Your Service, Your Rights workshops

New workshops to help understand your rights when you receive services through the NDIS.

The Your Service, Your Rights logo, which is the project name in a speech bubble

Everyone has rights. Do you know what your rights are when you receive services through the NDIS?

Inclusion Australia is working with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to deliver free workshops for people with an intellectual disability and their supporters.

The workshops are about:

  • Rights and Services: What are rights and why are they important for everyone? How do you know if you’re getting your rights met by your service?
  • NDIS Commission – Code of Conduct and Complaints: What is the NDIS Commission? What do workers need to do to make sure you get your rights, and how can you make a complaint to the NDIS Commission?
  • Speaking Up and Supports: Why it is important to speak up; how to get support; using an advocate.
  • Being Involved: what are the things your service can do to include you in making sure your service is safe and good quality?

Workshops are happening in every state and territory from now until June 2023. Some workshops are in person. Some workshops will be online.

Contact the Inclusion Australia member in your state or territory to find out about workshops happening near you.

A map showing Inclusion Australia members for each state and territory

 

For more information, visit our Your Service, Your Rights project page.

Living with COVID-19 and staying safe

An accessible new video to help you make the right decisions for you.

COVID-19 is still very common in the community.

There is also risk for many people from catching the flu. Covid Vaccine

We want to make sure people with an intellectual disability have the right information to help stay as safe as possible.

That’s why we have made a new film with our friends and colleagues at Speak Out Advocacy in Tasmania.

The film is called Living with COVID-19.

It has information about staying safe and doing what is right for you.

You can watch it here:

This is the follow-up to our 2021 film to help people make decisions about getting the vaccine. You can watch the first film here.

More Information

For the latest COVID-19 information by the Australian Government in Easy Read visit COVID-19 vaccination – Easy Read resources

You can also visit our COVID-19 page with links to state and territory information: COVID-19 – Inclusion Australia

 

This video was made possible through philanthropic funding. We are grateful to our funders for their generous donation. 

Advocates recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Congratulations to Fiona McKenzie, Michael Sullivan and Ian Cummins who were all awarded the Order of Australia this week.

The Order of Australia is an award given to Australians who have done important things in their community, or in their work.

Michael and Fiona are both from NSW and work with the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID). They have been recognised for their outstanding achievement and service for people with disabilities.

Michael Sullivan has a long history of advocating for people with an intellectual disability. He is a former Chair of Our Voice, the committee which provides advice to Inclusion Australia’s Board. Michael was also CID Board Chair, and was appointed as the first Chairperson of the Down Syndrome Australia Network in 2018. In 2017 Michael was one of the key voices calling for a Disability Royal Commission.

“Enough is enough! It is our time to be heard. It is our time for justice – now!” – Michael Sullivan calls for a Disability Royal Commission in 2017

Michael Sullivan in Melbourne in 2017 calling for a Disability Royal Commission

Fiona McKenzie is the current chairperson of the CID Board. She was the first female chairperson with intellectual disability at CID. She has also spent many years advocating for people with an intellectual disability. This includes work with the Black Dog Institute to help people with intellectual disability learn and talk about mental health issues. She was a leader in CID’s Don’t Silence Us campaign for advocacy funding for people with intellectual disability in NSW.

Talking about her award, Fiona said: “It encapsulates everything, it’s an absolute honour to be recognised with an AM because it shows having intellectual disability you can achieve anything.”

Meanwhile in South Australia, advocate Ian Cummins has also received an Order of Australia. Ian is well known in South Australia for his work in self-advocacy and also representing people with a disabilities, especially working with JFA Purple Orange. This includes talking at the Disability Royal Commission in 2021.

To find out more about Ian’s work, watch this video of him in conversation with Gavin Burner from SACID: Peer Support and Finding Your Voice

To read more about Michael and Fiona’s work and achievements visit: https://cid.org.au/our-stories/congratulations-are-in-order/

Well done to Michael, Fiona and Ian for your work to make Australia more inclusive of people with an intellectual disability.

Go Team SACID: working together to include everyone

Towards Inclusive Practice is a national project led by Inclusion Australia with our members around the country. The project is about telling government how to be more inclusive of people with an intellectual disability.

As part of Towards Inclusive Practice we have set up a national network of people with an intellectual disability to discuss important issues and make resources for Government on inclusive practices.

The team from SACID – the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability –   reached out to us to share their story. Find out more about Team SACID below!

Members of the SACID Towards Inclusive Practice team

Hello!

We are ‘Go Team SACID’ from South Australia. We are Gavin, Thomas, Libby and Jo. Our facilitator is Mel.

Why the Towards Inclusive Practice project is important to us

We all have a passion for helping others. We want to share our stories to help inspire others to learn and to thrive as a person.

Towards Inclusive Practice is important so that the government can hear what people with intellectual disability have to say.

We hope that what we say will help make a difference in how the government supports and understands us, and other people with intellectual disability.

An example of a great, inclusive experience.

For Gavin and Libby, being a part of a peer group has been a great inclusive experience. “The peer group allows us both to have a voice and be part of a group that makes a difference. We can make new friends and connect with people who have same experiences and share things in common. We are not alone, there are other people like us. We can support each other.”

Thomas and Jo are part of a social group where they help young people with disability connect with others and be involved in social and community events and activities. The group helps people improve their social skills and meet new friends.

We all think being a part of this project is a great inclusive experience. We are working together, learning new skills and talking about topics that are useful in life. We work in a team and support each other. We get the job done. We listen to each other, we care for each other, and we make sure everyone is included.

What I am learning from this project?

We are halfway through the project, and we have learned:

  • We have the right to stick up for things and talk about issues.
  • We have the power to speak up for ourselves.
  • We have learned more about ourselves through the topics – power, trust and inclusive meetings.
  • We have reflected on experiences in the past. It has helped us recognise when we have been in powerful situations, how we can be more powerful; and how and when to trust others.
  • We have learned to look at different ways to support each individual person and … new ways of doing things.
  • We have learned some new work skills.

From this project, I have learned that sharing my story, I am a powerful woman.  – Libby

What do you really enjoy about being part of this project?

The things we really enjoy about this project are:

  • We have a voice to make a difference and we feel like we are being heard.
  • It is rewarding. We are learning new skills through this job.
  • We have met new people who we may not have met otherwise. We are learning about each other and building friendships.
  • We come up with good discussions and information.
  • We are part of the bigger team – working with others in different states.
  • We really look forward to the opportunity to attend the national workshop and meeting the other state representatives.
  • Something is coming out from the project.
  • We are part of a team.

To find out more about the Towards Inclusive Practice project, visit our project page: https://www.inclusionaustralia.org.au/project/towards-inclusive-practice/

For more about SACID and their work, visit: https://sacid.org.au/

Including everyone from the start – time to end a life of segregation for people with an intellectual disability

The experiences of young people with disability in different education settings will be the focus of the Disability Royal Commission this week.

We welcome this public hearing as an opportunity to talk how we can make education inclusive for everyone, and not set young people on a lifelong pathway to segregation.

No way back for students with an intellectual disability

Many students with an intellectual disability don’t go to a mainstream school. Instead, they are told they have to go to a segregated school. This is sometimes called a ‘special’ or ‘specialist’ school.

When students with an intellectual disability go to a segregated school, they rarely go back to a regular school. This means they don’t mix with or get the same education as students without disability. As a result, they are more likely to end up living in a group home and going to day services, or working in a sheltered workshop for pay rates below the minimum wage. It also means that people with an intellectual disability are more likely to live in poverty.

We don’t think this is fair. Everyone has a right to a good life.

The right help for the big decisions

Some of the big decisions about segregated education happen at particular times in young people’s lives. This includes starting primary or secondary school, or near the end of secondary school (Year 10 and 12). There can be a lot of pressure on families to move from regular to segregated school at these times.

We think there should be a plan to provide better support to young people and families at these times and help them stay in the regular school system.

We are also calling for

  • all segregated schools to stop letting students with an intellectual disability into Prep and Grade 1 by 2024
  • more resources for mainstream schools about how students with an intellectual disability learn, how to support them properly, and how to include them in all parts of school life
  • Better coordination between the NDIS and state and territory education systems.

A shared commitment to inclusive education

Inclusion Australia CEO Catherine McAlpine will appear as a witness at the hearing with Mary Sayers, the CEO of Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) on Wednesday. CYDA has been a long-time advocate and leader in calls for a national approach to inclusive education and convenes the Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education.

As CEO of the peak representative body for people with an intellectual disability and their families, Catherine will address the ‘polished pathway’ to segregation that starts in schools for young people with an intellectual disability.

“We’ve known about the benefits of inclusive education for decades, but little has been done to genuinely include students with an intellectual disability. It’s time for talking to stop and real changes to happen. We call on governments to work closely with young people, families and schools to support every student to be included from the start and smash the polished pathway to segregation.”

Media Statement

PDF version of Inclusion Australia DRC Inclusive Education Media Statement – 6 June 2022

Related papers 

The following papers articulate our position on an approach to inclusive education. Includes Plain English and Easy Ready versions.

Inclusive education for students with an intellectual disability – Position Paper – June 2022

Inclusive Education for students with an intellectual disability – Plain English Statement

Inclusive Education statement – Easy Read

Read the experiences of people with intellectual disability and their families: https://www.inclusionaustralia.org.au/story/education-and-learning/ 

Inclusion Australia Annual Report 2020-21

COVID-19 meant that 2020-21 was a difficult year for many, with the pandemic affecting people with a disability and their families amongst the hardest of all.

However, Inclusion Australia and its members were still very active throughout the year, working together to make sure that people with an intellectual disability and their families were heard and represented where it matters.

You can read all about our big year, including our work with the Disability Royal Commission and the campaign to stop Independent Assessments, in our 2020-21 Annual Report.

Inclusion Australia Annual Report 2020-2021

Inclusion Australia annual report from cover, showing a aman and a woman looking at a brochure

 

Equal Pay, Equal Respect: we call on the next Australian Government to create real employment opportunities for people with an intellectual disability

With disability issues a key focus of the 2022 Federal Election campaign, Inclusion Australia is calling on the next Australian Government to make employment of people with an intellectual disability a priority.   

Inclusion Australia’s Our Voice committee – all people with an intellectual disability from across the country – have picked employment as the key policy area they want to campaign on for this Federal election. Our Voice believe that more people with an intellectual disability should have the opportunity to work in regular jobs, and earn money they can use in their lives. 

“People with disabilities have the right to work in the open job market like anyone else and get the training and support they need; this means no more sheltered employment.” – Our Voice, May 2022

People with an intellectual disability are excluded from open and self-employment, and their families face a significant workload to support them. 

The current employment policies are not working for people with an intellectual disability and their families, and big changes are needed. 

  • Just 14–18% of people with intellectual disability aged between 15–64 are in full or part-time employment
  • 60% of people in that group were not in the labour market at all
  • Just 29% of people with an intellectual disability who get NDIS supports are in paid employment (over 25 years old)
  • 77% of those are employed in a sheltered workshop or Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) 

The Disability Royal Commission also recently heard that people with an intellectual disability are being paid just $2.50 an hour for their work. We do not think this is fair or respectful. People with an intellectual disability should be paid a fair wage for their work.

We talked with and listened to people with an intellectual disability, their families, our members, disability advocates, academics, and disability employment service providers to develop a range of policies that will:

  • reduce segregated employment
  • create more open and self-employment opportunities
  • make it easier to get and maintain open and self-employment for people with an intellectual disability and their families.  
  • help remove the barriers that people with an intellectual disability and their families experience when looking for work. 

We believe our plan will create real change in the lives of people with an intellectual disability and their families, as well as making a significant economic return by investing in inclusion. 

Read our plan in full here: Equal Pay Equal Respect – Inclusion Australia’s Federal Election platform 2022

Read our plan in Easy Read here: Equal Pay Equal Respect – Inclusion Australia’s Election Platform 2022 – Easy Read

#EqualPayEqualRespect

Disability a key issue in upcoming Federal Election

Commitments on disability issues from both major parties demonstrates that the rights of people with disability are a growing concern for Australian voters. This is a powerful testament to the work and strong voices of people with disability, their families and disability advocates who campaigned for the NDIS and continue to fight for more inclusive Australia.

As the national peak body for people with an intellectual disability and their families we strongly welcome today’s commitment by Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health, of $8 million in funding for the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health. This significant and critical announcement is an important step in addressing health inequality for people with an intellectual disability. It follows sustained campaigning by the disability community, and in particular work by the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID). The Centre is a critical component of the National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability. The announcement also includes a further $20 million commitment by the Australian Government for much needed intellectual disability health research.

Jim Simpson, CID Senior Advocate said “the funding announced by the Minister will allow the establishment of a Centre with solid foundations and for important research into practical strategies for improving health care for a very disadvantaged population. While the initial funding of the Centre is only for 2 years, we will be working with government to make it ongoing.”

The announcement followed the launch yesterday in Melbourne of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) election platform for people with disabilities by Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Bill Shorten. This includes a series of measures around the operation of the NDIS, as well as support for the National Disability Strategy and a National Autism Strategy.

Inclusion Australia welcomes the ALPs focus on the NDIS. We agree on the need for more consistency in planning. People with an intellectual disability and their families want the NDIS to be secure, steady and responsive.

We are pleased to see a pledge to strengthen co-design in the NDIS. All scheme changes need to be co-designed with people with disability – including increasing opportunities for leadership and involvement of people with an intellectual disability.

We also cautiously welcome the ALPs proposal for increasing funding for disability advocacy. Our community has long argued for individual and systemic advocacy funding to help people navigate complicated processes, and to make systems easier to use and work more efficiently. We look forward to more detail on the nature of the proposed increase.

Inclusion Australia also supports the ALP election focus on employment with ‘an evidence-based Centre of Excellence to get more people with disability into long-term jobs’. However, such a Centre must also ensure that people are paid proper award wages for their work, including people with an intellectual disability. Further, work must be done in parallel to break up the ‘polished pathway’ from schools into segregated workplaces.

Catherine McAlpine, CEO, Inclusion Australia said: ‘Whoever forms government after the election, we want to make sure people with an intellectual disability are more included in the community. In particular, changes to the NDIS must stop the polished pathway to segregation that many people experience.

“I miss my friends but I would never go back” – one woman’s experience of working in ADEs

Ahead of the Disability Royal Commission hearing on Australian Disability Enterprises, Georgie – a woman with disability in her 60s from Perth, Western Australia talked with Jamie Bannister about her long career.

A woman in a cafe smiling

Meet Georgie

Georgie is originally from Melbourne. She moved to Perth when she was 10.

Now in her 60s, Georgie works part time at Shelter WA, and does part time work for Developmental Disability WA (DDWA) as part of the Towards Inclusive Practice project.

In her spare time Georgie likes to catch up with friends for coffee, play on her iPad and barrack for the West Coast Eagles in AFL.

Georgie’s career

Georgie has had a long career, full of different roles. Her first job was in the 1970s, working for the Good Sammy charity in WA. “People were kind and friendly there.”

She then moved to working in a Good Sammy shop. The days were long, from 9-5 and 9-6 on weekends. “There was lots of standing up which I didn’t like as it made me very tired.”

One day in the 1980s Georgie saw a sign for Activ, a disability service provider in Perth. She put her name down and was invited to come in for an interview. She was quickly offered a place at Activ.

Her work included putting labels on beer bottles, and lollies in show bags. She worked five days a week, from 8.30am to 3.30pm.

Unfortunately, she does not have good memories of her time there. “I didn’t like it. Some of the staff you get on with, but others treated us badly. They would tell us to ‘sit down and do your job.’”

Georgie felt that the paid staff and the staff with disabilities were not treated the same. “They would have morning teas with nice food, but we couldn’t have any. We were not allowed or had to bring in our own.”

One time Georgie met up with her work friends for lunch on her day off. “I went to the bar and ordered a beer and the staff yelled ‘what are you doing Georgie?’ I said, ‘I’m having a beer, I’m allowed.’”

Georgie remembers the staff telling the ADE workers that they were not allowed to have the broken lollies they put in the showbags. “Then we would see them put them away in a drawer and eating them later.”

After getting her 5-year badge, Georgie decided to leave after 8 years. “They moved the place to another site. It was too far away. You had to pay for your own bus fare to get there so it wasn’t worth it.”

Later on Georgie worked for the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Hospital. “I promised myself I would never, ever go back to a sheltered workshop. I miss my friends, but I would never go back if you gave me $1000.”

Eventually Georgie found out about DDWA. She loves working there. “The people are like family here,” she says.

What needs to change about ADEs?

“Staff need training themselves on respect. The way staff treated people was not OK. We have the same rights they have”

What would you say to people who enjoy working at an ADE?

Georgie says that she has some friends who still work at Activ. One friend has been there for 38 years. “Some of the guys worry they won’t see their friends anymore [if they leave].”

“Some people like it, they think it’s great. But I get paid properly for my work [in the Towards Inclusive Practice project]. It helps me to budget and save for things.”

“Jobs are harder to get now because of COVID,” says Georgie. “There should be more help for people who want to get into open employment. Open employment is best. You get more money and real pay.”

What would you say to the Disability Royal Commission about ADEs?

“If I had a choice, I’d close them down. It’s unfair on the guys. I’d say you need to get every person out. Get them out of the workshops.”

Georgie can also see similarities with previous campaigns about segregation of people with disabilities. “It’s like the old institutions. People don’t have choices about where to live and work. I see some services where they spent lots and lots of money to make them all new again. Nah, close them down.”

Equal Pay, Equal Respect: time to end discriminatory wages for people with an intellectual disability

The experiences of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), also known as sheltered workshops, will be the focus of the Disability Royal Commission this week.

As the peak representative body for people with an intellectual disability and their families, we welcome this public hearing as an opportunity to talk about the impact of extremely low wages on people with an intellectual disability who work in ADEs, and ways to increase opportunities to work in open and self-employment.

People with disability who work in ADEs, who are mostly people with an intellectual disability, earn as little as $2.50 per hour. This is unfair and needs to change now.

The work people with an intellectual disability do is useful and valuable. People care about their jobs and do them with pride; in their workplace, in working hours, with their workmates. People are often working for large businesses that carry out profitable contracts which benefit local communities and consumers.

However, in most cases, ADE workers with disabilities are the only employees not receiving at least minimum wage. A person with disability working full time will earn $9,000 less than a person on minimum wage. No Australian should earn this little for their work.

The Australian Government can fix this injustice today. We want the Australian Government to act now to ensure that all people with disability who work in ADEs are paid at least the minimum wage.

Fair pay should also be the first step away from the segregated model that underpins most ADEs.

Inclusion Australia is calling for a fully resourced five-year transition plan for workers in ADEs to move to open and self-employment.

The plan, co-designed with people with an intellectual disability and their families, will mean people with an intellectual disability can have more choices and options about the kinds of work they could do, with the right support.  It should include services, specialist DES providers, the NDIA and the government.

No one currently working at an ADE should lose their jobs during this transition. Each ADE will transition differently, and a tailored transition plan will be needed for each service.

There is knowledge and expertise about supporting people with an intellectual disability at work in the existing ADE system that is important to keep. We believe that many ADEs could transition into open employers of people with an intellectual disability. Some may be able to act as a community hub to support broader inclusive employment across their communities.

There is also work that needs to be done during this transition to make sure there are more jobs in open and self-employment for people with an intellectual disability, as well as the right kinds of support. The polished pathway into ADEs from school must be addressed, with clearer, easier pathways and more options for people to explore open and self-employment.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Disability Employment Services providers all have a role to play in making sure more people with an intellectual disability can work in open and self-employment. 

Inclusion Australia’s Our Voice Committee, who are all people with an intellectual disability from across Australia are clear “People with disabilities have the right to work in the open market like anyone else and get the training and support they need; this means no more sheltered workshops.”

We call on the government to start this transition process now by addressing the wage gap of ADE workers and ending discriminatory wages for people with an intellectual disability.

#EqualPayEqualRespect

Inclusion Australia Disability Royal Commission ADE media statement in full – 11 April 2022

Inclusion Australia DRC ADE media statement – 11 April 2022 – Easy Read