DRG Communiques

ACT Disability Reference Group Communiqué

5 February 2019

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 5 February 2019. Ms Rebecca Cross, the new Director-General of Community Services Directorate and the Government Co Chair of the DRG, chaired the meeting.

Mr Herd, Community Co-Chair, updated the group on an out-of-session workplan meeting attended by several DRG members in January 2019. Better access by people with disability to better health, justice and employment outcomes remain priorities for the DRG, as well as education and transport. Members have also agreed to progress a piece of work on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-specific disability issues.

Members discussed a refresh of the Terms of Reference (TORs) to allow for a phased membership terms to support retention of intellectual capital and consistent advice.

The group was provided an update on the development of the Disability Justice Strategy, which is nearing launch in middle of the year. There are also currently a range of justice-based training tools being piloted with ACT government agencies with local advocacy and disability organisations involved in the reshaping. Initial feedback from participants in the training has been positive.

4 December 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 4 December 2018. Mr Dougie Herd, Community Co-Chair, chaired the meeting.

The group was updated on the Disability Justice Strategy. Consultations for the Strategy have now finished and a Listening Report has been published on the Your Say websiteExternal Link The team are now synthesizing all the information into a final report which will include a plain language version of the executive summary and a recording of someone talking about the report, so that it is fully accessible.

The group was also updated about a forum run by the Office for Disability on 16 November. The forum was based around information on housing options for people with disability, bringing together guest speakers from ACT Government, Specialist Disability Accommodation providers, private building companies, community organisations and people with disability and their families and friends.

Sessions included information about Specialist Disability Accommodation funding, government policy levers and the role of developers, investors, financiers and lawyers; the wide range of models, services and approaches, both local and interstate, that are working well; and a world café style discussion, with participants stepping themselves through the “housing pathways” that were relevant for them.

The forum was well received by all who participated and families have already asked for another one in six months’ time. Information presented at the forum and each of the sessions which were filmed will soon be available on the ACT Office for Disability websiteExternal Link

Following on from this, the National Disability Services is hosting a conversation with various accommodation providers on Wed 5 December.

2 October 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 2 October 2018.

Mr Dougie Herd chaired the meeting. Ms Bernadette Mitcherson, Director-General of the Community Services Directorate, attended as Co-Chair.

The group was updated on the ongoing development of an ACT Disability Justice Strategy and the recent public consultation.

Ms Louise-Cooper Finch/ The ACT Service Delivery Manager from the NDIA joined the group to provide updates on issues that had been discussed at the DRG Meeting in June.
Discussions covered the School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and some changes that have been implemented to improve participant experiences and outcomes. Members shared some of their concerns and issues.

The group also welcomed guest speaker Ms Mandy Donley, ACT Senior Practitioner to give a presentation on the new Senior Practitioner legislation and the framework it establishes for reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices, which will bring greater consistency of practice to how the use of restrictive practices is regulated, documented and minimised in the ACT.

For more information: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/quality-complaints-and-regulation/office-of-the-senior-practitioner


7 August 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 7 August 2018.

Dr Mark Collis, Deputy Director-General chaired the meeting. It was noted as being the first meeting for Mr Rey Reodica (replacing Mr Steve Fox), representing National Disability Services ACT.

The meeting had a health theme with presentations on two disability and health projects, which have been funded by the Office for Disability. The first guest speaker for the meeting was Mr Craig Wallace (ACT Council of Social Service) who presented on the preliminary findings of the ‘Imagining Better for Disability and Health’ project commenced last year. The group spoke about the barriers identified through the project and the importance of better outcomes for people with disability

Ms Debbie Stanford (Human Capital Alliance) discussed an outline of the project they are undertaking to produce a resource package that is intended to support the health literacy and decision-making of people with disabilities in the ACT who need to access health services. The group discussed both the importance of better supports for the consumer to understand and navigate the system, and the corresponding responsibility for health services to effectively share and communicate information.

Representatives from Canberra Metro delivered a PowerPoint presentation about the Light Rail and encouraged input from DRG members regarding access issues. All agreed that it is valuable to have ongoing conversations about operations and infrastructure of Light Rail and that the DRG can articulate some of the community concerns. Canberra Metro is currently planning a “Confidence Day” at which the public will be able to check out the Light Rail vehicles and gain confidence and familiarity with the new form of transport. It is likely to be scheduled in October or November 2018. See the Canberra Metro website for updates:
https://www.canberra-metro.com.au/business-and-communityExternal Link

The group received an update on the Disability Justice Strategy and the current public consultation. See the YourSay website for more infomation: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/disability-justice-strategyExternal Link

There was also some discussion of the Peer-to-Peer Inclusion in Employment project being run by the Canberra Business chamber:
https://www.canberrabusiness.com/business-support-programs/i-need-staff-inclusion-in-employment-project/External Link


12 June 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 12 June 2018. Mr Dougie Herd, Community Co-Chair, chaired the meeting. It was noted as being the last meeting for Mr Steve Fox National Disability Services ACT, and the potential last meeting for Ms Fiona May, ADACAS, as they both move on to different opportunities.

The first guest speaker for the meeting was Ms Louise Cooper-Finch from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Ms Cooper-Finch provided an update on the latest statistics for the NDIS in the ACT, and provided positive feedback on a Participant Pathway trial which has been run in Victoria.

Ms Laura Pound from the Justice and Community Safety (JACS) directorate, engaged the group about her work on the Victims Charter of Rights project (the Charter). There have been principles in legislation for the treatment of victims for over 20 years. The Charter will see a new Victims Charter of Rights introduced that will outline victim rights, justice agency obligations when dealing with victims, and a complaints resolution process. The previous Victims of Crime Commissioner consulted with various groups, including people representing the issues of people with disability, and has provided recommendations to inform the new Charter. DRG members provided feedback on the Charter and issues they feel should be addressed in it including a focus on restorative practice, an intermediary scheme and the need to recognise the experience of people with disability and how that impacts on experience of the justice system. Community consultation on the Charter has begun – details on scheduled consultations can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/d/australia--act/justice/?q=justice&loc=ACT%2C+Australia&dateExternal Link

The group spoke more broadly about the suite of work happening in the justice space including the responses to the Royal Commission recommendations, the Blueprint for Youth Justice, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Agreement and how all this work aligns with the Disability Justice Strategy. Consultations on the Disability Justice Strategy will begin soon and member discussed the draft consultation paper.

DRG members discussed steps needed to be taken to ensure better employment outcomes for people with disability. The group was informed about a Peer-to-Peer project being run by the Canberra Business chamber which pairs up businesses who have employed people with disability with businesses who want to employ people with disability but may be unsure how to. To attend a Peer-to-Peer information session, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/inclusion-in-employment-project-peer-to-peer-information-session-tickets-47490219525?aff=ebdssbdestsearchExternal Link


10 April 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 10 April 2018. Due to Michael De’Ath, Government Co-Chair and Dougie Herd, Community Co-Chair being unable to attend, Ellen Dunne, Director Office for Disability chaired the meeting. Deborah Eades, a newly appointed member to the DRG, introduced herself and noted her wish to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues remain on the agenda.

The DRG discussed their submission to theStanding Committee on Health, Ageing and Social Services Inquiry into the implementation and governance of the NDIS in the ACT (the Inquiry) and noted the good response rate from members of the community to the survey and drop-in consultations. Members requested that formal thanks be recorded for Mr Herd, for his role in coordinating the Submission.

An official from Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) attended the meeting, to discuss with DRG members how best to engage with people with disability to find out what is most important in the transport area.

TCCS are currently rewriting the Transport for Canberra Strategy (the Strategy) which will look at areas such as community transport, responsive transport, and future/global trends.

DRG members discussed transport issues as they impact on people with disability and advised that issues for TCCS include: way-finding and end-to-end transport issues; accessibility of the light rail; training for bus drivers around how to best support passengers with behavioural issues; street furniture placement; real-time transport information and how to support someone with an intellectual disability when things don’t go to plan (e.g. the bus breaks down or is late); and the need for TCCS to take into account the places where people with mobility issues may need to go more often.

The DRG discussed the the ACT Government’s Disability Commitment as it applies to the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. Previous commitments have been Future Directions and INVOLVE. Members discussed the strengths and merits of INVOLVE 2015-2017 and highlighted particular features to be revisited. Progress on the commitment to the National Disability Strategy continues across government and further discussion will be held post a revisit of current strengths of INVOLVE..


6 February 2018

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 6 February 2018, the first meeting for 2018. Mr Michael De’Ath, Government Co-Chair, chaired the meeting.

Members of the DRG discussed developing a submission to the Inquiry into the implementation and governance of the NDIS in the ACT (the Inquiry), being undertaken by the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Social Services. The DRG decided to develop a set of online questions as well as hold an open public forum to gather information on how the NDIS is working in the ACT. The closing date for submissions is Friday 30 March 2018.

The DRG finalised their workplan for the next 18 months including developing sub-working groups for specific items.

Rachel Stephen-Smith, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, joined for the last part of the meeting, reiterating her appreciation of the work the DRG does, and her priorities in disability policy for 2018/19.


5 December 2017

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG)met on 5 December 2017. Mr Dougie Herd, Community Co-Chair, chaired the meeting.

This meeting was a single focus on employment, as one of the four priorities of work for the DRG. Guests at the meeting were Ms Jessica May, CEO of Enabled Employment and Mr William Towler, Employment Inclusion Manager, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT Government.

Members were provided with a range of background papers to inform the discussions including a detailed jurisdictional scan, findings from the ACT Employment Inquiry August 2017, the summary from the Expert Panel Roundtable, and a literature review: Changing community attitudes toward greater inclusion of people with disability.

The group discussed the cultural barriers which prevent people from disclosing their disability in the work place, as well as the barriers that attitudes of employers across the private and public sectors create to employing people with disability and enabling career progression.


10 October 2017

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 10 October 2017. Mr Dougie Herd, Community Co-Chair, chaired the meeting.

Justice was a key theme for this DRG meeting, being a priority for work for the DRG. Guests at the meeting included Ms Karen Greenland, Ms Robyn Bicket and Ms Megan Bobos from the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and Ms Mary Durkin, Consultant who presented on her preliminary findings on undertaking a gap analysis on the development of a Disability Justice Strategy in the ACT.

Ms Durkin has been engaged to develop a gap analysis for a Disability Justice Strategy, which will identify key stakeholders and areas in the ACT justice system with which people with disability could come into contact, and a range of possible roles and interactions they may have with the justice system and where barriers to access exist. The report will also detail some possible initiatives to address those barriers.

Members were provided with a range of background papers to inform the discussions on the development of a Disability Justice Strategy for the Territory, including a detailed environmental scan, a brief summary of ACT disability justice activities and an interim report on the disability justice strategy gap analysis. DRG members agreed that the development of a Disability Justice Strategy is a priority piece of work and contributed perspective and expertise on areas for detailed examination and suggestions for they will continue to be engaged and consulted as the work progresses.


15 August 2017

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) met on 15 August 2017. Mr Michael De’Ath, Government Co-Chair, chaired the meeting.

A comprehensive discussion was had around the inaugural Community Access Grants. The Grants were an election commitment to provide $200,000 over four years for projects or initiatives that have a broad and deep impact on creating enhanced inclusion of people with disability within ‘mainstream’ community groups and organisations. The DRG discussed the guidelines for the Grants, including changing the name to be the Disability Inclusion Grants, eligibility criteria, and what proposals might be funded.

The new Community Co-Chair, Mr Dougie Herd led a discussion on further shaping the work of the DRG over the next 12 months. The four areas agreed as priorities for the DRG will be:

Director of the Office for Disability, Ms Ellen Dunne, provided information on the project being undertaken in collaboration with the ACT National Disability Services, focused on growing the disability sector workforce in the ACT. Members were reminded that the next round of Information, NDIS Linkages and Capacity Building Grants is scheduled to open in October 2017; the Office for Disability and the National Disability Insurance Agency will work together to support providers as they apply in this round. Ms Dunne also noted that applications are now open for the I-Day Grants, closing on 4 September 2017. More information on the grants can be found at: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/home/grants

The meeting was the last for three outgoing members of the original DRG – Mr David Long, Mr David Heckendorf and Ms Barbara Causon (not present). Mr De’Ath thanked the outgoing members for their involvement on the DRG, previously known as the Expert Panel, and acknowledged their significant contribution to the work of the group. In particular, Mr De’Ath noted the valuable advice members provided to the ACT Government to help guide the NDIS from a policy concept through a trial period and into the first years of transition in the ACT.


19 June 2017

The ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG)met on 19 June 2017, the first meeting for the new members of the DRG, appointed in April 2017. Ms Sue Salthouse, the Community Co-Chair of the DRG chaired the meeting.

The new members of the DRG are Mr Douglas Herd, Ms Louise Bannister, Ms Mignonne Cullen, Ms Sharon Ding, Ms Alicia Flack-Kone, Mr Wayne Herbert, Mr Justin Le Couteur and Ms Fiona May. Short biographies of the new DRG members can be found on the members webpage.

Minister Stephen-Smith attended the meeting and heard introductions from new and outgoing members. The Minister then gave an update on issues discussed by state and territory ministers at the recent Disability Reform Council.

Members of the DRG heard an update from the Director of the new Office for Disability, Ms Ellen Dunne, on the recent NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant outcomes in the ACT. Ms Dunne also gave an overview of the Office for Disability, including its structure and upcoming priorities.

Mr Michael De’Ath, Government Co-Chair of the DRG and Director-General of the Community Services Directorate, briefly described the new staffing structure of the Directorate.Recruitment to finalise all positions is continuing.

The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing the development of a workplan for the new DRG, including the external drivers such as the pending reinvigoration of the National Disability Strategy. Employment of people with disability remains a priority for the next 12 months, as does a Disability Justice Strategy, and enhanced engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with disability.