QDN E-Bulletin Update May 2020

From the Chairperson

These are uncertain times for people with disability. We’ve all had our lives and routines disrupted, some of us significantly. I want to assure you that QDN is working hard to advocate for the needs and rights of people with disability at both State and Commonwealth levels to ensure your voice is heard, your concerns are raised and the impact of this pandemic is understood from the perspective of people with disability.

I have been pleased to see key bodies and agencies coming together to identify and deliver on common goals during COVID-19.  We would like to congratulate all agencies working together to bring about outcomes that reflect the voice of people with disability.  QDN has been pleased to be involved in the development of national, state and local COVID-19 plans around health and disability, including ensuring that people with disability continue to access essential disability support services. We want to see these plans evolve, to ensure that going forward the things that have worked well for people with disability that have changed in the system are taken forward and continue to include people with disability as we move into the reform and recover phase.

Inquiries into COVID-19 emergency responses

As we move into the next phase of the COVID-19 recovery, it’s an important time to reflect and examine what worked during the emergency response and what needs improvement.

There are already several inquiries that have been established to look at how government responded to this unprecedented health pandemic and shine a light on any issues that must be addressed. QDN has also worked with the University of Sydney with support from the Queensland Government, to develop the Person-Centred Emergency COVID-19 Planning tool that you can use as a guide to help you make your own plan for your life and your needs during this time.

QDN will be making submissions to many of these inquiries on behalf of our members, so if you have any stories or experiences that you’d like us to include, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the policy team by emailing qdn@qdn.org.au or calling 1300 363 783.

Automation of NDIS claims

There have been media reports that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is preparing to introduce real-time claims lodgement for payments under the NDIS. While the current system requires significant reform, QDN is calling on the NDIA to consult widely with people with disability before rolling out any new IT systems. The automation of NDIS claims between the NDIA and service providers poses potential risks to people with disability if not implemented effectively. QDN will continue to monitor this issue and keep members updated as we know more.

NDIS funding for specialist sexual services

In my role as QDN Chairperson, I have written to the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Minister for Disability Services, Coralee O’Rourke, urging them to reject the Federal Government’s request to change NDIS rules to prevent people with disability using their NDIS supports to access specialist sexual services. Funding for specialist sexual services through the NDIS is an issue that has been extensively examined by both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and the Federal Court (the Court) with both bodies decisively ruling these services ‘reasonable and necessary’ under the NDIS Act.

QDN has raised concerns with Minister Robert about National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) continued actions to remove funding for these services, despite the Court’s ruling. The Commonwealth Government’s response has led to widespread misinformation on this issue and has been reported poorly in some parts of the media.  QDN is concerned that the way this issue has been portrayed will lead to ill-informed decision making in this policy space and continue to contribute to the harmful held beliefs and views that people with disability are not worthy of healthy relationships and sexual expression.

QDN will continue to work with State and Commonwealth Governments to oppose any changes to the NDIS rules impact upon the human rights of people with disability and restrict their ability to make choices about their own bodies. QDN calls on Governments to work collaboratively with people with disability to develop a comprehensive policy on the NDIS and specialist sexual services to ensure funding is targeted where it is needed.

Audit

QDN has recently completed our full re-certification for our ISO9001:2015 Quality Audit.  The auditor provided positive feedback on QDN’s work as a small organisation and the broad range of work the organisation has delivered.   This is a great outcome and reflective of all the work that our volunteers, our staff and our Board of Directors contribute to and lead at QDN.   Thank you to our Company Secretary, Colleen Papadopolous for the excellent work undertaken, the Audit and Compliance Committee and QDN staff who work to deliver on the systems and governance of our organisation.

Staff Appointment

I am pleased to advise that QDN has made the appointment of the Operations Manager, and we welcome Michael Timbrell to the team.  QDN has recently undertaken a review of our organisation which resulted in a restructure that delivers new opportunities to expand the network and sharpen the focus of new project activities.

Nigel Webb

Chairperson, QDN Board of Directors

From the CEO

COVID-19 has grown and strengthened QDN’s work in informing, connecting, leading and influencing for Queenslanders with Disability.  QDN is working hard during this challenging time to ensure issues raised by our members are being heard loud and clear by decision makers and people with disability get the information and support at the right time, in the right way.  On behalf of QDN members, our staff have been working closely with a wide range of government departments at both the state and national levels. This means that the experiences of people with disability have been included in the development of key policies and plans around issues like health, housing, disability services and employment.

I have also had the opportunity to take issues raised by QDN members directly to Queensland Minister for Disability Services, Coralee O’Rourke, who has been regularly meeting with QDN to hear directly from us about what is happening on the ground for people with disability during the COVID-19 period.

QDN has continued to actively working alongside our community sector allies in a variety of ways including with the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors’ Human and Social Recovery Committee to ensure community supports are easily available and accessible to all Queenslanders, particularly those living in regional and remote parts of our state.

QDN welcomes the Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee report on Supported Independent Living or what is commonly known as “SIL”. The report has 45 recommendations that would bring significant change and reforms to the way SIL works, and positive outcomes for people with disability.  Many of the recommendations reflect what QDN called for in our submission and public testimony to the committee. See below policy section for more details on the report’s recommendations.

SIL arrangements put in place during transition from state funded programs that have been shifted over to the NDIS. SIL arrangements are often the only choice presented to people with disability due to limited housing options and are placed in a position to have limited choice and control over where they live and who they live with. Reforms are desperately needed, and QDN looks forward to the Commonwealth Government’s response to the report.

The National Disability Insurance Agency have released the latest quarterly report and the report highlights data that reflects that there are 20,000 people with disability in Queensland who can access the NIDS who are yet to apply. QDN is leading work to help more eligible Queenslanders with disability join the NDIS and experience the benefits of the scheme through the NDIS Targeted Outreach Project. This work is helping people with disability to understand the supports the NDIS can provide to them, and how to access free and practical individual support to apply for and join the NDIS through regional Assessment and Referral (ART) teams.  You can read more about this on page ten of this newsletter.

COVID-19 has highlighted an issue that QDN members have been raising for some time about the significant digital divide for people with disability.  During this time of isolation and social distancing the lack of access to digital technology and lack of digital literacy has been even more significant. The impacts during this time is a key issue affecting everything from being able to access telehealth, shopping to staying connected.  QDN is pleased to be involved in collaborative work with GIVIT.  This work resulted from advocacy work QDN has undertaken and we are pleased that it provides for the allocation of a device and data to qualifying people. QDN was also pleased to work with All Hallows School to receive assistance from students involved in the Mercy Action program to help with setting up the devices ready for people with disability.

QDN’s Local Support Groups have working hard to get digitally connected during COVID-19.  The groups have able to use Zoom to get the facts, make their plans and stay connected.  We are also excited to be launching new local support groups so check the page seven of this newsletter to find out how you can get involved.

As Queensland moves out of the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and begins the recovery process, QDN is focused on ensuring people with disability can continue to access some of the positive innovations and changes that have been put in place during this time.  From the extension of telehealth services for GP and allied health visits to greater flexibility in using NDIS funding for low-cost devices – QDN members want to see an approach that takes forward a variety of initiatives that have worked well for people with disability post  COVID-19.

QDN acknowledges that even though we are in a time that is moving us into recovery, there are still challenges ahead, and impacts on QDN members and Queenslanders with disability.  I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to look after yourselves and those around you as restrictions are lifted. It is important that we continue to get the facts, make a plan and stay connected. Queenslanders with disability are stronger together and it is important that we work together to continue to make sure the voices of Queenslanders with disability are heard.

Paige Armstrong

CEO

Vale Robert Holden

Photo of Robert HoldenWe are deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of Robert Holden.  Robert was a long term QDN Member and an active member of the Gold Coast Hot Topics and Brisbane Hot Topics groups.

Robert always showed up with a big welcoming smile.  His many train and other adventures showed all who knew him that it was possible to live a life of value and purpose in the community. Robert will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with Robert’s family and close friends at this time.

The Latest COVID-19 News

QDN website: COVID-19

We want you to get the facts, make a plan and stay connected.  We are updating our website regularly with COVID-19 information.

While restrictions are beginning to ease, it is still important for people to have a plan if they need to stay home for an extended period of time, or themselves or someone who supports, them becomes unwell.

A range of resources can be found on the QDN website to help people with disability to ‘make a plan’ for COVID-19.

Here you can find the ‘Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness Planning tool for COVID-19’. This tool was released in March by QDN, University of Sydney and the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.  QDN is pleased that this tool is currently being developed to be used as a National resource and will share more information with members once this is finalised. Dr Michelle Villenueve (University of Sydney) and Michelle Moss (QDN) were invited to share information for disability workforce on this tool and supporting people with disability to develop their plan and work with their support network including disability workers to put this in place. The Workforce in the disability sector National Virutal Conference was held on 28 May 2020 and more information can be found here.

Health and Wellbeing

QDN is pleased to be an alliance partner to the new Health and Wellbeing Queensland initiative.  Health and Wellbeing Queensland is a Statutory Authority established in July 2019 to improve health and wellbeing of all Queenslanders and reduce health inequities. As part of their work during this COVID-19 period, they have begun a campaign, Boost your Healthy, that was launched recently.   You can go to the Boost your Healthy website here.

Looking after our health and wellbeing is always important, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming flu season. And while staying at home more often can make it challenging to be active and eat well, there’s still so much we can be doing. In fact, now could be the perfect time to try some fresh new ways to boost your daily dose of Healthy.

This great website has information and resources to Boost your Activity, Boost your Healthy Eating and Boost your Well-being.

QDN Facebook Page

facebook logoWe are regularly updating our Facebook page with the latest news and information.  Click here to link to QDN’s Facebook page.

COVID-19 Contact Information and Resources for Members

  • Australian Government COVID-19 Disability Information Helpline 1800 643 787
  • QDN Local Support Groups 1300 363 783
  • Queensland Health for health advice or information 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • NDIS Participant Information and FAQ’s 1800 800 110 or here 
  • COVID-19 National hotline for people with symptoms 1800 022 222
  • COVID-19 National hotline for non-medical information 1800 020 080
  • Community Recovery Hotline 1800 173 349

Everyday Practice

Everyday Practice logoSince July 2019, QDN has been working in partnership with Amergin, the Community Resource Unit (CRU) and Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ) to deliver the Everyday Practice support service. Everyday Practice is a free, national education and community online education and capacity building resource for NDIS Providers and NDIS Participants. These resources have been co-designed by people with disability.  It aims to help NDIS Providers and NDIS Participants understand what best practice NDIS service delivery looks like, on an everyday basis.

QDN believes that it is critical that people with disability understand their rights to quality and safe practices particularly in the COVID-19 environment.  It is important to know, as NDIS participants, what you can expect to be delivered within the legislative frameworks and practice standards. It is also important that providers can hear directly from people about what good practice looks and feels like to help shape their services and practice.

You can find out more about Everyday Practice here. On the website you can find a range of videos, fact sheets, guides and interactive online activities containing examples and case studies of NDIS best practice. Look out for QDN members you might know in the videos!

Recently Everyday Practice added content on: Complaints and Incident Management, Privacy, Consent and Record Keeping, What a Best Practice Provider Looks Like. Click on each link, or go to the Everyday Practice website by clicking here.

Local Support Group Update

Get involved with QDN’s new Local Support Groups

QDN’s Local Support Groups (LSGs) are peer-led groups for people with disability and have been meeting in Queensland communities since 2015. LSGs provide an opportunity for people with disability to come together, connect with their community, learn new things and have their voices heard.

In 2019, LSG Peer Leaders and members worked together to support each other, organise information sessions, attend workshops, join community events, enjoy social gatherings, create digital stories and so much more!

Find out more about QDN’s Local Support Groups on our website or by watching this short video.

QDN is excited to be starting more Local Support Groups in 2020 and would love you to be involved!

If you’re between 18–30 years old – we want you!

QDN is looking for people with disability, between 18 and 30 years old, who are passionate about bringing together and connecting other young people with disability from across the state.

We are looking to link aspiring peer leaders throughout Queensland with a new group where young people with disability can connect with each other, learn new skills, and share their voice.

Express your interest in this exciting opportunity by sending an email to lsg@qdn.org.au or calling QDN on 1300 363 783 and asking for more information about the 18-30 year old Local Support Group.

Join the Statewide Virtual Local Support Group Meeting

QDN is looking to start a state-wide virtual Local Support Group for people with disability.

This monthly online meeting will be a peer-led group where people can connect to discuss topics that are of interest to the group with a focus on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This group will provide a space for people with disability to share information, talk about what is important to you, meet new people, form a strong virtual community and have fun.

If you are interested in being part of this online group contact us at lsg@qdn.org.au or call QDN 1300 363 783 and ask for more information about the State-wide Virtual Local Support Group.

Our response to COVID-19

photo of 16 people in a video conference meetingDuring COVID-19 QDN’s Local Support Groups have transitioned from hosting face to face meetings to holding online virtual meetings for people with disability in their local area.

To help members of peer support groups to join their local group online QDN has developed easy English step by step guides for digital connection available on QDN’s website, provided one on one training to people with disability and organised assistance from other accessibility agencies.

During April, these online peer-led meetings have so far allowed over 70 people with disability from across the state to stay connected with their peers during self-isolation.  It has also given them a platform to support each other, share information and provide each other with guidance during COVID-19 pandemic.

QDN will continue to review the Government public heath directions and work with our local support groups to support them to continue to connect in the ways that fit with rules and what works for local groups.

Brisbane Local Support Group virtual meeting

On Wednesday 22 April 2020, QDN’s Brisbane Local Support Group had their first virtual meeting for people with disability.  The Brisbane group has a diverse membership of people with disability including physical, visual, sensory, hearing impaired, deaf as well as people with intellectual disability.

At this meeting Deaf Services AUSLAN interpreters and a live captioner joined the peer support group meeting to work with members who are hearing impaired and deaf so they could actively be part of the conversation.  This was an opportunity for these members to be able to connect with their peers, share information and learn about making a plan so they can stay safe and healthy during COVID-19.  Members of the group enjoyed connecting with each other and the inclusivity of the meeting format and have already planned the date of their next virtual meeting.

Hot Topics Local Support Groups for people with an intellectual disability connecting online

photo of 9 people smiling into the camera in a meetingOn Friday 24 April 2020, the Brisbane and Gold Coast Hot Topics Local Support Groups for people with an intellectual disability held their peer support group meeting online with most of these members using digital technology for the first time to join the meeting.

14 Hot Topics members practiced their Zoom skills to connect into the meeting and spend the afternoon supporting each other during this time of self-isolation.  They even took the opportunity to sing happy birthday to one of the members who would have been celebrating on his own.

QDeNgage

QD engage logoQDeNgage staff and consultants have continued to work hard over the past two months. In the time of COVID-19, we know that it’s not only vital, but absolutely possible for people with disability to continue to contribute their knowledge to the work of government, businesses and organisations through QDeNgage. Technology has become a firm friend of the QDeNgage team, and through online platforms QDeNgage consultants are providing their input on a range of topics.

In May, QDeNgage consultants, as members of a consumer reference group, continued their work to provide input into the Transport Main Roads Translink Smart Ticketing project using the online platform ‘Zoom’ to meet with the project team.

Some of our QDeNgage consultants have been meeting as a Committee to provide feedback on the experiences of people with disability, and the challenges people are facing, in the COVID-19 environment. This feedback is shared with the Queensland Government to inform their response to COVID-19.

Through our QDeNgage work, we have established a COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group that is meeting weekly to highlight issues as they arise. Last week, the Advisory Group received a briefing and had the opportunity to ask questions of Health Consumers Queensland CEO, Melissa Fox. It is through the continued sharing of information and consumer experiences that we are going to ensure the quality and equitable health services are available for all Queenslanders, so I thank Melissa for her time. The Advisory Group will continue to meet over coming weeks.

QDeNgage is continuing to grow, and we are seeking new consultants. If you are a person with disability who is interested in contributing your ideas and feedback, visit our website here to find out more and apply to become a QDeNgage consultant.

QDeNgage Consultant Profile

Photo of Stephanie smilingName: Stephanie Dower

Tell us a little about yourself: As a screen producer and editor, I believe that film and television content can influence society’s views of people, and I am particularly passionate about how people with disabilities are portrayed, wanting to ensure they are portrayed authentically and inclusively. This passion is also what led me to working as a consultant with QDeNgage. In my spare time I love spending time with friends and family (including my two dogs), going to live music gigs, and travelling.

What do you like best about being a QDeNgage consultant? I love providing practical advice to clients and sharing my own experience as a wheelchair user to hopefully make the world a more inclusive and accessible place for everyone.

What has been your favourite engagement? The biggest engagement I have been involved with so far was the Inclusion Ready Summit as a Summit Representative. This Summit was organised by the Community Services Industry Alliance. Not only did I get to speak and share my own thoughts at the summit, but I also got to learn so much from the other Representatives and Speakers which only adds value to what I can bring to future engagements.

Why do you think QDeNgage is important for people with disability? QDeNgage is so valuable not just for the disability community, but for those who are wanting to be more inclusive and accessible in their workplaces and organisations but are at a loss of where to start. As QDeNgage consultants and people with disabilities, we are able to utilise our own lifetime of experiences and take practical steps towards making local businesses and organisations inclusive, and therefore open up more opportunities for others living with disability.

QDN Projects

Partnering with GIVIT to connect people with disability during COVID-19

QDN has been advocating around the need for people with disability, in particular people who are more marginalised, with limited income and who do not receive NDIS supports, to have access to devices and some data to support remote connection.

As a result, the Department of Communities has linked GIVIT with QDN to assist with closing the gap. GIVIT is a not-for-profit organisation which works with community and corporate organisations to source items like computers or phones that marginalised and vulnerable people may need. You can find out about GIVIT by connecting to their website here.

As part of this work with GIVIT, QDN is working with our members to better understand the need in the community of people with disability who are extremely socially isolated, do not have access to a device and who do not receive NDIS supports to try and link them with appropriate mobile devices sourced through GIVIT.

We are happy to partner with All Hallows’ School who have provided the essential technical resources to prepare the phones for distribution.  We thank the girls for contributing to making this a reality for people with disability who experience significant disadvantage and don’t have access to the NDIS or funded supports.

If you would like more information about the GIVIT mobile devices initiative contact QDN at lsg@qdn.org.au

NDIS Targeted Outreach Project

QDN knows there are many Queenslanders with disability who are eligible for the NDIS who haven’t applied yet, or maybe have and not been successful in their first application. There are still over 20,000 Queenslanders eligible for the NDIS yet to be part of the Scheme and therefore not getting the reasonable and necessary supports they need related to their disability.

For many people with disability, there are additional challenges to this NDIS access process, and it isn’t as simple as picking up a phone and making an access request. There are many eligible Queenslanders who have not yet applied for the NDIS, particularly those in regional, rural and remote regions in Queensland, and for many people experiencing additional complex challenges such as homelessness, release from correctional facilities and juvenile justice. We also know that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from Culturally and Linguistically diverse backgrounds and children in Special Schools are not accessing the NDIS.

picture of the postcard with an aboriginal artThe Targeted Outreach Program, led by QDN, is specifically targeting people with disability who traditionally fall through the gaps in our service system.

Targeted Outreach works with both organisations, services and groups in communities to build more informed understanding about the NDIS, and with individuals who may be eligible to apply for support.

We can work directly with people with disability, listen to their story and help them understand how the NDIS could support them with what they need,  then link them directly with Assessment and Referral Team (ART) for practical assistance with the paperwork, application and assessments if needed. ART are a  multidisciplinary team within the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Senior who can provide case management to help people gather the evidence required for their application to NDIS, including free access to health professionals to undertake assessments if required.

Targeted Outreach is funded until 2022 and will be rolled out state-wide over the next year, but is currently being delivered in the following regions:

  • Caboolture, Redcliffe, and Moreton
  • Sunshine Coast, Gympie, and surrounds
  • Maryborough and the North and South Burnett

Postcard with aboriginal art with blue, orange, brown coloursIf you know someone in one of these regions who:

  • may be eligible for supports through the NDIS;
  • needs extra help with getting their paperwork together for an NDIS Access Request;
  • has applied to the NDIS and had their access request denied, but thinks they are eligible for supports or
  • needs a functional assessment for their NDIS access request, but may not have the money to do this;

Please contact 1300 363 783 or email targetedoutreach@qdn.org.au. You can also visit the QDN website for more information.

Hospital Discharge

Queensland Health has been working to support people with disability who are medically fit for discharge to leave hospitals throughout Queensland and transition to safe and supported accommodation as a result of COVID-19.

QDN has been engaged by Queensland Health to provide independent information, support, advocacy and guidance to patients with disability and their families, carers and decision makers to enable them to consider options for leaving hospital to live in community. Patients who are both eligible and ineligible for the NDIS are being supported through this project

Click here to read the flyer, which provides more information about the project, and people can also call QDN on 3252 8566 and ask for the Hospital Discharge team.

Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction

The Disability Inclusive and Disaster Resilient Queensland project is a partnership between QDN, the University of Sydney, Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) and Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors. We are now in Phase Two of this project (Oct 19 – June 21) that has been co-funded by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.  We are continuing our work alongside people with disability, to make sure the needs and voices of people with disability are included in emergency management in disaster planning and response.

In Phase two we take the learnings and insights from Phase One of the project, to implement, evaluate and showcase Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) in action. You can read more about both phases of work here, also in easy english here.

There are three streams of work in Phase Two, led by different partner organisations. QDN’s work is focused on developing individual preparedness of people with disability, and supporting peer to peer approaches to emergency preparedness.

In February QDN and the University of Sydney facilitated an emergency preparedness training for 25 peer leaders in Brisbane. Over the past two months QDN peer leaders have also been speaking online with members of their peer support groups across Queensland about their emergency plans, supporting each other by sharing their tips and local knowledge.

QDN staff and peer leaders are now working with the University of Sydney to produce an emergency preparedness planning workbook. This workbook is a tool designed to help people with disability in their emergency planning – whether people may need to stay at home or evacuate. The resource is still in progress, so watch this space!

QDN’s Policy Work

COVID-19 UPDATES

Restrictions easing

The Queensland Government has released the roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions with Phase One beginning 15 May. There are three phases to the roadmap and QDN will provide more information to members as we transition to phases two and three.  Phase One allows:

  • Up to five (5) visitors allowed in your home
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people together in a public space
  • Dining in at restaurants, clubs and cafes for a maximum of 10 people at one time
  • Recreational travel up to 150km from your home for day trips
  • Reopening of libraries, playground equipment, and outdoor gyms (a maximum of 10 at one time)

See our full member e-blast for more information here.

Disability Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission (The Commission) has released three Issues Papers, including Emergency Response and Planning, Rights and Employment.

Emergency Response and Planning

The Commission wants to know what should be done to ensure people with disability are not at risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation during emergencies.

They want to know how things could be better for people with disability when there are emergencies – like the one we are currently in.

You can read the paper here.

Rights

The Commission wants to know what people know about the rights of people with disability. And they want to hear about attitudes towards people with disability, and what can be done to change them.

You can read the paper here.

Employment

The Commission wants to know why people with disability are less likely to be employed and why they are paid less.

The employment rate of people with disability in Australia is about half the rate of employment of people without a disability and their median income is less than half of people without a disability.

You can read the paper here.

Domestic and Family Violence

As part of the Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Virtual Summit, a delegation of QDN members and staff were invited to attend a virtual consultation on responding to domestic and family violence against people with disability hosted by Di Farmer MP, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors also attended. QDN members were able to share some stories of lived experience of women with disability and domestic violence, including:

  • The importance of women with disability being able to recognise violence, particularly emotional and psychological abuse
  • The reality that most people with disability experiencing violence will most likely reach out to a disability agency or peer network rather than a domestic and family violence service
  • The need for appropriate and timely responses, including continuation of disability services, clear and consistent messaging around COVID-19 and DFV, and keeping women with disability connected through accessible IT.

Education

Free online TAFE courses

During COVID-19, the Queensland Government has given access to 15 free online training courses for people to upgrade their skills whilst not working and in isolation. There are a variety of courses to choose from in areas such as aged and disability care, customer services, mentoring, mental health and peer work and communications.

Access to the free online training is through the new Jobs Finder Queensland portal https://www.jobsfinder.qld.gov.au/ or via the TAFE Queensland or Central Queensland University websites.

https://tafeqld.edu.au/isolearn

https://www.studyqueensland.qld.gov.au/Study/University/Central-Queensland-University

Health

Some Queensland Health services have re-opened including some screening, elective surgery and outpatient clinics. Clients who had their scheduled appointment cancelled due to COVID-19 will be contacted as a priority for a new appointment. When you attend appointments, you will notice a range of social distancing measures, hygiene practices and increased cleaning to minimise the risk from COVID-19 for staff and clients.

For those who might be a little worried about going to a hospital or clinic, hospitals have invested in additional cleaning to increase safety for patients, visitors and everyone who works for Queensland Health. Hospitals now have extra cleaners on duty in shared spaces cleaning lifts, handles, railings, chairs and the main foyer.

Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability

The Australian Government has released a Health Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability (The Plan). The Plan has been developed for people of all ages with disability, their families, support workers and the disability and health care sectors. The Plan prioritises individuals whose disability places them at a bigger risk of negative outcomes related to COVID-19.

The Plan will be updated and reviewed from time to time. The Plan was developed, and its implementation will be overseen, by an Advisory Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee are experts from a range of backgrounds including people with disability, family members, Disabled Peoples Organisations, the disability service sector, the research sector, the health care sector including medical practitioners, allied health professionals and nurses, Australian Government officials, and state and territory government officials. QDN has also had an opportunity to provide input and feedback on this plan through our role as part of national roundtable.

You can download The Plan here.

The Plan is also available in Easy Read here.

Boost Your Healthy

Boost Your Healthy is a website released by the Queensland Government, which explores ways we can all stay fit and healthy at home during COVID-19. On the website you can find tips and tricks to boost your activity, healthy eating and wellbeing.  QDN has been a partner in this work. Check out the website here.

Housing

SIL report supports QDN recommendations

The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS has released their report on Supported Independent Living or what is commonly known as “SIL”.

The report has 45 recommendations that, if implemented, would significantly change how SIL works. Many of the recommendations reflect what QDN called for in our submission and public testimony to the committee.

Recommendations include:

Making sure people with disability have real choice about where they live and who they live with, including whether they access supports in a shared or individual living arrangement

Making sure people with disability and their families have the chance to review quotes for SIL before they are approved by the NDIA

Giving participants living in congregate settings, who receive SIL funding, the opportunity to review their accommodation and support arrangements and to exit the congregate setting if they wish to do this

Developing a central register so people with disability can see a full list of vacancies for SIL accommodation, giving them more choice and control

More support and funding for advocacy and supported decision making to allow people who live in SIL an opportunity to have a real say on how they want their NDIS funding used

Many QDN members contributed to our submission and testimony to the committee’s inquiry. It’s great to see your experiences and ideas have been reflected in the committee’s final report. This is yet another example of why it’s so important for people with disability to be included in how policy is developed.

If you want to read more about the committee’s report, you can find the full version here.

Where to from here? The Australian Government will now look at the report and develop their response to the recommendations over the coming months.

QDN will work with our members and community allies to make sure the NDIA and the Australian Government listens to the committee’s recommendations and moves to improve SIL so participants with disability have more choice and control around their living and support options and arrangements, going forward.

We will be sure to keep you updated as we hear more.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Supply in Australia: Report

The Summer Foundation in collaboration with Social Ventures Australia has published a report on the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Supply in Australia 2020. The report presents the findings of a survey of SDA providers and developers, providing a snapshot on the growth of SDA supply across Australia.

The report identifies that nearly 3000 SDA places have been built or are now in development and includes information on market sentiment and SDA management arrangements.  It also reveals there remains a significant lack of SDA housing with an estimated 9000 places still needed to meet demand and many people with disability currently living in poor quality housing.

Click here to read the report.

Transitional housing changes during COVID-19

To help social housing tenants during the COVID-19 event, the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) is immediately suspending some requirements linked to the time-limited nature of transitional social housing. This means that effective immediately, households living in transitional social housing will not be contacted or advised that they must relocate from their transitional home to long term social housing.

Similarly, any new allocations to dwellings identified as transitional housing will be considered ‘long term’ for the duration of COVID-19.  If a household is currently in a home that does not respond to their circumstances (e.g. shared facilities) and the household has been identified for a move to a more suitable long-term home, the intent is that this would still proceed.

NDIS

NDIS Quarterly Report

The National Disability Insurance Agency has released its latest Quarterly Report.

The report includes lots of data but here’s a few things that stand out:

  • There are now 364,879 participants in the scheme – with 154,139 receiving support for the first time.
  • 30 per cent of people who joined the scheme in the last quarter are children.
  • The NDIA are working their way through the considerable backlog of reviews – this quarter the number of people waiting for a review to be finished was 755.
  • More people from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background joined the scheme, as well as from a Culturally or Linguistically Diverse background.

You can find a summary of the report here.

You can find the full Quarterly Report here.

Online Access Request Form and Supporting Evidence Form

To support people with disability to apply to the NDIS while maintaining physical distancing during COVID-19, the NDIA has made the Access Request Form and Supporting Evidence Form available for download here.

Funding for smart devices

The NDIA announced that people with disability can use their NDIS funds to purchase low-cost devices, like a tablet or iPad, to help them access health and disability supports. This new policy means:

  • If you have a budget for consumables, you can use that to purchase a smart device like a tablet or iPad. If you don’t have enough funds in consumables, you can top up from your core funds.
  • If you don’t have enough funds in core you can use capacity building funds. There is a new line item you can use in the price guide.
  • If you are self-managed or plan-managed you can buy from any provider. Agency managed participants must use a registered provider.
  • You need a letter from a provider confirming you need the device or the equipment. Not a full assessment just a letter explaining what you need. That letter can either be uploaded to the portal or you can email it to enquiries@ndis.gov.au. Or your provider can do that for you.
  • This new policy will cover all purchases made after April 1.

You can find out more information on the NDIA website here.

And you can find a helpful summary on the policy, developed by Every Australian Counts, here.

Human Rights

During COVID-19 have you experienced discrimination or racism, challenges getting access to support workers or having your personal care needs met because of social distancing measures, or had issues with police enforcing restrictions? The Queensland Human Rights Commission has produced an overview of some human rights issues associated with the response to COVID-19 which is now available on their website here.

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