Congratulations to PDA’s elected Board Members.

Following Saturday’s PDA AGM, elections for the Board positions of TAS Director and VIC Director took place.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Tim Harte (VIC Director) was re-elected to the position and also voted by the Executive to continue in his ancillary role of PDA Treasurer.

We also welcome Tammy Milne to the role of TAS Director and look forward to seeing both successful candidates’ continued commitments and successes in these roles over the next three years.

PDA holds its 2023 AGM

On Saturday 18th November, PDA held its 2023 Annual General Meeting, which was well attended and brought together our Board, Members and Ambassador, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM.

Attendees heard from the PDA Team about the organisation’s efforts in 2023, plans moving into 2024 and beyond and together were part of the Physical Disability Australia conversation.

Dinesh also shared his thoughts around issues affecting the disability community and his hopes for positive reform.

Thank you to all our Members who attended, are an active part of the PDA community and who play an active role in PDA maintaining its place as an active and understanding supporter of Australians living with physical disability. 

If you’re not yet a PDA MEMBER and have an interest in making a positive contribution to Australia’s disability landscape, think about signing up for FREE MEMBERSHIP by going to

www.pda.org.au/membership/

We look forward to welcoming you to the PDA community.

It’s not too late to register for THIS SATURDAY’S PDA AGM (Saturday 18th November 2023).

We invite all our members to join us via Zoom.

3pm Sydney/Melbourne/Hobart/Canberra
2:30pm Adelaide
2pm Brisbane
1:30pm Darwin
12pm Perth

Hear what we’ve been up to in 2023, what our plans are moving forwards and to be part of the Physical Disability Australia conversation.

With updates from PDA Ambassador, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, and the PDA Team, our Annual General Meeting will be a great chance for Members to be an active part of the PDA community.

Wherever you are in Australia, you can attend via Zoom.

All you need is a phone, laptop, tablet or computer.

But you will need to register by going to:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAtcuGhqTgoGdIM26TRQrrr50MmX1PZ-4E9?os=ipad#/registration

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Meeting documents will be circulated ahead of the AGM.

We really look forward to you joining us and saying “hi”.

Congratulations to PDA’s Ambassador, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, on being awarded a Prestigious Scholarship

Dinesh Palipana has been awarded a General Sir John Monash Scholarships to undertake postgraduate study with an overseas university in 2024.

“Sir John Monash, one of Australia’s greatest civic and military leaders, believed education is not given for individual benefit, but for the higher duties of citizens who seek to advance society.

Dr Palipana will join the University of Edinburgh and Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh, which are among the oldest leading institutions globally providing medical education, to complete a Masters in Internal Medicine.”

Why are our airports and airlines still getting accessibility and disability protocols so wrong?

Following ongoing and recent airline and airport incidents involving people living with disability, PDA last month circulated a Position Statement outlining the urgent need for airline and airport staff to undergo disability and inclusion training and listen to passengers with disability and their carers.

Following on from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability reporting on the requirement for a complete overhaul of the procedures for supporting people with disability travelling by air, it is imperative that accessibility and airport and airline practices are revised to provide inclusive air travel experiences for all air travellers.

To read more about our Position Statement go to:

https://www.pda.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/PDA-Position-Statement-Call-to-Airports-and-Airlines.pdf

Supports available outside the NDIS

Written by Paul Williamson- PDA ACT Associate Director

With all the discussion and focus on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), it can be easy to overlook the fact that only a relatively small proportion of people living with disability are participants in the scheme.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that approximately 4.4 million people in Australia report living with a disability. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reports that 610,504 people are participants in the NDIS as at the end of June 2023. This represents only 13% of people living with disability in Australia.

So what supports are available for people with disability who are not scheme participants?

The answer will come as no surprise to many people with disability – relatively few. The Federal Minister for the NDIS, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, has even conceded this point, echoing the widespread view in the disability community that the NDIS is becoming ‘the only lifeboat in the ocean’.

It’s a big ocean

There are limited measures provided by the Commonwealth Government intended to address gaps in services for people not eligible to join the NDIS. The delivery of services for people with disability was largely the remit of state and territory governments prior to the introduction of the NDIS in 2013. It was envisaged that state and territory governments would continue to deliver services to people not eligible to join the NDIS after its introduction, however this is not what has happened in many cases.

States and territories still provide some funding, though many programs that were previously funded have transitioned into the NDIS, and what is left provides only limited support. 

In the ACT for example, the main publicly funded support for people not on the NDIS include the following:

  • * Community Assistance & Temporary Supports (CATS) program which provides short-term support for people with a health issue, illness or injury. There is no age restriction, and eligibility criteria include (as well as living in the ACT):
    • * Be ready to leave hospital but unable to access the supports to help you return home safely through an existing program (such as the NDIS or Commonwealth aged care program).
    • * Have a health condition that is temporary or terminal, and not likely to get assistance through another program such as the NDIS or Commonwealth aged care program.

The program commenced on 1 October 2023, drawing several closing programs together, and has a modest annual budget of around $8 million dollars. I say modest as the program applies to all people, not just people with disability, and a large proportion of recipients are likely to be the elderly.

  • * Integrated Service Response program which provides short-term co-ordination support for people with high or complex support needs, and funding to purchase emergency supports and services from non-government providers. Many recipients of support under the scheme are already NDIS participants. The program has an annual budget of approximately $1.1 million dollars.

The ACT Government concedes that it is a ‘program of last resort’.

  • * The Disability Gateway provides links to information about services for people with disability in each state and territory. Many of these services however appear mostly to be available to people with NDIS funding or operate on a full fee for service model.

There is also some funding for advocacy services and things like concessions on utilities and transport vouchers.

Implications

For the majority of people living with disability, this means that they must fund their own supports – that, or rely on friends, family or volunteer services for assistance when required. Not an ideal situation for some of the most vulnerable people in the community who often struggle to find secure, stable employment.

It really shouldn’t be that surprising that we have seen a stampede of people seeking to join the NDIS – some even seeking access prospectively, just in case their condition deteriorates. It also explains the angst on the part of participants and the disability community any time the issue of scheme sustainability or eligibility is raised.

The NDIS was designed to operate on a 50:50 cost sharing arrangements between the Federal and state/territory governments, however due to the current capped nature of state and territory government contributions – the Federal Government is currently meeting around 70 per cent of the NDIS budget. By 2026-27, that figure is expected to reach 75 per cent.

At the end of June 2023, the value of plan budgets in the ACT was $702 million. Based on the original cost sharing arrangement, the ACT Government’s share of this would be $351 million. In 2022-23, the ACT is expected to contribute $189.9 million.

The progressive cost shifting to the Federal Government makes the spend on the part of the ACT Government (outside of its existing NDIS contribution) seem modest indeed.

Way forward

The National Disability Insurance Agency forecasts that the number of NDIS participants will reach $1 million within the next decade, and value of the program reach close to $100 billion annually.

There is a range of proposals being considered by the NDIS Independent Review to ensure funding for the NDIS is secured well into the future. Increasing the proportional increase in contributions by state and territory governments should be one of them.

OPPORTUNITY FOR PWD IN QLD, NSW, ACT, SA and WA

Queenslanders with Disability Network is inviting those in the states/territories listed above to become Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) Peer Leaders.

P-CEP Peer Leaders are people with disability helping to raise awareness with other people with disability about P-CEP.

The P-CEP is a framework and toolkit for people with disability to prepare for their safety and wellbeing in emergencies.

Co-designed by people with disability to prepare for their safety and wellbeing in emergencies, it draws on the research that informed person-centred and strengths-based approaches to making an emergency plan tailored to individual support needs in emergencies.

The program introduces you to the P-CEP Workbook and helps you to take steps to get ready for emergencies. Peer Leaders want to learn together about what people can do for themselves and what they may need support for in emergency situations.

Workshops will be run between October 2023 – February 2024. Join the workshop series in October. It is important to come to all 4 workshops in the series. Each workshop will go for 1 – 1.5 hours.

People who join the P-CEP Learning Community will receive payment to contribute to their time and expenses in taking part in learning.

For more information please go to https://qdn.org.au/our-work/disability-inclusive-disaster-risk-reduction/pcep-peer-leadership-program/ , contact QDN on 1300 363 783 or email the team at didrr@qdn.org.au.

PDA Members are invited to attend our AGM on Saturday 18th November 2023 via Zoom.

Join us to hear what we’ve been up to in 2023, what our plans are moving forwards and to be part of the Physical Disability Australia conversation.

With updates from PDA Ambassador, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, and the PDA Team, our Annual General Meeting will be a great chance for Members to be an active part of the PDA community.

We hope that you join us and look forward to welcoming you.

Wherever you are in Australia, you can attend via Zoom.

All you need is a phone, laptop, tablet or computer.

But you will need to register by going to:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAtcuGhqTgoGdIM26TRQrrr50MmX1PZ-4E9?os=ipad#/registration

If you don’t have a Zoom account, signing up is free, quick and easy. Follow the prompts to create an account.

If you experience problems, please email us at promotion@pda.org.au or call 1800 PDA ORG (1800 732 674).

3pm Sydney/Melbourne/Hobart/Canberra

2:30pm Adelaide

2pm Brisbane

1:30pm Darwin

12pm Perth

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Meeting documents will be circulated ahead of the AGM.

We really look forward to you joining us and saying “hi”.

Thrilled to be counted with everyone else.

Written by PDA’s QLD Associate Director, Sarah Styles

We are all familiar with the journey of learning to thrive through disability. This path normally involves years of searching for answers with many setbacks in finding the best management plan and supports. Then, dealing with organisations like NDIA brings challenges that can push us past our limits. It is after years of this I found my mental health at a low. 

Since my exercise physiologist is working well with me, I decided to enter a powerlifting competition. It would give me a healthy goal that involves other people in the form of other competitors and those that work with us. Turned out to be the best decision.

Benefit 1 – Starting bench press improved my body in an unexpected way!

As someone with hEDS my connective tissue is too stretchy and cannot support my body and organs the way they are designed to. As a result, my muscles need to be extra strong to support my joints instead. It’s also hard to stretch because I hyper-extend and get no benefits, even though my body is screaming out for it.  My body desires to move and get strong but more often than not I get injured doing simple things. 

Lying down on the bench press provides a decent stretch without injury throughout my whole body. Winning already! 

Benefit 2 – Mental Health

My mental health improved immediately as expected. Physically feeling better and stronger coupled with a goal to work towards really did the trick. 

Benefit 3 – Meeting people who are happy to work with me – no matter what that means! 

Powerlifting Australia informed me that the next competition was fast approaching, and they were happy to make adjustments to make it happen last minute. Not only that, but there is no segregation. Adjustments are made so everyone can compete together regardless of their physical ability. Which I really appreciated. This alone was uplifting and empowering. 

Competition day. 

The first thing I noticed was the family vibe. Feeling that, I knew everything would be fine.  Despite arriving an hour late to prevent health issues – I struggled – but they flew into action. I was informed of anything I didn’t know, such as doing weigh in, choosing what weight I’d lift for my 3 attempts, then warming up. 

It takes a lot of people to make a competition run. Everyone knew their job and functioned so well as a team you’d not know if there was a problem they had to solve. I ended up pressing my personal best – which was exciting – and leaving with a gold medal!

As a spectator you can’t help but cheer everyone on. I even witnessed a world record being made. I am definitely looking forward to the next competition and I’m thrilled to be counted with everyone else. 

When I need to acknowledge my privilege

Written by Tammy Milne – PDA TAS Associate Director

I am a white disabled woman living in Australia. My cohort is still the most marginalised and discriminated against minority group – people with disabilities suffer discrimination in Australia more than all the other minority groups put together. 44% of all complaints received by the Human Rights Commission are in regards to discrimination because of disability (AIWH, 2023).

I am a university student and as such come across a wide range of overseas students. 

My taxi driver from Lebanon on Friday night said that they had been a nurse in their home country, and that things are very different here for people with disabilities and so I am very lucky. Our country is getting a little better.

My support worker from India is a trained physiotherapist – but only in India. I asked her what it is like for people with disabilities in her home country. She answered “Good if you come from a rich family who can pay for everything, but it is not like it is here.” When I asked how things would be if you are not from a rich family. She sort of frowned and answered “it’s not good.  There are a lot of beggars in India who have disabilities. They beg for food – that is if they survive.” I asked “Do they die?” Her sad answer was “Yes”.

My Iranian friend at university has a cousin who uses a wheelchair. Her family is able to take care of her and her mother and family are very protective of her. She mentioned that access is very difficult in her country and the shops and streets make it very hard for her family to push her wheelchair. It is also a country where it is mandatory for women to wear a hijab. Very proudly my friend said her cousin asserts her dissidence by claiming she cannot wear it because of her disability. It seems that, at least to this point, she has been given some leniency.

My first holiday overseas was to Indonesia. I was 24 years old. Getting off the tour bus in a remote, small town square, I was rocked to my core. My naivety in my perceptions of what the lives of people with disabilities was like was rocked. I had assumed that everyone (wherever they were in the world), had a life like mine. I was so wrong. The bus was met by a small group of disabled people whose bone contractures (unlike mine) had not been surgically altered. They moved around on makeshift wooden skateboard type trolleys, sitting just a few centimetres off the ground. Prior to this, I had no idea what real poverty and deprivation looked like.

And so it is that I check my privilege. It is difficult to compare apples and oranges, a rich first world country and the countries outside of our “lucky country”.  I complain about the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) not being perfect and not meeting all my needs and the needs of others in Australia, but then I remember what I have been told and what I have seen.

In 2013 the Labor Government legislated a trial rollout of the NDIS to give people with disabilities choice and control over their lives – much like those whose disabilities saw them eligible for MAIB insurance. People with disabilities not covered under MAIB due to their being born with their disabilities, were then afforded a level playing field with the NDIS.

The scheme has now grown to be Australian wide. There is obviously still work to be done to make the scheme sustainable and efficient, to stamp out corruption from nefarious, unscrupulous entities and to give people with disabilities dignity. However, we are well on the way to this being achieved. We must also be ever vigilant in ensuring that the conditions offered to people with disabilities in Australia are the best that our country can provide.

I acknowledge my privilege to live in Australia and be a participant of the NDIS, but I will never forget that many living in other countries do not have such fortunate lives. It is but by a quirk of nature that I was born here, and they were born there! The divide between us is unfair!