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NDIS Update

The launch of DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, is just around the corner, and a lot of hard work is going into ensuring that everything is ready for 1 July.

Last week the Prime Minister and Victorian Premier announced Geelong as the location of the head office of DisabilityCare Australia. This is great news for Geelong and another step towards the full rollout of the scheme by 2019.
Once DisabilityCare Australia is fully rolled out, it will support around 460,000 people with significant and permanent disability. It is being rolled out gradually over the next few years because it’s a big change to the current system and the Government needs to make sure everyone is properly supported to make the transition into the scheme.
The launch of DisabilityCare in selected sites across the country will allow the Government to evaluate the operation of the scheme throughout the implementation process, and learn from it so they can make improvements before the full roll out.
The Government is establishing a separate division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to conduct independent reviews of decisions made by DisabilityCare Australia. This will make sure that people who request an independent review will be seen by AAT members experienced in considering DisabilityCare decisions and working with people with disability.
Some people seeking an AAT review may want support while going through the review process. The Government has also provided $860,000 in 2013-14 to support people through the AAT external review process.
They will also fund specific National Disability Advocacy Program providers in launch sites to provide support persons to assist applicants seeking an AAT review of DisabilityCare Australia decisions.
Jenny Macklin and Amanda Rishworth explained that the Government is completely reforming the system, and they want to build a scheme that stands the test of time.

DisabilityCare Australia independent evaluation team announced

As part of the starting period of the NDIS, the Government will do an evaluation of the DisabilityCare launch.

The National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University of South Australia will carry out the research independently, starting in 2013 and finishing in 2016.
The evaluation will assess the impact of DisabilityCare Australia on people with disability, their families and carers, and the disability sector.
Evaluation findings will be used for planning and improving the rollout of DisabilityCare Australia. It will also be used when making policies for people with disability in a broad range of policy areas.
The Flinders University team will consult with key stakeholders including people with disability, their families and carers, state and territory governments, and disability sector representatives.
The evaluation will consider:

  • how DisabilityCare Australia impacts people with disability, their families and carers, and the disability sector and workforce
  • the impact of DisabilityCare Australia on selected mainstream services (including access to mainstream services for people with disability)
  • high-level implementation processes, focusing on elements of DisabilityCare Australia which contribute to positive or negative outcomes.

What you said: Deaf Education Summit video released

As part of the Deaf Education Summit, Deaf Australia encouraged delegates and presenters to tell us their hopes, frustrations, goals and dreams related to their experiences with the deaf education and early intervention systems.

We were overwhelmed with parents, Deaf community members, Deaf educators and summit participants who wanted to tell their story on camera.
Please watch this video and share it with your colleagues, friends, schools, service providers and whoever else you think needs to know more about the real life experiences of people who use the system.

National Disability Awards – Nominations close soon!

Do you know someone who should be recognised for their outstanding work to improve the lives of people with disability?

Nominations are now open for the 2013 National Disability Awards.
The Awards are held each year as part of the International Day of People with Disability celebrations. They honour and recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, teams and organisations that have improved the lives of people with disability, and contribute to increased recognition of equality and human rights for all Australians.
There are nine Award categories:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award in Disability
  • Emerging Leaders Award in Disability
  • Excellence in Accessible Communities Award
  • Excellence in Improving Social Participation Award
  • Excellence in Advocacy & Rights Promotion Award
  • Excellence in Improving Employment Opportunities Award
  • Excellence in Improving Personal and Community Support Award
  • Excellence in Improving Education Outcomes Award
  • Excellence in Improving Health Outcomes Award.

Please spread the word among your own networks, and nominate a person or organisation you think has done a great job in improving conditions for Deaf people in Australia.
Nominations close 5PM AEST Friday 28 June 2013. Nominate now!
For more information or assistance, please visit, email [email protected] or phone 1800 672 682 (TTY users please phone 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 672 682).

Deaf woman sues government for her right to serve on a jury

After being unwillingly excluded from jury duty in 2012, Queensland resident Gaye Lyons has brought a discrimination case against the Queensland government to fight for her right to serve as a juror.

Gaye Lyons Photograph

Plaintiff, Ms Gaye Lyons

“Its the 21st century, times have changed, and people with disabilities need to participate in society more,” said Ms Lyons, Office Administrator at Deafness peak body Deaf Australia, “We have to pay equal taxes yet we are not treated equally and allowed to serve our society.”
Ms Lyons was refused the opportunity for jury selection because she is deaf and needs an Auslan interpreter in the selection process, in court proceedings and in the jury room.
A State Government barrister told the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal that the Jury Act prevented Ms Lyons from effectively serving as a juror.
The State Government claims the Act does not allow an Auslan interpreter – a 13th person – in a jury room when jurors are deliberating, but this is disputed by Ms Lyons’ lawyer Phillip French.
In February last year, Ms Lyons received an email from Ipswich District Court deputy registrar Katrina Britton telling her she was excluded from jury selection under the Act.
Ms Lyons is alleging that this was direct and indirect discrimination.
The tribunal was told no deaf person has ever served on a jury in Australia and interpreters are not allowed in jury rooms anywhere in the country.
However, deaf people have served on juries in the United States and a deaf person has been a juror in a New Zealand tax fraud case.
He said Ms Lyons had been deprived of her opportunity to perform an important civic duty and had been unjustly characterised as incompetent.
“We say she is capable of performing the function of a juror,” Mr French said.
Barrister Kerri Mellifont SC, for the State Government, said the decision to exclude Ms Lyons from jury selection was not based on her impairment.
She said the Jury Act said a person could not do jury service if they could not perform the functions of a juror and Ms Lyons could not do that without an interpreter.
Ms Mellifont said jury deliberations could not be disclosed to anyone other than another juror and that would exclude Auslan interpreters from the jury room.
“Many people are not aware of the strict code of ethics that Auslan Interpreters must abide by,” said Deaf Australia Executive Officer Karen Lloyd, “Interpreters will only interpret what is being said; they will not add or exclude information, offer their own opinions or advice, or discuss what they have heard with anyone.”
“Having an interpreter in the jury room should not compromise the process in any way.”
Professor Jemina Napier also gave evidence via phone from Scotland about a study resulting from mock trials of hearing and deaf jurors.
She said it found deaf people did not seem disadvantaged by having interpreters at court, but more research was needed.

Report of the National Summit on early intervention and education released!

Deaf Australia is excited to announce that the report of the National Summit on early intervention and education for Deaf and hard of hearing children is now ready for public release.

Deaf Australia held a national summit on early intervention and education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Canberra on 29 and 30 November 2012 to give the community an opportunity to be heard on these vital issues.
While politicians, academics and educators made an important contribution and provided informative presentations, the primary purpose was to hear from people at the coal face, on the lived experience of early intervention and school education. We asked participants to consider four basic questions:

  1. What has worked for you?
  2. What has not worked?
  3. What needs to change?
  4. What can we do to help make this change happen?

Strategic planning company Grant Thornton agreed to work with Deaf Australia pro bono to attend the summit and write a report with a recommended strategy for Deaf Australia on these issues.
This report has been sent to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
We are pleased to now be able to release the report publicly to all who attended the summit, to members and supporters and others who might be interested. Please feel free to share this report with others whom you believe have a stake in these issues or might be interested.
Deaf Australia will be following up on the strategy recommended in the report. If you would like to collaborate with us on the strategy we would be keen to hear from you – please contact Deaf Australia Executive Officer Karen Lloyd at [email protected].

    Our thanks to our Summit sponsors:

    • Ai Media
    • Deaf Children Australia
    • Media Access Australia
    • Victorian Deaf Education Institute
    • National Relay Service
    • Deafness Forum of Australia
    • Grant Thornton
    • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
    • DeafCanDo
    • Hills Sound, Vision & Lighting Group
    • Communication Replublic
    • NABS

    DisabilityCare Australia Conference – Early bird registration until 7 June

    Early bird registrations are now open for the DisabilityCare Australia Conference: My Choice, My Control, My Future.

    Join speakers such as the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin MP, Professor Emeritus Ron McCallum AO and Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes, as well as other high-profile speakers from across the country and the world.
    The conference will bring together more than 1,000 Australians to discuss DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme.
    The conference will provide a forum for people to share their unique experiences with disability, find out about the DisabilityCare, how it will work and how governments will help people and service providers transition to this new system of support.
    The conference will also offer a premiere look at the Practical Design Fund projects, an initiative that delivers practical solutions and innovative ways to assist people with disability, their families and carers, as well as service providers, to get ready for DisabilityCare Australia.
    The conference will include a dinner on the Sunday evening where delegates can network, share your experience and hear more about DisabilityCare Australia.

    Registration Fees:

    Early Bird (closes 7 June 2013) $250
    Dinner Ticket $80
    Standard $300
    Dinner Ticket $80
    Pension Card Holders* $30
    Dinner $20
    *Individuals registering for the conference who have a pensioner concession card are entitled to register at the concession rate.
    For further information and to register for the Conference, please visit

    Registrations open for M-Enabling Australasia 2013

    Deaf Australia are excited to announce that registrations are now open for the M-Enabling Australasia 2013 conference and showcase being held on 14-15 August in Sydney.

    This is shaping up to be a fantastic event, with two days of discussion and practical demonstrations focused on how mobile technologies can benefit people with disability and older people.

    Mobile technology is a potential game changer for people with disability and many older people; providing access and inclusion through usable, accessible and affordable mobile equipment and services.
    This event is the first of its kind to be held in the southern hemisphere, and is an excellent opportunity to be part of discussions involving local and international experts on accessible technologies, mobile service providers, developers, manufacturers, retail and business groups, regulators, policymakers, and organisations representing people with disability and older people.
    The keynote speakers will be Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director, Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technology (G3ICT) and Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Chief, Consumer and Government Affairs, US Federal Communications Commission. Further speakers will be announced in the coming weeks but plan to register before June 14 to receive a discount (ACCAN members will receive an additional discount).
    The themes for the conference include:

    • How mobile technology enables increased participation and productivity
    • Why M-Enabling matters to Australia – the Australian market and local demographics
    • Shaping future market technologies by collaborating on M-Enabling opportunities
    • International perspectives: with keynote speakers from the US
    • App developers and hardware manufacturers – what works for consumers and what’s technically possible
    • Service delivery – perspectives from health, tourism, transport, education, financial and emergency services

    M-Enabling Australasia 2013 is a joint partnership between ACCAN and Telstra in cooperation with G3ict and EJ Krause & Associates.
    Book your place
    For a program, prices and to book your place at M-Enabling Australasia 2013 please visit the conference website

    NDIS for Northern Territory!

    The Northern Territory has now signed on to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles signed an agreement on 15 May 2013 that will see DisabilityCare Australia, the NDIS’s new name, rolled out across the territory by July 2019.

    The scheme will eventually cover an estimated 7000 NT residents with significant or profound disabilities.
    “The NDIS is the reform of a generation and has the potential to transform the lives of people in the Northern Territory with disability, their families and carers,” Ms Gillard said in a statement.
    Under the agreement, the scheme will launch at a single site in July next year.
    Other eligible people with disability in the NT will start entering the scheme from July 2016, and by July 2019 all eligible NT residents will be covered by the scheme.
    When the scheme is fully up and running the federal government will pay for about 51 per cent at a cost of about $105 million. The NT will provide the remainder of about $99 million.
    The NT deal means Liberal West Australian Premier Colin Barnett is the only leader yet to agree to the disability insurance scheme.

    Deaf Australia activities during April, 2013

    Deaf Australia is always a hive of activity, busy with all sorts of tasks; working hard to make life better for Deaf people. Read more here about what we’ve been up to lately.

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    [accordion_set] [accordion title=”Key Priority 1: Early intervention and education” active=”yes”]

    National Summit on Early Intervention & Education for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children, Canberra, 29 & 30 November 2012

    FaHCSIA has sent us feedback on the report from the summit and has requested some changes. We are now waiting for our colleagues at Grant Thornton to make changes. We continue to hope to be able to send the final report out soon.

    Early Intervention Working Group

    I attended a meeting of this group on 23 April. One of the things the group is discussing is the development of early intervention protocols, i.e. what elements a good early intervention program must have. In preparation for this we are looking at similar documents from overseas.
    A member of the Working Group is working on mapping early intervention services in Queensland – i.e. documenting what services are available and in what locations. At a previous meeting she provided some information about this to the group. During April I sent her some feedback on the importance of ensuring that the availability or absence of Auslan/bilingual early intervention services is clearly included in the documentation along with speech and auditory therapy services.

    Inquiry into the TAFE system

    The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment announced an inquiry into the TAFE system in March. TAFE plays a very important role in the education of people who are Deaf so it was important that we send in a submission. We sent out a request for feedback from the community and received a lot of very valuable information which we then used in our submission to the inquiry, sent on 18 April. Many thanks to those who sent us their comments, with special thanks to those people who agreed to have their stories included as case studies. At some point the Committee will make our submission available on its website and you will be able to read it by clicking here.


    The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) held a ‘Consumer Day’ in Canberra on 30 April, which I attended along with representatives from other peak disability representative organisations.
    In preparation for this I sent out a request for feedback from the community about their experiences and views of the new Disability Employment Services (DES) system. Many thanks to those who sent in feedback; it was very helpful.
    At the meeting, DEEWR provided us with a lot of information about the new arrangements for DES and it became clear that a great deal of information that DES consumers should be getting is not actually reaching them. DEEWR agreed to provide information in a more simple and easy to understand format and we agreed to help them by making this information available to our members.
    As an example of information that consumers generally do not seem to be aware of, DES providers are required to use their DEEWR funds to cover any support costs a client needs in the Employment Pathways (pre-employment) stage as well as the interview and employment stages. This means that if you are a Deaf person and you want to, for example:

    1. do a training course relevant to your Employment Pathways plan but the training organisation is small or privately owned and won’t provide interpreters, or
    2. do some work experience or volunteering

    then the DES provider has enough funds to provide interpreting. It also means that if you go to a generalist (i.e. not Deaf specific) DES provider and you need an interpreter the DES provider does have enough funds to pay for a qualified interpreter for their meetings with you; it is not acceptable for them to say they don’t have the funds or for them to use unqualified interpreters or staff who ‘can sign’ but are not sufficiently fluent in Auslan for your needs.
    This information is clearly set out in the Code of Practice and Service Guarantee that all DES providers have signed up to. You can ask your DES provider for a copy.
    Several of us raised the issue of there now being fewer specialist DES providers. For Deaf people this means more Deaf people have to go to generalist (not Deaf specific) DES providers. DEEWR said that many specialist providers were very good at understanding the needs of their clients but were not successful enough at finding them jobs. They showed us some statistics from their database that showed that only about 20-30% of consumers who have received services from DES providers have been placed in jobs. This is a very low success rate.
    Many people have said to us, and we have said many times to DEEWR, and said it again at the Consumer Day, that the $6,000 per person per year cap on interpreting from the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) is not enough for some people. DEEWR seems to disagree, and they later sent me some information from their databases showing that the average amount spent on interpreting per EAF registered Auslan user (who is in a job) per year is $2,408. I need to talk more with DEEWR about this; averaging it out like this is not particularly the best approach as interpreting needs vary greatly between jobs and people. But it does seem to indicate that although we know the $6,000 cap is not enough for some people, it is more than enough for many. We need more research on this issue. [/accordion] [accordion title=”Key Priority 3: Access to information and media” active=”no”]

    DisabilityCare Australia (NDIS)

    In April we worked on the planning for a series of general awareness raising workshops about the NDIS in as many locations (including regional locations) as we can fit into the time available up to 30 June 2013. I will be out of the office a lot in May and June doing workshops in the community. These workshops are specifically for Deaf people and will be in Auslan. No interpreting will be provided – however, please let us know if you need a deafblind interpreter. Please keep an eye out for the information announcing locations and dates and check the Outlook blog entry.  And please come along to a workshop; the NDIS will bring big changes for Deaf people, and it is important that we are all prepared for these changes.

    DDA Transport Standards

    The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), of which Deaf Australia is a member, prepared a submission to the Review of the DDA Transport Standards. We sent comments about Deaf people’s needs to AFDO for inclusion in their submission. [/accordion] [accordion title=”Key Priority 4: Organisational stability and growth” active=”no”]
    Emeritus Professor Des Power AM, died on 3 April, aged 77. Des Power was well known around the world as an educator and academic in the field of Deaf Education. He was also a consistent ally of Deaf Australia and a long-time supporter of Deaf people and their aspirations for more access and opportunity. He will be greatly missed by many including those of us at Deaf Australia who knew him well. Deaf Australia life members Breda Carty and Robert Adam collaborated on a wonderful obituary for Des from the point of view of Deaf people who knew him. You can see this obituary by clicking here.


    Deaf people from NESB/CALD backgrounds

    On 16 April I met with the CEO of AMPARO – a Queensland advocacy organisation for people with disabilities from NESB/CALD backgrounds. AMPARO wants to work with us on a special project for families of Deaf people to learn Auslan. We will be talking further with them and with NEDA, the national organisation for this group of people.

    World Federation of the Deaf

    In April the WFD asked us to recommend a number of interpreters to possibly interpret at a meeting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability committee in Geneva in September this year. This meeting will discuss Australia’s report on its compliance with the UNCRPD. Deaf Australia does not have the resources to do a full scale formal recruitment process of interpreters, and we are already familiar with interpreters working at this level so we approached suitable interpreters directly and sent information to WFD.
    Board member Ida Rogers has continued to work on arrangements for youths and youth leaders to attend the WFD Junior Youth Camp in Rome in July this year. We will now have two youths attending – Max Eyking and Anabelle Beasley. They will be accompanied by a youth leader, Shirley Liu. [/accordion] [/accordion_set]
    [content_box style=”green” title=”About the contributor”] Karen Lloyd AM is Executive Officer of Deaf Australia. [/content_box]

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