Monday, April 3, 2017

Being Female and Living with a Disability in Rural Australia

In partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria, Women’s Health Goulbourn North East (WHGNE) carried out a study which highlighted a number of concerning barriers for women with disabilities living in rural communities.

There are worrying trends exposing discrimination and harassment, as well as longer-term health and well-being effects.

The study found that the main barriers included:

  • Transport 
  • Medical supplier choice
  • Escaping disability medical model

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2014 people with a disability were less likely to have had daily face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside the household, compared to those who did not have a disability (16% compared with 20%). With community transport standards varying wildly and almost non-existent transport links, it is easy to see why people with disability in rural communities suffer from social isolation.

With the exception of main towns, access to public transport is very poor. Veteran Affairs appear to have a better handle on understanding taxi subsidies, but clients and sometimes even taxi operators struggle to understand them.

If living with a disability rurally, there is generally less choice of medical suppliers, with perhaps one service provider supplying “everything”, transport, accommodation, work, access to day and community engagement programmes. And if there are not strong enough advocates for that individual defining acceptable service standards to operate by, then there is an increased risk of less access and poorer standards.

Often, the medical model of a person’s disability defines them and escaping can be difficult. This keeps an individual isolated except for accessing their medical supports.

Community culture can play an important role on the isolation and inclusion that a person with disability can have. Although culture is driven by a community, individuals can benefit. If a person is recognised by their name or belonging to a particular family, their neighbours and fellow community members speak about the individual as a whole, regardless of their disability. This can provide positive acceptance and engagement at all levels within the community from education, social, church and sports.

Although social isolation can be rife, there are some positive stories of rural communities pulling together and embracing an individual’s unique differences.

Julie, a young 50 year old woman was involved in the community world music choir for some years. A great director, great choristers, great repertoire of world music, drumming and dancing in a rural location. She suffered a medical misadventure which rendered her very ill for a long time and without a voice.

After she was well enough she approached the choir director and asks if she could return to the choir (because she loved the music). However, she wished to be an elite lip syncer and enjoyed the music around her, the dance, and the fellowship of the other choristers. The director had no qualms with it, however, realised that he has to put it to the choir. At the next rehearsal, Julie had two minutes to introduce herself by telling them about her condition as much as she felt comfortable.
After her introduction and lip syncing audition, she was wholly accepted into the choir. Since she joined, there have been a number of additional members join, one who has a visual impairment, another who has had a stroke but can sing.

The moral of the story is that from small things, big things grow. And with the right support and choices to make informed decisions, people with disability should not feel isolated.

Do you have a disability or care for someone with a disability and live in a rural community? Are you looking for information to make better decisions? Contact IDEAS on 1800 029 904 or visit us at

Friday, February 24, 2017

Disability Future Planning - Wills and Trusts

Being the carer of a person with a disability carries huge responsibility. What happens though, when you are no longer able to look after that person? This can be majorly concerning for you, especially when it relates to family members. The majority of individuals with disability can make active decisions about their future, however, there are some people who are unable to participate directly within that process.

In these circumstances, you may wish to provide ongoing financial assistance for family members but are confused by the financial and legal jargon, are unsure how things should be structured, what questions to ask and where to go for further assistance.

The following provides an overview into the different areas, however, is by no means legal documentation or advice. You should seek the services of a professional lawyer when consulting about your future financial wishes.  

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out how you wish your assets to be distributed after you have passed away. Ensuring that your Will is up-to-date is the best method for protecting your assets and making sure that they are distributed in the way that you wished.

It is probably the most important document you will sign, therefore, it is imperative that you seek legal guidance and expertise when preparing it.

If you haven’t prepared a Will, no one will know how you want your assets to be split up and who should receive what. Your assets will be distributed to a set formula.

What are Assets?

An asset is an item of property that is owned by a person or company and is regarded as having value.
Examples of assets can include jewellery, artwork, savings accounts, houses, land and car. There are a lot more examples available.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal concept that can look complex, but when explained, are easier to understand.
A trust is a legal obligation placed on one person, called the trustee, to look after the assets of the trust for the benefit of another person or a number of people, called a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
A trust is a good way to control the assets for the benefit of a person with disability. A trust can continue to look after some of the interests of a person with disability after your death. It is a structure you set up to operate before or after your death, which can continue into the future.

The main decisions required to make up a trust are:

- Who will be the trustees?
- How will the assets be divided up fairly between the person with the disability and other family members?
- What accommodation and care options should be provided for?
- How much discretion and direction should the trustee have? 

What do Trustees do?

The trustee is the person or persons who have the right to administer and control the trust’s assets, but only for the benefit of the beneficiary, in this example, the person with disability.

The recipient will gain from the trust, without having control over the trust itself.

Who should be appointed trustee?

This is an extremely important decision, however, legal structures do not always guarantee that individuals will do the right thing.

That person should share the same views about how your family member should be looked after by the trust.

What is a Special Disability Trust?

A Special Disability Trust is the provision of social security and veterans’ affairs means test concessions, set up by the Australian Government to help families with planning their estates. A Special Disability Trust can be set up by anybody for a person with severe disability, as long as certain legislative conditions are met.

People are encouraged to make their own provision for accommodation and care costs for family members with severe disability. This type of trust may alieve concerns about how funds held in trust may affect entitlements. However, if the assets are limited and reduction of social security entitlements is not a significant risk, a Special Disability Trust may not be relevant.

Trusts and Wills and when to choose the right option

You do not have to make special arrangements for a family member with disability. This will be dependent upon the abilities of the person with disability, available resources and future wishes.
If the person can manage their own money or through an informal process, there is less need for special arrangements. They can be left money through your Will or Trust as other family members would. There are certain times when special arrangements should be put into place:

- If the person’s disability affects their mental capacity (intellectual disability, brain injury, mental illness or dementia) – they may need help with managing money or assets
- Or if you want to keep more control than usual over how family resources are used in the long-run

Issues for Consideration

Information to take to the Solicitor

If you would like a more accessible version of these questions, contact IDEAS' Information Officers on 180 029 904 or contact us. 

Easy English Wills

It is essential that everyone has an understanding of what wills are and how they would like their assets to be distributed. The following Easy English guide is a template to help every one with the planning process. 

Information sourced from: A Resource for people planning for the future, Easy English Planning Guide, NDIS Help. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Growing Demand for Cricket Creates All Abilities Leagues

In Australia, cricket and summer go hand-in-hand. Its’ popularity evident in the number of series and tournaments that occur during the summer season, from Boxing Day Tests, through to the Big Bash League. It is no wonder that cricket is Australia’s number one participation sport.  

However, for some Aussies donning the whites, grabbing a bat and going out onto the cricket pitch isn’t as easy as it sounds, or should be. People with disability often have a desire to participate but barriers exclude them.

Not for much longer though. New, all abilities, integrated leagues in Victoria and Western Australia have been created (as well as South Australia and NSW).

The aim of the leagues are to create inclusive environments for players and to bridge the gap between able-bodied players and persons with disability, whether physical or intellectual.

Games are played on the same venues and at the same time as other games, with only minimal moderations to build confidence and create inclusiveness.

Participants have expressed excitement about the inclusive leagues “I see this as another way to make friends and to keep fit”.

The success of the leagues could not have been achieved without the determination and determination from volunteers and members of the cricket clubs to bring these leagues to fruition.

For more information about inclusive sports clubs and activities in your area, contact IDEAS on 1800 029 904 or visit