The NSW Election was held on Saturday March 28, 2015. 

PWDA’s 2015 NSW Election Platform focuses on a socially just, accessible and inclusive NSW community. Our Platform identifies five key areas which we believe should be prioritised by the NSW Government during this time of significant change in the disability landscape. They are:

  1. Realise inclusion  - through the full implementation of the National Disability Strategy in NSW

  2. Deliver disability support – with person-centred disability support services provided in a diverse, sustainable and competitive market

  3. Living in the Community – addressing the systemic barriers that exclude people with disability from living in the community

  4. Deliver on jobs and training  - through cross-Government strategies to improve training and employment outcomes for people with disability

  5. Prevent violence and ensure justice - embed a holistic strategy of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership

 Media Release: A call to action on disability for all NSW candidates

The Hon John Ajaka MLC provided a formal response to PWDA's Election Platform on behalf of the Government. You can read the Minister's response to PWDA's submission by clicking this link or read a PDF version of it here. 

Premier Mike Baird announces new cabinet 

NSW Premier The Hon. Mike Baird MP announced his new cabinet on 1 April. PWDA look forward to continuing to work closely with members of the government including Minister for Disability Services, The Hon. John Ajaka MLC. PWDA welcomes The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP to the role of Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Social Housing, and The Hon. Pru Goward MP as Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. 

 PWDA looks forward to collaborating with NSW Government Ministers, including The Hon. Jillian Skinner MP as Minister for Health, The Hon. Adrian Piccoli MP as Minister for Education and The Hon. Troy Grant MP as Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police. PWDA also welcomes The Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP as Attorney General. To read The NSW Government media release on the new cabinet click here


Currently there are over 20,000 people with disability in Australia who are employed by Australian Disabilty Enterprises (ADE) previously called "Sheltered Workshops".  The majority of these people do not receive equal pay for work of equal value, or have access to the same industrial protections as workers without disability doing the same job at the same statutory pay grade (‘Award’).  This is because they are subject to the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) that unfairly discounts their wages. The BSWAT mainly affects employees with intellectual disability who make up over 75% of the ADE workforce. 

Campaign updates

October 2015 - Campaign statement from People with Disability Australia

October 2015 - Conciliation statement from the Fair Work Commission Word Dociument or PDF

Greens Deputy Leader and Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt MP Parliamentary Speech
on the the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014 and on his website

The rights of these employees to the same employment terms and conditions as employees without disability continues to be unrealised for thousands of workers with disability across Australia.


July 2015 - AAT ruling means that ADEs must move forward to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) | Wage Justice Campaign Update

 May 2015 - Most vulnerable workers caught in back-pay standoff | Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece

 May 2015 - Outrageous decision on disability wages | Joint media release

February 2015 - Update on Variation of Supported Employment Services Award

November 2014 - National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations applaud Senate Vote to Block BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014

November 2014 - Disabled workers to benefit after Senate votes against unfair payment scheme Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

August 2014 - Joint Media Release: Disability advocates call on Senate to stop Bill stripping wages from workers with intellectual disability

August 2014 - Senate Community Affairs Committee tabled in Parliament the Report on the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill

August 2014 - Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failure Inclusion Australia

August 2014 - Real Businesses Pay Real Wages Inclusion Australia

July 2014 - Workers with intellectual disabilities class action Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and AED Legal Centre

June 2014 - Government’s payment plan for disabled workers ‘another attack’ on the most vulnerable Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

June 2014 - The Commonwealth Government proposes the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Bill 2014

May 2014 - An open letter to Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services

April 2014 - Joint media statement on behalf of National peak disability and advocacy groups

April 2014 - Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) grants the Commonwealth and all the Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who use the BSWAT a temporary exemption to allow the payment of wages to ADE employees, based on assessments already conducted with the BSWAT, for a period of 12 months, subject to conditions.

Feb 2014 - Lawyers win court order to prevent disabled workers being misled about legal rights Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Feb 2014The Fair Work Commission held a Directions Hearing on 14 February 2014 for the joint application by United Voice and the Health Services Union (HSU) to vary the Supported Employment Services Award (2010).

Feb 2014 - Show Your Support - Wage Justice for Workers with Disability PWDA

Jan 2014 - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers win temporary reprieve on disabled workers court action Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Jan 2014 - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodge an application for court orders to prevent the Federal Government from misleading intellectually disabled employees into signing away their legal rights

Jan 2014 - PWDA Media Release: Economic loss acknowledged but discrimination continues PWDA

Jan 2014 - Australian Government announced intention to establish a payment scheme for supported employees with intellectual disability in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who previously had their wages assessed under the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)

Dec 2013 - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodge a class action discrimination claim seeking to recover all underpayments for the 10,000 affected workers

Sep 2013 - The Australian government made an application to the Australian Human Rights Commission to grant an exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act for a period of 3 years, and permit ADEs to continue to assess and pay wages using the BSWAT.

To read the government’s Exemption Application see

May 2013 - High Court of Australia dismisses the Commonwealth's application to appeal the Federal Court Decision

Dec 2012 - Appeal to the full court of the Federal Court upheld - Nojin v Commonwealth of Australia [2012] FCAFC 192

Federal Court of Australia ruled that the Commonwealth unlawfully discriminated against Mr Nojin and Mr Prior under Section 6 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (Cth) by assessing their wages using the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)

Notice of application for temporary exemption and Submissions

Sept 2011 - Federal Court rules Prior and Nogin failed to establish they had been discriminated against ABC 

Apr 2011 - Federal Court (Melbourne) hears Nojin and Prior vs Commonwealth of Australia. [2011] FCA 1066

In the Media

Publications, Submissions and Reports

Further Reading

Mercure Hotel Sydney, 30 August 2013

On behalf of People with Disability Australia I’d like to welcome you to tonight’s election forum whether you are joining us here at the Mercure Hotel in Sydney or tuning in via the webcast right around Australia.

I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the lands of indigenous people and we respect their elders.

Tonight we’re bringing together the disability community and a great political panel in a conversation about the future.

I acknowledge Senator Jan McLucas, Senator Mitch Fifield and Senator Rachel Siewart. How great is it to have the main parties in the room talking disability a week away from the election!
This is a first for us and speaks volumes about support across the aisle in Canberra. Thank you.

We’ve got a fantastic MC, Tim Ferguson. Tim is a widely acclaimed comedian, writer and producer. He’s toured the world performing stand-up and musical comedy, co-writing dozens of live stage comedy shows and light entertainment programmes.

Tim was a member of comedy trio The Doug Anthony Allstars. He has written and produced sitcoms, and is Australia’s foremost teacher of screen comedy.

I’m also delighted to be joining a great panel with Joan Hume OAM who is a Founding and Life Member of People with Disability Australia; Former Director of PWD; and a current Director of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia

I welcome Sam Connor Member of NDIS Expert Committee on Workforce Development and Sector Capacity; and Member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability WA. Diva’s don’t come any bolshier than Sam!

Tonight isn’t just a debate – it’s a conversation and a place to ask questions & get involved. If you’re on social media send us your questions. The hashtag is #pwdaqanda and there is also an event happening right now on our Facebook page.

We’re doing this because it’s a vital election as we consolidate the reforms around disability driven by thousands of advocates from across Australia over the last few years.

PWD was started in the International Year of People with Disability in 1981 so we know how easy it is for disability to fall off the radar.

That is why we have been working hard, building bridges and setting agendas in the lead up to this election

We have visited more than 30 candidates, Members and Senators, including people in leadership positions from The Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Labor Party and The Greens.

We have held seven social media forums since January to spark a community conversation.

When they stopped the petition on we started a new one and worked to reframe the discussion on jobs.

We have been talking directly to the people in the press and online. In The Australian, The ABC, The Financial Review and Fairfax online.

We have given countless interviews and spoken at events, from the ACOSS election launch to the ABC Peoples Parliament.

We have developed a PWDA Disability Election Platform 2013 with four priorities based on what you told us. We have ideas and solutions; not just a wish list or a set of complaints.

These are to Get Real on Jobs, Deliver DisabilityCare, Stop the Abuse and Make the Convention Real.

It is appropriate that we launch the policy on the Convention tonight. Work on the Convention was bipartisan.

It started under the Howard Government. When I met with Phillip Ruddock two months back we acknowledged the energy and the effort that he had made in New York.

And the National Disability Strategy to make the convention real and pull levels of Government together was initiated by Kevin Rudd and then launched by Julia Gillard.

I believe disability rights cuts across the divide.

It’s not our way to take sides in elections and we never will.

Our project in disability has never been narrow.

Neither is it about creating a culture of “care”, even though there are entitlements that are a fulcrum in our lives.

We know better than anybody - with the possible exception of first Australians - that the wrong kind of care - can be the care that drags you down.

Disability rights is about freedoms, rights and responsibilities.

Freedoms from abuse, neglect, violence and places that trap us. Freedom to purchase our own services. Freedom to control our lives and to make our own decisions rather than having them made for us.

Reagan said freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction; some of us can remember within our lives being shut in, shut out and shut away in places like Lumeah. And some of us are still stuck behind walls.

Our project is also about rights - to access the places and spaces that other people take for granted. To justice and a fair go.

We don’t want to shirk responsibility – we embrace it:

  • Responsibilities to be part of work, volunteering, community and as citizens.
  • To create our own families, including for mums and dads with an intellectual disability.
  • To participate in all areas of Australian life. Getting on the bus going to school, going to work, being volunteers and being campaigners, buying or renting a house.
  • These might seem ordinary, but for some of us, they are the green light we run towards.

The campaign for an NDIS is what happens when we work together and find common cause on these things.

But our battle isn’t won:

  • It’s not over while Australia ranks last in the OECD in poverty and employment of people with disability;
  • It’s not over while we have inaccessible buses and taxis that leave people stranded in the rain for hours;
  • It’s not over when getting a mammogram or going to the GP is too hard because the chair is too high;
  • It is not over while we have people trapped in lives of desperation and violence in boarding houses;
  • It is not over while people earn a few dollars an hour for hard work in a factory just because they have a disability.
  • It is not over while children are locked out of schooling, tied down or segregated in cages.
  • It’s not over while people say we might as well be dead and the media reports murder as mercy.
  • It’s not over while an indigenous person with disability can spend a decade in jail without charge as a result of having a disability

That's what's at stake. That's why we’re here tonight.

But if we can keep going, join your political parties, call talk back radio shows, talk to your candidates, sign petitions, call out businesses or depts that don’t step up; if you comment on blogs; spread the word on Facebook and Twitter; if you make the case with your friends, families, neighbours, if you get on board with PWD to campaign with us, to join with us and fight with us then – we will not just land the NDIS, we will change this country for good and forever.

Thank you.

Craig Wallace, PWDA Election Forum 2013

SHUT IN Campaign to Close Institutions

3 December 2011  International Day of People with Disability

Read more ...

SHUT IN: Campaign to Close Institutions

“I have many friends now: people I can talk to, go to dinner with and call on for support. I am in charge of my life now, I make my own decisions and I am free. No-one tells me what to do or when, what I have to eat, or when I have to go to bed—I can do what I like whenever I like.” - KIM

Kim lived in institutions for 17 years. She is now a passionate advocate for the closure of all institutions in Australia.

Read more ...

There has long been a commitment by governments in Australia to provide community based accommodation services to people with disability.

Over time this commitment has decreased to the point where a number of governments have redeveloped old institutions and provided congregate models of care to people with disability.  This is in breach with the Australian Government's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Read more ...

In 2010, PWDA developed a campaign for the Federal Election leading up to elections on Saturday 21 August.

PWDA has identified key issue areas that need to be addressed by the next Australian Government.  We have also provided information on five important issues for people with disability in Australia

  • Making Rights Real – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Self Determination – Gaining control of our lives and our supports
  • An End to Institutions – Creating a non-segregated society
  • Mental Health – Recognising and Realising the rights of people with psychosocial disability
  • Violence against people with disability – Preventing and responding to abuse & neglect

PWDA E-Bulletin: Disability and Decision – Federal Election 2010

PWDA Media Releases

Our 2013 Federal Election campaign focuses on a socially just, accessible and inclusive community using four key messages to the next Australian Government.

These are:

  1. Get Real on Jobs Word 102kb | Get Real on Jobs (webpage)
    Increase the employment levels of people with disability 
  2. Deliver the NDIS Word 107kb | Deliver the NDIS (webpage)
    Build a sustainable, person-centred NDIS. 
  3. Stop the Abuse Word 101kb | Stop the Abuse (webpage)
    Embed a holistic strategy of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. 
  4. Make the Convention Real Word 103kb | Make the Convention Real (webpage)
    Implement the National Disability Strategy

Election Disability Q and A - 30 August 2013

On Friday 30 August, PWDA held an Election Disability Q and A event at the Mercure Hotel. 

Click here to view the webcast from night

Click here to read the speech by PWDA President Craig Wallace.

The evening was chaired by Tim Ferguson with guest panellists Senator Mitch Fifield - Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate; Senator Rachel Siewert - The Australian Greens Spokesperson for Family Community and Disability Services; Senator the Hon Jan McLucas - Senator for Queensland, Minister for Human Services; Joan Hume - Founding and Life Member of People with Disability Australia, Former Director of PWD, Director of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to people with disability; Sam Connor - Member of People with Disability Australia, Member of NDIS Expert Committee on Workforce Development and Sector Capacity and Member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability WA; Craig Wallace - President of People With Disability Australia, Deputy Community Co-chair of the NDIS Expert Committee in the ACT, Member of the Leaders for Tomorrow Advisory Group, occasional opinion editorial commentator for ABC Ramp Up and recipient of the Centenary Medal for Services to People with a Disability.

Right to Vote

People with disability are entitled to the full enjoyment of our citizenship rights and responsibilities. One way of expressing our citizenship rights is by voting. The election will be held on Saturday 7 September 2013. Voting is compulsory.

On the 15 March 2011, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) launched their 2011 NSW State Election Platform.

This Election Platform highlighted six key issue areas in disability reform:

  • Making Rights Real – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • An End to Institutions – Creating a non-segregated society
  • Boarding House Reform – Promoting contemporary standards for accommodation and resident outcomes
  • Violence against people with disability – Preventing and responding to abuse & neglect
  • Self-Directed Support – Gaining control of our lives and our supports
  • Safeguards for People with Disability – Disability Services Commissioner and Office of Public Advocate

Further reading