Organisational History

The origins of First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) can be traced back to a national gathering in Alice Springs in 1999. At this gathering, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability united under a shared purpose for the first time. The movement to highlight the social inequity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and advocate for change, goes back many decades.

Our core purpose –to advance the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability – remains as relevant today as it was at the national gathering in 1999. Since that watershed moment, FPDN has been an active advocate on practical matters of rights and policies that affect our people daily.

The organisation has endured through changes of government, the demise of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and significant changes in both the disability and Indigenous sectors. FPDN became an independent incorporated entity in 2014.

FPDN has represented Australia and First Peoples with disability at the United Nations in Geneva and New York at high level reviews, forums and meetings; including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In 2013 FPDN launched its 10 Point Plan for the Implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities at Parliament House, Canberra with bipartisan support. The Plan is the result of extensive consultation with our communities.

In 2017, we are launching a new 10 point plan to include all First Peoples with disability. Not all people with disability will be eligible for the NDIS, and while the original 10 point plan still has merit, this plan is broader and more comprehensive. A key aspect is the requirement that appropriate companion schemes and services are available and accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the long-term.

We regularly chair national consultative forums at the invitation of the Australian Government Ministers and provide advice as the funded peak national body of and for Australia’s First Peoples with Disability.

We have, and continue to, prepare submissions and to appear before numerous Commonwealth and state government inquiries. FPDN also undertakes community-driven research, which specifically focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability.

Timeline

1999

National gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is held in Alice Springs, with representatives from all states and territories.

2002

Aboriginal Disability Network NSW (ADN) is incorporated to give Aboriginal people with disability living in New South Wales a voice of their own. Lester Bostock is inaugural President and Damian Griffis, Executive Officer.

2004–2005

ADNNSW Executive Officer Damian Griffis and Uncle Lester Bostock consult with Aboriginal people with disability and their families in communities across New South Wales about the unmet needs of Aboriginal people with disability. The result is groundbreaking report Telling it like it is.

2007–2010

A number of national gatherings of Aboriginal people with disability are held to establish a national peak organisation.

2010

FPDN is incorporated as a national peak organisation to advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and communities. (We believe that FPDN is the only organisation in the world constituted and governed by Indigenous people with disability.) Gayle Rankine is inaugural Chairperson and Damian Griffis, CEO.

2011

ADN NSW Executive Officer June Riemer conducted a state-wide consultation and produced the report: A Person Centred Approach for Aboriginal Communities (NSW).

2012

Experts Meeting in Madrid and the followed by attendance at the IPWDGN meeting in 2013 and in What about FPDN being represented at IPWDGN meetings.

2013

FPDN launches its Ten-Point Plan for the Implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities at Parliament House, Canberra. The plan includes a call for research into the prevalence of disability and other relevant matters, with research to be conducted in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

2013

CEO Damian Griffis chairs a ministerial Indigenous working group to advise the Minister on access targets for First Peoples under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

2013

FPDN appears before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Geneva.

2014

FPDN Chairperson, Aunty Gayle Rankine, invited by the European Union NGO Forum to participate in ‘Equal in rights worldwide – European instrument for democracy and human rights.’

2014

FPDN appears before the United Nations Committee Against Torture, Geneva.

2014

FPDN chairs an interagency meeting of government departments to develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability action plan under the National Disability Strategy.

2014

FPDN has represented Australia on the Indigenous People with Disabilities Global Network (IPPDGN) since 2013 and attended its international meetings each year.

2014

FPDN wins the Improving Advocacy and Rights Promotion Award at the National Disability Awards.

2014

CEO Damian Griffis is awarded the Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Award at the 2014 Human Rights Awards, in recognition of his advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

2015

The Federal Government announced the formation of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, a coalition of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), with FPDN as a member organisation.

2015

FPDN launches its Strategic Directions 2015–2020.

2016

FPDN publishes Senate Inquiry submission: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives on the Recurrent and Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment, as part of a consortium.

2016

FPDN gives evidence at the Royal Commission Northern Territory.

2016

Chairperson, Aunty Gayle Rankine appointed to the Government’s new National Disability and Carers Advisory Council.

2016

FPDN Annual Report 2015-2016 published.