Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Update Report June/July 2007



Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. It is a not-for-profit organisation constituted and driven by women with disabilities. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally. WWDA is inclusive and does not discriminate against any disability. WWDA is unique, in that it operates as a national disability organisation; a national women’s organisation; and a national human rights organisation (more information about WWDA can be found at the organisation’s extensive website: www.wwda.org.au). Please find below a brief Update Report from WWDA for the months of June and July 2007. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn or Angela at:wwda@wwda.org.au


Return to the Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Newsletters Page


Contents

WWDA Policy & Position Paper on Sterilisation

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Update

WWDA Development of Human Rights Portal

WWDA Submission to the South Australian Domestic Violence Law Reforms

WWDA Strategic Plan 2004-2009 Review

Review of the National Disability Advocacy Program

WWDA Operational Funding Contract 2007-08

WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory Update

WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

Advancing through Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Project Report

WWDA Telecommunications Working Group – Report

Womenspeak/Joint Secretariats Meeting

Paid Maternity Leave Campaign

New on the WWDA Website

WWDA Representation

Financial Literacy Among Marginalised Women Report

Join WWDA

Appendix One: Letter Sent to Standing Committee of Attorney’s General (SCAG)

Appendix Two: National Disability Advocacy Program Consultation Paper


1. WWDA Policy & Position Paper on Sterilisation

In previous Bulletins, WWDA has reported on its systemic advocacy work in relation to the Federal, State & Territory Government’s proposal to develop draft national, uniform legislation which sets out the procedures that jurisdictions could adopt in authorising the sterilisation of children who have an intellectual disability. WWDA’s recent work in this area has focused on the draft Bill (Children with Intellectual Disabilities (Regulation of Sterilisation) Bill 2006), released for consultation with selected stakeholders by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG), in November 2006. WWDA’s ongoing systemic advocacy work in this area can be found on our website at: http://www.wwda.org.au/steriladv07.htm

In June 2007, WWDA developed a Policy and Position Paper entitled ‘The Development of Legislation to Authorise Procedures for the Sterilisation of Children with Intellectual Disabilities’. The paper seeks to articulate WWDA’s position on the issue of the forced sterilisation of minors, particularly in the context of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) work on the development of uniform legislation to authorize procedures for the sterilisation of children with an intellectual disability. This paper raises a number of key issues that WWDA asserts must be thoroughly considered in this debate, including: the application of human rights principles; pre-emptive assumptions; definitions, terminology and language; the consideration of procedures and their consequences; and, compliance with international human rights treaties.

WWDA’s paper argues that people with an intellectual disability have the same human rights as people without intellectual disabilities, and that the creation of legislation which enables authorisation of the sterilisation of children with intellectual disabilities, is in itself, a patent infringement of the human rights of those it seeks to protect.

WWDA argues that, in meeting its stated aim of ‘protecting the human rights of minors with a decision-making disability’ the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) is obliged to develop universal legislation which prohibits sterilisation of children (regardless of disability) except in those circumstances where there is a serious threat to health or life, and refrain from enacting legislation that raises concerns of compatibility with the objects and purposes of a number of international human rights treaties to which Australia is a signatory.

In late June, WWDA disseminated the paper widely, including a copy to Federal, State & Territory Attorneys-General. Every politician in the country was also emailed a copy. The paper has also been distributed internationally and has been made available on a number of international organizations websites, including for example: the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN); Disabled People’s International (DPI); Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); Disability Rights Africa.

A copy of WWDA’s Policy and Position Paper entitled ‘The Development of Legislation to Authorise Procedures for the Sterilisation of Children with Intellectual Disabilities is now available on the WWDA website. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/polpapster07.htm


2. UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – Update

Many of WWDA’s past Update Reports have reported on the process of development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension, was adopted by the UN in December 2006 and opened for signature on March 30, 2007. Australia was one of the first member states to become a signatory to the Convention, although the Australian Government has not yet indicated whether it intends to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Optional Protocol allows the UN to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by that State Party of the provisions of the Convention.

On 30 March 2007, there were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and one ratification (Jamaica) of the Convention, representing the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organisations. As of the 23 May, there were 95 signatories to the Convention, 51 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and one ratification of the Convention.

As of the 25 July 2007, there were 101 signatories to the Convention, 55 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and two ratifications (Jamaica and Hungary) of the Convention. Hungary is currently the only member state to ratify both the Convention and its Optional Protocol.

Having signed the CRPD, Australia has signaled its intention to ‘continue the treaty-making process’ (UN 1999). Ratification, on the other hand, is where a country officially decides that it wants to become a State Party to a convention.

Australia is now at the point of undertaking the process of ratification. This will involve a number of processes, including a National Interest Analysis (NIA). The NIA examines the foreseeable economic, environmental, social and cultural effects of the Convention; the obligations imposed by the treaty; its direct financial costs to Australia; how the treaty will be implemented domestically; and what consultation has occurred in relation to the treaty. On completion of the NIA, it will be tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament along with texts of the Convention.

WWDA understands that the Standing Committee of Attorney’s General (SCAG), (the national ministerial council made up of the Australian Attorney-General and the States and Territories Attorneys-General), met in late July 2007, where the matter of the Convention and ratification process was listed for discussion. In light of this, WWDA wrote to each of the State/Territory Attorney’s General to express our support and commitment to the Convention, and encouraging the Attorney’s General to adopt an expeditious process of ratification (A copy of the letter is included as Appendix 1 to this Update Bulletin).

On 27 & 28 June 2007, Annie Parkinson (WWDA President) represented WWDA at a workshop convened by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in Sydney. The workshop, aimed at representatives from a number of disability advocacy organisations, aimed to:

  • provide an opportunity for representatives from disability community organisations to gain a better understanding of the development and content of the Convention;
  • facilitate the establishment of a network of disability community representatives able to contribute to the pre-ratification and implementation phases;
  • identify domestic and international resources and initiatives that would assist in the pre-ratification and implementation phases; and,
  • build the capacity of representative organisations to assist the broader disability community sector to understand the content and value of the Convention.

The Report from the Workshop is now available. The Report entitled ‘Report to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on the Workshop on Promoting the Ratification and Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Australia’ is available from the WWDA website in both PDF and Word formats, and can be found at: www.wwda.org.au/unhrt.htm under the category ‘Resource Materials/Publications – Disability & Human Rights’.


3. WWDA Development of Human Rights Portal

Over the past few months, WWDA has worked to develop a Human Rights Portal for the WWDA website. The Portal contains an extensive amount of information and resources on human rights, and WWDA intends to continually expand and develop this section of our website. The Portal currently contains:

  • The Charter of the United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
  • The Core International Human Rights Instruments (Treaties) and the relevant Optional Protocols (in both Word & PDF formats);
  • Information on the Role and Function of the Treaty Monitoring Bodies;
  • Over 130 Universal Human Rights Instruments (organized by category);
  • Disability Discrimination Laws by Country
  • Resource Materials & Publications in the areas of: Human Rights (General); Women with Disabilities & Human Rights; Disability and Human Rights; and Women and Human Rights.

The Human Rights Portal can be accessed from WWDA’s website. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/unhrt.htm

If you have any feedback on the Portal, or have any suggestions about what you would like to see added to the Portal, contact WWDA.


4. WWDA Submission to the South Australian Domestic Violence Law Reforms

In early May, WWDA developed a Submission in response to the Discussion Paper South Australian Domestic Violence Laws Discussion and Options for Reform Paper. For the purposes of our submission, WWDA elected to concentrate on addressing two main areas: the ‘Definition of Relationship’; (Chapter 3) and the ‘Definition of Domestic Violence (Chapter 2)’. WWDA’s Submission included a number of recommendations pertaining to these areas.

WWDA’s Submission to the South Australian Government ‘Review of South Australian Domestic Violence Laws’ is now available on WWDA’s website. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/sthaustviol07.htm


5. WWDA Strategic Plan 2004-2009 Review

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has recently undertaken a mid term review of it’s five year Strategic Plan 2004-2009. WWDA’s Strategic Plan was developed in late 2003 following extensive consultation with members, associate organisations, and other stakeholders. The Plan reflects WWDA’s commitment to promoting leadership opportunities for women with disabilities, and to fostering the empowerment and participation of all women with disabilities. The Strategic Plan is based on the social model of disability, which identifies the barriers and restrictions facing women with disabilities as the focus of reform.

WWDA’s Review of the five year Strategic Plan has been documented in the report ‘WWDA Strategic Plan Review July 2007’. The report provides detail on WWDA’s progress to date in meeting the objectives and strategies set out in the Plan, and indicates areas where WWDA needs to focus further work in order to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan. The progress review also provides information on themes and issues emerging from WWDA’s membership during the term of the Strategic Plan to date, and highlights areas of ongoing work that will need to be incorporated into the next Strategic Plan.

The ‘WWDA Strategic Plan Review July 2007’ document is now available on WWDA’s website in both Word and PDF formats, and can be found at: http://www.wwda.org.au/stratplan.htm


6. Review of the National Disability Advocacy Program

The National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) (administered by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) funds 68 advocacy organisations around Australia to help people with disabilities, their families and carers to get involved in community life as fairly and as fully as possible. Under the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement, advocacy is a shared responsibility of the Australian Government and the state and territory governments.

On 8 May 2007 the Australian Government announced an additional $12.2 million over four years to fund improvements to the NDAP and deliver extra services to people with disability who are most in need. The additional funding will be used to:

  • increase the level of individual advocacy available to people with disability;
  • improve geographic coverage of disability advocacy services in rural and regional areas;
  • better inform people with disability and their families about advocacy support available to them;
  • introduce a comprehensive and independent Quality Assurance system to ensure people with disability receive quality services.

A process of change to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the NDAP commenced in 2006 following an evaluation which began in late 2005 and identified that the program was ‘badly in need of reform’. The Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) is now undertaking a process of consultation with the disability advocacy sector around the key changes to the program.

WWDA is participating in the consultations around the changes to the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP). FaCSIA conducted Information sessions nationwide during June/July which represented the beginning of consultations with the disability advocacy sector around some key aspects of the changes to the NDAP. WWDA National Office staff (Carolyn & Angela) attended the Information day with FaCSIA personnel in Hobart on 29 June 2007.

As part of the consultation process, FaCSIA has released a Consultation Paper entitled ‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’. The aim of this Consultation Paper is to facilitate discussion and generate thinking to assist FaCSIA and the disability advocacy sector to begin developing some common understandings around advocacy.

WWDA will be preparing a response to this Consultation paper, and is eager to get some feedback and comments from WWDA members to assist us in developing our response. To this end, the consultation paper is attached as an Appendix to this Update Report and WWDA welcomes your thoughts. You can give us comments via email, fax or phone. Please send us your comments no later than Friday 24 August 2007.


7. WWDA Operational Funding Contract 2007-08

WWDA has recently renewed its operational funding contract with the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and is pleased to have secured funding for another 12 months. This year, WWDA has also managed to secure a slight increase in our operational funding from FaCSIA. WWDA’s contract with FaCSIA contains a number of required deliverables under five specific objectives:

Objective 1: Contribute to the development of Government policies and service delivery that supports women with disabilities.

Objective 2: Represent and consult with members and maintain national networks.

Objective 3: Inform members and relevant constituents about Australian Government and FaCSIA policies, programs and services related to the disability sector.

Objective 4: Ensure that information provided to Women with Disabilities Australia members and the media accurately portrays the social policy of FaCSIA and the Australian Government.

Objective 5: Ensure appropriate controls, monitoring and reporting mechanisms are in place to ensure effective corporate governance in relation to Women with Disabilities Australia’s secretariat activities.

WWDA will be providing regular reports to the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and WWDA members on our progress in meeting the FaCSIA contract objectives.


8. WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory Update

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is currently updating its Online Information and Referral Directory. The Directory was produced by WWDA in 2005 to help women with disabilities find information about services and organisations that are available to assist them. The information is organised into various groups and sub-groups to enable easy access. It is also searchable using the SEARCH facility on WWDA’s homepage (www.wwda.org.au).

You can assist WWDA in this task by letting us know of any new services/programs etc that may be useful for women with disabilities, or by checking the contact details of your organisation/group and letting us know if there are any changes. The WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory can be found on WWDA’s website at: www.wwda.org.au/portmain.htm


9. WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

Previous Update Reports from WWDA have reported on WWDA’s national project to produce a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. The Manual is made up of a series of four Booklets, the contents of which are also being provided on an accompanying CD Rom in audio format. WWDA completed the four Booklets to final draft stage prior to December 2006, however since that time has been working with the Office for Women (Commonwealth Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) on finalising one of the Booklets (Forgotten Sisters – a global review of violence against women with disabilities). The Office for Women recently required the Forgotten Sisters Booklet to be peer reviewed by a member of FaCSIA’s internal research committee. WWDA has recently received the peer review report and is now working to finalise the Booklet so it can be approved by the Office for Women for publication.

Once final approval for publication is given by the Office for Women (Commonwealth Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), it will be available world wide to all interested in this area of crucial importance for the wellbeing of far too many women with disabilities.

a picture of the covers of the Violence Manual Booklets.

Covers of the Violence Manual Booklets

WWDA has already received a large number of pre-orders for the Manual. If you would like to register your interest in receiving an Order Form for the Manual, please contact Angela at the WWDA Office via phone (03 6244 8288) or email wwda@wwda.org.au


10. Advancing through Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Project Report

In 2006-07 WWDA undertook a project to enhance the orgnisation’s capacity to undertake systemic advocacy work. The Project aimed to develop systems to recruit women with disabilities for systemic advocacy work; develop tools to support them in their representative/advocacy roles; and, develop systems to maintain capacity building mechanisms for WWDA’s representative work. The final report ‘Advancement through Advocacy for Women With Disabilities’– Project Report 2007 is now available on WWDA’s website in both HTML and PDF formats. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/systemic.htm


11. WWDA Telecommunications Working Group – Report

The Internet Society – Australia (ISOC-AU) has convened a Special Interest Group on Disabilities. Its first meeting was held in Sydney on 6 June. The agenda for this meeting focused on Internet Protocol technologies (Voice over IP, Video over IP and Text over IP). IP technologies have potential for independent, real time communication for those who are Deaf, Hearing Impaired or who have speech impairment. However, at the present time the quality of Broadband services is such that transmission of Voice or Video images can be disjointed and unusable by those who rely on clarity to be able to understand.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts (DCITA) hosted a ‘Machinery of Government Workshop’ in Canberra on 8 June. Participants were representatives of organisations which have received funding under the Telecommunications Consumer Representation Grants program. The Workshop provided an opportunity for key DCITA personnel to meet and discuss with NGO representatives on the policies and protocols which restrict their operation, and which can be a source of frustration for those outside government. Having better understanding of these processes assists NGOs in their project work with grant funds. WWDA awaits notification as to whether it has been successful in its application for ongoing funding to undertake representative work in the area of communications.

A Communications Alliance Customer Equipment and Consumer Reference Panel meeting was held by teleconference on 12 July. One of the agenda items was to discuss whether it is feasible or necessary to have a review of the telecommunications Standard (AS/ACIF S040:2001) which mandates that all corded phones on land lines should have a raised pip on the ‘5’ button, and a hearing aid coupler. Sue Salthouse participated by teleconference in this segment of the meeting. The matter of review of the Standard is more complex than appears at face value, with confusion over what would be practical versus what is legally required and what should be mandated. WWDA will participate on a sub-committee set up to investigate the full implications of conducting a review.

The Consumer Telecommunications Network has held two consumer meetings (in Melbourne and Sydney) in July to discuss Broadband Accessibility issues. An issues paper is available on request to sudata@optusnet.com.au. Issues discussed included the ‘byte’ capacity of services, their reliability and quality, as well as the need for symmetrical broadband which will support an ability to upload images at a comparable speed to which they can be downloaded. This capability is essential for using My Space, You Tube and efficient blogging, but is of pivotal importance for sign language over a video linkup. Matters of affordability and mobile accessibility were also on the agenda. A report and further information will be available in the next bulletin.


12. WomenSpeak/Joint Secretariats Meeting

The WomenSpeak Network is one of four networks of women’s organisations funded by the Commonwealth Office for Women (OfW) to work together to provide representative advice to the government on policy issues, development and implementation and to act as a conduit for the exchange of information between the Government and the women’s sector.

Vicki Alipasinopoulos and Sue Salthouse participated in the WomenSpeak face to face meetings held in Melbourne at the beginning of June. Three days of meetings included Joint Secretariats meetings with the Australian Council of Women, Security for Women, the National Rural Women’s Coalition and WomenSpeak; specific WomenSpeak meeting, and a meeting of representatives from all secretariats with key personnel from the Office for Women. In the latter meeting, a consultant facilitated discussions on enhancing the partnership between the OfW, the Secretariats and their member NGOs. This was constructive dialogue and resulted in a rationalisation of contract deliverables to the OfW, with the outcomes now focused on follow-up to current evaluations, and pursuit of future investigations which NGOs have identified as important. For WomenSpeak this will mean further work with member organisations on the meaning and contribution to society of women’s organisations. The report on this research (Impact and benefit of women’s organisations in communities, women’s organisations al leaders in communities) is available on request from sudata@optusnet.com.au.

WomenSpeak is also focused on improving engagement with indigenous women around Australia. A number of strong indigenous women were guests at the meeting. The Network and individual NGOs are committed to investigating ways of including indigenous women in activities and to devising activities which will have meaning for indigenous women. It is acknowledged that all of us will learn much and be enriched through this initiative.


13. Paid Maternity Leave Campaign

At the Joint Secretariats meeting (Australian Council of Women, Security for Women, the National Rural Women’s Coalition and WomenSpeak) it was resolved to jointly undertake a campaign to have Paid Maternity Leave on the political agenda. The campaign is spearheaded by the National Foundation for Australian Women (www.nfaw.org/social/maternity/index.html).

The secretariats’ representatives agreed that Australia needs an expert report (produced by an appointed committee) on how to finance a national system in a way which supports small business and the self employed as well as large employers and governments. Such a report should be publicly available, and there should be commitment to implement its recommendations within two years. News polling has since shown that three quarters of the population support the notion of Paid Maternity Leave for working women.

You can register your support for this campaign on the NFAW website by clicking on this link: http://nfaw.org/social/maternity/signup.php.


14. New on the WWDA Website

Over the past two months, WWDA has done a lot of work on updating and enhancing the WWDA website. The development of a human rights portal has been a major addition. A large number of other resource materials have been added. Examples include:

WWDA Policy & Position Paper on Sterilisation;

WWDA Advancement through Advocacy Project Report;

‘Exploring the research and policy gaps: A review of literature on women and disability’ – by Joan O’Connor et al, National Disability Authority, Ireland (2006);

‘Disability, Gender and Power: Finding a Useful Theoretical Framework and an Appropriate Methodology’ – by Rita Kwiotek

‘Women and Girls with Disabilities: Defining the Issues’ – by Barbara Waxman Fidducia and Leslie Wolfe

‘Bringing Down the Barriers: The Labour Market and Women with Disabilities in Ontario’ – By Gail Fawcett

‘Breaking Down Barriers to Health Care for Women with Disabilities’ (USA) – by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

‘Financing Health Care for Women with Disabilities’ (USA) – by Janice Blanchard & Susan Hosek

‘Supportive Housing Needs of Women with Mental Health Issues’ – by G. Geller & J. Kowalchuk

‘Women With Disabilities and Adaptive Technology in the Workplace’ – by Michelle Murdoch (Canada);

International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities: Final Report (1998)

‘Disability and Sexual Orientation: A Discussion Paper’ – by National Disability Authority, Dublin (2006)


15. WWDA Representation

Earlier this year, WWDA completed a national project entitled ‘Advancement through Advocacy for Women With Disabilities’. The final Report of the Project is now available from the WWDA website (www.wwda.org.au/systemic.htm) in both Word and PDF formats. Hard copies can also be posted out to anyone who would like a copy.

As part of the Project, WWDA developed and produced a ‘Guide for Representatives’ Booklet which outlines the role and responsibilities of WWDA representatives, and provides information about representation, including common problems and solutions. The Guide is now available to WWDA members who are interested in undertaking representative work for the organisation.

a picture of the covers of the Violence Manual Booklets.

Cover of WWDA Guide for Representatives Booklet

If you are interested in undertaking representative work for WWDA, we would ask members to ensure that they have forwarded their up to date Resume/CV via email to WWDA’s Coordinator of Representatives, Sue Salthouse (sudata@optusnet.com.au). Hard copies can be sent directly to the national WWDA Office.

We encourage you to support the work of WWDA by helping us to strengthen our pool of representatives. The success of our work relies heavily on the contributions and expertise of our members.


16. Financial Literacy among Marginalised Women Final Report

The Office for Women (OfW), Department of Families, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs, has recently released a publication entitled ‘Financial Literacy among Marginalised Women Final Report’. The report details a two stage national research project commissioned by the Office for Women. The focus of this research project has been on the core questions of how marginalised women access financial information, the barriers they encounter in attempting to do so, and the opportunities that exist to improve their financial literacy.

A copy of the Report is available from WWDA for anyone who would like a copy emailed to them. Please contact Carolyn or Angela at the WWDA Office via phone 03 6244 8288 or email: wwda@wwda.org.au


17. Join WWDA

The success of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) relies heavily on the participation and goodwill of our members. We are always seeking women with disabilities who would like to represent WWDA at government consultations, workshops, forums and committees, as well as helping us in other ways such as commenting on WWDA documents and reports; presenting papers at Conferences; writing articles for our website, becoming members of our Management Committee and so on. WWDA is a Public Benevolent Institution, which means that donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Here are just some suggestions for how YOU can help Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA):

  • becoming a member;
  • giving a donation (donations over $2 are tax deductible);
  • representing WWDA on Committees, Advisory Boards and so on;
  • participating in consultations and government reviews;
  • writing articles;
  • sending us copies of relevant resources for our library;
  • letting us know about any relevant upcoming activities and/or events, and/or new books, videos, etc;
  • putting us on your newsletter mailing list;
  • using us as a hub for information;
  • using our website;
  • giving us feedback about our work;
  • donating equipment; raising funds for us.

Remember, becoming a financial member of WWDA entitles you to nominate for the Management Committee when vacancies arise and/or vote at annual elections.


Appendix One: Copy of Letter Sent to Standing Committee of Attorney’s General (SCAG)

25 July 2007

Dear Attorney-General
As you may be aware, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has over the past several years, been actively involved in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. WWDA has formally congratulated the Australian Government for its leadership in being one of the first countries to sign the Convention on March 30 this year.

WWDA acknowledges that the Australian Government, in signing the Convention, has signaled its commitment to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against people with disabilities. WWDA applauds this commitment and is now looking forward to an expeditious process of ratification. We share the goal of our colleagues in the disability sector for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to be ratified by 3 December 2008.

We therefore call on the Standing Committee of Attorney’s General (SCAG) to establish a timeframe for completing the necessary procedures to enable ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by December 2008. In this, we encourage States and Territories to work collaboratively with the Australian Government and the disability community, to build on the significant work undertaken to date, and to foster a process of social development to enable people with disabilities to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Yours sincerely
Annie Parkinson
President


Appendix Two: National Disability Advocacy Program Consultation Paper

Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy

Introduction

The Australian Government has funded disability advocacy services for over 20 years and during this time a range of advocacy service models have been developed. Opinions around the definition of advocacy, the characteristics of the different advocacy models and the intended outcomes of advocacy vary greatly, both within Australia and internationally. Funding provided through the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) currently supports six models of advocacy:

  • Citizen
  • Individual
  • Family
  • Parent
  • Self
  • Systemic.

Working Towards a Common Understanding

On 28 May 2007, the Minister for Community Services, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion announced that the implementation timetable for the changes to the NDAP would be extended. Minister Scullion has asked the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) to undertake further consultation with the disability advocacy sector around the changes to the program. The extension of the implementation timetable for the changes to the NDAP provides a good opportunity to try and develop a common understanding around advocacy and the outcomes that are achieved for people with disability.

FaCSIA recognises that the actual delivery of advocacy services requires flexibility and innovation due to the unique circumstances of people with disability accessing advocacy support. The intention of working towards a common understanding of advocacy is to assist with:

  • facilitating better communication between FaCSIA and the disability advocacy sector around the changes to the NDAP
  • assisting FaCSIA with the management of the NDAP
  • providing greater clarity to NDAP funded agencies around FaCSIA’s expectations as a funding body
  • developing effective and appropriate performance improvement and Quality Assurance strategies for disability advocacy agencies
  • ensuring greater accountability through improved performance reporting and data collection.

Purpose of this Consultation Paper

It is important to note that the intention of this Consultation Paper is to facilitate discussion and generate thinking to assist FaCSIA and the disability advocacy sector to begin developing some common understandings around advocacy. It is not the intention of this Consultation Paper to make claims that one model of advocacy is better or more effective than another.

The focus of the Australian Government in relation to advocacy is on achieving outcomes for people with disability that maximise their participation in the community. FaCSIA is interested in working with the disability advocacy sector to better understand how these outcomes can be best achieved through the NDAP.

This Consultation Paper simply provides some basic information about advocacy and the broad characteristics of the different models to assist with an on-going process of consultation. The information has been sourced primarily from material gathered through the evaluation of the NDAP.

Some Characteristics of Advocacy Models

Discussions around advocacy predominantly occur within a framework of the different models that exist. Below is an attempt to list some of the basic characteristics of the different advocacy models.

Individual Advocacy

  • A focus on individuals in crisis or high need.
  • A focus primarily on the protection of the rights of people with disability, particularly through: the prevention of abuse, discrimination or negligent treatment of people with disability; and, encouraging people with disability to make informed choices.

Self Advocacy

  • A focus on supporting and empowering people with disability to represent or advocate for their own interests in the community, through: the development of personal skills and self-confidence; advice, information and encouragement.

Citizen Advocacy

  • A focus on the long term partnership or friendship between an advocate and person with a disability, called a ‘prot�g�’ who has a need for representation.
  • Advocates are unpaid volunteers who are ‘matched-up’ with a person with a disability who assume the role of an advocate and ‘friend for life’ to provide some of the emotional and / or practical supports required.

Parent Advocacy

  • A focus on supporting parents of people with disability to advocate on their own behalf and on behalf of their family member with a disability.
  • Parents of people with disability are supported to represent their interests and the interests of their family with a disability in the community.

Family Advocacy

  • A focus on supporting family members to act as advocates on behalf of a family member with disability.
  • Family members are supported to ensure that the best interests of the person with a disability are upheld at all times.

Systemic Advocacy

  • A focus on introducing, influencing or producing broad and / or long term change in the community to ensure the rights of people with disability are attained and upheld, through: o the pursuit of changes in legislation, policies and practices of organisations providing services to people with a disability; influencing community development; community education; working together with other groups, particularly with individual advocacy services.

Broad Definition of Advocacy

In broad terms, advocacy for people with disability can be defined as speaking, acting or writing with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of the interests of a person or group, in order to promote, protect and defend the welfare of and justice for either the person or group by:

  • being on their side and no-one else’s
  • being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs
  • remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is empathic and vigorous.

Questions to Consider

1. Is the broad definition of advocacy provided in this paper useful from your perspective as an agency providing advocacy support?

2. How helpful is it to continue thinking about advocacy in terms of ‘models’ or ‘service types’?

3. Would it more helpful to think about advocacy in terms of the outcomes it actually achieves for people with disability?

4. What does your agency consider are the key outcomes for people with disability that can be achieved through advocacy?

Providing Feedback

Your comments are sought about the definition of advocacy and the outcomes that it achieves for people with disability. Please send your responses to this Consultation Paper:

By: Friday 24 August 2007
To: Carolyn Frohmader, WWDA Executive Director
E-mail: wwda@wwda.org.au or carolyn@wwda.org.au
Post: WWDA, PO Box 605, Rosny Park TAS 7018
Ph: 03 6244 8288
Fax: 03 6244 8255