” as a conversation starter. Earlier this year the Self-advocacy Group participated in a focus group for this report. You can read this report on the NDS website:

If you have any questions about the group please contact Karen on 6257 4005

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Self-advocacy group week 4 - Insights

Our Self Advocacy groups have led to some very important insights over the past few weeks during our discussions about the NDIS and what we would like for our futures.

As mentioned in the previous blog, careers was one of the highlighted important areas that our self advocates wanted to make positive changes in. Many of the group have shared their experiences about working in sheltered workshops. It is sad to acknowledge that most of the experiences were quite negative. The self advocates spoke of bullying and harassment being an ongoing issue during their time at the workshops. Many having made formal complaints and many also leaving the workshops as a result.  It was felt by some of the self advocates, that volunteering seems to be the only way to be actively involved in a work area that they wished to be in, as paid work is very difficult to find. 

Next week is the final session in the NDIS focused series and we will be finishing the session with a social chat and cuppa at a local cafe. 

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Self-advocacy group week 3

The Self Advocates Group has been meeting twice a week on Mondays at 330-5pm and on Thursdays 1-230pm.

We are now a few weeks  into the topics covered by “My NDIS. My life, My vision, My say”. The response has been fantastic with the number of self-advocates attending the sessions having doubled. The topics have led to interesting discoveries about ourselves and what supports and services we have and what we want.

The first topic  we covered was “Let’s get Started” Am I eligible for the NDIS? This involved being able to use the NDIS access checker on the iPad, which interestingly most of our group found very difficult without help, especially for those visually impaired. Week two covered All about me and my life now” What supports do I have now. Week three was “My vision, My life “ What are my goals? What are my dreams?”. Both groups identified Relationship’s, Careers and Transport as being the areas of their lives that they most wanted to make changes in, in order to improve their lives. It was established that access to reliable accessible transport was difficult especially with mobility aids. Walking to bus stops was also difficult, especially at the end of the day when people were tired.

The feedback from the  self-advocates about the groups has been positive. There is a lot of group participation, brain storming and support given to each other. People are enjoying feeling comfortable with their peers knowing that their ideas and opinions are being heard and respected.

The next topic to be covered is “let’s get things happening”- What steps do I need to take to reach my goals? Then lastly “My NDIS, My say”- My ideas for a meeting with my Individual NDIS Planner.

Self-Advocates are welcome to attend either or both meetings.

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The rundown: Our submission to the ALRC's Disability Inquiry

Last week Advocacy for Inclusion made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s discussion paper Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws.


The ALRC’s paper provides a thorough analysis of the legal and practice issues regarding equal recognition before the law and legal capacity of people with disabilities. It includes a number of progressive proposals.


The four high level National Decision-Making Principles proposed are commendable, especially Decision-Making Principle 1, the right to make decisions. This could promote an important shift away from the current preoccupation with assessment of decision-making capacity towards acknowledgement of decision-making rights.


However, we are concerned that there remains a heavy focus on the decision-making capacity instead of decision-making rights of people with disabilities in the ALRC’s paper. The concept of “fully supported” decision-making is particularly problematic and does not reflect the universality of legal capacity, explained in CRPD General Comment on Article 12:


The right to equal recognition before the law implies that legal capacity is a universal attribute inherent in all persons by virtue of their humanity and must be upheld for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. (emphasis added)

Here are some of our key comments and recommendations summarised:

·         Cultural change and capacity building is required in order to make the shift towards supported decision-making away from guardianship successful.

·         Substitute decision-making diminishes, rather than protects, the rights of people with disabilities.

·         In supported decision-making arrangements the person with disability is always the person with decision making authority, who appoints their own decision supporters.

·         The ALRC’s proposed “fully supported” decision-making model cannot be considered a true supported decision-making model.

·         Everybody has the right to make decisions, regardless of their assessed (perceived) decision-making capacity.

·         Where a person with disability’s current will and preference cannot be ascertained, after all steps to ascertain them have been tried, facilitated decision-making should be used.

·         An independent body should be established to provide formal monitoring and safeguards for people with disabilities in supported and facilitated decision-making arrangements. This should be a non-negotiable feature of facilitated decision-making, whilst people in supported decision-making arrangements should access this resource by choice (with support as needed).

·         The priority for the ALRC should be to ensure that informal supported decision-making arrangements are acknowledged and supported by Commonwealth and State and Territory laws.


It has been a privilege to be involved in this Inquiry and to contribute our experience and expertise on decision-making. We look forward to the final recommendations and thank the ALRC for undertaking this major and important Inquiry.

See the full details of our recommendations in our submission here.



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Silencing the disability voice

For many people the federal budget was an inconvenience providing an academic exercise in social theory, but for people with disabilities it outlined a fundamental shift in our ongoing fight to be valued and respected members of the community.


From the first week in July 2014 people with disabilities will lose several mechanisms which take our voices to the wider world and assist us to be equal participants in public discourse. These include the loss of a dedicated Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the closing of the Ramp Up website, withdrawal from the UN disability committee, and continuing reductions in disability advocacy funding. Few people will notice this except for those of us who already know how hard it is to be heard, to be included and to be taken seriously.


Additionally, the federal budget and McClure Welfare Review are ramping up the attack on disability pensioners. This is a favourite mechanism for governments who want to be seen as tough. The result is that disability pensioners feel increasingly marginalised and stigmatised for being who they are.


Alongside the loss of key mechanisms to support our voice, the current agenda serves to silence people with disabilities by making them ashamed for needing welfare supports.


More critically the mainstream discourse, encouraged by government, is representing people with disabilities as bludgers, rorters, and no hopers. Some sections of the media are creating an environment where vilification and hate crime are encouraged. Already some people are asking whether NDIS supports are really needed or are they “luxury” items contributing to an aspirational lifestyle.


This can only happen in an environment where people with disabilities are not believed, where mistrust and hatred about us have re-entered the public conversation, and it will probably get worse.


The overall impact of the federal budget is to silence people with disabilities. Some budget measures specifically take away our capacity to be heard, to be taken seriously, and to be part of the mainstream discourse. Other measures deplete our confidence in speaking up, in being part of a conversation that is becoming increasingly vicious and suspicious.


Australia is returning to a time when people with disabilities were seen as a burden on society. We are portrayed as people who take but never willingly contribute.


This is damaging and counterproductive and will not result in better engagement by people with disabilities. Rather we are in danger of returning to those former times when people with disabilities felt safer hidden away where vilification and misjudgement couldn’t reach.


The NDIS might provide supports, but it will not provide acceptance, credibility, jobs, or inclusion. It is up to the community to do that and it is up to the government to lead the community by example.


Rather than silencing the mechanisms that support people with disabilities to be equal participants in public discussions, it is time for the government to embrace the voices of people with disabilities in all our diversity and colour. We are part of the community and have the right to be heard.

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Self Advocacy Group Calendar July

Self-Advocacy Group Invitation

My life, My vision, My say

The National Disability Insurance scheme is starting in the ACT July 2014.

In July, our Self Advocacy group meetings will talk about being ready for your first NDIS planning meeting.

We will be meeting twice a week 30th June – 31st July
They will run in the Griffin Centre Level 2 room 9:



Attend one or both groups!


Week 1 “Let’s get started”
Am I eligible for the NDIS?

Week 2  “All about Me and my life now”
What supports do I have now?

Week 3 “My vision, My Life”
What are my goals? What are my dreams?

Week 4 “Let’s get things happening”
What steps do I need to take to reach my goals?

Week 5 “My NDIS, My say”
My ideas for a meeting with my Individual NDIS Planner

Resources and Folder provided




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