Angela E Cox

angela e cox

Family member of a person with disability

I am the sister of a man with Down syndrome. I have also worked in the sector for several years and am seeking to set up a new advocacy service (Special Voices) in regional Victoria.

I would like to make the following points with reference to the questions on p.3 of the Discussion Paper.

1. No. In general, the Framework needs to be wholly revised to better reflect the NDIS principles and system, as outlined in the NDIS Act, Regulations and policies. The NDIS represents a fresh and new era in the disability system, and the Framework could better reflect this.

The Framework also needs to be clear on practicalities – i.e. how will advocacy operate in the NDIS landscape. Who will fund advocacy under the NDIS – the states or the Commonwealth? Will participants be able to pay for independent advocacy services from their NDIS packages? How will advocacy providers be regulated under the NDIS?

This is imperative given it’s virtually a ‘universal truth’ in the sector that the introduction of the NDIS will create an even greater demand for high quality independent advocacy, particularly in the transition phase and particular for participants and prospective participants who have communication difficulties because of their disability, or due to a lack of family, social or other supports.

Q2-4. The Principles, Outputs and/or Outcomes should emphasize:
(a) that advocacy be accessible to all people with disability, in all areas, and that people with disability should have choice and control over how and by whom their advocacy services, if required, are delivered (e.g. self advocacy, independent advocacy) and
(b) support for carers, parents and siblings in their role as advocates for people with disability.

6. I currently live in the Macedon Ranges area of Victoria and based on many conversations that I have had with local service providers, local council staff, people with disability and their families and cares there appears to be a lack of knowledge and understanding about the NDIS, as well as a longstanding lack of dedicated advocacy and information services in the region. The assumption appears to be that people in this region can access the services in Bendigo or Melbourne. However, such services are very limited in resources, and geographically distant (some 50-100km) for people living in the region to travel to. The framework should address the specific information and advocacy needs of people with disability living in regional and remote areas.

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the consultation.

Angela Cox
Special Voices