15654 – Individual submission

I’m employed in a large NGO working with vulnerable people in the community

Whilst the overall Framework seems thorough there are a few things I think that are missing;
1. Domestic and family violence needs to be mentioned in the actual document as a priority rather than a link to another document. Too often the issue of abuse is linked to agencies or carers inflicting abuse and the nuances of domestic and family violence are significant issues that are very different to abuse in care. There is no mention of Power and Control, Coercive control etc and these are highly dangerous behaviours which too often lead to the murder of an intimate partner. For example there is no mention of the intersectionalities between domestic violence, the health care system, the police, the justice system and the disability system eg if you have a woman who has experienced an acquired brain injury as a result of domestic violence and then the intimate partner who is the perpetrator of the violence becomes the woman’s carer and controls the care she receives not only via the health care system but by the disability system eg controlling finances, controlling external carers coming in to the home etc, are they going to be noticed, is the intersection of all of these issues going to be understood? What about the Family Court system, how is the framework going to guide matters around this? The framework specifically needs to mention these factors.
2. The child protection sector also needs to be mentioned specifically. Not only to do with a child who may have a disability but the carer who may have a disability. Too often children are reported to child protection because a mandatory reporter doesn’t understand the nature of the disability and neither do child protection workers. Children are then removed at worst or become an open case within the child protection system with no specialist knowledge involved. Parents who advocate strongly for their children are seen as being “difficult” and labelled resistant with what can be devastating consequences for the family. Child Protection workers rarely have knowledge of disability programs, supports, interventions and without education can make a judgment based on ignorance. These all need to be accounted for.
3. Education and partnerships with the education departments need to be mentioned specifically as well. These are often the institutions that can make or break a child’s improvement and overall care. Like the Child Protection system parents who are strong advocates for their children are labelled interfering and schools can put up walls to block out parents. There is poor communication with parents, there is little understanding of specific disabilities within the education department and teachers minimise or ignore disabilities. Disability supports in mainstream schools are wholly inadequate and often advocacy for children is met with hostility or defensiveness. Neither of which is helpful. Parents with disabilities are not catered for and can be seen as an irritation to be managed.
4. The NDIS and AAT – there are simply not enough disability advocates or more to the point the NDIS is refusing supports to people despite specialist reports which is forcing people to go to the AAT. I am currently in the AAT fighting for myself because there are no available advocates. Advocacy agencies often have limitations on who they can advocate for which can limit availability even more. The framework needs to be specific as to how these limitations are to be managed. It also needs to be clear with the NDIS that refusal of funding is based on evidence which must be presented to the participant, not just the opinion of a planner or delegate. The AAT must be held to account for their process which often acquiesces to the whims of the NDIS. The framework needs to explain the Model Litigant rules and be clear about the NDIS being accountable to them.
5. Whilst having a Framework is all well and good, it is only a starting point – there is nothing listed as to the consequences for agencies who do not adhere to the Framework. This needs to be clearly stated and followed through with otherwise it is a toothless tiger.