The WA Disability Coalition is pleased to see the release of the ‘Book of Proceedings’ from the NDIS in WA Conversations event held in June 2017 now available at http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/wa-ndis/wa-ndis/the-ndis-in-wa-conversation/about-the-event/ .
The event had over 300 people with disability, their families and carers coming together at the Perth Convention Centre to share information and raise issues relating to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and how it will work in WA.
The Disability Coalition, a collection of advocacy organisations, consumer representative groups and peak bodies in the disability and mental health sectors, worked closely with the State Government in co-designing the event and ensuring the voices of people with disability were reflected and heard in the conversations.
The event and the work leading up to it and afterwards has involved an unprecedented level of engagement and co-design which we hope to see emulated into the future. It made a big difference to the level of engagement at the actual event that all sessions were run by the Coalition and on topics known to be of importance to people with disability, their families and carers.
More time will be needed for future similar events for the planning to get all the accessibility right, however there was overwhelming positive feedback from those who attended. People with a wide range of disabilities were able to attend and it was great to have a strong attendance from aboriginal and regional people with disability.
The Book of proceedings from the event provides a summary the issues raised, the following of which the Coalition sees as some of the most important:
- A greater awareness of and access to independent advocacy services for people with disability.
- An ongoing State role in advocacy as many issues arise with the NDIS and its interface with State run service delivery systems including guardianship, housing, and mental health.
- NDIS funding for supported decision making as it is a core element of choice and control and an alternative to guardianship. Resources need to be invested in supports and information to make it happen.
- Peer support is incredibly valuable for people with disability, their families and carers to share experiences, ideas and explore what’s possible. Peer support needs backbone support and resourcing to be most effective.
- There must be more ways of raising awareness of the range of supports and contemporary and creative options available to people.
- Recognition and funding of the statewide WA Aboriginal Disability Network that could provide advice on all aspects of the scheme as they relate to Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people with disability must be connected with culture and country when doing planning on services and supports as well as on housing.
- There must be multiple ways of providing information and greater awareness and access to technology as many people do not currently have access, yet all the information related to NDIS is on the Internet.
- Information provision from independent sources is essential and people want to know where to go for guidance in developing plans and exploring options.
- There are lots of transition points in life where people said they need a specialist focus in service co-ordination such as moving from school to work, or looking for housing options.
- Mental health consumers, their families and carers want greater access to self-advocacy, peer support, carer support programs, individual advocacy and more education on what they can access in the NDIS.
- The state government needs to address the gaps between mental health services and NDIS in a coordinated way so that people can be well supported in their recovery.
- There is a growing need for more accessible and affordable housing with a wider range of options for people with disability.
The Disability Coalition said none of these issues are a surprise. They said many are the same as what was found in surveys done in 2015 and 2016 on participants’ experiences in the NDIS. The difference this time was the additional underlying concern as to what is going to happen next with the NDIS in WA. People in both trials were worried about changing systems and people outside of trials were worried about not knowing what model of NDIS they need to prepare for.
Whichever model of the NDIS is the final decision for NDIS in WA, both state and federal governments must stay involved in supporting access and inclusion for people with disability, and we know we must work hard to make sure the voices, concerns and issues of people with disability are heard.
The Disability Coalition is People With disabilities WA, Developmental Disability WA, Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre, Consumers of Mental Health WA, Explorability, Sussex St Community Law Service, Advocacy South West, Carers WA, National Disability Services WA, WA Individualised Services, WA Association of Mental Health