PWD E-Bulletin

Issue 49, December 2008 - ISSN 2202-0705

Welcome to PWD’s e-bulletin. The e-bulletin goes out to members and interested others regularly by email. For members who do not have access to email, a printed version of the e-bulletin will be sent by post. To be added to or removed from our mailing list, or to change your email address, please email pwd@pwd.org.au or contact Danny Thorpe on one of the numbers listed at the end of this bulletin.

Contents

New South Wales news

  • Action on domestic violence – Staying Home Leaving Violence
  • DADHC Community Participation Program – Memorandum of Understanding with TAFE NSW
  • Proposed merger of Public Trustee NSW and Office of the Protective Commissioner a major cause for concern
  • City of Sydney seeks to become global leader in accessibility
  • National news

  • Individualised Funding in Australia
  • Pension Bonus only a start
  • Same sex law reform and people with disability on income support
  • Strengthening the National Disability Strategy
  • AusAID disability policy launched
  • Draft Access to Premises Standard released
  • Long Overdue Amendments to Disability Discrimination Act tabled
  • National Interest Analysis recommends accession to CRPD Optional Protocol
  • Action on Migration and Disability
  • Towards a National Bill of Rights
  • Fair Treatment for all people in detention

  • International news

  • Disability activists feature in Pacific Human Rights Awards
  • 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Day of People with Disability
  • Canadians with Disabilities Win Historic Transportation Access Battle
  • The inside story

  • A new leadership model for PWD
  • PWD Office Closure Christmas and New Year
  • Conferences

    About PWD

  • PWD’s training services
  • Privacy statement

    Contact us

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    New South Wales news

    ++Action on domestic violence – Staying Home Leaving Violence

    The NSW Department of Community Services has announced an expansion of its Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) program.  SHLV is a specialised domestic violence program that is aimed at promoting victims’ housing stability and preventing their homelessness. The SHLV service model is based on intensive casework that is long term, needs based, and integrated with agencies such as the Police, Courts and NSW Women’s domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services. 

    Among other things, SHLV gives women and children in domestic violence situations options to stay at home by effectively removing the abuser through a range of interagency interventions, including the Police.

    Under the program, domestic and family violence is recognised as a pattern of behaviour that includes sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, verbal abuse, stalking and intimidation, social, spiritual and geographic isolation, financial abuse, cruelty to pets, and damage to property. It can be perpetrated in any family, kinship or intimate relationship.  After successful implementation at two pilot sites, SHLV is being expanded to an additional 16 sites, beginning with an additional six sites in 2009-2010 and a further 10 in 2010-2011. 

    It is well recognised that people with disability, and women and children with disability in particular, are much more likely to be subject to all forms of violence, including domestic violence.  In many cases they are ‘held’ to abusive relationships because of a lack of accessible alternative accommodation or support services. SHLV therefore has an important potential role to play in protecting people with disability from domestic violence. 

    SHLV has particular relevance to people with disability who are subject to domestic violence because:

    1. Crisis accommodation (refuges) are often physically inaccessible to people with disability, or exclude people with disability on other grounds (for example, on the basis of actual or imputed mental illness);
    2. Women and children with disability may already have in-home supports in place in terms of accessible housing, personal care services, and other key support services, which would be disrupted if they leave the home;
    3. Key agencies that need to be included in integrated service delivery include disability and personal care services, and mental health services.  SHLV’s interagency approach mandates this;
    4. All mainstream agencies need to ensure that their services and programs are accessible to, and inclusive of, people with disability.

    PWD has accepted an invitation to represent the interests of people with disability on the Statewide SHLV Consultative Committee.  This will allow us to offer advice to the Department in an effort to ensure that SHLV is accessible and responsive to the needs of people with disability, particularly women and children. 

    For further information contact Maria Attard: mariaa@pwd.org.au

    ++DADHC Community Participation Program – Memorandum of Understanding with TAFE NSW

    The Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) has developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TAFE NSW.  The MOU affirms a commitment to ongoing interagency collaboration and seamless service delivery in supporting young people with disability in the DADHC Transition to Work and Community Participation Programs who access vocational education and training at TAFE NSW. 

    The purpose of the MOU is to set out an agreed position on the respective roles of DADHC and TAFE NSW, and to provide clear guidance about the way TAFE NSW, DADHC and funded service providers will work together to provide support to young people accessing post school programs. It is anticipated that the MOU will be finalised in December 2008 and that a State-wide communication strategy targeted at Program service providers and relevant TAFE staff will be implemented in early 2009. 

    PWD has been consulted in the development of the MOU as a member of the Community Participation Program Reference Group, and has provided advice aimed at strengthening particular elements. 

    For further information contact Sonya Price-Kelly: sonyapk@pwd.org.au

    ++Proposed merger of Public Trustee NSW and Office of the Protective Commissioner a major cause for concern

    Among its mini-budget initiatives delivered on 11 November 2008, the NSW Government announced an intention to merge the Public Trustee NSW and the Office of the Protective Commissioner (OPC). Legislative amendments are to be in place for the merger to take effect from 1 July 09.  An internal Government Committee has been established to identify the necessary legislative amendments and plan for the merger. 

    Government arrangements for supported financial decision-making for people with disability require urgent and comprehensive reform.  The Protected Estates Act 1982, in particular, is in urgent need of modernisation for several reasons including:

    • Key provisions of the Act are in clear violation of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (financial management orders are not subject to the principle of the least restrictive alternative – they are ‘permanent’ and cover all of the persons finances and assets)
    • Historically, the Government has funded OPC by levying fees and charges on people under financial management.  Charges levied on asset rich clients have subsidised services to asset poor clients.  This has created injustice for both groups.  Asset rich clients are arguably charged too much for OPC services, whereas asset poor clients have been deprived of an appropriate level of service because the funding model can’t afford this (most clients don’t have financial plans or personal contact with staff).

    However, the proposed merger announcement does not deal with these or any other needed reforms.  The merger also has significant potential to compromise the Office of the Public Guardian which is currently fused with the OPC at the executive level (the merger proposal does not explain how OPG will operate in future).

    PWD has prepared a detailed position paper that outlines a range of concerns related to the merger proposal, and argues for the NSW Government to undertake comprehensive and appropriate reforms in this area. 

    We call on the NSW Government to refer the proposed merger of the OPC and PT to the Social Issues Committee for Inquiry.  This would ensure that Parliamentarians, government and non-government agencies and people with disability have a clear understanding of the issues at stake in relation to the proposed merger, and that there is a stronger possibility that government will undertake comprehensive and necessary reforms in this area.

    The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service have endorsed the Position Statement.

    You can read and download the position paper from PWD’s website at www.pwd.org.au   

    To endorse the position paper, or for further information contact Therese Sands:  thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++City of Sydney seeks to become global leader in accessibility

    On 2 December 2008, PWD attended the City of Sydney launch of its Inclusion (Disability) Action plan as part of the celebration of International Day of People with Disability.

    The Action Plan commits Council to improve accessibility and to work with others to set Sydney on the path of becoming a global leader as an inclusive and accessible city for people with a disability. It addresses a wide range of barriers to access that can often mean people with a disability are excluded from participating in and contributing to community life. Actions include improved training for front line staff, making sure information produced (for example, on DVD) is available to blind or deaf people and making sure that new building developments provide the best possible access for people who use a wheelchair. 

    Speaking at the launch of the Action Plan, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes said: “Part of being a successful and visionary city of the future is striving to ensure that your buildings, services, information and employment opportunities are accessible to everyone who works, lives in and visits the city, including people who have a disability,”

    Commissioner Innes said one of the early initiatives, which he was particularly pleased about, was the opening of the new Sydney Park children’s play area on Saturday 6 December. “Making playgrounds accessible to everyone in the community makes a very strong statement about inclusion and participation,” Commissioner Innes said. “It means that children with a disability, and parents with a disability, now have the opportunity to enjoy the fun of the playground – slides, sand-pits and picnic areas - with and alongside their friends and neighbours.”

    A copy of the plan can be obtained at: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Community/AgedAndDisability/ActionPlanForPeopleWithDisabilities.asp

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    National news

    ++Individualised Funding in Australia

    Over the past few months PWD has become involved in the push for self-directed supports and individualised funding for people with disability in Australia. 

    In May 2008, PWD Executive Director, Michael Bleasdale, was invited to attend and moderate sessions at the International Conference on Self Determination and Individualised Funding held in Detroit, USA.  The Self Determination movement in the USA has been long lobbying for greater control by people with disability over the supports and services they receive, as a means to a life of inclusion and participation. 

    Individualised funding is a means by which people with disability are provided directly with the funds with which to purchase their supports, whether this be through traditional service providers or by employing their own assistants.  Michael was one of only three Australians attending the conference, and caught up with several colleagues who have a wealth of experience and expertise in implementing self directed supports and individualised funding.  There is a good deal of material on this topic available on the web at http://www.members.shaw.ca/bsalisbury/

    The issue has had a low profile in Australia, with only Western Australia in the past pioneering methods by which people with disability, and their families, can take control of their support arrangements by having much stronger choices about how their allotted funds are spent.  However, this year a movement seems to have begun in Australia, and a group that is called “In-Control” has emerged as the coordination point for lobbying and raising awareness of what self directed support and individualised funding are. 

    The “In-Control” brand comes from the UK, where it represents a non-government organisation that has developed a means by which people with intellectual disability can access direct payments to manage their own supports and services.  In Australia, the group is using the brand as a means of coordinating the effort to achieve self directed supports for people across the country, and there is no plan to import the actual model which has application only in the UK local government environment.

    In NSW, PWD was approached by some of our peak body and advocacy colleagues to participate in “In-Control”, and to assist in organising a day’s forum in Sydney.  The forum, held on 2nd December 2008, was attended by an invited audience representing a range of people across the disability sector, including representatives of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC).  The purpose of the forum was to explain what self-directed supports were, and how they differ from traditional service delivery, with a view to proposing that a wider range of individualised options be made available to people with disability when the next phase of the NSW Government’s ten year plan, Stronger Together is rolled out across NSW. 

    Professor Tim Stainton from British Columbia, Canada was invited as the keynote speaker, and he gave an excellent overview of international applications of self directed supports, based on his extensive research and his personal experience as one of the world’s first support brokers back in the early 1980s.  Robbi Williams of the Julia Farr Association in South Australia, talked about what “In-Control” is trying to achieve in Australia.  Overall the forum was well attended and the participants were enthusiastic, and there is already talk of follow-up events.

    PWD is very aware that this is the beginning of what might prove to be a very significant movement of change in the service delivery sector, and PWD is committed to support initiatives that encourage self determination and greater user control of supports.  PWD is developing a position statement on this issue, which will soon be available on our website.  We are very much looking forward to participating with our colleagues in the sector in follow-up discussions next year, about how these new support types can be practically implemented in the NSW disability service sector and across Australia.

    For further information contact Michael Bleasdale: michaelb@pwd.org.au

    ++Pension Bonus only a start

    During the week commencing 8 November 2008, Disability Support Pensioners were paid a one-off bonus as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Economic Security Strategy.  Single Pensioners received $1,400.00 and couples received $2,100.00.  All people receiving a Carer Allowance received $1,000.00 for each eligible person they care for. 

    This is the first time that such lump sum payments have been paid to Disability Support Pensioners. These bonuses are in addition to the May 2008 increases to the Utilities and Telephone Allowances paid to recipients of the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment.

    PWD welcomes the Commonwealth Government’s recognition of the inadequacy of current income support payments for people with disability, and we applaud the payment of the bonus.  However this payment must not be allowed to obscure the need for fundamental reform of income support payments for people with disability.

    It is widely agreed that disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty.  According to research by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, people with disability on social security experience poverty at a rate six times higher than people without disability receiving income support payments.

    The additional cost of disability is also widely acknowledged.  Australia’s social security payment system includes a number of additional payments to the base rate.  They include educational supplements, pharmaceutical supplements and rent assistance.  These supplements are payable to all eligible income support recipients including people with disability.  However, the only additional payment that specifically offsets the additional costs of disability for some people is the Mobility Allowance.

    PWD believes that fundamental reform of income support for people with disability is long overdue.  PWD supports the Australian Council of Social Service proposal for a flat rate of income support that is benchmarked to an agreed Australian Minimum Standard of Living with additional payments to meet individual needs and costs, such as the non-discretionary cost of disability. 

    PWD has recently conducted another round of consultations with the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children Services, Mr Bill Shorten, and a number of Australian senators urging them to support such reforms. 

    For further information contact Dean Price: deanp@pwd.org.au

    ++Same sex law reform and people with disability on income support

    In late November 2008, legislation was passed through both houses of the Australian Parliament to provide people in same sex relationships with equality in a wide range of areas of Commonwealth responsibility, including superannuation, health, social security, aged care and employment.  PWD applauds these historic reforms on behalf of people with disability in same-sex relationships.

    We are, however, concerned about some specific implications of these reforms on income support, and we call upon the Government to implement reforms in this area with sensitivity and insight.

    Many people with disability in same sex relationships (and of course others without disability) have structured their financial and broader life style arrangements to conform with the previous discriminatory approach to same sex relationships.  Under the new legislation, people in same sex relationships have less than six months to notify Centrelink of their relationship status, the result of which will typically be the reduction of their income support to take into account their partner’s income (partners who are both on income support will have their income support reduced to the couples rate).  The loss of entitlement to a Health Care Card will exacerbate the financial impact these reforms will have on a number of people with disability.

    PWD believes it is unfair for people who have suffered discrimination in all areas of life, for most of their lives, to have less than six months to adjust to these new arrangements.  Along with other groups working on this issue, we believe that there should be a means to ensure the ‘grand-parenting’ of existing arrangements – in other words, these changes should only affect people taking up income support for the first time or returning to income support following a substantial break. 

    More fundamentally, PWD is concerned that the reforms being undertaken force recognition of relationships for certain purposes, yet same sex couples are still denied formal relationship recognition.  This amounts to a gross double standard that will perpetuate discrimination against same sex couples, and cause hardship in particular cases. 

    Additionally, we are very concerned that, in introducing these reforms, the Government has not taken the additional step of enacting legislation to provide specific protection from discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity.

    PWD has raised these issues in consultations with the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Mr Bill Shorten, and a number of Australian senators. 

    For further information contact Dean Price: deanp@pwd.org.au

    ++Strengthening the National Disability Strategy

    The Commonwealth is currently developing a National Disability Strategy (NDS) for Australia.  Consultations have been conducted across Australia, and the call for submissions closed on 4 December 2008.  However, we understand that the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs will continue to accept contributions to the NDS until the end of January 2009. 

    You can find out more about the NDS consultation process on the website of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs at www.fahcsia.gov.au

    PWD collaborated with other members of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Taskforce to conduct a workshop and produce a joint submission to the NDS.  Apart from PWD, this Taskforce includes the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, the National Association of Community Legal Centres and the Secretariat for State and Territory Disability Advisory Councils.

    To begin work to develop a framework for the NDS based on the CRPD, the Taskforce held a full day workshop on 13 November with support from the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).  Notes from the workshop, and other associated material have been prepared that may assist organisations in preparing their own submissions to the Strategy.  These can be found on the Taskforce website at www.disabilityrightsnow.org.au
     
    The Taskforce submission was supported by ACOSS, and endorsed by the Disability Council of NSW, the Western Australian Ministerial Disability Advisory Council, and the Disability Advocacy Service, Northern Territory. 

    Some of the major points raised in the submission include:

    • The NDS must be based on the CRPD;
    • The NDS must include measures that relate to each level of Australia’s obligations under the CRPD;
    • The NDS must be based on a comprehensive national audit of Australia’s compliance with CRPD obligations;
    • The NDS must initiate reforms across all areas of government, and at all layers of government; and
    • The NDS must have an effective monitoring and accountability framework.

    A copy of this submission may be viewed or downloaded on PWD’s website at www.pwd.org.au
    PWD is also working with other advocacy organisations to promote the development of a comprehensive and powerful NDS.  We are disappointed that at this stage the proposed NDS lacks structure and substance.  To assist in ensuring that the NDS will carry forward the transformation envisaged by the CPPD, we have produced a position statement on the issue.  This Position Statement has been sent to a range of advocacy and representative organisations for endorsement, and will be publicly released in January 2009.
    If you or your organisation are interested in endorsing this position statement, please contact:  thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++AusAID disability policy launched

    In late November 2008, the Commonwealth Government launched a disability strategy for Australia’s International Development Agency, AusAID.  This strategy, Development for All: Towards a disability-inclusive Australian aid program 2009-2014 publicly commits the Australian Government to ensuring that people with disability are comprehensively included and supported to improve their quality of life through all aspects of the aid program. 

    Development for All seeks change over time in the way Australia’s aid program is delivered, and central to this change will be the focus on people with disability as an inherent part of all aspects of program planning and development.

    PWD has advocated over a number of years for the Australian aid program to be inclusive of people with disability.  We have been very involved in the 2008 consultation process with AusAID’s Disability Taskforce and the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Mr Bob McMullan.  We facilitated key meetings between the Pacific Disability Forum and Mr McMullan in late 2007 and again in 2008, as well as participated in lobbying activities as a member of the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC).

    We are particularly pleased that capacity building of disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) and leadership development of people with disability are core outcomes of Development for All
    In launching the strategy, Mr Bob McMullan, said “With good leadership, attitudes towards people with disability can change, services can be improved, and people’s lives transformed – not only the lives of the person with disability, but their families and those around them.”

    Ms Savina Nongebatu, President of People with Disabilities Solomon Islands also spoke at the launch emphasising that disability is a “priority area that has been overlooked, under researched and in many cases, rated amongst the least important of our government’s priorities.”  She said that Development for All would require “our respective governments to take stock of what they have in place for people with disability, what they have failed miserably to provide and now the great opportunities they have in terms of funding support for initiatives towards inclusive programs or policies”. 

    Ms Nongebatu also highlighted the importance of DPOs working with DPOs to lead their own development agenda, and the critical need to ensure “gender equality as a key component of disability inclusive development”.

    PWD welcomes the release of the strategy and looks forward to working with Mr McMullan and the AusAID Disability Taskforce to improve the capacity and responsiveness of Australia’s aid program for people with disability and to strengthen the strategy’s connection to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  

    A copy of Development for All is available on the AusAID website at www.ausaid.gov.au

    For further information contact Therese Sands: thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++Draft Access to Premises Standard released

    On 2 December 2008, the Australian Government tabled the draft Disability Discrimination Act Access to Premises Standards.  Work on developing these proposed Standards commenced in 2000, but their progression was effectively stalled under the last term of the Howard Government.  PWD therefore applauds their release and regards it as a sign of a long awaited re-emergence of a strong disability policy agenda in Australia.

    The Standards provide specific guidance on design and construction of buildings so that they will be accessible for people with disability and other members of the community.  They address issues such as signage, circulation space in lifts and accessible toilets, the number of wheelchair spaces in theatres and the use of tactile warning indicators on stairways and ramps.  When finalised, corresponding changes will be made to the Building Code of Australia to give effect to the Standards.

    The draft Standards have now been referred to the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry.  The terms of reference for the Committee’s inquiry include the Standards’ ‘appropriateness and effectiveness,’ their interaction with existing State and Territory regulatory schemes; and whether the Standards will have an ‘unjustifiable impact.’ 

    The Committee has invited public submissions to this inquiry, which close on 13 February 2009.  PWD is currently analysing the draft Standards, and discussing relevant issues with other advocacy organisations in preparation for its submission.  We will provide further information on the draft in future e-bulletins. 

    To obtain a copy of the draft Standards, and for further information about the Parliamentary Inquiry go to www.aph.gov.ay/laca or contact the Committee Secretariat on (02) 6277 2358.

    For further information contact Dean Price:  deanp@pwd.org.au

    ++Long Overdue Amendments to Disability Discrimination Act tabled

    On 3 December 2008 (International Day of People with Disability) the Australian Attorney General tabled in Parliament a Bill to amend the Disability Discrimination Act and other human rights legislation.  The Bill implements various recommendations made by the Australian Government Productivity Commission in its 2004 review of the Disability Discrimination Act. PWD applauds the introduction of this legislation.

    The Bill:

    1. makes it explicit that refusal to make reasonable adjustments for people with disability may also amount to discrimination;
    2. makes the defence of unjustifiable hardship available in relation to all unlawful discrimination on the ground of disability, except harassment and victimisation (this defence is currently not available in relation to discrimination in some areas of education);
    3. clarifies the matters to be considered when determining unjustifiable hardship
    4. claries that the onus of proving unjustifiable hardship falls on the person claiming it;
    5. makes it clear that the definition of disability includes genetic pre-disposition to a disability and behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of disability;
    6. replaces the ‘proportionality’ test in the definition of indirect discrimination with the requirement to prove that the condition or requirement imposed has the effect of disadvantaging people with the disability of the aggrieved person;
    7. shifts the onus of proving the reasonableness of a requirement or condition in the context of indirect discrimination from the person with disability to the respondent;
    8. extends the power to make standards under the Act;
    9. seeks to assist people with assistance animals and service providers by recognising animals accredited either under a State and Territory law or by a relevant organisation, and by clarifying each party’s obligations; 
    10. consolidates the provisions in the Act relating to carers, assistants and aids, and addresses the issues raised by the Full Federal Court in Forest [2008] by clarifying that discrimination on the basis that a person possesses or is accompanied by a carer, assistant or aid, is discrimination on the basis of disability.

    The Bill has been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for Inquiry.  The Committee has invited public submissions to this inquiry, which close on 12 January 2008.  PWD is currently working on its submission.

    Information about this inquiry can be found at www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte 

    For further information contact Dean Price:  deanp@pwd.org.au

    ++National Interest Analysis recommends accession to CRPD Optional Protocol

    The Australian Attorney-General’s Department has recently completed a National Interest Analysis which it conducted in relation to Australia’s proposed accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

    The Optional Protocol permits the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to conduct inquiries into gross and systemic human right violations.  It also allows the Committee to receive communications (or complaints) from people with disability about human right violations where they have been unable to remedy these situations at the national level.

    The National Interest Analysis has recommended that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol (that is, become bound by its obligations).  PWD strongly applauds this recommendation.

    The Optional Protocol and National Interest Analysis have now been referred to the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for Inquiry.  The Committee has invited public submissions to this inquiry, which close on 23 January 2008.  Information about this inquiry can be found at www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jsct 

    For further information contact Therese Sands:  thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++Action on Migration and Disability

    In the last edition of the E-Bulletin we reported a decision of the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship which refused permanent residency to Dr Bernard Moeller because his son has intellectual disability.  PWD is delighted to be able to report that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Evans, has now exercised his Ministerial discretion to over-ride the Department’s decision and grant Dr Moeller and his family permanent residency. 

    In announcing this decision Senator Evans said that the Moeller case had publicly highlighted concerns he already held about Australia’s migration laws in relation to people with disability.  Senator Evans indicated that he has now contacted State and Territory leaders to encourage them to support a change to the migration regulations that will allow for the health requirement of permanent visa applicants to be waived in certain circumstances. 

    In a related development, Senator Evans, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Mr Bill Shorten have asked the Australian Parliament’s Committee on Migration to conduct an inquiry into the migration treatment of people with disability. 

    For more information contact Therese Sands:  thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++Towards a National Bill of Rights

    On 10 December 2008 (the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the Australian Government launched a national human rights consultation about ways to protect and promote human rights in the future.  An independent committee has been established to conduct the consultation. 

    The Committee will ask the Australian community:

    • Which human rights (including corresponding responsibilities) should be protected and promoted?
    • Are these human rights currently sufficiently protected and promoted?
    • How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?

    In conducting the consultation the Committee will:

    • consult broadly with the community, particularly those who live in rural and regional areas
    • undertake a range of awareness raising activities to enhance participation in the consultation by a wide cross section of Australia’s diverse community
    • seek out the diverse range of views held by the community about the protection and promotion of human rights
    • identify key issues raised by the community in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights, and

    The Committee will report to the Australian Government by 31 July 2009 on the issues raised and the options identified for the Government to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights.  The Committee is to set out the advantages and disadvantages (including social and economic costs and benefits) and an assessment of the level of community support for each option it identifies. The options identified must preserve the sovereignty of the Parliament and not include a constitutionally entrenched bill of rights.

    For information about the consultation go to www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au

    Many organisations have been campaigning to ensure that the consultation will lead to a Bill of Rights or a Human Rights Act.  PWD strongly supports the national consultation process and is a member of the Australian Human Rights Group (AHRG) calling for a legally enforceable Human Rights Act. 

    The AHRG is made up of more than 60 organisations from across Australia that have come together from different sectors to support better protection of our human rights.  The AHRG believes that all Australians need to have their human rights better recognised and protected, especially those of us who are vulnerable to abuse.  For more information about the Australian Human Rights Group go to http://www.humanrightsact.com.au/ahrg/

    Two other organisations that are campaigning on this issue are GetUp and Amnesty International.  Both these organisations are providing online forms for people to make submissions.  These online forms are available on these organisations websites at http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/rights/478 and http://www.amnesty.org.au/yourhumanrights/consultation/

    PWD’s submission will be particularly focused on ensuring that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is incorporated into an Australian Bill of Rights or Human Rights Act.  PWD encourages all members and colleagues to become involved in this consultation process, to provide their own submissons and to urge CRPD incorporation into any Australian Bill of Rights or Human Rights Act.   

    For further information contact Therese Sands:  thereses@pwd.org.au

    ++Fair Treatment for all people in detention

    On 5 December 2008 the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, released a report outlining options for the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degarding Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which was recently acceded to by the Australian Government.  

    The Optional Protocol requires ‘National Preventative Mechanisms’ (NPM) to be established to prevent torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  These NPM’s must cover all ‘places of detention’ within all parts of Australia, including offshore military and immigration detention facilities.  The range of detention situations includes those that are relatively well recognised, such as prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, involuntary mental health facilities, and immigration detention centres.  However, OPCAT has far wider reach and includes all situations where there is non-consensual detention, including disability services and aged care facilities. 
    OPCAT inspection systems must therefore also cover these facilities. 

    The Report argues for a federal system of inspections, with a national coordinating inspection body as well as an inspection body in each State and Territory.  The Report recommends that the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) become the national coordinating inspection body.  The AHRC will now discuss these proposals with the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments, and non-government organisations. 

    For access to this report go to www.hreoc.gov.au (publications).

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    International news

    ++Disability activists feature in Pacific Human Rights Awards

    Setareki Macanawia, Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Disability Forum and Andonia Piau-Lynch, National Coordinator of Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association Vanuatu were among the four Pacific Islanders who were honoured with the 2008 Pacific Human Rights Award to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Organised by the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (RRRT/SPC), the awards were presented in recognition of their extraordinary efforts in advancing human rights throughout the region. 

    PWD warmly congratulates our Pacific Islander colleagues on achieving this recognition for their important work with people with disability in our region.

    ++60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    On 10 December 2008, the world observed the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Speaking at a ceremony to mark the occasion, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Declaration was created as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.  He said “we will honour its towering vision only when its principles are applied fully everywhere, for everyone.” 

    Speaking in the House of Representatives, Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd said: Sixty years on from 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the global benchmark for the protection of human rights.It speaks to our responsibilities wherever there is a violation of human rights against any person for any reason and in any part of the world, by any government, any corporation, any organisation or any individual. It transcends nations; it transcends cultures; it transcends politics; it transcends personalities; it transcends creed and tongue.’

    For Australians with disability, 2008 is not only the year to celebrate 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration, it is also the year to celebrate those rights becoming real for us when the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, and when Australia ratified that Convention.  2008 is indeed a year for celebrating human rights!

    ++International Day of People with Disability

    This year’s annual observance of International Day of People with Disability was celebrated by many events around Australia and at the international level.  The United Nations adopted as its theme for the day “Dignity and Justice for All.”

    In his occasional message the United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon focused on the relevance of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to the Millennium Development Goals.  He urged all governments and all stakeholders to ensure that people with disabilities and their organizations are an integral part of all development processes.” 

    In his message, Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes said ”Our calendar is full of international days.  But the International Day of People with Disabilities is a particularly important one.  For too long, people with disability have been excluded from our community, because they are not understood, or are regarded as objects of pity or charity.  But today, we seek to be equal members of society, as co-workers, family members, friends and colleagues.  To not include us means that our community would not be a rich, diverse and sustainable community. People with disabilities are not heroes, and are not victims. We are agents of our own destiny, seeking an equal place in the Australian community.”

    PWD wishes all members and colleagues (a belated) Happy International Day!

    ++Canadians with Disabilities Win Historic Transportation Access Battle

    On 20 November 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Air Canada and WestJet's request to appeal the decision of the Canadian Transportation Agency which requires the airlines to accommodate people who need additional seating space because of their disability. 

    The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) launched this action in 2002 to remove a long-standing barrier to the travel of people with disability.  People with disability who required an attendant in flight to assist them with services not provided by flight attendants, and people with disability who required additional seats due their body size were having to pay for two airfares.  This decision now brings air transport into line with other modes of transportation in Canada such as rail, bus and marine vehicles, which do not charge for additional seats.

    "We celebrate this decision and are thrilled to see the removal of another long-standing barrier to our mobility and travel," said Pat Danforth, Chair of CCD's Transportation Committee.  "What continues to be a concern, however, is that we are being forced to pursue legal action to ensure accessibility of our national transportation system.  Where is the federal government's leadership on this issue?  We urge the Government of Canada to regulate access standards for people with disabilities on all federally regulated transportation systems," said Danforth.

    "We have been victorious in two major transportation access battles in the past 8 years," said Marie White, Chairperson of CCD.  "First we fought VIA Rail's purchase of inaccessible passenger rail cars all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and now we have made the airlines more accessible as well," said White.  "These victories are to be celebrated but they could have been more appropriately handled through the development of access regulations by Transport Canada," said White.

    CCD urged the Government of Canada to move away from voluntary codes of practice and to regulate the industry to ensure that the equality guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are made real and that Canadians with disabilities have equal access to the goods and services of Canada.  For further information go to:

    http://www.ccdonline.ca/issues/transportation/index.htm

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    The inside story

    ++A new leadership model for PWD

    The Board is pleased to welcome Matthew Bowden, Michael Bleasdale and Therese Sands to the three Executive Director positions that make up the new PWD Leadership Team.

    The PWD Leadership Team was one of the key recommendations from the independent organisational review of PWD conducted during the first half of 2008.  The Board believes that this innovative, collaborative leadership model enhances our capacity to drive PWD operations, thus increasing our capacity to achieve positive outcomes for people with disability.  In addition, we believe that this model allows for more flexibility in providing workplace reasonable adjustments and work / life balance for our most senior positions.

    The Board looks forward to working with the Leadership Team in 2009 to progress our organisational goals.

    ++PWD Office Closure – Christmas and New Year

    The PWD Office will be closed from 25 December to the 4 January inclusive. 

    However, PWD’s national hotline services - the National Abuse and Neglect Hotline Service and the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service - will not be affected by the office closure.  These national services will continue to operate during this time.  For more information about these services, go to: www.pwd.org.au

    PWD wishes all our members, friends, colleagues and supporters a very happy festive season and New Year.

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    Conferences

    • Disability Studies and Research Centre, University of New South Wales Research Seminar Series
      For details contact DSARC on telephone 61 2 9385 224 or email r.kayess@unse.edu.au
    • Ninth Annual Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion and Disability: Change, Challenge and Collaboration:  28 and 29 April 2009: Ohio State University: Call for papers
      For details: www.ada.osu.edu/conferences/2009Conf/callforpapers09.html
    • Disability and Economy: Creating a Society for All: University of Tokyo and Manchester Metropolitan University: Manchester:  United Kingdom: 29 and 30 April 2009:
      for details email d.goodley@mmu.ac.uk or Ngase@an.email.ne.jp
    • Working Towards a Brighter Future: 25th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities: 4 and 5 May 2009: Honolulu:
      For details www.cds.hawaii.edu
    • Policy About Us, For Us! A Practical Revolution in the Lives of People with Disabilities:  Australian Federation of Disability Organisations: 28 and 29 May 2009: Melbourne:
      For details www.afdo.org.au/conference
    • Believe: We are better.  Reenergise, Reorganise, Reauthorise! 2009 National Council on Independent Living: Annual Conference on Independent Living:  5 to 8 June 2009: Washington, United States of America:
      For details www.ncil.org
    • Facing the Future: Forensic Mental Health Services in Change: 9th Annual Conference of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health: 22 to 26 June 2009: Edinburgh, Scotland:
      For details www.iafmhs.org
    • Asia Pacific Conference of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability: Creating possibilities for an Inclusive Society: Singapore 24 to 27 June 2009:
      For details: www.iassid.org
    • Disability Studies and Research Centre, University of New South Wales:  Towards a National Disability Studies Agenda: 26 and 27 June 2009: Call for Papers
      For details contact DSARC on telephone 61 2 9385 224 or email r.kayess@unse.edu.au

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    About PWD

    People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWD) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation. Its primary membership is people with disability and organisations primarily made up of people with disability. PWD also has a large associate membership of other individuals and organisations committed to the disability rights movement. PWD was founded in 1981, the International Year of Disabled People, to provide people with disability with a voice of our own. We have a cross-disability focus; we represent the interest of people with all kinds of disability. PWD is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

    For information about membership, contact Danny Thorpe by email or on one of numbers below.

    ++PWD’s training services

    PWD has extensive experience in the development and delivery of professional training across a wide range of disability areas, including:

  • disability awareness
  • communication with people with disability
  • developing information in alternative formats
  • human rights and disability
  • effective consultation with people with disability
  • anti-discrimination
  • disability, development and capacity-building
  • diversity in the workplace and employment of people with disability
  • creating flexible and accessible services for people with disability.
  • Training packages developed are flexible and tailor-made to meet the needs of the particular organisation. To find out more about PWD's training services or to discuss your specific training needs, contact the Senior Education Officer, Fiona Godfrey.

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    Privacy statement

    We are committed to protecting your privacy. In doing so, we commit ourselves to conforming to the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000, which came into effect in December 2001 and the National Privacy Principles issued by the Australian Privacy Commissioner. This newsletter is distributed by email. You have provided us with an email address. This email address will be used only for the purpose for which you have provided it and you will not be added to any other mailing lists unless you specifically request that this be done. Your email address will not be disclosed without your consent. You can have your email address removed from the mailing list for this newsletter by sending an email to pwd@pwd.org.au. This newsletter contains links to websites. We cannot be held responsible for the privacy practices (or lack thereof) or the content of such websites.

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    Contact us

    Please note that PWD publishes items contributed by other organisations at our discretion. While we will assist where possible in the dissemination of information, we do not take responsibility for the promotion or advertisement of events organised by other organisations.

    If you would like to receive PWD E-Bulletin in an alternative format or have an enquiry, contact Danny Thorpe by email or by one of the means below.

    People with Disability Australia Incorporated
    PO Box 666 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
    Phone 02 9319 6622, toll-free 1800 422 015
    TTY 02 9318 2138, toll-free 1800 422 016

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