Friday, September 21, 2012

New National Campaign To Create ‘Livable Homes’

This week has seen the launch of the 'Livable Homes' campaign by Livable Houses Australia. The  campaign aims to have all new homes being safer and easier to get around by 2020.

It includes 3 levels of "Livability" - silver, gold and platinum.

Below is an image of what a silver level house might look like and include in terms of accessibility.

There are also some great resources available on the LHA website including Liveable Housing Design Guidelines (PDF)

Visit for more resources and information.

3d floor plan of house, with 7 bullet points accompanying - 1. Step free path. 2. Level entry. 3 Internal movement. 4 Toilet at ground level. 5 Hobless shower. 6 Reinforced walls. 7 Handrail on stairs

 Below is the Media Relase for the Campaign

 A front door you can easily wheel a pram through; living spaces that are safer to move around in; a step-free shower; a handrail on your stairs; and a toilet on the ground floor.
Launched today at Parliament House, Canberra, Livable Housing Australia (LHA) will target the housing industry to achieve the Livable Housing Design Quality Mark as part of a national campaign to ensure all new homes are safer, more comfortable and easier to get around by 2020.

 LHA will work with industry leaders to adopt seven critical design features to help make homes not only easier to access and live in, but more cost-effective to adapt when life’s circumstances change, LHA Chair Peter Verwer said.

“Livable Housing Australia champions the adoption of seven critical ‘livable’ design features that help make homes easier to access, navigate and live in, as well more cost-effective to adapt when life’s circumstances change,” Mr Verwer said.

“Livable homes work for pregnant mums, young families with kids, as well and those with disability and Australians with sporting or traumatic injuries. ‘Livability’ also caters for the needs of an ageing society by promoting homes better suited to seniors.

“Livable homes will also reduce stress on Australia’s 2.6 million strong army of unpaid carers[1].”

Also launched today, the Livable Housing Design Quality Mark is set to become a trusted measure of livability for consumers and the housing industry.
“The LHA’s Silver, Gold and Platinum performance ratings are based on practical, common sense guidelines to livability,” Mr Verwer said.

“The features contained in the guidelines are inexpensive to incorporate into new-build dwellings and will deliver huge dividends as well as peace of mind to future generations of Australians.

“It makes sense to commit to livability features when a home is first designed and built rather than wait for an unplanned need to arise. Our goal is to persuade the market to incorporate Silver level livability features in all homes by 2020.”

Therese Rein, National Patron for the LHA, was inspired by the experiences of her father who lost the use of his legs after a flying accident in World War Two to support Livable Housing Australia’s campaign.

“I grew up with my dad in a wheelchair and I know what a difference Livable Housing would have made to him, and to us as a family. That’s why I wholeheartedly support Livable Housing Australia; so that every Australian can occupy a home that feels like home,” Ms Rein said.

“We design and build for what we call a ‘Peter Pan’ population – homes for the fit and well, the here and now,” Livable Housing Australia’s executive director, Amelia Starr, said.

“Livable design seeks to embed the idea that, just like life, our homes should be future-proofed so that they can better meet our needs and abilities both now and in the future,” she said.

A further benefit of creating more livable homes is fewer injuries and a reduction in public health costs.

The family home accounts for 62 percent of all falls and slip-based injuries, and currently accounts for $1.8 billion in public health expenses[2].

The LHA’s seven core livable housing design elements focus on the key structural and spatial elements that are critical to ensure future flexibility and adaptability of the home. (see break-out box)

 “Incorporating these features will avoid more costly home modification if required at a later date,” Ms Starr said.

“Common sense and international research indicate it’s 22 times more efficient to design the house for change than retrofit it when an unforeseen necessity arises,” she said.

Media enquiries: Amelia Starr, Executive Director, 0403 091 452

[1] ABS (2009) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.

[2] Monash University Accident Research Centre. (2008) The relationship between slips, trips and falls and the design and construction of buildings. (Funded by the Australian Building Codes Board).

Friday, September 14, 2012

All Aboard NSW

All Aboard Logo with images of bus, train, tram and ferry. Text says All Aboard - Accessible Journeys Everywhere
NCOSS (Council of Social Service of NSW) is currently working with disability advocates and other groups with an interest in accessible transport to establish the All Aboard Accessible Transport Campaign in NSW. 

In April this year a Victorian campaign has heightened public awareness of the problems people with disability experience accessing transport in that state.

The campaign in Victoria has created opportunities for people to share their experiences, boosted media coverage of accessibility issues and has put pressure on government agencies to take action. You can check out the website

NCOSS would like to do the same with a campaign in NSW. 

To get involved in the campaign, please contact:

Rhiannon Cook NCOSS Senior Policy Officer, Transport
phone: 9211 2599 ext 128

Also on Facebook!

Keep up-to-date with the campaign's progress by liking the All Aboard NSW Facebook page:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For Dad on Father’s Day

Thanks to Ashley for this piece about his dad Bruce....

The dining table was bristling with entrees when I arrived, glasses waiting to be filled with drink reflecting the warm glow of the ceiling lights.  In the kitchen beyond a delicious smell wafted from a pot on low heat.  No one was around.  I jumped through the sliding doors, eager to get on the other side of the condensation coated windows, to escape the southern highlands cold I used to love. 

I notice a sign resting on top of a CD rack against the far wall.  “Teenagers: Sick of your parents bossing you around?  Grow up, get a job, move out, while you still know everything!” Next to it a candle has allowed its wax to trickle over the surface of the CD rack and run over the edges, leaving several stalactites hanging in thin fingers. 
I hear a slow creaking across the floorboards from deeper within the old house. 

“Hello Ash!”  My dad, with a broad smile maneuvers his wheelchair into the room.  His posture is awkward.  His grey beard and long kaftan make him look like a portly wizard.  “How’s the flat going?” he always asks.  

“It’s fine,” I always say, but this time: “Its alright if you don’t mind the cockroaches.”

Mum strides into the room and hugs me.  “Skinny boy!” She practically shrieks as she pinches at my ribs.  After being questioned about how much I’ve been eating I sidle towards the table to get some food. 

Mum then turns on dad.  “Bruce, this place is such a mess, look at all this crap you leave everywhere!” She stabs a finger at one end of the table where there is a raised tray table on caster wheels, perfect for sitting at in a wheelchair.  It is separated from the display of entrees by newspapers, printed sheets, an open diary with pages covered in indecipherable swirls, slowly falling apart. 
“Yeah right,” says dad.  “I’m the only one who ever cleans anything up around here.”  He grasps at a metal claw which rides on the back of the chair.  “Look.”  The claw’s unseeing pincers bite at some loose sheets which have fallen to the floor.  Dad, with jerky movements, leans over the side of his chair, trying to get the claw under the impossibly thin pages.  On the last attempt, the claw jumps out of his hand and clatters to the floor.  I crouch to gather the paper as mum returns the claw.  She shakes her head. 

One in a thousand Australians will develop Multiple Sclerosis in their lifetime.  No one is sure why, or how to prevent it or cure it.  Dad, being diagnosed with MS the year I was born, has been living with the disease for 21 years.  Over that time his own immune system has been attacking the insulation around his nerves, causing signals from the brain to be disrupted, affecting his movement and balance.  With, and often despite his family, he has remained strong and helps to advise people in his situation.      

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Survey to Hear Your Thoughts on how You Seek & Receive Information

Given we are in a time of change where disability services all over are moving towards Person Centred Systems, IDEAS NSW are interested to know of all the different ways you value receiving information.

They are also interested in where you seek information to make the most of every choice available to you. They want to be able to show what is important for people with disabilities and their families, carers and service providers, when they are seeking information.

IDEAS has put together a survey, which hopes to gives some answers to these questions;

They invite you to complete the survey at:

They’d like to get at least 1000 replies to make the survey significant. The answers will be analysed, so they can make some recommendations for future service designs and how they connect with the community.

No individual or personal information will be shared with anyone. Your details are kept entirely confidential.

You can also enter your details to be in the draw to win a $250 Coles voucher. There is no obligation to complete the survey, or the draw.

IDEAS would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this survey and the findings will be shared with you via their newsletter and website when they are in.

If you have any questions or problems please give them a call on 1800 029 904 or email and they will be happy to speak to you about anything at all, and help you in any way they can.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fashion.....

Thanks to Joanna for her post on fashion considerations.... you can view the original here 

How about you? Any tips or considerations around fashion!?

Recently, I volunteered to be part of a media or research project on disability and fashion. The co-ordination was done by a Dr Jill Bamforth a social research academic from Melbourne with an eye for fashion and an awareness that there must be challenges finding clothes that work on any number of levels for people with disabilities. She was also aware that there would be an unmet market that wasn’t necessarily being served current.

After at least two brief phone calls that had technically or timing issues in which we established among other things, that; I didn’t like centre-back zips, can’t wear pantyhose, but can do thigh highs but don’t like the limited range (even now when there is a decent range in pantyhose as there has been recently in Australia). She then sent me 11 insightful questions, inviting me to answer without the pressure to answer them all. After that was an equally insightful hour-long phone call.

As with most well-written surveys on topics you have at least a passing interest in, the process of thinking that went into the preparation of my answers was fascinating.

Here was the first Q and A

1. You say (as others do) that it is important to dress in a professional way in order to be taken seriously at work. What does this kind of dressing entail – a suit/make up/ heels/hair cuts and colour, for instance?

How long have you got…. It involves all of those things above and balancing them out for an overall effect, based not only on the event you are planning for and the impact you want to make (same for everyone I guess) but how physically you are feeling (energy) and what parts of your body are working and what sort of movement you are anticipating — transfers etc.

For example I have two pairs of very different work shoes, that from the top(the way most people will see my feet) look very similar. This is deliberate. However, if I wear the higher heels (which are more comfy on my footplate) and my foot goes into spasm, my ankle gets twisted and it becomes a painful and visual distraction tht can last hours.

In addition as a wheelchair user I am viewed as sitting even when I’m moving which changes the parts of my outfits and body that are visually apparent.My breasts and my shins are more visible than my waist or whether I’m a pear or apple. So traditional fashion advice or mannequins are only so useful.

Also the wheelchair in one way is a fashion accessory and frames me so I dress to either not clash with it, or to complement it. Trying to igbnore it has not worked in the past. Keep in mind though that you want to be distinguishable from the chair at all times.

In the more traditional version of your question, yes all these things you mention contribute. I always tend to up dress because I get judged already on the fact I sit. I don’t wear a tracksuit at all except in bed. I always wear foundation. It might be vanity but the logic is to come over as a grown up, let alone a professional. I’m in my 30’s.

She was interested in the wheelchair as accessory bit, which I might go into on another occasion.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Want to be a Living Life My Way Ambassador?

The NSW Government is looking for enthusiastic people who are passionate about person centred approaches, have experience in managing their own supports and are willing to share their experiences and inspire others.
They are particularly looking for Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to become Ambassadors and Champions to inform and inspire their communities.
Recruitment for Ambassadors and Champions will be staged with Round 1 applications now open and closing on 28 September 2012 with appointments in early November 2012. Round 2 appointments will be in March 2013 and Round 3 in July 2013.

front cover image of information pack for ambassadors program

Information on the program including how to apply is on the Ageing, Disability and Home Care website
If you have any questions about the Living Life My Way Ambassadors and Champions Program please contact the Person Centred Approaches Team on 1800 605 489.
Please email to update your contact details or to stop receiving emails about Living Life My Way initiatives.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Models of Diversity

Have you heard of Models of Diversity? If not here's what they are about:

" Models of Diversity advocates for more diversity in models, and demands that the fashion and marketing industries recognise the beauty in women of all races, ages, shapes, sizes and abilities."

Recently they lauched a campaign which includes this billboard.....

The billboard stands on the border between the City of London and the West End. Its has almost 50,000 people passing it a day so it will be seen by many Londoners and tourists visting the Paralympic Games...

If you want to find out more about Models of Diversity - check out their website at

You can also check out model Debbie van der Putten's blog here !