Skip to main content

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.