Meg Schwarz

Which of the following statements best describes you?
I’m a health professional

Question 1:
During the first stage of consultations we heard that the vision and the six outcome areas under the current Strategy are still the right ones. Do you have any comments on the vision and outcome areas being proposed for the new Strategy?

My concern as a Forgotten Australian/Care Leaver and Project Officer (Forgotten Australians) that this cohort is included within the NDIS Policy framework as a vulnerable group. Care Leavers are included in the Aged Care Act 1997 and as such need to be included in aged care placements. However, through most intake/admission processes they are excluded. Some of this group have NDIS Plans but knowledge of this history is not included in disability training or policy.

Question 2:
What do you think about the guiding principles proposed here?

I think the principles are commendable but they do not allow for the fact that people with disabilities might fall into multiple vulnerable categories eg LGBTIQI and Forgotten Australians/Carer Leavers. Complex and entrenched trauma impacts the latter group. We want recognition that Forgotten Australians/Care Leavers who are involved as participants of the NDIS need special consideration as having PTSD and significant psychosocial disabilities.

Question 3:
What is your view on the proposal for the new Strategy to have a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes across all outcome areas?

We need to demystify “disability” and raise awareness of their significant abilities and skills in resilience and resourcefulness that often go unrecognised. We need to use mentors as champions in advertising and media per se in a much more consistent way.

Question 4:
How do you think that clearly outlining what each government is responsible for could make it easier for people with disability to access the supports and services they need?

Absolutely agree. Dialogue which has clarity of purpose and offers a simple and easy pathway for people to follow is critical.

Question 5:
How do you think the Strategy should represent the role that the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability?

Community organisations and not for profits need to take the lead in empowering people with disabilities and raising awareness.

Programs such as ACE should include include a mix of people and be targeted more appropriately. Lived Experience Training and Peer Support Groups are key areas that the not for profit sector have skills in building and providing and there needs to more funding for these areas. Helping Hand Aged Care are currently providing Lived Experience Training for Forgotten Australians/Care Leavers and this has led to participants being able to share their stories to create change and community connectedness.

Question 6:
What kind of information on the Strategy’s progress should governments make available to the public and how often should this information be made available?

Reports that uses case studies and outcomes by way of videos and testimonials are a good way to convince people of positive change. Storytelling is powerful, simple and honest and allows the person to tell their story in a believable and convincing way.

Question 7:
What do you think of the proposal to have Targeted Action Plans that focus on making improvements in specific areas within a defined period of time (for example within one, two or three years)?

TAPs are an excellent way of having concrete and measurable outcomes and act as KPIs or performance outcomes and help people see visually the task and designated timeline.

Question 8:
How could the proposed Engagement Plan ensure people with disability, and the disability community, are involved in the delivery and monitoring of the next Strategy?

The Engagement Plan needs to include action plans and detail key strategies you are hoping to achieve and who you are proposing to target, when and what outcomes you are expecting.
Engaging with people with disabilities occurs across multiply ways – easy reads, radio, social media, Auslan, podcasts and these need to be considered.

Engagement Plans are only as good as the knowledge you have about a community, what champions you are going to use to deliver a message and the skill of the staff you have working for you.

Question 9:
Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the position paper?

The inclusion of people with disabilities under 65 years of age who also identify as Forgotten Australians/Care Leavers must be considered. Research indicates that people who spent time in institutional care experienced signficant physical and emotional abuse as children and suffer from multiple comorbidities including PTSD, and depression and that this trauma impacts their adulthood and later years. Lowered lifespan has been indicated as a result of their past experiences and strong barriers to support exist due to the trauma. Training for all NDIS staff who interact with NDIS Participants, particularly those that suffer from trauma should be offered. This would enable staff to be able to respond to the needs of participants with specific needs and provide them with plans that addresses their specific needs.