Darrin Johnson

Which of the following statements best describes you?

  • I’m a disability advocate and/or work for a disability peak association or service provider

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?

Kudos Services supports the new vision for the National Disability Strategy of “An inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal members of the community.”

The responses to this and other questions in the discussion paper are based on Kudos Services’ perspective as a service provider.

Work towards achieving this vision needs to be based on the direct involvement of people living with disability in driving action and leading the conversation.

As an integrated service provider in the NDIS space (primarily in the areas of early childhood early intervention and therapy supports for children and young people), Kudos Services understands the importance of promoting understanding and appreciation, respecting identity and pride, and recognising all people’s value and contributions.
The proposed outcome areas are positive goals towards driving progress across whole-of-life matters.

The outcome areas would be enhanced by a vision that locates people with disability at the centre of all endeavours. This would help in ensuring that, along with needs relating to fundamental human rights being met, people would be empowered further to realise full and fulfilling lives.

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

The guiding principles represent positive and practical ways to demonstrate what is required of organisations to meet the vision and goals of the National Disability Strategy.

Clear guidelines are useful for organisations and, at Kudos Services, co-design of supports and our own guiding principle to place people at the centre of our work, drives us to reflect on the barriers for people with disability as well as to consider the voice of people with disability and to work in partnership with those who have lived experience in the way services are designed and delivered.

From a service provider perspective, we recognise the following as important elements to guide policy and program development:
– the principles of personal authority and capacity-building.
– a deep understanding of the diverse and varying needs (including those with complexity resulting in systemic barriers) of people with disability.
– collaboration with the person’s whole support team (family, carers, community).
– knowledge and understanding of the workforce – client facing and support staff – through education and awareness.

Kudos Services is also keen to see clear articulation of the responsibilities for the broader community in making meaningful the notion of inclusion.

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?

The dialogue around community attitudes needs to be framed in a human rights context that empowers people living with disability to be at the centre of the conversation. The involvement of people living with disability, and facilitating their leadership in community conversations, is vital to achieving the proposed new vision of the Strategy.

This requires a corresponding effort across the broader community to address the attitudinal, environmental and systemic barriers that exist. Fundamentally this would be about a shared vocabulary that calls out ableism and the notion of “othering” of people living with disability, as well as a commitment to the shared ownership of inclusion and understanding by the community. The broader community needs to be engaged with, educated and supported to improve attitudes that lead to inclusive action and meaningful change on the ground.

From a service provider perspective, organisations like Kudos Services have a responsibility to contribute to the increase in community awareness and the conversation around attitudes. We can amplify the voice of people with disability to share their knowledge, experience and stories, and be part of a system that supports community engagement with those stories, to build understanding and improve attitudes.

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?

Clarity of responsibilities at each level of Government would provide for better understanding of how decision-making and planning works. This would need to outline both the roles and responsibilities, and the relationships between, disability-specific agencies and other key human services agencies responsible for the planning, funding and delivery of, for example, health, mental health, domestic violence, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, child protection, youth affairs and youth justice, education and community services.

Consolidating the information about where responsibility sits must be accompanied by clear information about how to find out more, make complaints, or engage with policy- and decision-makers in the development of services and strategies.

It is important to consider and adjust for differences between States/Territories and the potential inconsistencies between local market responses in different areas. This would be of importance particularly in strategies to drive supply of services and infrastructure such as in-home supports (SIL), SDA, and employment and education services. However, nationally consistent expectations for service delivery, agency responsibilities and intersections, and funding guidelines, need to be clearly articulated.

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?

The Strategy could provide a call to action for the non-Government sector that goes beyond aspiration, by striving for clear targets (e.g. for employment of people living with disability) and incentives to invest in making their organisation or business more inclusive.

Support for organisations’ workforce and decision-makers (e.g. Boards) could involve access to training and education that improves awareness and community attitudes, as well as in setting goals for their own access and inclusion strategies.

The Strategy could also look at supporting better collaboration across disability service providers towards some of the outcomes areas. Independent and advocacy-based organisations are essential to maintaining a strong collective voice for people with disability and the sector more broadly. A means of promoting and supporting involvement of organisations in a common cause or causes, that steps outside of the competition that is inherent within the sector, would provide greater opportunities for collaboration on the goals.

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?

In addition to quantitative reporting about the achievement of the Strategy’s objectives, reporting based on qualitative evidence from people living with disability would have a significant benefit for monitoring progress against the Strategy.

Consideration could be given to providing ways for a range of organisations that work with or support people with disability to source this information, feedback and evidence directly from people they work with.

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)?

Targeted Action Plans could be based on the priority areas that people with disability have identified.

For service providers, it would be useful to see practical plans established that include actions that increase the disability awareness and understanding of people who work with people with disability, along with organisations’ employment targets and activities that promote collaboration between organisations to achieve common goals.

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 could introduce a clear subsidiarity form of decision-making, so that the people most impacted by a service, policy or activity are involved directly in its creation, ongoing review, monitoring and improvement processes.

This would be particularly important in developing the Targeted Action Plans, both in terms of direction-setting and monitoring the delivery and performance of the Plans.

The Engagement Plan should look at activities closer to the ground that are focussed on deliverables, in addition to the overall Strategy.

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

In addition to the ideas and proposals outlined, from a service provider perspective it would also be useful for the Strategy to look specifically at workforce development as a key foundation activity upon which other directions could be built.

This could cover two angles:
– the expertise, awareness and community connections of workers in the sector, and promotion of best practice in service delivery, and
– the broader sector workforce needs in terms of skills and qualifications, labour market considerations in regional or remote settings, pipeline of future workers for the sector and the relationship between the tertiary education system and service providers to promote career development in the disability sector.

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute towards the development of the new National Disability Strategy.