FPDN’s Sydney Office is relocating.
FPDN’s Sydney Office is relocating.
Disability groups renew call for Royal Commission into violence against people with disability
Tonight’s ABC Four Corners report, ‘Fighting the System’ exposed more evidence of the appalling levels of violence and abuse against people with disability in Australia. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In light of the graphic and disturbing cases revealed this evening, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), calls on the Federal Government to reconsider its recent refusal to conduct a Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability.
“Tonight, more evidence has come to light that supports the case for a Royal Commission. It is only a Royal Commission that has the weight, the investigative powers, the time and resources to open the doors to the many ‘closed’ institutions and residential environments, and expose Australia’s shameful secret,” said Therese Sands, Director, DPO Australia.
“People with disability are routinely denied access to justice, both at a civil and criminal level because of law, policy and practice barriers. A Royal Commission would give space and recognition to people with disability to tell their story, to be believed, and would enable some measure of accountability and justice,” said Ms Sands.
The 2015 Senate Committee Inquiry into violence and abuse against people with disability in institutional and residential settings found that violence and abuse was prolific and hidden. The central recommendation of the committee was the establishment of a Royal Commission.
The Federal Government ruled out a Royal Commission in its response to the Senate Inquiry earlier this month. The Government noted that it was addressing violence and abuse against people with disability by establishing the Quality and Safeguarding Framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Dr Jessica Cadwallader, Violence Prevention Manager at People with Disability Australia (PWDA), member of DPO Australia said, “While the Quality and Safeguarding Framework is welcome and very important, it will not protect all people with disability, only those who are NDIS eligible. It appears to be largely based on systems and responses that the Senate Inquiry found to be inadequate.”
“A Royal Commission has a critical role to play as Australia undertakes national changes to disability supports and services. It would also address the scale of violence and abuse against people with disability, its many forms and the broad range of services and settings where it occurs. It would have the resources to examine the adequacy of systems, processes and accountability mechanisms designed to put an end to the appalling rates of violence and abuse against people with disability,” said Dr Cadwallader.
“We call on the Federal Government to take a leadership role to stop the epidemic of violence and provide a measure of justice for people with disability by urgently establishing a Royal Commission,” said Ms Sands.
Information for media:
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) is an alliance of four national Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations made up of and led by people with disability). DPO Australia was founded by, and is made up of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) representing culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) a national cross disability organisation and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), the national organisation representing women and girls with disability.
Today we pay tribute to the women in our communities. We recognise their strength and resilience, their guidance and wisdom, their love and compassion. Today we recognise International Women’s Day and we will continue to fight for women’s rights every day.
NSW: If you are interested in attending a ‘Getting Prepared’ workshop in your area you can review upcoming events on our website here.
On 23, 24 and 25 May 2017 FPDN is hosting a conference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Community members and service providers are also welcome. Sponsorship is available for First Peoples with disability.
The agenda will be published in April 2017.
Download the PDF Save the Date – Living Our Way Conference
Disability groups slam Government decision not to hold Royal Commission into violence and abuse
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), an alliance of national peak groups of people with disability, strongly condemned the decision by the Federal Government to rule out a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
“We are shocked and angry that the Government has ruled out holding a Royal Commission into the epidemic of violence and abuse against people with disability”, said Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia.
“The 2015 Senate Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings exposed the extent of this issue. The Inquiry heard from people with disability from all over Australia, displaying extraordinary courage and often at great personal cost, who came forward to highlight the terrible toll that violence and abuse has had on them personally and on their families and friends. The Inquiry found that the stories they heard were only the tip of the iceberg, and one of the Senate Committee’s headline recommendations was for a Royal Commission,” said Carolyn Frohmader, CEO of Women With Disabilities Australia.
“Only a Royal Commission, which has the weight, the investigative powers, the time and resources to thoroughly examine, expose and respond to this issue, can open the doors to many ‘closed’ institutions and residential environments. Most critically, a Royal Commission would give space and recognition to people with disability – many of us have never had a chance to tell our stories, to be believed, to be supported and to seek some measure of accountability and justice for what we have experienced,” said Ms Frohmader.
“By ruling out a Royal Commission, the Federal Government is denying people with disability a voice to tell their story and be believed. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown the kind of healing impact a Commission can make on a previously neglected and hidden issue,” said Ms Frohmader.
“People with disability in Australia need a Government that is prepared to really listen to those who have suffered from violence and abuse, and commit to take every step necessary to understand the extent and impacts of this national shame. We call on all political parties to speak out on this issue and commit to holding a Royal Commission,” said Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia.
DPO Australia welcomes the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguarding Framework, but is concerned that the Federal Government views this as adequate in addressing the significant issues and numerous recommendations made by the Senate Committee.
“The Senate inquiry showed that violence and abuse of people with disability is not limited to a few rogue individuals, is not confined to disability support settings, and is not circumscribed by State or Territory borders. The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework will only cover a minority of people with disability – those who receive supports through the NDIS – and it replicates systems that the Senate Inquiry demonstrated were inadequate. It doesn’t address the scale of violence and abuse against people with disability, its many different forms and the range of service and other settings where it occurs,” said Ms Sands.
The Redfern Statement leaders make the case for change – a blueprint for the future.
A closed caption version is available on our Facebook page.
Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peaks will today demand a new relationship with government as they deliver the historic Redfern Statement direct to the Prime Minister at Parliament House.
In the lead up to today’s 9th Closing the Gap Report to Parliament, the leaders will call on the Prime Minister to support the historic Redfern Statement, a road map to better address the appalling disadvantage gap between Australia’s First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by working with them as genuine partners.
National Congress of Australia’s First People’s co-chair Mr Rod Little comments: “After 25 years, eight Federal election cycles, seven Prime Ministers, eight Ministers for Indigenous Affairs, 400 recommendations, and countless policies, policy changes, reports, funding promises and funding cuts it’s time to draw a line in the sand.
“We need a new relationship that respects and harnesses our expertise, and guarantees us a seat at the table as equal partners when governments are making decisions about our lives.”
The Redfern Statement was released during last year’s Federal Election campaign on 9 June by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from health, justice, children and families, disability, and family violence prevention sectors.
The statement calls for changes across these sectors through structured engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and is supported by more than 30 major mainstream organisations including the Australian Medical Association and Law Council.
National Congress of Australia’s First People’s Co-chair Dr Jackie Huggins said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have worked with our people on the ground for decades and have shown they have solutions.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver 2.5 million episodes of care a year in their local communities – and are the only health and leadership models making inroads on Close the Gap targets.
“Our teachers, education professionals and family violence experts are delivering real results on the ground in their communities every single day – despite chronic underfunding and an ad hoc policy approach based on three year election cycles.
“Today we are seeking a new relationship, a genuine partnership and a commitment to ongoing structured engagement,” Dr Huggins said.
Read the full Redfern Statement here.
First Peoples Disability Network’s leadership and staff are in Canberra today for the Redfern Statement Breakfast with the Prime Minister and will then attend the PM’s Closing the Gap address.
This morning, the Redfern Statement was presented to Prime Minister Turnbull and Aboriginal leaders stood together calling on the PM to work with us because #WeHaveTheSolutions.
The Redfern Statement is an historic document that was launched in the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election.
Don’t fund the NDIS with cuts to social services and childcare
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), is alarmed and concerned that the Federal Government is linking budget cuts in the Omnibus Bill, now before the Senate, with funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).“We are shocked and troubled about this announcement from Treasurer Scott Morrison that once again links cuts to social security with funding for the NDIS,” said Ms Therese Sands, Director, DPO Australia.
“We have stated clearly, including in our pre-budget submission, that we reject any ties to funding the NDIS by cutting social security. We strongly reject measures that would seek to fill any perceived or potential shortfall in NDIS funding through a shift in revenue from other human services. ”
“We have campaigned over the last year against the creation of an NDIS Special Savings Fund because of our fear that it would be used in exactly this way, creating an expectation that the NDIS will be funded from ongoing trade-offs against other equally important human services expenditures. This is exactly what is happening, even before the Bill for the establishment of the Special Savings Fund has passed the Senate.”
“The NDIS provides essential ongoing support for many people with disability in Australia. These same people with disability will also be hurt by the proposed cuts to income support, childcare and family payments. These cuts are counterproductive to the aims of the NDIS, and it is simply unacceptable that funding for the NDIS should be linked to measures that will see so many other people in our community worse off.”
“The Government must stop this kind of politicisation of the NDIS and restore certainty to people with disability across Australia by taking the funding out of the budget cycle,” said Ms Sands.
“Trading off essential and vital disability support with cuts is a false economy that will hurt many people with disability and is simply not on, completely unfair, and goes no way to ensure the long term sustainability of the NDIS, which the Government says is the intention.”
“The NDIS is not a political football to be tossed around like this. People with disability across Australia will be rightly very angry and concerned about this decision. We call on Senators to block these measures and halt this ongoing trade-off for NDIS funding,” said Ms Sands.
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) is an alliance of four national Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations made up of and led by people with disability).
DPO Australia was founded by, and is made up of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDNA) representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) representing culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) a national cross disability organisation and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), the national organisation representing women and girls with disability.
Expertise of people with disability vital to the
Uncle Lester Bostock was awarded honorary doctorate on Friday 9 December by AFTRS. Lester Bostock is a leader of the Aboriginal disability movement and Aboriginal film-making and media.
AFTRS released the following statement after the ceremony:
Lester Bostock, a pioneer of Indigenous media in Australia, and Academy-Award®-winning sound designer David White, have been named recipients of the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s Honorary Degree (Doctor of Arts).
As Honorary Degree recipients, Lester Bostock and David White join a select group of significant Australian film and television industry practitioners including Darren Dale, Phillip Noyce, Dr George Miller, Baz Luhrmann, John Edwards and Jan Chapman.
Lester Bostock, commonly known as ‘Uncle Lester’ is a renowned filmmaker, mentor and Bundjalung Elder, and an inspiration and guiding light for a generation of Indigenous filmmakers. Lester has also been at the forefront of promoting and protecting the human rights of Aboriginal people with disability in Australia over several decades.
In the 1990s, Uncle Lester ran accelerated training workshops at AFTRS in television and from this ground-breaking program many Indigenous filmmakers were introduced to the industry and continue to work today.
From that foundational work, his legacy paved the way for the establishment of the AFTRS Indigenous Unit.
“Lester’s training programs have been instrumental in the increase in Indigenous drama production among emerging filmmakers, and his guidance and tenacity over the years has contributed greatly to the number of extraordinarily talented Indigenous filmmakers in the industry today.”
– AFTRS Chair Julianne Schultz AM FAHA
Uncle Lester’s experience as Associate Producer on Lousy Little Sixpence resulted in his push for training in film and television for Indigenous people. He also began to write policies and protocols on filming in Aboriginal communities and for Indigenous employment.
Uncle Lester’s long-standing passion for the arts is well known. He was one of the founding members of Black Theatre in the 1970s, and instrumental in the formation of Radio Redfern, now Koori Radio, in the 80s. He was the first Aboriginal presenter on SBS Radio, gravitating naturally to SBS Television as part of the first Aboriginal program team with Rhoda Roberts.
He has received numerous awards for community service over the years including a Centenary Medal, the NSW Law and Justice Foundation Award for Aboriginal Justice and in 2010 Uncle Lester was the NAIDOC Elder of the Year.
Jane Rosengrave received the Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Award at the Australian Human Rights Awards 2016 on Friday.
The Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Award – Individual is awarded to a person with a track record in promoting and advancing human rights in the Australian community on a not-for-profit basis.
Jane Rosengrave is a proud Yorta Yorta woman and disability advocate. Jane lives with an intellectual disability and is widely respected for her fearless advocacy regarding violence against people with disability. Jane has given evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and supported others to give evidence too. Jane lived in institutions from six months old, in conditions she describes as “like a jail”. From the age of six until she turned 21, she experienced sexual abuse and emotional torment by more than one perpetrator. After leaving the institution as an adult, she went on to live in an abusive relationship for 16 years. She now has a home of her own and is “free as a bird” from those who impacted on her earlier life.
Jane’s story was featured on ABC’s Lateline recently. You can watch her story online here. Please be aware that the video could trigger issues for some people (trigger warning).
The team at FPDN congratulates Jane on this well deserved recognition of her bravery, leadership and advocacy.
Change The Record Coalition put out this media release today.
The Change the Record Coalition is urging Federal, State and Territory Governments to show leadership, and commit to developing national justice targets when COAG meets this Friday. The Prime Minister has noted that youth justice will be on the agenda and Change the Record is calling for measurable targets to be set to reduce over-imprisonment, and high rates of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.
Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “The over-representation of our people in the criminal justice system, and high rates of violence being experienced, is both cause and effect for the poor state of health, education and employment outcomes of so many of our families and communities.”
“Tomorrow’s COAG meeting presents Federal, State and Territory governments with a critical opportunity to work together to tackle these issues head on.”
“The safer communities ‘building block’ remains the only area of the ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy without targets attached. National justice targets – aimed at ending violence against our women and children, and reducing the over-imprisonment of our people – must be set and implemented as a matter of urgency” said Mr Duffy.
Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 13 times more likely to incarcerated. And the situation is even worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who are 24 times more likely to be imprisoned than their non-Indigenous counterparts. At the same time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence related assault, and almost 10 times more likely to die from violent assault than non-Indigenous women.
Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said, “Until governments commit to a whole-of-government approach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children will continue to be disproportionately impacted by family violence. We need immediate and concrete action by all Australian governments.”
“Of particular concern is the high numbers of our young people ending up in detention, and the interrelationship with child protection and family violence rates. We need all levels of government to work together and commit to justice reinvestment approaches, and greater investment in early intervention and prevention initiatives, which aim to support families and prevent our people from coming into contact with the justice system in the first place.”
The Change the Record Coalition is calling for:
– ENDS –
On Friday 2 December 2016, NSW Manager Dianne Brookes and WA coordinator, Wendy Wright attended an International Day of People with Disability event at Crown Casino, Perth.
The Hon. Donna Faragher, Minister for Planning; Disability services made an announcement regarding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Western Australia. The Minister’s statement regarding the announcement is available online.
International Day of People with Disability
Celebrate, Reflect, Act
The 3 December each year is the United Nations International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). This IDPwD, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) celebrates the achievements and contributions of people with disability, reflects on our gains in creating equity and inclusion, and continues to act to make our human rights a reality.
IDPwD 2016 coincides with the ten year anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and along with the recent UN adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it underpins this year’s IDPwD theme – “Achieving 17 goals for the Future We Want”.
“People with disability have been critical to the development of the CRPD and the SDGs, and we continue to focus on making our rights a reality in Australia to achieve the future we want,” said Therese Sands, Director DPO Australia. “People with disability fought for the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and shaped government measures to achieve an inclusive society through the National Disability Strategy (NDS). We now need to ensure that we remain central to the implementation of the NDIS and NDS.”
“There remains much more to be done to address ongoing human rights violations that expose the reality of our lives. Almost half of people with disability continue to live in poverty and are half as likely to be employed as people without disability. People with disability still live in segregated, institutional environments, continue to experience high levels of violence and abuse, can be indefinitely detained in prisons without conviction, face discrimination in immigration policy, and still face significant barriers to inclusive education, our communities and services”, continued Ms Sands. “DPO Australia will continue to take concerted and comprehensive action, and work with Australian governments to address these human rights violations”.
DPO Australia has set out its priorities for action in its Activity Work Plan 2016-2017.
A call to action and 13 policy priorities for commitment by political parties are set out in the 2016 Election Platform.
Criminalising disability: Federal leadership required to end the indefinite detention of people with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment
The Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs tabled its report on the Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment Tuesday evening. The report makes 32 recommendations with a focus on law reform and coordinated policies and programs to support people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment outside the criminal justice system.
Damian Griffis, CEO First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) said: “The ongoing and indefinite imprisonment of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment is a serious abuse of human rights. We welcome the senate inquiry report and commend the senate for turning its attention to this issue. It is critical that swift action is taken in order to end the incarceration of people with disability and to provide appropriate support and services as an alternative to jail.”
Scott Avery, Research and Policy Director FPDN said: “By the time an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person with disability comes into contact with the criminal justice system, they will most likely have had a life of unmanaged disability. When disability is not recognised and addressed, contact with the police and courts are inevitable steps on a matriculation pathway into juvenile detention and prison.”
FPDN and La Trobe Law School were co-coordinators of the First Peoples Disability Justice Consortium’s submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment, which provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives on the recurrent and indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment. The First Peoples Disability Justice Consortium is an alliance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations, disability, justice and legal researchers, Universities and Research Institutes.
Professor Patrick Keyzer from La Trobe University, co-coordinator of the Consortium, said: “The Commonwealth should implement all of the recommendations of the Senate Report, working closely and effectively with the States and Territories to assist these incredibly vulnerable people”.
Karly Warner, Executive Officer, NATSILS said: “The criminal justice system is increasingly and inappropriately being used as a default care provider for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, who have been forced into the criminal justice system early in life in the absence of alternative pathways,”
“Australia’s practices and policies towards people with a disability in the justice system fall short of international standards and Australia’s human rights obligations and, as a result, soaring numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are cycling through the justice system where they are vulnerable a range of things including physical mistreatment, financial exploitation, and inappropriate decisions being made on their behalf.”
Scott Avery said: “Lasting solutions can be developed by bringing experts from both disability and justice together, standing side by side in all parts of the process.”
The First Peoples Disability Justice Consortium will be reviewing all the recommendations with a view to developing a plan for implementation and calls on Australian Governments to:
The Indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia senate report is available online.
FIRST PEOPLES DISABILITY JUSTICE CONSORTIUM prepared a detailed submission to the senate inquiry. It is available online.
Congratulations to our wonderful Board member, Jane Rosengrave. Jane has just been announced as a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards 2016. Please see information pasted below from the Human Rights website.
Congratulations to all finalists. An outstanding group of people.
Five inspiring Australians have been named finalists for the 2016 Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award.
“We received 42 nominations from outstanding Australians, dedicated to human rights at the community level,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.
“All of these finalists are inspiring Australians who live and breathe human rights and work tirelessly to remind us how much one person can do to change the lives of others,” she said.
The finalists are:
Susan Barton is a revolutionary leader in the field of youth homelessness. As the founder and director of the Lighthouse Foundation for Homeless Youth, Susan and her team have developed a unique support model that allows complete rehabilitation into society for disadvantaged young people.
Yassmen Yahya belongs to an ethnic minority called Mandaeanism who have been persecuted for many years, most notably during the Iraq War. Today, the largest Mandaean community is in Sydney. Yassmen established a Mandaean Women’s committee to assist and encourage larger participation of ethnic women in the community.
Shane Duffy, a descendant of the Kalkadoon people of North West Queensland, has worked in human services for more than 25 years specialising in child protection, youth justice and family support. Shane has been CEO of the QLD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service for the past 11 years
Jane Rosengrave is a proud Yorta Yorta woman with an intellectual disability. She is a passionate advocate for people with disability. Jane grew up in institutions and has experienced segregation as well as sexual and other violence, including domestic violence. She contributes to several organisations and shares her personal experiences publicly to raise awareness of the abuse and discrimination facing people with disability.
Catia Malaquias is a disability advocate, lawyer, mum of three and the director of Down Syndrome Australia and the Attitude Foundation. She also founded the Starting with Julius project which aims to transform cultural attitudes towards people with disability, by promoting disability inclusion in mainstream media, advertising and education.
This award is kindly sponsored by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.
Aunty Gayle Rankine, Chairperson of First Peoples Disability Network has been appointed to the Government’s new National Disability and Carers Advisory Council.
The Hon. Jane Prentice MP announced the new Advisory Council yesterday to coincide with the National Disability Awards.
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice said the Council will provide advice to Government on issues of strategic importance at a time of major reform in the disability and carer sectors.
Aunty Gayle Rankine said: “It is an honour to be appointed to the National Disability Advisory Council and I look forward to making a contribution. It is critical that people with disability are front and centre as we go through the national changes to the disability sector,”
“I also welcome the opportunity to highlight the experiences of Australia’s First Peoples with disability and their families and communities. It is so important that our people are not left behind and have equal opportunity to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme and other supports.”
You can read more about FPDN’s Ten-point-plan for the implementation of the NDIS here.
The Minister’s media release is pasted below and is available online here.
The Coalition Government today announced the establishment of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council.
The new Council brings together leaders from business and the disability and carer sectors, to provide advice on proposed policies and legislation affecting people with disability, carers and the sector that serves them.
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice said the Council will provide advice on issues of strategic importance at a time of major reform in the disability and carer sectors.
“The Council will play an important role in helping to drive the implementation of the overarching National Disability Strategy 2010-20,” she said.
“It will also look at reforms in disability employment and carer support, and the full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the interfaces with mainstream services.”
“Members represent every state and territory as well as business and the disability and carer sector, and advocates.
“I will co-chair the Council with Ms Keran Howe, who is well respected as a strong advocate in the sector and who has lived experience,” she said.
The Council will meet formally at least twice a year and establish working groups and community consultations as needed.
Members of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council are:
In July 2016, Following the ABC’s 4 Corners program highlighting the abuse and neglect of young people in detention in the Northern Territory, the Prime Minister of Australia and the Attorney-General announced a Royal Commission into the detention of children and the child protection system in the Northern Territory.
In October FPDN’s Research and Policy Director, Scott Avery was called to give evidence to the Royal Commission. Scott’s evidence focused on the importance of ensuring that the justice system is adequately equipped to recognise and respond to disability.
Our chairperson, Aunty Gayle Rankine made a statements at the time of the 4 Corners report which can be viewed here.
The Redfern Statement is available here.
PDF version: ctrmediarelease_final_27-10-16
CHANGE THE RECORD
MEDIA RELEASE – Thursday 27th October 2016
Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
imprisonment must focus on solutions
A major national inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must focus on identifying tangible solutions that address the underlying causes of imprisonment, says the Change the Record (CTR) Coalition. In welcoming today’s announcement of an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the coalition of peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and legal organisations has said it is essential that the inquiry focus on practical measures that invest in and strengthen communities.
CTR Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “For a long time we have been calling for the Federal Government to take a leadership role on these issues, and so we welcome the Turnbull Government beginning to step up to the plate”.
“This year marks 25 years since the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), but our people continue to experience imprisonment and violence at crisis rates. The new ALRC inquiry offers an important opportunity to shine a comprehensive light on these issues at a national level, and identify tangible actions for all levels of government” said Mr Duffy.
“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, and experience of violence, are strongly linked to social and economic disadvantage and so the inquiry must include a focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion programs” said Mr Duffy.
Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said, “Whilst the announcement of an ALRC inquiry to examine the factors leading to the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is welcome, it is essential that the inquiry also consider issues relating to the prevention of family violence and reducing barriers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims/survivors of family violence to access quality, holistic, culturally safe legal services and supports.”
“It is also critical that the Terms of Reference for the inquiry are developed in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, and those who are members of Change the Record. To ensure that the inquiry has a meaningful outcome, all levels of Government must commit to implementing the recommendations in full.”
“The Federal Government should also take immediate steps to highlight its commitment to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including by setting meaningful national justice targets through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and committing to review the implementation of RCIADIC” said Ms Braybrook.
More information about the Change the Record campaign is available here.
June Riemer, Deputy CEO of FPDN is heading to Edinburgh Scotland to the RI World Conference next week.
RI World Congress is staged every four years, in the name of the parent organisation – Rehabilitation International (also known as RI Global) – and hosted by a trusted member. Shaw Trust is hosting the 2016 event in Edinburgh, UK.
This will be the 23rd RI World Congress, following the previous event, held in Incheon, Korea, in 2012. The event was last held in the UK in 1956, when it was opened by The Duke of Edinburgh.
RI Global is the world’s leading network for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. This network includes people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers and advocates. Comprising an assembly of 100+ member organisations, it uses advocacy, habilitation and rehabilitation to achieve an inclusive world where all people can enjoy active participation and full human rights.
ACT NDIS shutdown must be reversed
A number of national and ACT disability representative and advocacy organisations are today calling on the Australian and ACT governments to immediately work together to reverse the shutdown of the NDIS in the ACT.
Despite welcome reassurances from Ministers, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has stated that there will be no new NDIS participants in the ACT because the estimate of 5,075 participants contained in the ACT NDIS Bilateral Agreement has been reached. Significant alarm is being experienced by people with disability who have been waiting many years to receive appropriate disability support and they need a clear statement that the scheme will continue to make plans with eligible NDIS participants.
Craig Wallace from People with Disabilities ACT (PWDACT) stated, “We welcome efforts to resolve this, but are appalled at the decision to cease offering plans to new participants. People were explicitly told that there was no linkage between when you entered the scheme and the access to support you got. We were never told it would become a triaged system. It reverts us back to the old irrational first come, first served model. The Federal Government needs to swiftly move to end this cap and communicate that to people with disability and families.”
“The NDIS was never intended to be a rationed system and this move by the NDIA goes against the principles of the Scheme”, said Fiona May, CEO of ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS). “We are very concerned for people who are affected by this freeze. We work with people with disability who because of the complexity in their circumstances have not yet applied but very clearly need NDIS support; we have other clients whose NDIS applications have been delayed for many months by the NDIA and who are now left wondering whether they will ever get the services they need; and a group who have been found eligible but do not yet have planning appointments.”
The disability organisations acknowledge that both the ACT and the Federal Government have stated that the NDIS is not a capped scheme, and that action is being taken to bring in additional ACT NDIS participants. However, they are extremely concerned that shifting responsibility and blame gaming is counterproductive to ending this crisis.
“This takes us back to the State and Territory / Commonwealth cost shifting and game playing around disability supports that were a feature of the old, broken disability support system,” said Mr Wallace. “We will not accept this – politicians are morally and politically accountable to uphold the principles of the NDIS and act now to fix this.”
Therese Sands, Director of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) said, “Halting access to the NDIS in the ACT has profound implications for people with disability across Australia. It creates uncertainty in all jurisdictions if the NDIS will be shutdown when estimates of the numbers of participants contained in NDIS bilateral agreements are reached. The situation in the ACT must not become a precedent for other States and Territories. We urge the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Christian Porter to quickly resolve this for people with disability in the ACT and people with disability across Australia.”
Craig Wallace 0413 135 731
Campaign Manager, People with Disabilities ACT (PWDACT)
Fiona May 0411 538 879
CEO, ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS)
Therese Sands 0412 935 128
Director, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia
Follow the Twitter hashtag #HandsoffourNDIS for the latest news.
Peak disability group condemns decision to deny Deaf juror equal access
Today the High Court of Australia unanimously rejected an appeal from Gaye Lyons, a Queensland women who had been turned down for jury service because she requires as Auslan interpreter to participate in proceedings.
“The decision is very disappointing”, says peak national disability group, Disabled Persons Organisations Australia (DPO Australia). “However, we won’t be deterred in our fight to ensure that people who are Deaf, or with disability, can access the justice system on an equal basis with other Australians,” said Ngila Bevan, Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia and member of DPO Australia.
“Australians who are Deaf, or have disability, have the right to participate in civic duties, including serving on juries. Denial of this right also excludes the perspective of people with disability from the administration of justice, and means that juries do not reflect the diversity within our communities,’’ said Dwayne Cranfield, CEO of National Ethnic Disability Alliance and member of DPO Australia.
DPO Australia will support actions to take this decision to the UN Committee to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Australia ratified in 2008.
“The Convention states that people with disability must be supported to exercise their rights and express their opinions ‘through all forms of communication of their choice’” said Ms Bevan.
“People who are Deaf, or who require Auslan interpretation to participate in court proceedings, are being denied equal recognition before the law and this must change. It’s a problem across both civil and criminal justice systems, and it’s time for our courts and legal process to adapt to peoples differing communication requirements.”
“This decision highlights the need for a human rights act in Queensland that will recognise and protect the human rights of people who are Deaf, and have disability, on an equal basis with other Queenslanders,” said Ms Bevan.
“DPO Australia calls on the Queensland Premier and the Queensland Attorney-General to immediately enact legislation that will enable people who are Deaf to serve as jurors’’, said Ms Bevan.
On Friday 23 September the UN issued a news release urging Australia to amend the laws that lead to people being detained because of disability.
At the release of the report, the CEO of FPDN, Damian Griffis was interviewed by Mark Colvin for ABC Radio National’s PM program. You can listen and read the transcript here.
GENEVA (23 September 2016) – Australia violated the rights of a man with an intellectual disability who was deemed unfit to stand trial but was nevertheless detained in prison for more than 10 years, thereby “converting his disability into the core cause of his detention,” UN experts have found.
Marlon James Noble, an Aboriginal man who was charged in 2001 with child sex abuse in Western Australia, brought his complaint to the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Under Western Australia’s Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Defendants) Act of 1996, once a person is found unfit to plead, he or she can be held in custody for an unlimited period. They have no possibility to go before the courts unless or until they are deemed able to understand the notion of criminal responsibility. Mr. Noble, who denied the charges, was detained until his conditional release in November 2012.
In its findings, the Committee noted that throughout Mr. Noble’s detention, “the whole judicial procedure focused on his mental capacity to stand trial without giving him any possibility to plead not guilty and test the evidence submitted against him.”
“He therefore never had the opportunity to have the criminal charges against him determined and his status as an alleged sexual offender cleared,” the Committee members found, highlighting that the charges were never proven. In addition, the authorities did not provide adequate support to enable him to stand trial and plead not guilty.
Under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Australia has ratified, States are obliged to recognise that people with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with all others in all aspects of life.
Mr. Noble was detained for more than 10 years without knowing how long he would be in custody, the CRPD noted.
“Taking into account the irreparable psychological effects that indefinite detention may have on the detained person, the Committee considers that the indefinite detention he was subjected to amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment,” members wrote.
The CRPD called on Australia to provide Mr. Noble with an effective remedy and immediately revoke the 10 conditions of his release, which members found also constituted a violation of the Convention.
Australia is also obliged to take measures to prevent similar violations, including making the necessary amendments to the Mentally Impaired Defendants Act (WA) and all equivalent or related Federal or state laws.
Read the advisory online.
The Committee’s findings, known as Views, were published in full here on 22 September.
CRPD is composed of 18 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world. They serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information on the CRPD:
It’s Anti Poverty Week this week. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are often experience multiple barriers leaving them economically and socially excluded. Ensuring that we have a truly inclusive society with access to employment, education and justice is vital.
Have a look at our CEO, Damian Griffis’ keynote lecture at the Yabun Festival this year to understand a bit more about this important social justice issue.
The Anti Poverty Week website is here.
FPDN’s Policy and Research Director, Scott Avery is presenting at the ACWA breakfast in Parramatta, Sydney on Tuesday morning. Scott will be talking about access to justice and disability.
In April this year FPDN, along with partner organisations, made a submission to the Senate Inquiry on Indefinite Detention: ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PERSPECTIVES ON THE RECURRENT AND INDEFINITE DETENTION OF PEOPLE WITH COGNITIVE AND PSYCHIATRIC IMPAIRMENT
The submission is available to the public.
You can download the submission as a PDF: Senate Inquiry Indefinite Detention Submission_Final
Today, on the first day of Federal Parliament, FPDN was proud to stand alongside national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership organisations to deliver a strong message to Prime Minister Turnbull, his government and the Parliament: – the relationship with the First Peoples of this nation must be reset.
Following on from the historic Redfern Statement in June this year, the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, – National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, along with peak national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations united in front of Parliament House calling for a new era in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.
Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN, called for:
an end to the indefinite detention of Aboriginal people with disability;
national Aboriginal led Local Area coordination of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Listen to co-chair of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples talking to Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Drive program here.
Read the opinion piece from the Dr Jackie Huggins and Rod Little, co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples here.
Read FPDN’s 10-point-plan for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal ad Torres Strait Islander communities here.
Download the Redfern Statement here.
This week is Brain Injury Awareness Week. At the First Peoples Disability Network we say that meeting the needs of Aboriginal people with disabilities is one of the most critical social justice issues in Australia.
It is difficult to think of any more disadvantaged Australians then Aboriginal people with disability. FPDN co-hosted a forum in Redfern with Synapse and we hope to draw attention to the unmet needs of Aboriginal people living with brain injury.
According to the 2011 Census at least 50% of our people have some form of disability or long term health condition, the 2014/15 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey has concluded that at least 7.7% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have severe or profound disability, this equates to approximately 60,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people with disability who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The actual prevalence of brain injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is not known but we could be sure that the rate is at least twice that of the rest of the Australian population. Brain Injury can occur for a range of reasons. It might be the result of an accident, violence or as a consequence of alcohol or substance abuse. Regardless of the cause it is fair to say that the needs of vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with brain injury remain largely unmet.
Two leading researchers spoke to us and presented data and lessons learned through ongoing research. Professor Eileen Baldry has done some vital research into the prevalence of people with disability in the Australian prison system and Dr Clare Townsend shared with us the research she has done in relation to Aboriginal people with brain injury and homelessness in North Queensland. These research projects are culturally respectful and inclusive of Aboriginal researchers, organisations, Elders and Traditional Owners. At FPDN we are grateful to both Eileen and Clare for bringing their extensive research experience to this most critical social justice issue. It is vital that we work towards meeting the needs of Aboriginal people with disability including those Aboriginal people living with brain injury.
The overwhelming messages that were raised in yesterday’s forum are ones often repeated among our mobs and at conferences and forums led by Aboriginal people.
Listen to communities, invest in support, invest in communities – the financial and human costs of a punitive and overly policed society are far greater than whole of community responses to disability and disadvantage that we all advocate. The numbers back this up. There are huge costs to the wider community, and to the individual for that matter, when people cycle in and out of emergency services rather than ongoing and responsive supports from an early age.
I’m reaching out to you today because we need people across the country to champion this issue. It is a national outrage that so many of our people are in prisons and that the rates are increasing. People with disability, including those with acquired brain injury have unmet needs, and too often disability is in effect criminalised. Aboriginal people with disability end up in prison or sleeping rough because they are rendered “invisible” by a system that does not respond to their needs. A responsive and supportive system would cost much less in both the human and ecomonic senses.
Damian Griffis gave a speech at the Redfern Community Centre on Monday 15 August for Brain Injury Awareness Week 2016. FPDN held an event in partnership with Synapse.
This opinion piece was published in First Nations Telegraph.
It’s Brain Injury Awareness Week.
FPDN is partnering with Synapse and holding a community event in Redfern on Monday 15 August at 1.30pm. The event is being held at the Redfern Community Centre. Please see flyer below.
For more information about brain injury have a look here.
The Aboriginal Disability Network NSW (ADNNSW) has merged with First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN), as of July 2016.
We are the Aboriginal Disability Network NSW (ADNNSW) is an FPDN project of and for Aboriginal people with disability living in
The important work ADNNSW does in News South Wales will continue and will operate as a project of FPDN.
Please contact the FPDN office if you have any queries.
Today is the United Nations International Day of World’s Indigenous People
“In Australia an Indigenous child with disability is more likely to matriculate into prison than into tertiary education.
Many Indigenous children are falling through the cracks in the education system because they have a disability that goes unrecognised and is therefore not supported.
To get the best learning outcomes for our kids our education system must be culturally and disability inclusive.”
Policy and Research Director
This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is devoted to the right to education.
The right of indigenous peoples to education is protected by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in Article 14 states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”
The right of indigenous peoples to education is also protected by a number of other international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
In spite of these instruments, the right to education has not been fully realized for most indigenous peoples, and a critical education gap exists between indigenous peoples and the general population.
Where data exist, they show consistent and persistent disparities between the indigenous and the non-indigenous population in terms of educational access, retention and achievement, in all regions of the world.
The education sector not only mirrors the historical abuses, discrimination and marginalization suffered by indigenous peoples, but also reflects their continued struggle for equality and respect for their rights as peoples and as individuals.
ABC’s 4 Corners program brought national attention to the incarceration and institutionalisation of our young people.
The abuse, neglect and torture exposed on 4 Corners is alarming and our thoughts are with the children and their families.
Aboriginal people know about long term institutionalisation, we know about despair and we know about justice, or the lack of it.
We have heard about the things that go on. We know things go on, but to see the images, to see the footage – to bear witness – all the while knowing nothing was done – maybe nothing will be done to truly change the system, is heartbreaking and painful and we get angry.
So many Australians are shocked, and rightly so. But this is not new to many of our people, and while there is genuine comfort that people are now listening, the questions about why it took so long for governments and the wider public to listen remain. I hope that change does come. I ask the wider public to remember their horror and shock and make an effort to listen more and assume less.
We don’t just need change. We need reform. Bigger than reform we need action beyond the scope that this Royal Commission could ever offer. No matter what, no matter who, no matter why – to lock up and brutalise young people doesn’t heal; it harms. It doesn’t leave room for rehabilitation, it pushes children onto a path and keeps pushing them down that path.
Because of the bravery of these young people allowing their stories to be told, allowing their trauma to be made public, Australia and the world is watching. Because of the work of excellent journalists and advocates who are in it for the long-haul, some justice might start to creep in.
Sadly, this is not isolated. Nationally, Indigenous Australians are being incarcerated at increasing rates and we know that there is a high prevalence of disability, cognitive and psychosocial disability among the prison population. In effect disability is criminalised and those who are vulnerable and in need of support are placed in situations where long-term abuse and discrimination is a real risk.
We welcome the Royal Commission announced by Prime Minister Turnbull and we believe the indefinite detention of Aboriginal people with disability (often without conviction) must be investigated, and the prevalence of all disability including cognitive and psychosocial disability within the Aboriginal prison population must be investigated.
FPDN’s CEO, Damian Griffis and Research and Policy Director, Scott Avery were featured in a video presentation shown at the Deadly Deaf Mob conference in Western Sydney in 2015.