February 2021 QDN e-bulletin

A note from Des

Des Ryan, Chairperson of the Board

Welcome to 2021 and to your new look e-Bulletin.  It has a new layout and hopefully offers a more user-friendly way of navigating your way through content.

Man sitting in wheelchair. He is bald and wears glasses. He has a blue, red and white check shirt on. I hope that QDN members, our supporters and allies were able to enjoy the holiday season.  We know that 2020 has been a challenging year for people with disability, their families, carers and the broader disability sector. As we move into 2021 we know that the pandemic and impacts of COVID-19 are still with us.

The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is currently being planned by the Commonwealth Government and they are working with each state. The joint advocacy of QDN and all our allies across Australia has ensured that people with disability, their workers, their informal carers and family are identified as one of the key priority groups to get the vaccination first. The QDN team have been working hard at lots of meetings and on many committees at a State and National level to ensure that the needs, impacts and issues for the diversity of people with disability and their different living environments are considered in the planning of the roll out.

It is really important for people with disability to understand what is happening and what it will mean for them so they can make an informed decision about the vaccination. QDN is going to hold an online COVID-19 Conversation and bring together some key speakers with the most up to date information so you can hear about the vaccine, how it works with the 2 doses, their plans for the roll out, how, where and when you can get it. I invite you all to join us and more information is later in this e-Bulletin.

As mentioned in the November e-Bulletin, QDN is going to commence contacting QDN members, local support group members and supporters to check in with you on your current membership status and your details that we have on our records. You will receive an email, or a letter if that is how you currently get mail outs from us with your information. We would like to ask you to either email, call QDN or send the reply paid envelope back to us to confirm if the details are correct or let us know any changes needed. If we don’t hear back from you via email or mail, we will also try to follow up with you on the phone. We thank you for your time in working with us to ensure that we have your information and membership status correct in our database.

Going into 2021 it is important that we can make sure the voice of people with disability is strong and we are at the table. Independent, citizen and systemic advocacy are fundamental to ensuring that the rights and needs of people with disability are upheld and actioned and we need to ensure that going forward advocacy remains a core part of the disability sector landscape both here in Queensland and nationally.

We look forward to working with you all in this coming year and continuing to deliver on our work and projects.

An update from Paige  

Paige Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer

Paige wearing a blue shirt, smiling at the cameraA warm welcome to all members, supporters, allies and our partners to 2021. The year has started as last year finished.  Very busy with lots of different things happening that have an impact upon people with disability, policy and the services received from disability, community and mainstream services.

Thank you to all the members who took part in our Member Survey 2020 and for your feedback, insights, and suggestions about how we can continue to do our work and improvements we can make. The new look newsletter is one of these improvements, and we are also going to move to a “What’s New” update once every two weeks.  This will be a wrap up of the important things that have happened in the past 2 weeks.  We will  continue to send out emergency updates if there are COVID changes to restrictions via email and on Facebook, so you can get up to date information that we have received from the Queensland Government.

Housing was identified as one of the key priorities for members as part of the member survey along with health and the NDIS. As part of QDN’s housing work, we are a proud partner of the Building Better Homes Campaign to advocate for minimum accessibility standards to be included in the National Building Code, ensuring the Code meets the needs of all Australians. Housing Ministers from across Australia are meeting in early 2021 to consider whether to include minimum accessibility standards. It is important that we take action now to make sure Australians with disability can have access to housing that is appropriate to their needs.  It will make a difference for thousands of Australians. Please check out the campaign here https://www.buildingbetterhomes.org.au/index.html

The current reforms being progressed by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are another key issue being raised by QDN members at the moment.  This includes the introduction of the Independent Assessments. QDN knows that change is needed as there are many things that need improvement to work better for people with disability, providers and the broader system. QDN also acknowledges that there are lots of people with disability who can’t afford the costs of assessments which acts as a barrier to their access to the NDIS and need assistance to do so. However, QDN members continue to raise the issues of compulsory assessments for existing NDIS participants, completed by someone who doesn’t know them, asking them to undertake tasks that don’t relate to their individual needs and that this will determine how much support they get. Some QDN members have participated in a range of consultations with the NDIA to give their feedback. QDN has started meeting with members of Parliament and working with members and our allies to provide a response to the changes, both for the NDIA Consultation and the NDIS Senate Standing Committee inquiry. It is important that we keep working to make sure the NDIS can deliver what people need.

We look forward to continuing to work with you all on progressing these important reforms.  

Remembering Madelyn

Madelyn smiling at the camera. She has short blond hair and is wearing a blue top.Madelyn Ehlers, QDN member and longtime Brisbane Hot Topics Peer Support Group member, sadly passed away on 29 December 2020.

Madelyn was a great friend and is remembered for her community work, cheeky sense of humour, and strength of character. Madelyn was a celebrated Paralympian, winning two silver medals at the Paralympics in Madrid, Spain. She won the medals for shot put and discus and represented Australia in javelin.

In 1993, she won the Brisbane Lord Mayor Australia Day award.

Following her career as an elite sportsperson, Madelyn became passionate about ten pin bowling. She looked forward to bowling with her team every week and spoke passionately about them and the competition.  Madelyn was a valued and loved member of Brisbane Hot Topics Peer Support Group. She made many friendships in the group and was always fun to have at the meetings. Her presence will be greatly missed.

The Brisbane Hot Topics Peer Support Group had a special meeting on the 29 January 2021 to celebrate Madelyn’s life.

What you told us in the member survey

Each year we ask our members to respond to a member survey to identify what our key focus areas are going forward.  The survey is an opportunity to provide your feedback and input around what is important to people with disability.  Thank you to the 132 members who completed the 2020 member survey.   The information that comes out of the survey helps to position QDN now and into the future.

The top priority issues identified by members are:

  • NDIS
  • health
  • housing
  • disability royal commission
  • employment
  • transport

Some members also gave feedback to ask that QDN looks for ways to share more information about what is happening in regards to mental health.

You asked that we increase focus on:

  • universal design campaign
  • recruitment and training of younger members
  • supporting members with digital literacy
  • ensuring members are informed of the issues and have the skills to share their concerns around NDIS Independent Assessments
  • informing people about QDeNgage
  • LGBTIQ+ specific events for members
  • changing our member communication strategy to reduce the number of emails or target emails to smaller groups of members
  • create more opportunities for members for workshops and ways of coming together and options for out of work hours.


Peer Support Groups

Get on Board.  Join a Peer Support Group

White speech bubble with Peer Support Group. Sketch of 8 people around the speech bubble.Welcome to 2021! Most of the Peer Support Groups will be starting to meet during February and we would love for you to get involved! Please see the website for dates and times. You can access the list by clicking here.

2021 looks to be an exciting year with new groups in Rockhampton and Gympie starting to meet regularly.  If you are in these areas and are keen to be part of one of these groups, contact QDN for more details.

QDNY is the youth support group, for people with disability aged 18-35 years. This group meets monthly online via zoom to discuss topics like the the NDIS.  Future topics are decided by the group so get involved to hear about topics that interest you. 

If you want more information or wish to find out about your closest QDN Peer Support Groups please call QDN on 1300 363 783 or email peersupport@qdn.org.au

International Day of People with Disability

A lady with glasses and a red dress is leaning on a fence. In the background is trees and a creek with water flowing through it.In 2020, the Brisbane and Gold Coast Hot Topics groups for people with an intellectual disability started regularly meeting online with self-advocacy groups for people with disability in Canada.  During these online meetings, the Hot Topics and Canada groups decided to plan and hold an event online on International Day of People with Disability on 3 December 2020.

To start this international online event QDN partnered with ASID, to host a 2 hour webinar bringing over 50 participants together to hear from people with an intellectual disability from all over Australia and Canada sharing their stories and concerns around keeping connected as a community during COVID-19.  The full webinar is available here.

Some of the positive outcomes from COVID shared by panel participants were:

  • Learning new technology like zoom to be able to connect with people locally and internationally.
  • Access to telehealth so people with disability could still get access to health care without leaving their homes.
  • Lots of people checked in on each other so it has brought a lot of people together.

Some of the concerns people with disability have during COVID are:

  • Not being able to access public transport.
  • Communication for people in group homes and housing accommodation during COVID restrictions was limited leading to people feeling socially isolated.
  • People with disability without computers or devices have trouble accessing services and the community during lockdown periods.

Emerging Leaders

Blue background. Word emerging leaders

QDN launched the Emerging Leaders Program on the 3 December 2020 on International Day of People with Disability. This exciting new program has attracted a lot of interest from all around Queensland. We were inundated with applications from people with disability expressing an interest in being part of this 10-month program. A selection panel has been established and is now in the process of reviewing the applications. Emerging Leaders will start on their leadership journey with a two-day workshop in March 2021. It will be great to watch this group of people with disability find their leadership style over 2021.

Have your say on topics that matter to youText is Have Your Say in red and white colours.

Independent Assessments  

The NDIA have released two consultation papers on the proposed introduction of Independent Assessments for the NDIS, so now is your time to have say! People with disability and their families have told us that theyre concerned about the new assessments, so we want to make sure that QDN’s submission reflects your thoughts, experiences and ideas. The easiest way to contribute to our submission is to fill in QDN’s Independent Assessment survey.  Click here to go to the survey. 

If you would like to send in your own submission to the NDIS, you can find out more information here. 

Building Better Homes  

Early in 2021, Building Ministers from across Australia will meet to consider whether to include mandatory minimum accessibility standards in the National Building Code. This will be a critical decision for the hundreds of thousands of Australians with disability who cannot get access to housing that meets their needs. 

A 2020 survey of people with mobility impairment found that 73.6% of respondents were living in housing that does not meet their needs. However, only 5% of new home builds comply with the voluntary Livable Housing Guidelines, which is why QDN has joined the campaign for mandatory standards. To add your name to the campaign and act for more accessible housing click here

Disability Royal Commission 
Issues Papers 

Disability Royal Commission Issues Paper on violence and abuse of people with disability at home: The Royal Commission has released an Issues Paper exploring violence and abuse against people with disability in all types of homes and accommodation settings. QDN is keen to hear from members about their experiences and what changes you would like to see to better respond and prevent violence against people with disability in our homes. Disability Royal Commission Issues Paper on violence and abuse of people with disability at home is here.

Disability Royal Commission Issues Paper on promoting inclusion: The Royal Commission has released an Issues Paper on promoting an inclusive society. QDN would like to hear from members on what barriers you experience from fully participating economically, socially and politically, and any ideas you have on how to remove those barriers. Disability Royal Commission Issues Paper on promoting inclusion is here. 

If you would like to share your story with us on either of the above issues papers, please email qdn@qdn.org.au with the subject line: DRC policy feedback. 

Have your say 

There are many ways in which you can make a submission to the Royal Commission to share your story. The Disability Royal Commission have released this video to show how you can share your story via phone, email, the website or by making a video or audio recording. There is also information on how you can apply for a private session here.

Public Hearings

The Disability Royal Commission has released their schedule for 2021. The first public hearing of 2021 will be held from the 16th to the 25th of February and will cover the justice system. More details about the hearing will be available closer to the date. Click here for the schedule.

Important Commission Links  

Legal Support:  National Legal Aid (NLA) together with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) will provide a free, national legal advisory service for people engaging with the Royal Commission.  You can contact NLA on 1800 771 800. 

Click here to access National Legal Aid.  Click here to access the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services 

Financial Assistance:  This area of the Commission can be contacted directly on 1800 117 995.  If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service and give 02 6141 4770 as the number you would like to call. 

Advocacy:  Advocacy services funded under the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) have been given additional funding to support people with disability. Information about the program can be found at National Disability Advocacy Program, along with a Disability Advocacy Finder tool to help you locate a service provider near you.  Alternatively, you can contact the Disability Royal Commission Hotline on 1800 517 199 or at the following email DRCEnquiries@royalcommission.gov.au to assist you to find your nearest advocacy service. Click here to access the National Disability Advocacy Program and the Disability Advocacy Finder. 

Counselling support during the Disability Royal Commission is available from Blue Knot Foundation on 1800 421 468. 

Policy Updates

New worker screening process  

From 1 February 2021, a new worker screening process will commence in Queensland for workers who provide supports and services to people with disability. It replaces the existing ‘yellow card’ screening. In Queensland, you will be required to get a worker screening clearance if you work for a registered NDIS provider or if you work in state non-NDIS disability services. Plan and self-managed NDIS participants can choose whether they require their non-registered workers to get a clearance. 

Key changes under the new worker screening process include:  

  • “No card, no start” – meaning worker cannot start working with people with disability until they get the clearance. 
  • It is the responsibility of the worker to apply and pay for the clearance. This is in comparison with the old yellow card process, which required the employer to apply and pay for the clearance.  

QDN will be hosting an online forum on Thursday 18 February 2021 about how these changes will impact NDIS participants who self-manage and plan-manage. To find out more and register for the event click here. 

You can find more information on the new worker screening clearance here.

Draft National Safety and Quality Primary Health Care Standards consultation

QDN recently responded to a request for feedback on the National Safety and Quality Primary Health Care Standards to ensure they meet the needs and expectations of the sector and the community. We reinforced the need for partnership with people with disability as health consumers, for health literacy to be supported in the standards, and for the health literacy environment in terms of systems, policies and processes to reflect the input and experience of the broad range of health consumers, including people with disability.

QDN continues to represent feedback from members in relation to health, including unaffordable health care, complex health needs, a health workforce with perceived limited knowledge of disability and inadequate systems, inaccessible health services and limited personal knowledge of how to access and navigate the health system. We continue to advocate for the need to offer a patient centred focus and improve health outcomes for people with disability, in particular intellectual disability.

Queensland Productivity Commission – Draft Report into NDIS Market consultation

QDN has just made a submission to provide feedback on the draft report recommendations from the perspective of people with disability, to share learnings, insights and recommendations to help shape the way forward and comment on the important role of the Queensland Government as partner and investor in the NDIS to ensure it delivers for Queenslanders with disability.

Queensland Health covid-19 online booking and triage system – frequently asked questions

Queensland Health have been trialing an online covid-19 test booking and triage system.  During the trial participants have raised a number of questions.  Below is a link to frequently asked questions.  They have been developed by Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) with support from QDN, Palliative Care Queensland, Council on the Ageing and Carers Queensland.

Click here to read the frequently asked questions

Covid-19 Vaccinations

The Commonwealth and state governments are working together to plan the roll-out of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccine roll-out will be done in stages. Identified priority groups will get the first available doses that are scientifically proven to be safe and effective. More people will have access to a vaccine as more doses become available.

The first priority group to receive the vaccine includes disability care residents and staff and is called 1a. This means people with disability living in with two or more people with disability in a group, the staff who support them, carers and family who provide regular and ongoing support. This vaccination of the first phase is expected to start in late February with the psfizer vaccine. Because of the way they are going to roll out, the different phases may end up crossing over so you don’t have to wait for 1a to finish for 1b to start.    The timing for the different phases will depend on when other vaccines become approved for use in Australia. The next phase after 1a is 1b and this group includes adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability

Over coming weeks, QDN will host a virtual COVID conversation on vaccination. Keep an eye on your emails over the coming days for all the information.

You are read more here on the government website.


Blue speech bubble, white speech bubble. QDN engageQDeNgage offers a range of disability, accessibility, culture and inclusion solutions by harnessing the real life experiences and practical advice of people with disability – from consumer focus groups, disability awareness training, public speaking to policy feedback. All our consultants have lived experience of disability, and have the first-hand knowledge to provide practical advice that achieves tangible results. Find out more about what QDeNgage can offer, or how to become a QDeNgage consultant here.

COVID-19 information for people with disability

Advice and information about COVID-19 is changing all the time.  QDN is working hard to make sure you have a place to go for the latest information and advice, and the resources that are most helpful for people with disability.

We want you to get the factsmake a plan and stay connected.  Go to the QDN website to read more here 

Targeted Outreach Project

help to access to NDIS. Learn, decide, connect. national disability insurance scheme (NDIS)Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and our project partners QCOSS and ADA Australia are helping more eligible Queenslanders with disability join the NDIS and experience the benefits of the scheme through the Targeted Outreach Project.  The Targeted Outreach Project is now rolled out in a number of new locations:

  • Townsville (Local Government Area only)
  • Bundaberg (Local Government Area only)
  • Central Queensland, from Rockhampton to the borders (including Banana, Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Central Highlands, Diamantina, Gladstone, Livingstone, Longreach, Winton and Woorabinda)
  • South West region, from Toowoomba to the borders (including Balonne, Bulloo, Goondiwindi, Maranoa, Murweh, Paroo, Quilpie, Southern and Western Downs).

As part of the Targeted Outreach Project, our Local Champions are working in their communities to help more people join the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Our Local Champions help people with disability to:

  • Learn more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Decide if the NDIS is for them and how it can support them
  • Connect with the Targeted Outreach Project team, who can link them to free assistance to access the NDIS through the Assessment and Referral Team (ART).

Find out more about our Local Champions here.

Making your own individual plan for an emergency or disaster

4 pictures of people talking, words person ventred emergnecy preparedness planning for COVID 19Everyone has a role to play in planning for how they can stay safe in a disaster. People with disability may also have additional support needs to consider when making an emergency preparedness plan. The Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness workbook is a conversation guide to help people with disability for people with disability in developing a preparedness plan for their individual needs in an emergency together with their support network. Find out more about the workbook, and the work of the Disability Inclusive Disaster Resilient Queensland project here.

Meet your new board members 

Peter Tully – Board member

Peter sitting in a wheelchair with a blue QDN short on. He is smiling. Peter Tully grew up attending CPL Queensland (previously Cerebral Palsy League) in New Farm and was involved in all areas of the centre into his early adult life.

After starting a computer business in Brisbane, Peter moved to Ipswich in 1997. In 2002, Peter joined the staff at Catalyst Church Ipswich as a volunteer, providing IT support, which he is still doing today.

Peter joined QDN in late 2006 and in April 2009 became the QDN Ipswich Regional Facilitator. In 2017 Peter received QDN life membership.

Peter brings to the Board valuable lived experience, skills gained through past volunteer and contractor roles within QDN, and expertise in community engagement.

He is a valued member of the Ipswich community, striving to make Ipswich a welcoming city for people living with disability.

Jane Britt – Board member

Lady with long blond hair and glasses. She has bright red lipstick. She is walking down stairs.Jane has a unique blend of personal experience with disability; expertise in the disability sector; a reputation for high-quality performance; a passion for advocacy and is a human rights expert.

Jane is the National Policy Officer at Blind Citizens Australia, a disability-led organisation, where over 75% of the staff and 100% of the board have lived experience of vision impairment or blindness. Jane is a graduate of Vision Australia’s Graduate Start program in Service Innovation and Design. She has worked with the Disability Leadership Institute as an Engagement Guru and as a freelance writer for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and Eureka Street.

As an integral member of QDeNgage, Jane has provided advice and feedback on disability for government consultations with QDeNgage.
She has been a member of the Reference Group for Deafblind Australia and is a Founder of Achilles Brisbane, a not-for-profit organisation assisting people with disabilities to lead an active lifestyle.

Jane brings to the Board considerable experience from across the disability sector. She is an active member of Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and a member of the Expert Advisory and Quality Review Panel for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA). Jane has recently been awarded a 2020 Vision Australia Award for her commitment to advocacy. The awards acknowledge people and organisations who contribute time and resources to support the work of Vision Australia and the wider blind and low vision community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network Queensland

Brown dots in a circle. Inside blue dots in a circle, white dots, green dots and orange dots.ATSIDNQ is a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and carers. It was established to raise awareness of need; provide connection and enable a collective voice for members on the issues important to them. Read more here

An opportunity to share your experiences of managing NDIS funded supports

Researchers at Griffith University in Brisbane are looking at how NDIS funded supports are managed and coordinated. The project is called Making Complex Interfaces work for the NDIS.

If you’re 18 years or over with a NDIS funded support package and live in South East Queensland, we want to hear your experiences of setting up and receiving supports from various providers, services and systems. Your NDIS plan can be self-managed, plan-managed or NDIA managed.

The research team would like to learn about what’s working well for you and where challenges are by engaging with you in an interview (via phone or online). This project has ethics approval by Griffith University (2019/406). All information provided by you to help inform this project will be confidential.

To find out more please contact:

Eloise Hummell

Project Manager

Email: e.hummell@griffith.edu.au

Phone: 0404 458 894

QDN Events Coming Up

Peer Support Groups

To stay connected, QDN groups are meeting in different ways including face-to-face and on-line.  Find out more here.

Work Screening

QDN will be hosting an online forum on Thursday 18 February 2021 about how these changes will impact NDIS participants who self-manage and plan-manage. To find out more and register for the event click here.

Person Centred Emergency Preparedness

Planning for people with disability.  Find out more about how you can make a plan and stay safe in a disaster.  Events in Mackay and Ipswich soon.


Read the flyer here.  Register to attend: http://bit.ly/3tl2Hz8


Read more here. Register to attend: http://bit.ly/3ai9roR

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