QDN Member Profile – Paul Larcombe
Paul is a QDN member and he is standing as a candidate for the Australian Senate. We caught up with Paul recently and this is what he said.
One of my favourite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things as they are and say, “Why?” I dream things that never were and say, “Why not?”
Please tell us about yourself and the work you have done previously?
“I grew up in Northern New South Wales in a small town with no services or understanding of disability and it was difficult. I had very poor and deteriorating eye sight from birth, but it wasn’t untill I was eight that I was put on a train and sent to the Royal Far West Home in Sydney for a proper diagnosis. There in a world of shadows and strangers, I was sexually abused and physically assaulted, but somehow I survived and it made me stronger and even more resilient and determined to do what I could to help others.
I have more than 25 years’ experience working with disability related issues. I have worked in Commonwealth policy affecting national standards in public transport, education and the built environment. I have worked with the Queensland Government on a variety of issues facing Queenslanders with a disability and their families. At the local government level, I facilitated grass roots engagement between the disability sector and local government on issues such as access to the built environment and transport infrastructure. I have been Community Adviser, for the Brisbane region, to the Queensland state Minister for Disability Services and I have worked in this and the State role for fifteen years.
Can you give us a brief overview of your journey as a candidate for the Australian Senate, representing Queensland and the people of Australia?
Well I would have to say it’s been most interesting. I haven’t been campaigning for two years and unlike Mr Palmer I don’t have $60 million with which to buy votes. I am a man of modest means. It’s been a learning curve and if you’re outside the professional parties it’s very hard to get noticed but perhaps, just perhaps with the support of the disability sector we might have a chance to help bring integrity, honesty and common sense to our Parliament. To serve you, not myself, and to be your Queensland voice in the Senate.
What were the catalysts that made you decide to stand as an independent for the Queensland Senate seat?
I was sitting around last year talking with my family and I started complaining that no one with a lived experience of disability was entering politics to influence positive change. My family was over my complaining I think and simply said; “You are that someone!”
I think I have had some good background that is helping though. I influenced the establishment of the Disability Councel of Queensland (DCQ), in its current form. I am hoping to continue this grass roots influencing of government policy and law making as an Independent Senator for Queensland.
What are the important issues you will work to address if successful in winning a Senate seat?
Clearly, disability reform and better disability service delivery would be my number 1 focus. Having people with the lived experience of disability and its debilitating effects at the top table, especially in the NDIA that runs the NDIS. The NDIS is a great scheme that has finally given us the hope of equity, justice and better services BUT it’s not working properly and many people are even worse off! There has been a significant underspend – that by next year could total $3.7 billion – that’s just wrong.
In Queensland, we have to stop the buck-passing between State and Federal governments over health care for our community and crucial things like the taxi/transport subsidy that sees our people go without. My pledge is to work for this country, with all people, to ensure we have a future and to always act with honesty, integrity, transparency and solely in YOUR interests. You can read more of my positions and approaches at www.paullarcombe.com.au
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work – the goals you hold personally?
The Declaration on Social Progress and Development, adopted in 1969, by the United Nations, has this to say about social justice. “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” This is a bold statement that I have been working my entire career to insure will not happen in the circles of influence that I have been privileged to been involved with. So, my primary goal is social justice.
- I would intend to approach everything from this perspective – Don’t ever forget who elected you for I am simply their voice.
- Always ask; “What is the best outcome for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of people?”
- Base decisions on common sense and the facts and always act with integrity and honesty.
What are 3 important things you think need to happen for people with disability to achieve more social and economic participation in the community?
The top three important areas for change to bring about a more inclusive society for people with disabilities would be:
- A fully funded NDIS with commitment to all money allocated to be quarantined. A lifting of the cap on employment in the NDIA, to relieve the bottleneck of plans and payments.
- A renewed focus on better working relationships between State Government and Federal Government, so things like the TSS is not lost in the transfers of NDIS funding. An overhaul of the NDS and the NDA to make these two documents the paramount references to inform the development of disability policy in Australia.
- A more integrated approach between Federal and State Government on Health, Housing, Employment and Transport.
These four main drivers of integration in Australian Social society are the key stones of full and active participation as citizens. All levels of government need to commit to investment in creating world class facilities and programmes to make Australia truly the lucky country.