In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000

Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call


Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700


24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

Terms of Reference

The ACT Disability Reference Group (the Reference Group), is an advisory group which will work to ensure the ACT Government is aware of the issues which affect people with disability in the ACT.

The Reference Group will also advise the ACT Government on ways in which the ACT can be a more inclusive community for people with disability. Members of the Reference Group will draw on their own experience and their broader engagement with people with disability, as their carers and service providers to provide that advice.

Terms of Reference [PDF 246KB]


The work of the Reference Group will be underpinned by the six policy areas of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, and the new National Disability Strategy, Beyond 2020

  • Inclusive and accessible communities;
  • Rights protection, justice and legislation;
  • Economic security;
  • Personal and community support;
  • Learning and skills; and
  • Health and wellbeing.

The National Disability Strategy provides the framework for governments to engage people with disability in the development of policies and programs.

As a Human Rights jurisdiction, the ACT Government is committed to ensuring the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is observed and applied through policy and practice. The ACT Government also has an obligation under the National Disability Agreement to engage a consultative group of people with disability to guide the decision making of government. The Reference Group will form part of this consultative role.

The ACT Disability Reference Group will:

  • provide advice to the ACT Government on issues affecting people with disability;
  • advise on, and participate in, community engagement to build an inclusive Canberra;
  • provide strategic whole of government advice to the Minister for Disability on relevant national policy development including on the six National Disability Strategy strategic policy outcomes;
  • foster cooperative linkages with people with disability, their families and other unpaid carers, organisations, government and community;
  • alert the ACT Government to emerging issues, potential risks and opportunities related to the ongoing implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); and
  • provide advice on strategies that raise community awareness of the rights of people with disability including the UNCRPD and the role of government and community in promoting these rights.
  • The Reference Group is an advisory body, without legislated powers, but with the Minister’s endorsement to respectfully consult with the community on their behalf and to report to them on relevant current issues and strategic planning; and to recommend policy or legislative changes, or other specific Government action.
  • The Reference Group Chair, and their delegates, can speak at community forums on behalf of the Minister, with the Minister’s express permission.
  • While the Community Services Directorate (CSD) will regularly request the advice and assistance of the Reference Group, the Directorate retains ultimate responsibility for community consultation and policy development.


The Reference Group will have between 7 and 15 Cabinet endorsed members, a majority of whom are people with disability, including the Chair and Deputy Chair, and 5 ex-officio members.

Composition and Representation

The Reference Group will comprise people who work together in the best interests of people with disability in the ACT. The Reference Group is not a representative body but rather an advisory group of people who reside in the ACT or work, study or volunteer in the ACT; or demonstrate another significant connection and commitment to the ACT and are able to draw upon valued and relevant perspectives and experience.

The Minister will consider the composition of the Reference Group to ensure the group represents diversity, including an appropriate gender balance, experience of disability, people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex or queer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and people of different ages.

Reference Group members may bring a range of experiences including as a:

  • person with disability;
  • young person with disability;
  • person from an Aboriginal background with disability;
  • person from a Torres Strait Islander background with disability;
  • person who identifies as LGBTIQ with disability;
  • person from a culturally and linguistically diverse background with disability;
  • carer of a person or people with disability (of any age or background); and/or
  • person engaged in the disability service system.

The Minister has the discretion to appoint additional members, including ex-officio members that may comprise in part representation from disability peak bodies in the ACT.

The Reference Group will provide opportunity to emerging leaders with disability who would benefit from observing community representation and provision of advice to government. Emerging leaders with disability will not be endorsed through a Cabinet process and they will not be considered members. Their contribution will be short term in nature and any supporting papers provided will be subject to confidentiality and at the decision of Chair.

The Reference Group will include the following ex-officio members:

  • Director-General, Community Services Directorate
  • Representative of ACT National Disability Services
  • Executive Branch Manager, Office for Disability
  • Representative of ACT Health Directorate
  • Representative of Canberra Health Services

Term of Appointment for Cabinet endorsed members

  • Appointment terms will be for two years with the possibility of extension for up to an additional two years at the Minister’s request.
  • Appointments of incoming members will be staggered, to ensure corporate knowledge is not lost.
  • Membership is appointed by the Minister for Disability and subject to endorsement by Cabinet.
  • If members do not attend three consecutive meetings or do not attend 50 percent of meetings in a year, without the leave of the Chair, their place may be opened to a new member.
  • The Minister may invite individuals to advise the group on particular issues.
  • The above information does not apply to ex-officio members who are appointed by virtue of their position.


  • Applicants must be ACT residents; work, study or volunteer in the ACT; or demonstrate another significant connection and commitment to the ACT.
  • Existing Cabinet endorsed members may re-apply for a second term through a simple email or letter to the Reference Group’s Secretariat, without the need for a full application, but with an updated biography.
  • Cabinet endorsed members may only serve two consecutive terms but may apply for a non-consecutive third term.
  • ACT Public Service (ACTPS) employees are ordinarily eligible for appointment in a personal capacity, if there is minimal conflict between their duties to the Reference Group and to the ACTPS (see also ‘Conflict of Interest’ section below).


Cabinet endorsed members are appointed by the Minister, following recommendations from a selection panel, and the endorsement of Cabinet.

Appointment of Chair and Deputy Chair

Any Cabinet endorsed member can subsequently be appointed by the Minister as Chair or Deputy Chair without the need for further Cabinet endorsement. In the absence of both the Chair and Deputy Chair, the Executive Branch Manager, Office for Disability will assume the chairing role.


Members may resign from the Reference Group at any time. All resignations must be provided in writing to the Minister, stating their intention to resign, with a copy provided to the Chair. The appointment of replacement members is at the Minister’s discretion.

Roles and Responsibilities


The Chair will:

  • represent the Reference Group including in any public context;
  • facilitate orderly and constructive discussions between members on matters within the Terms of Reference (ToRs);
  • liaise with ACT Government directorates;
  • assist members to work together as a group by:
  • drawing participation from all members;
  • maintain a positive and constructive atmosphere at meetings by encouraging courtesy, respect and openness;
  • seek to resolve conflict within the group and provide feedback as necessary to group members on expressed opinions or actions;
  • liaise with the Secretariat to develop meeting agendas and ensure that any action required is appropriately assigned and progressed; and
  • inform the Minister for Disability about the priorities and work of the group through meetings and correspondence.
  • facilitating discussion;
  • ensuring all members have equal opportunity to contribute ideas, opinions and concerns; and

Deputy Chair

The Deputy Chair’s role is to act for the Chair in their absence; to attend forums relating to Reference Group business as the Chair’s delegate; and to otherwise assist the Chair as necessary.

Ordinary Members

  • Members are expected to actively and constructively participate in meeting discussions, community consultations and work projects; and to maintain links with the community.
  • While some Cabinet endorsed members may be selected due to their knowledge and experience within community organisations, they are appointed as individuals to provide advice and opinions in the best interests of the ACT community, and not to represent an organisation.

Support Persons

  • People with disability may seek the Chair’s agreement to have a support person attend meetings with them.
  • Other members may also seek the Chair’s approval to have a support person attend meetings with them to advise them on Reference Group processes, or to act as their translator.
  • These support persons will not directly contribute to Reference Group discussions or have voting rights.

Minister’s Adviser

The Adviser will ordinarily have a standing invitation to general meetings as a guest, with their primary role at meetings being to clarify the Minister’s position on issues and processes.

Standing Invitations

The Reference Group may choose to extend a standing invitation to other persons/officers to assist in the operation of the Reference Group e.g. the Manager of the relevant ACT Government policy unit. These persons will ordinarily only contribute to Reference Group discussions when invited to do so.

Invited Speakers

The Reference Group may invite guest speakers or advisers to specific meetings to assist it in better understanding specific issues within its remit e.g. Government officers explaining a relevant policy or program, or an academic explaining relevant current research findings.


Secretariat support will be provided by the Office for Disability (OfD), within the CSD. The Secretariat is responsible for:

  • developing agendas in consultation with the Chair;
  • distributing the agenda and meeting papers in appropriate formats;
  • taking minutes and distributing them to Reference Group members
  • monitoring action items arising from Reference Group business and assisting in their implementation, including liaising between the Reference Group and Government agencies;
  • arranging venues and refreshments for meetings; and
  • arranging remuneration for Cabinet endorsed members.

General Meetings

  • The Reference Group meets bi-monthly (six times per year).
  • If a member is unable to attend a meeting, they are required to submit an apology to the Secretariat stating the reason for the absence. Apologies are noted in the Minutes.
  • Proxies and/or observers will not be accepted to replace absent Cabinet endorsed members. Proxies are accepted for ex-officio members.
  • A draft agenda will be developed prior to each meeting by the Secretariat in consultation with the Chair. In developing the agenda, consideration will be given to any direction provided by the Minister.
  • The agenda and papers are to be circulated to members no less than one week prior to the meeting.
  • Meetings are to be facilitated by the Chair, or in their absence the Deputy Chair.
  • Whenever possible, decisions are to be made by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions will be made by a majority vote of members.
  • A member who does not agree with the majority ruling, can request to have their concerns noted in the minutes of the meeting.
  • Diversity of opinion on issues will be reflected in the advice provided to the Minister.
  • At each meeting, members are to provide updates on consultations they have attended on behalf of the Reference Group.


Members may form working groups, sub-committees, co-opt individuals with expertise for particular projects, actions to implement the DRG workplan or issues. These working groups will meet out of session as necessary.


  • Reference Group members are expected to undertake regular consultation with their community network to inform group business. This may be done at routine meetings of community organisations, or through specially scheduled meetings, and should be reported to Reference Group.
  • The Reference Group, as a body, is expected to undertake at least one community consultation within its term, with Secretariat support, and in partnership with the Minister.

Other business between meetings

  • The Chair may conduct business between meetings on behalf of the Reference Group, including the preparation of correspondence. The Chair may delegate this to other members, as required. All submissions and significant correspondence must be cleared through the Chair and the Minister.
  • Members are expected to advise the Secretariat when they have completed agreed actions arising from previous meetings.
  • Extraordinary meetings may be required to progress urgent and significant issues e.g. to more fully discuss a key Reference Group submission to the ACT or Australian Government.
  • The Reference Group may deal with some matters out-of-session, usually where feedback is sought from Reference Group members, rather than a policy decision.
  • Where a matter requiring resolution is to be dealt with in an out-of-session paper, agreement by two thirds of Reference Group members is required for assent.

Official Business and the Representation of Reference Group Views

  • Members will be deemed to be on Reference Group business when representing the Reference Group at meetings and other forums; and when generally attending to the operation of the Reference Group.
  • When representing the Reference Group members must represent existing Reference Group policy in the public domain, including the media, as needed to achieve the Reference Group’s workplan.
  • Members must report back to Reference Group on official activities.
  • Formal speeches and papers to be delivered by a member on behalf of the Reference Group or the Minister; submissions to inquiries and committees; and significant correspondence will be cleared through the Chair or the Minister respectively prior to their presentation.
  • All contact with the media on behalf of the Reference Group requires consultation with the Chair.
  • Any information to be released to the media on behalf of the Reference needs to be cleared through the Chair and the Minister.
  • If operating in the public domain, including using social media, in a private capacity, or as the representative of another organisation, members must follow ACT Government social media guidelines regarding comment on government matters, including not giving the impression that they represent the views of the Reference Group or the ACT Government, and being mindful of the confidentiality of Reference Group papers and discussion.

Extended Leave of Absence

Members can seek leave of absence for up to three consecutive months from the Chair. For longer periods, leave must be sought from the Minister through a letter or email.

Code of Conduct

ACTPS Values and Signature Behaviours

Reference Group members are expected to follow Section 9 of Public Sector Management Act 1994 on public sector conduct, and adopt the Values and Signature Behaviours of the ACT Public Service in their work:

  1. We value respect by taking pride in our work; valuing the contribution of others; and relating to colleagues and clients in a fair, decent and professional manner.
  2. We demonstrate integrity by doing what we say we’ll do; responding appropriately when the unexpected occurs; taking responsibility for, being accountable for, our decisions and actions; our genuine engagement with the community; and managing the resources entrusted to us honestly and responsibly.
  3. We demonstrate collaboration by working openly and sharing information to reach shared goals; taking on board other views when solving problems; and welcoming feedback on how we can do things better.
  4. We demonstrate innovation by looking for ways to continuously improve our services and skills; and being open to change and new ideas from all sources.

In addition to the above, the following issues are also vital to the operation of the Reference Group.

Active Participation

  • Members are expected to attend all general meetings, read agenda papers, and periodically contribute to agenda papers.
  • They will also actively contribute to discussions, including questioning, with due diligence and in good faith, and in the best interests of the community.
  • They are also expected to actively seek community feedback and advice in the normal course of their community engagement; and to occasionally attend, and contribute to, formal Reference Group consultation forums.


  • All Reference Group papers must be considered as confidential unless indicated otherwise by the Chair, or where the papers are already in the public domain.
  • Members may occasionally also be provided with other confidential material, which they should not disclose to anyone outside the Reference Group and should treat with the utmost care and discretion.
  • Discussion within Reference Group meetings must also be treated as confidential.

Conflict of Interest

  • Conflict of interest is defined as any instance where a Reference Group member has a personal, financial or other interest in matters under consideration, or proposed for consideration, by the Reference Group. For example, a member might have a financial interest for themselves, family or friends in advice to government about specific service funding.
  • A member must disclose to the Chair any situation that may give rise to a personal conflict of interest, a potential conflict of interest, or a potential perceived conflict of interest. The Chair will make the determination whether there are adequate grounds for excluding a member from any discussion or decision making regarding a specific issue.
  • Where the Chair has the personal conflict, or the potential or perceived conflict, the Deputy Chair will lead the discussion and make the appropriate determination.
  • Documentation outlining appropriate conduct in relation to ethical standards, conflict of interest and other issues is outlined in the Governance Principles – Appointments, Boards and Committees in the ACT (March 2017) handbookExternal Link, available from the ACT Office for Disability or the Chief Minister and Cabinet Directorate.
  • The Minister has the discretion to suspend or terminate a member’s appointment if there is an identified conflict of interest or a breach of the Code of Conduct.

Disciplinary Action

A member breaches the Code of Conduct by disregarding these professional conduct guidelines, including:

  • conduct that causes imminent and serious risk to the health or safety of a person, or to the reputation or viability of the Directorate’s business;
  • theft or fraud;
  • being intoxicated while on Reference Group business; or
  • other deliberate behaviour that is inconsistent with the continuation of their Reference Group membership.

The member will be advised of any disciplinary action to be taken, and given two warnings, followed by immediate termination if a third breach occurs. The Minister will advise the member in writing of their termination.

Membership can also be revoked by the Minister where a member fails to adequately contribute to the Reference Group’s work by failing to attend three consecutive meetings, or missing 50% of meetings in a year, without accepted apologies or leave.

  • Cabinet endorsed members will be remunerated for participating in bi-monthly meetings, leading community engagement and significant out-of-session contributions up to 15 hours per year. Remuneration will be agreed in advance of out-of-session forums and engagements.
  • Remuneration will be consistent with the ACT Remuneration Tribunal determination.
  • The ToRs shall be reviewed every two years.
  • The Minister may also direct that an independent evaluation be undertaken regarding the Reference Group’s performance, which may include a review of the ToRs.
Updating Terms of Reference
  • The ToRs shall be reviewed every two years.
  • The Minister may also direct that an independent evaluation be undertaken regarding the Reference Group’s performance, which may include a review of the ToRs.
Suspension or Cessation of Reference Group
  • The Minister for Disability reserves the right to suspend the work of the Reference Group or to dissolve the group at any time.
  • The Minister may also direct that its work should be continued through another forum, including through another advisory Reference Group or forum.
Contact details


ACT Disability Reference Group
Office for Disability, Inclusion and Participation
Community Services Directorate

Address:  GPO Box 158

Phone:  6207 1086