Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Inclusive Arts

Here's a couple of great organisations doing some amazing work in inclusive arts. By inclusive arts we mean it's for everybody - not just a program or project which is disability specific.

Shopfront is a contemporary arts centre – a cultural network and production co-operative where all young people under 25, regardless of background or ability can create themselves.

Below is a great dance piece they have produced called Zombie vs Bird:

Zombie vs Bird is an examination of the conflicts that arise at home and in the schoolyard, set within the rules and boundaries of a computer game.
Image courtesy of
Another great organisation doing some cool stuff is Bus Stop Films. Bus Stop Films has a focus on creating inclusion within the film industry. So far Bus Stop has been involved with creating three inclusive films, that have been screened both nationally and internationally, these films have also picked up a number of awards including the top gong at Tropfest 09.

People with mixed abilities fulfilled roles within the cast and crew of the films showcasing their talents and ability. The films also provided our participants the chance to be involved in film making at a professional standard.

Their latest work is a short film called The Interviewer, you can find out more about it at the film's website:

Pretty cool don't you think? Have you come across any other companies / organisations doing great work in inclusive arts? Let us know!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Disability not the Problem in an Accessible Society

Image showing the title page of the 'National Disability Strategy NSW Implementation Plan' featuring people with disability accessing the community and work.The above is the statement the NSW Government recently made when it released the "The National Disability Strategy NSW Implementation Plan 2012 -2014". A long title indeed.

The plan commits all areas of government to shift the structural and attitudinal barriers which impact on the lives of people with disability.

The National Disability Strategy NSW Implementation Plan outcomes areas are:
  • Inclusive and accessible communities - transport, housing, buildings, websites
  • Rights protection, justice and legislation – address criminal justice issues, improve access to complaints handling, support people with disability to stand for local government elections in 2016, maximise people’s autonomy through supported decision making
  • Economic security and employment - provide incentives to employ people with disability, create pathways for school leavers and volunteering opportunities
  • Access to personal and community support – through self directed supports and individualised funding, assistive technology, housing for Aboriginal people with mental illness
  • Learning and skills development - early childhood education, improve options to develop skills through community participation, life choices and active ageing
  • Health and wellbeing – improve access to health services, prevention and screening programs

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Improving Employment Participation of People with Disability.

Image showing front cover of discussion paper entitled "Improving the employment participation of people with disability in Australia'.
On 3 December 2012 Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations - Bill Shorten released a Discussion Paper: Improving Employment Participation of People with Disability

 The discussion paper looks at the best ways to:
  • promote and improve equality for people with disability in employment and in the workplace
  • support employers to identify and remove barriers to the full and equal participation of people with disability in the workforce, in recognition of the disadvantaged position of people with disability in relation to employment matters
  •  promote among employers the elimination of discrimination on the basis of a person’s disability
  • foster workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning people with disability in employment and in the workplace
  • improve the productivity and competitiveness of Australian business through the advancement of people with disability in the workplace.

The Government is asking for feedback and submissions on the paper, and would like to hear from:

  • people with disability, their families, carers and community representatives
  • employers – large and small and employer representatives
  • current Employment Service Providers
  • state and local governments
  • the Australian Council of Trade Unions and unions.
Closing date for submissions: 5.00 pm (Canberra Time) 15 February 2013.

You can read the paper here in pdf format
Or for a RTF format you can visit the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' website here.

What are some ideas you think could help to get more people with disability into the workforce?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 National Disability Awards Recipients

The National Disability Awards are part of the International Day of People with Disability celebrations which are held 3 December each year.

Below we've listed the recipients in each catergory, who received their awards from Senator the Hon Jan McLucas last week. You can also read about what they have achieved.

Prime Minister’s Outstanding Achievement Award - Dr Rhonda Galbally, of Richmond, Victoria
Dr Galbally has been a tireless campaigner for more than 30 years for disability rights, women’s rights, health reform, more resilient communities and innovation in philanthropy.

Rhonda played a key role in bringing together people with disability, carers and providers of disability services to campaign for change. She spearheaded the establishment of the National 

Disability and Carer Alliance, and with the Alliance has been a driving force behind the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Rhonda is the Chair of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council and the Deputy Chair of the Advisory Council for the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Minister’s Award for Excellence in Disability Reform – Michael Small, Sandy Bay, Tasmania and Samantha Jenkinson, Karrinyup, Western Australia
Throughout his lengthy career, Michael has dedicated himself to advocating for the rights of people with disability, particularly through the development of government policy and accessibility standards. Michael was closely involved in developing standards for accessible public transport and banking services, led negotiations to improve cinema and television captioning, and now runs an access consultancy that focuses on making practical changes to improve the rights of people with disability and their families.

Samantha has dedicated her professional life to fighting for disability reform in Western Australia and across the country. Samantha’s many achievements include her work on a number of projects to increase the choice and control of people with disability, participation on a number of ministerial advisory committees, and her contribution to the state’s Count Me In: Disability Future Directions strategy.

Emerging Leaders Award – Gerard O’Dwyer, Guildford, New South Wales
 As an actor with Down Syndrome, Gerard is using his profile to challenge entrenched stereotypes, particularly of people with an intellectual disability. His work includes dramatic performances in film and television, including his role in the film Be My Brother, for which he won Best Male Actor at the 2009 Sydney Tropfest Film Festival. Gerard is currently an ambassador for Karelle Life Enrichment Service, a provider of services to people with intellectual disability.

Excellence in Improving Social Participation Award – The Captioning Studio, Adelaide, South Australia and Australian Communication Exchange, Stones Corner, Queensland.
From the Sydney Opera House to the Arts Centre in Melbourne, The Captioning Studio’s innovative, accessible technologies and services are helping people with hearing impairment to better access performing arts. An example of the studio’s innovations is the world-first technology GoTheatrical, which enables people who are deaf or hearing impaired to enjoy live theatre by accessing live captions on their mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets.

Australian Communication Exchange is considered Australia’s leading service provider for the deaf, hearing and speech-impaired communities. Examples of its range of technologically advanced services include silent tweets—a smart phone app that allows users to post and receive important public announcements—and its new web captioned telephony service, which provides live captioning for telephone calls that can be accessed from a computer or smart phone over the internet.

Excellence in Improving Employment Opportunities Award – Telstra Corporation
Telstra Corporation is expanding its successful Supported Workforce Program, which currently partners with 13 Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) nationwide to provide meaningful and ongoing employment for more than 200 people with disability. With a demonstrated commitment to delivering accessible services to Australians with disability for many years, Telstra was the first major Australian corporation to develop a Disability Action Plan in 1996.

Excellence in Accessible Communities Award – Safe Futures Foundation, Eastern Region, Victoria
Safe Futures Foundation delivers early intervention, emergency and crisis support, as well as accommodation for women and children with disability who are experiencing family violence. The organisation fills a vital gap in the area of family violence and safety, and acts across the domestic violence and disability sectors to raise awareness of the risks faced by women with disability.

Excellence in Improving Personal and Community Support Award – Mary D’Elia, Hobart, Tasmania
In her role as State Operations Manager, Family and Community Services, for Baptcare, Mary D’Elia has played a pivotal role in policy reforms to improve the lives of Tasmanians living with disability. She has worked extensively with the Tasmanian Government to help develop and deliver the state’s Gateway Services – a single entry point for consumers to family and disability services in Tasmania.

Excellence in Advocacy and Rights Promotion Award – Communication Rights Australia – Moorabbin, Victoria
Communication Rights Australia is an advocacy and information service for people who face challenges communicating. For more than 30 years, it has advocated for people with communication difficulties to ensure that their rights and interests are respected and realised. In addition to working with individual clients, Communication Rights Australia provides a range of outreach services, including presentations and seminars at public forums.

Excellence in Improving Health Outcomes Award – Family Planning Queensland, Fortitude Valley
Family Planning Queensland in Fortitude Valley were awarded for their commitment to ensuring people with disability have access to the information and resources they need to make informed choices about their sexuality and reproductive health. The organisation also delivers positive messages to people with disability about their sexuality, sexual development and safe sex.

Excellence in Improving Education Outcomes Award – Geoffrey Warren, Clifton Hill
 As the Principal of Clifton Hill Primary School for the past 23 years, Geoffrey’s extraordinary leadership has ensured inclusive educational practices have been embedded across every aspect of school life. A culture of respect and the expectation of achievement is a striking characteristic of the entire school community, and the judges were impressed by Geoffrey’s dedication to creating a collaborative culture. The school consults regularly with families and allied health professionals so that it can benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of all parties.

Yooralla Media Award of Distinction – The Project, Network Ten, Victoria
 The Project has received this year’s Yooralla Media Award of Distinction for its unparalleled commitment air a range of issues across the disability sector, and to follow up stories to enhance the viewers’ understanding of these issues and their consequences. One of its stories, Finding Hope, was named the winner in the Television – Best TV News, Feature or Documentary (less than five minutes) category at the 2012 Yooralla Media Awards.

Visit the IPwD website to find out more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'The Ride' Movie

image featuring a wheelchair and quad bike parked in the outback. Text on the image says "The Ride". Who would have thought the outback was wheelchair accessible?
Image courtesy of The Ride

Have you heard about THE RIDE? Here’s the lowdown from the makers of the film:

“It’s a documentary about four Aussie blokes swapping their wheelchairs for quad bikes and embarking on the ride of their lives. The documentary charts their 5,000km adventure across the outback, as they visit the crash sites where their lives changed forever. Three men are paraplegics and one a quadriplegic, making this no ordinary road movie. Their encounters with mud, deserts, floods and exhaustion test their resilience and endurance to breaking point. Fuelled by bold humour and disarming honesty, The Ride is a wild traverse across the terrain of the human spirit, as four men make peace with the tragedy of their past”

You can check out the trailer here:

Now the makers of the doco are hoping to raise some funds to take the film on a national tour.

Here’s what they would like to do:

“Each night we'll screen the film in a new city or town, followed by a question and answer session with the cast and crew/filmmakers/one or more of the courageous men you see above. We're going to pack a van FULL of screening equipment, DVDs and t-shirts and inspire people to rise up from life’s challenges! For each screening we will team up with existing not-for-profits in the disability or road trauma sector to help us engage the local community. They can use these screenings to raise funds for their organisations.”

So there’s a couple of ways to help…

1.  Contribute to their crowdfunding campaign –

2. Spread the word! Like, share or comment on their website and trailer or Facebook page

3.Host your own screening - it’s really important to get the word out and share the film with others.

If you would like to find out more, visit:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NDIS Draft Legislation

Front cover of the draft legislation document featuring text and a picutre of a family with 2 children, one who has disability
Yesterday saw the release of draft legislation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The NDIS Bill creates the framework for a national scheme, including eligibility criteria, age requirements, and what constitutes reasonable and necessary support.

This will enable the scheme to be launched in five sites across Australia from July 2013.

The Bill will be introduced into the Australian Parliament this week, and will be voted on in time for the NDIS launch from July 2013. 

To find out more and to view an overview of the Bill in a number of accessible formats, vist:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Access All Areas Film Festival

Movie poster for The Sapphires film
The Access All Areas Film Festival is an accessible showcase of new Australian films for people with a disability. The tour features 50+ screenings at accessible cinemas, schools, community centres and disability groups in NSW and nationally.

The Festival is proud to announce this year's feature film will the biggest Australian movie of the year, The Sapphires.

The cinema screenings will take place in:

Sydney – Monday 3 December
Parramatta – Tuesday 11 December
Casula Tuesday 4 December and Saturday 8 December
Campbelltown – Monday 3 December and Sunday December 9

There are different ways to make a booking for each venue, so check out  for details.

These venues will have a combination of accessibilty options.

  • Wheelchair access (including extra space in cinemas)
  • Auslan Interpreters
  • Open Captions
  • Hearing Loop

Community Tour
The Access All Areas Community Tour consists of a program of new family friendly Australian short films featuring captions and audio description. Screenings are hosted right around the country in community and council venues, respite centres, art galleries and many more!

To find out the closest venue to you visit:

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.