Bi-Monthly Update March 2018

From the Chairperson

I was pleased to be able to present at the Office of Small Business Forum on 27 March about what people with disability want as customers of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

This includedour expectations, and what businesses can do to prepare for the opportunities the NDIS brings and how they can become more inclusive and responsive to people with disability. For any market, we know that customers who are savvy, informed about the products available, know how and what they want to buy and have the financial purchasing power are a critical piece of any thriving market economy.

Without customers, a marketplace can’t operate. People with disability are a key part of the NDIS marketplace. We need well informed and active participants in the NDIS, customers who know how to activate their plan. We need customers who know what their plan means for the services and products they want to purchase to  get the supports they need to live their day to day life. QDN has recently put forward some key issues from the lived experience of people with disability about the NDIS market place and our readiness to engage in that market. One of the critical issues we have heard from members is the need to get the right information, skills and support to be able to take on the role of customers in the NDIS. It is a new system and a new scheme. With the new roles come new responsibilities for people with disability and the need for new knowledge and skills. Transference won’t just happen when the person opens their plan for the first time. QDN believes it is important that adequate capacity building strategies and resources are in place to enable all people with disability to be able to maximise the opportunities that choice and control offers within the NDIS.

Digital skills and knowledge is another key area that is essential for everyone to have these days to be able to do anything from finding phone numbers, information, to interacting with essential services, paying our bills, banking and the list goes on. This is especially an important area for people with disability and we know that people with disability are one of the identified groups who experience digital exclusion. Over the past year, I have been pleased to be a Digital Champion as part of the Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions program which encourages Queenslanders to explore and enjoy the benefits of the digital age – through the stories and activities of champions. We have a series of 4 videos around tips and ideas for engaging with social media to influence and inform the conversation around disability, why we might try and do this, and ways that we can work together to build momentum and our collective voice.

The digital world gives different ways for people with disability to share information, highlight important issues and act as leaders contributing to changing the conversation about people with disability, our rights and our inclusion and participation socially and economically in the community. I encourage members to be part of the digital world, start to explore what it has to offer and champion our digital inclusion.  The first video is here

I also wanted to take this opportunity to let members know that the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors has been sending out letters to people with regards to the NDIS, including information about the next steps for transition to NDIS. These letters have been sent to people who have been getting funded supports from the Department – Disability Services. It is really important that members are across what is happening as their services transition to the NDIS. QDN has put out some information for members which is up on our website so you can check there and if you are still unsure, members can contact QDN.

Nigel Webb, QDN Chairperson


From the CEO

QDN has been continuing to undertake a wide range of work, both in the policy space and directly with participants and potential participants with regards to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The NDIS at full scheme implementation will deliver much needed support to 90,000 Queenslanders with disability, 45,000 of these participants are people with disability who have never received specialist disability support before. It is critical that all parts of the community, including people with disability, families, carers, providers and business, along with all levels of governments work together to achieve the real opportunities and changes that the NDIS can bring for people and their communities.

QDN has been involved in some of the consultations that have been happening nationally with regards to the review of the NDIS participant pathway. As many of you know, a review of the pathway experience was undertaken, at the request of the NDIS Board, to make sure participants, families, carers and providers have a high quality experience with the NDIS. The pathway review is engaging with participants, providers, disability organisations and other stakeholders through workshops and one-on-one interviews. As a result of this work, a new participant pathway was announced in October 2017, with the pilot commencing in December 2017. The Report documents the outcomes of the consultations and outlines the new pathway for participants and providers. QDN has participated in a number of consultations about the pathway for people with complex needs, and also Board Director Peter Gurr has been a Queensland participant representative on a national committee for people with disability and families and carers that is meeting regularly in Victoria to review progress of the pilot.

QDN is continuing to raise some key factors that are important and critical to achieving positive outcomes by people with disability who are at the point of ‘testing their eligibility’ and making an NDIS access request. Through QDN’s work with the “Getting on the NDIS Grid” project, working with people who experience additional disadvantage, and are not part of the disability services system, people with disability and frontline workers have identified the range of information and support they need to make an access request. This is an important piece of the work that needs to happen, especially for Queensland, with 50% of new participants to the scheme, who need specific practical hands on support with this process.

Michelle Moss and I were pleased to meet with Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for Natural Resources, Mining and Energy in March to talk about what the key issues are for people with disability, and previous targeted energy saving strategies and how to move forward and engage with people with disability. Energy continues to be a big issue for QDN members, and we will continue to work with key stakeholders including energy providers, retailers and Government to look at ways of delivering good outcomes and good information about ways to save on energy for people with disability. QDN is pleased to be a member of the Energy Queensland Consumer Council this year and provide a voice and perspective of members to this conversation and work.

I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know in the last month we have farewelled Julie Van Oosten and Olivia Spadina who are no longer working for QDN. Julie was working on the Getting on the NDIS Grid project and Olivia has worked for QDN over the past 3 years on the Disability Support Organisation project. Thank you to both ladies for all their work and we wish you the best for your new endeavours.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate our QDN members who are Baton Bearers right at this moment for the Commonwealth Games. QDN members Sharon Boyce, Peter Tully, Willie Prince and Geoff Trappet are all carrying the baton and we are very pleased that people with disability have been represented by outstanding leaders in their local communities.

Paige Armstrong, CEO

Kevin Cocks – Anti discrimination commissioner finishes his appointed term

Kevin Cocks, QDN Honoured Supporter, has finished his appointment as Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. Even before Kevin Cocks became the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, he was recognised as a human rights leader. Kevin has played an integral part in the growth and voice of QDN for many year and we sincerely thank Kevin for his work and QDN wishes him well for the future.

Commonwealth Games Preparation

As you are aware the Commonwealth Games are taking place on the Gold Coast from 4-15 April 2018.  We would like to share an information booklet called “Get set for the Games” which has information about the continuity of services and plans that are in place to minimise disruption.  Although the Games are mainly centred around the Gold Coast, Cairns and Townsville, people in surrounding areas (such as Greater Brisbane) also need to be prepared for any changes to public transport and traffic flow.  The 4R’s are a good guide to follow.  Read more

In addition, Queensland Rail encourage customers with disabilities to plan ahead and contact the Queensland Rail Accessibility team directly by emailing The QR team are more than willing to assist in discussing with customers their options for an accessible journey during the GC2018 period.

Policy Work

Joint Senate Standing Committee – National Disability Insurance Scheme Hearing in Townsville – Market Readiness

QDN Board Director Peter Gurr and QDN Business and Operations Manager Michelle Moss gave comments at the recent NDIS Senate Standing Committee hearing in Townsville on 15 March 2018.  Peter raised the key issues for people with disability around ensuring people have skills and knowledge to activate their plans and Michelle raised the importance of capacity building for participants to ensure they can take on the essential role of active customers within the NDIS marketplace. Michelle also reinforced the importance of the State Government and the NDIA to resolve the provisions for Provider of Last Resort in Queensland so that there are safeguards in place for vulnerable and marginalised people who may require this.

QDN submission – A Strong Future for Supported Employment

QDN welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Australian Government Discussion Paper, “Ensuring a strong future for supported employment”.  QDN has members across the state who work in supported employment settings. We are optimistic about employment opportunities for people in supported employment as it transitions to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We believe the NDIS principles of choice and control and people with disability having social and economic participation are fundamental to this transition.

QDN strongly supports the right of people with disability to be engaged in meaningful, paid work and to make a contribution to society. This right is enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) to which Australia is a party, and includes the following obligations in Article 27 in relation to employment: Read more

QDN submission – Market readiness for provision of services under the NDIS

People with disability and their families have expressed that they need more information and assistance to access the NDIS and activate plans, and ensure they are properly resourced, both at transition and beyond. QDN strongly asserts that people with disability and their families require targeted capacity building, education and mentoring that is delivered in an accessible and inclusive way to enable people to operate as active consumers in this new market driven environment and as such have made a submission under Market readiness for provision of services under the NDIS.  Read QDN’s submission here

Written Submission in response to the Senate Inquiry: The need for regulation of mobility scooters, also known as motorised wheelchairs

QDN welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Inquiry: The need for regulation of motorised scooters, also known as motorised wheelchairs.  Many QDN members use motorised scooters and wheelchairs and are reliant on them for their everyday mobility and travel. While this inquiry is only at the investigative stage, QDN and our members are deeply concerned about any move to restrict or limit a person’s right to freedom of movement.  QDN highlights that this potentially breaches various Articles in the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Section 23 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Read the submission here.

My Housing Matters Workshop – Brisbane May 30 2018

After our successful initial My Housing Matters workshop, QDN is planning to run another workshop in Brisbane on May 30, 2018.  The feedback from the first workshop was extremely positive with comments including – “inspiring”, “expanding my vision for what is possible” “very positive”, “made things doable”, “great to find out what is currently available”.

This next workshop is timely, particularly with the NDIS being rolled out across Queensland and 90,000 participants with disability will enter the scheme by 30 June 2019.  People with disability are keen to ensure they are informed about housing and this is an opportunity to explore and learn about housing options for now and planning into the future. The workshop focuses on helping people:

  • Expand their vision of housing options available to them
  • Explore housing options in public and private sector
  • Build people’s confidence in pursuing their housing goals
  • Identify next steps on their housing journey
Registrations will be open soon on the QDN website and Facebook page.

Housing Consultations

QDN has been involved in consultations around housing. We recently gave feedback to Brisbane City Council Lord Mayors working group that is exploring issues related to specialist disability accommodation within Brisbane. Central to our feedback is that people with disability will aspire to live in a variety of Brisbane locations, the same as all residents, with close proximity, depending on their personal needs and preferences to amenities, schools, university, accessible transport, health and recreational facilities, parks, shopping etc.  They will require a variety of housing types suitable for individuals through to different family groupings. That is, houses, units, town houses, semi-detached dwellings, granny flats. We will keep everyone posted.

At the National Housing Conference late last year, the keynote session discussed the establishment of the National Finance Investment Corporation which will act as a bridge between Community Housing providers and investors. The Federal government has committed to guarantee bond loans and, as a consequence, community housing providers will potentially be in a much stronger position to expand their stock of affordable housing. A recent Bill regarding the establishment of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation has been introduced. QDN has suggested the Board or this Corporation also comprise of a person with lived experience of disability or, at least, knowledge of issues affecting people with disability. It is an important initiative Community housing providers need to be aware of issues affecting people with disability.

Policy updates

Disability and inclusion

Update on the State of Queensland and Queensland Rail’s New Generation Rollingstock train exemption application to the Australian Human Rights Commission

Late last year, the State of Queensland and Queensland Rail jointly applied to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) for temporary exemption to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Standards 2002 (DSAPT) for a period of three years. This exemption was sought in order for the State of Queensland and Queensland Rail to progressively address DSAPT non-compliance issues with the NGR trains.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released their preliminary findings on the 2 March 2018 that the exemption will not be granted for the majority of the temporary exemptions.  The only exemption granted was the continuation of the exemption of S8.2 (manual or power assisted boarding device is only required at a single door) until the 1 October 2020.  The Commission received 20 submissions from individuals, government agencies and disability organisations including QDN outlining concerns around the dimensions and functionality of accessible toilets, width of the access pathways, access only available at a single door and availability of assisted boarding devices.

The full note of preliminary view and summary of findings is at


Independent Pricing Review Report to be released this month

The NDIA has confirmed it intends to release the Independent Pricing Review Report with the Agency’s response during March 2018.  In a Media Release dated 30 December 2017, the NDIA announced that the Report includes 25 formal recommendations.  QDN members believe it is important that pricing enables a strong and vibrant marketplace that delivers on a range of options for services and support for participants.

Are you inclusion ready as Queensland moves into the NDIS?

The NDIA has an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Program to encourage communities to be more inclusive of people with disability.  To help organisations get ready for ILC activities in Queensland later this year, the Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) is partnering with National Disability Services (NDS) to help people better understand inclusion and how you might contribute.  Read more

Spotlight on the NDIS website

The NDIS website and social media pages are full of useful information and resources for participants and providers. Here are three areas you may like to visit this month:

Weekly Q and A – each week the NDIA answers your frequently asked questions. You can find the latest answers on our news page. Ask a question using #NDISqanda

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Information – We’re undertaking work to find out more about how we can develop the SDA market.

Participant Pathway Review – The NDIA provides regular updates on the Participant Pathway Review to ensure everyone is aware of changes and improvements that have been made.

NDIS Pathway Review – new progress report released

Recently the NDIA released a detailed report on the NDIS Pathway Review. The Review was initially announced in April last year to address feedback from participants, families, carers and providers, who overall wanted more transparency and to feel more engaged, understood and supported throughout their interactions with the NDIS. You can read the full report, learn more about the pilot pathway, and find the latest pathway experience news on the NDIS website now.  Read more here.

Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry. As a result, the committee has made twenty-six recommendations, which aim to ensure that improved and appropriate arrangements can be put in place to provide necessary and reasonable supports for all NDIS participants to fully realise the objectives of the scheme.  Read more.

NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework.

The NDIA took their Quality & Safeguarding Framework show on the road this month, with a series of Provider Forums around the country. The Framework will be phased in over the next few years, starting with New South Wales and South Australia from 1 July 2018. Department of Social Services have summarised the key things you need to know to get ready for the change. Read more.


A message from Senior Constable Christie

Senior Constable Christie has some big plans for disability parking enforcement that should ease the pressure on these parking spaces. Some new laws came into effect on February 16 2018.  The new law makes it a legal offence to photocopy disability parking permits.

Community Inclusion

Every Australian Counts champions announced

Congratulations to QDN members Peter and Linda Tully on being appointed as Every Australian Counts NDIS champions. Peter and Linda Tully have always been strong advocates for people living with disability. The Every Australian Counts Champions will be meeting members of parliament, community leaders, and the media. Read more


NDIA amended guidance for School Leaver Employment Supports

NDIA has amended its guidance for School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES). The guidance is contained in an updated FAQ – now available on the NDIS website. Read more.

AustralianSuper launches ‘Super Only’ product for supported employees

AustralianSuper has launched a superannuation product designed to prevent the erosion of account balances due to the payment of insurance premiums that supported employees may not want or need. ‘Super Only’ is a new default insurance-free product that has been created to protect the account balances of employees with disability covered by the Supported Employment Services (SES) Award.  Read more.


Additional NDIS support has arrived for people living with younger onset dementia

The way people living with younger onset dementia access, understand and navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is set to change following the release of Dementia Australia’s NDIS Toolkit for People Living with Younger Onset Dementia and their CarersRead more

National report identifies NDIS gaps for people living with mental illness

CMHA and the University of Sydney recently compiled the “Mind the Gap” report, which highlight the problems with the current state of the NDIS for people with psychosocial disbility. The report states that many will be left without appropriate mental health support in the transition to the NDIS. Read more.

Criminal Justice

Human Rights Watch’s New Report

Human Rights Watch’s new report, “I Needed Help, Instead I Was Punished: Abuse and Neglect of Prisoners with Disabilities in Australia,” examines how prisoners with disabilities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, are at serious risk of bullying, harassment, violence, and abuse from fellow prisoners and staff. Prisoners with psychosocial disabilities – mental health conditions – or cognitive disabilities in particular can spend days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years locked up alone in detention or safety units. Read the press release or watch the video

Ready to go Update

Ready to go – NDIS Participant Readiness

Plan Ahead – Getting Ready for the NDIS

Plan Ahead workshops over the last 3 months have been held in Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Regional Council areas.  Workshops will continue to be held in these areas until June 2018.  Please contact QDN for a list of all our workshops or check out our website for locations. Some of our workshops reached full capacity and have been closed to any more registrations.  Requests to hold activities have come from local organisations, schools, and support groups.  This project will conclude at the end of June.

Remember – your local support group will continue to talk about the NDIS and members support each other to get ready for the NDIS planning conversation.  Further information about the Disability Support Groups can be found at or by calling QDN on 1300 363 783.

Getting on the NDIS Grid Update

The Getting on the NDIS Grid team have continued to undertake significant work in engaging with front line services across the human services sector and with people with disability who are marginalised and experience additional disadvantage. To date, the project has engaged in a wide variety of settings including, level 1, 2 and 3 supported accommodation facilities; homelessness services; social and community housing; Housing Service Centres; caravan parks; community and neighbourhood centres; Non-government organisations supporting children involved in child safety; young people and adults within the juvenile justice and corrective services systems; community legal centres; health services and Primary Health Networks.

The fun ways of engaging with information about the NDIS and practical tips to help people get ready to make an access request have been delivering positive outcomes for potential participants and the front line workers who are involved in their lives.

The team were pleased to meet with Chris Oppert, Director, Internal Communications and Engagement, Participant Change Management and Assistant Director Ryan Gibbons from the National Disability Insurance Agency on 16 February 2018 at the QDN office to discuss the project, the work and the needs of this group of people with disability and the learnings to date. It was great to be able to show, hands on, the work to the NDIA and give them information about what has worked and our approach, approaches which have not been undertaken in any other place in the country.

So far, the project has had over 3,000 contacts with people with disability, workers and volunteers across all the different service settings outlined above to raise awareness about the NDIS, what it is, how it can help eligible participants and steps to make access, with still considerable work to be done.

DSO Update

New Cairns LSG – Community Conversations

Paige Armstrong, QDN CEO and Jen Barrkman, QDN Projects Lead were in Cairns on 13 March to hold Community Conversations with people with disability and local community organisations about establishing an local support group in Cairns. Rights in Action, an advocacy organisation in Cairns are keen to support the group as it develops. There were over 30 representatives of various community organisations, Council and other key stakeholders in attendance at the morning session, and over 20 people with disability and supporters at the afternoon session. People were very enthusiastic about the importance of having a local group in Cairns where people can meet up and find out information and learn more about NDIS, employment and other key issues.

Photo of a large group of people at the Cairns Community Conversation

Hot Topics Digital Story Project

Brisbane Hot Topics met to discuss an exciting new project they are beginning in April. In partnership with Griffith University, the Hot Topics Groups have received a small amount of funding to run a 8 week digital story project to learn how to make a digital story.  The stories will be focused on individual members and Hot Topics as a group, making positive changes and impacts for people with intellectual disability.

  •     How Hot Topics group has spoken up or influenced others about issues for people with intellectual disability e.g. Roundtable on Intellectual Disability.
  •     Something positive members have done or learnt from being involved in Hot Topics e.g. using the media.
  •     Something members have done in their life to assist or influence others e.g. speaking up about something that matters, being a role model for others with intellectual disability.

Griffith University are doing action research to find out what works and what doesn’t work in doing the project.  We look forward to finding out what stories come from this exciting project.

Photo of Brisbane Hot Topics members at their latest meeting

SARU Meeting, Sunshine Coast

On the 6th of March Donna Best, Alison Maclean and Madelyn Ehlers from the Brisbane Hot Topics Group attended the Self Advocacy Resource Centre (SARU) run National Self Advocacy Website Consultation and Forum held at the Sunshine Coast University.  SARU have received funding to co-design the NDIA concept of an accessible National Self Advocacy website that will hold resources and information on self-advocacy for people with intellectual disability, brain injury or people who have a need for complex communication.

SARU are currently on a nationwide tour of existing groups to get feedback and information. Along with a number of others from the ‘Loud and Clear’ Sunshine Coast based group they provided valuable feedback, thoughts and ideas around existing and future resources. It was a great opportunity to be part of the co-design process and to catch up with others working on self-advocacy in Queensland.

IWD Red Rose Foundation Breakfast, Women’s Virtual Local Support Group 

QDN Virtual Women’s Group Members Karin Swift, Alison Maclean and Wendy Lovelace attended the International Women’s Day Red Rose Foundation Breakfast with QDN staff and Company Secretary, Colleen Papadopoulos. It was a wonderful opportunity to get together and celebrate being women and hear from some inspirational speakers. Queensland is leading the way in recently passing legislation on non-fatal strangulation so that it is included in the Criminal Code and helping put measures in place to protect, respond, investigate and prosecute this crime.

Photo of QDN members and staff gathering at the breakfast

Stories from Local support groups

The DSO project funders are always keen to hear your stories of how your Local support group has influenced members of the Group or your local communities. For example, how has your local support group had a positive impact? What are some of the things you have done that you are proud of? What have members learnt by being involved? If you have any stories you would like to tell us just speak to Lou or Karin on 1300 363 783.

Have you joined a Local Support Group yet?

Ask us how…

Some local support groups are looking to expand their membership.  Have you joined an LSG yet? They are a great way to connect with people with disability in your local community, share information and talk about issues important to you. With the NDIS being close to full roll out, it’s now more important than ever to start planning.  Many members have found an important step to this is to join an LSG where they can discuss the NDIS, see what is in it for them, hear from guest speakers and share ideas and strategies in preparing for their NDIS plans.  If you are interested in being part of a group contact QDN at or phone 1300 363 783.


Member Profile – Paul O’Dea

Getting on the Grid Peer Leader

About Paul

Hi my name is Paul O’Dea. I have lived on my own for 21 years in a unit.  I have 3 younger brothers and my dad who live in Brisbane. My mum lives permanently in Spain but comes over every couple of years to see us. I work 3 days a week at an Australian Disability Enterprise and have been doing that for 18 years. I do volunteer

work at Community Living Association (CLA) as treasurer and have been doing that for 21 years also.  I am treasurer for IYHG which is a not for profit company that is run and managed by people with a disability.

Paul’s involvement with QDN

My role at QDN is with the Getting on the NDIS Grid project and that is about talking to hard to reach people that might be eligible for the NDIS but don’t know about it yet.  I give them information about the NDIS. That finishes at the end of June. I have been connected with QDN or a few years now. People can ring the NDIA to see if they are eligible or not.

Paul’s support of others

People are supporting each other by getting the necessary documents together for the NDIS planning meetings.  For example they may need a letter from their doctor to confirm what disability they have or they may need to get some more information.

A proud moment

My proudest moment is coming 1st in my bowling league last year

A motto to live by

My personal motto is say no to bullying as I have been bullied myself

What motivates Paul

What motivates me is that I want to make sure people with disabilities are heard around the country. The government needs to listen to people with a disability more in relation to housing, how they want to live their own lives and to help people with disability to be more socially active

From our Friends

Brisbane Fresh Futures Market – May 9

Save the date! Wednesday May 9 from 11am-6:00pm at Brisbane City Hall.  The biggest and best information sharing event about Post School options for people with disability the city has seen,  For more information email or call 0437 205 850.

QCOSS State Conference

Want to know who will be speaking at the QCOSS State Conference?

We are very excited to introduce our list of speakers so far. They will tell their stories, engage and entertain us as we explore how we change the narrative and inspire more positive outcomes by the actions we take today.  We do hope you can join us to hear from these speakers and be part of a Movement for change on 16 and 17 May.  You can find out more about the speakers and the program on the conference website. If you haven’t already registered for the conference you can register here.

Community Resource Unit course

CRU are offering an ‘Introduction to Facilitation’ course on April 18, 16 May and 13 June 2018 in Brisbane.  The course will covers topics such as essential facilitation principles; stages of group development; group roles; preparation for facilitation; how to conduct a facilitation session and disability sector specific considerations.  Read more here.

Australian Society for Intellectual Disability

ASID Queensland Division are hosting a workshop on the 4th June 2018 at Kedron.  The workshop will be presented by Professor Nick Lennox and the topic will be ‘how to promote good physical and mental health and healthcare”. Register here


Address: 338 Turbot Street, Spring Hill QLD 4000
Freephone: 0800 363 783
Phone (07) 3252 8566
Facebook: Queenslanders with Disability Network