Office of Disability

Introduction

COVID-19 updates

For current information related to COVID-19, visit:

Introduction

The Office of Disability supports Territorians with a disability, including those that are not eligible for the NDIS, through:

  • whole of government disability policy and program development
  • ongoing contribution to the implementation of the NDIS in the NT and monitoring and reporting against the NDIS
  • grant funding to organisations for the provision of peak body operations, advocacy and information services, and awards programs on the Northern Territory Government website
  • secretariat and support to the NT Disability Advisory Committee.

You can find information about disability services including the NT Companion Card on the Northern Territory Government website.

Vision

The vision of the Office of Disability is for an inclusive society where people have productive and fulfilling lives as valued members of our communities. The Office of Disability is guided in its work by:

Partners

The Office of Disability works in partnership with key stakeholders to provide the above functions, these include:

  • people with disability and their families and carers
  • non-government disability service providers
  • local government
  • peak bodies
  • advocates
  • Northern Territory Government agencies
  • National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Engagement framework

Legislation

The following legislation covers disability rights, carer rights and disability services.

Northern Territory

National

Contact

Office of Disability
Phone: 08 8999 2809


Service providers and standards

Service providers

The non-government sector is integral to the delivery of services to support people with a disability, their families and carers in the Northern Territory (NT).

The Office of Disability funds information and advocacy services in the NT for people with disability.

Quality and service standards

Information and advocacy services funded by the Office of Disability are required to comply with all relevant national and Territory standards, legislation and frameworks, such as:


Disability Advisory Committee

The Disability Advisory Committee provides an opportunity for Territorians with disability to advise the Minister for Disabilities on issues impacting their lives and their interactions with government services.

The committee will:

  • represent the diversity of people with disability in the Northern Territory (NT) and provide advice on the issues affecting them
  • assist in raising awareness of the rights of people with disability, and the role of government and the community in meeting obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of people with disability
  • support the NT Government as it works towards achieving the shared vision of the national disability strategy for an inclusive society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.

Terms of reference

Membership

The Minister for Disabilities announced the members of the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee on 3 December 2019, the International Day of People with Disability.

Committee membership reflects the diversity of Territorians with a disability, and includes carers and people with disability from remote and urban areas of the Territory, Aboriginal people, young people and people with lived experience of cognitive, sensory, physical or psychosocial disability.

Snapshot of members

  • 65% of members have a disability
  • 25% of members are carers of people with disability
  • 40% of members are Aboriginal Territorians
  • 30% are from remote or very remote areas of the NT
  • 40% of members are youth, carers of youth or have expertise in issues important to young people in the Territory.

Chair

  • Chris Blackham-Davison

Vice Chair

  • Lily Reid

Members

  • Jameson Casson
  • Marlene Karkadoo
  • Kate Ranford
  • Christos Timotheou
  • Christine Cumaiyi
  • Gwilym Conran
  • Michelle Mayes
  • Henbury School - student representative
  • Acacia Hills School - student representative.

Get the committee member profiles DOCX (1.2 MB).

Meeting schedule

The committee meets at least 3 times a year.

A summary of the meeting will be posted on this website.

Inaugural meeting 20 March 2020 Postponed as a result of COVID-19
Special meeting - COVID-19 29 May 2020 Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 1 7 July 2020 Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 25 November 2020Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 312 February 2021Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 421 June 2021Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 59 November 2021Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 63 March 2022Meeting communique is available below
Meeting 714 September 2022 at 9:30amTimor Room of the North Australia Development Association

Communique

The special meeting of 29 May 2020 was held to discuss the COVID-19 public emergency. Due to COVID-19, the meeting was held online. To ensure accessibility for all members, live captioning was used.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide information to the NT Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) members on the work of the NT Government Health Services to manage the COVID-19 emergency and the work of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to support National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants during the emergency. Members had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to the Health Services and the NDIA. Members also talked about their own experience during COVID-19 pandemic, including those things that worked well and the challenges they had faced.

Ms Kim Clayworth, from the NT Government, Top End Health Services talked to the committee about measures undertaken by Top End Health Services to continue to provide services and keep communities safe in Darwin region and Top End remote during COVID-19. Ms Clayworth talked about Top End Health Services hospitals, community clinics and visiting allied health services and discussed the first COVID-19 response, how that changed over time and what Top End Health Services are doing now. Key matters discussed included:

  • changes to service provision in the hospitals and in remote areas
  • business continuity plans that are in place in the case of emergencies
  • the use of Telehealth, particularly to continue to provide community allied health services
  • communication within the Health Services and from the Health Services to remote health services, including Aboriginal Health Services and Remote Health Clinics and how this was done.

More information about the NT Government’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the Coronavirus website.

Mr Dan English, from the NDIA talked about the NDIA’s response to support NDIS participants during COVID-19, including:

  • vulnerable participant calls - the NDIA has identified and contacted 652 of the 706 vulnerable people identified in the NT
  • working with remote NDIS community connectors and other services in community to assist participants to contact the NDIA to receive help with their plans
  • flexibility in the use of plan funds in a COVID-19 environment to support people to get equipment and access tele-health services
  • work to support hospital discharge to assist vulnerable NDIS participants to come out of hospital.

More information about measures undertaken by the NDIS can be found on the NDIS website.

Ms Samantha Livesley, from the NT Department of Health, Office of Disability talked about the work of disability minister’s nationally through the Disability Reform Council; the Pandemic Plan for Disability Services in the NT; and the work of the Office of Disability Forensic Disability Unit to support clients to continue to have connections with their community during the pandemic.

Members shared their experiences during COVID-19 and discussed the challenges they had faced and opportunities to improve the response for people with disability.

Key topics discussed by members included

Communication

Members agreed further work is required by government and services to support communication to people with disability and service providers during a crisis event in the NT.

The transition to the use of web based technology for communication and access services and support

Members noted the benefits and challenges to the transition to web based technology. Noting that their ability to access and use technology was critical to them being able to access information; schooling; allied health and medical services and to be able to continue their work or other commitments. Members noted that the level of access was not the same for everyone and this could create real disadvantage. Members also noted that the ability of people to use web based technology should not be assumed and needs to be supported.

Community attitudes and the secondary effects of COVID-19

Members noted that the general community was not aware of the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of people with disability and their support people and that it is important to educate Territorians about the problems vulnerable people face. Members noted the extreme isolation experienced by people due to the closure of schools, supported community access activities and employment programs and the negative impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of people with disability and their support people. At a time of greater need people were unable to access their informal support networks and depended on media and government communication and more formal supports and services.

The Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee will next meet on 7 July 2020.

Chris Blackham-Davison
Vice Chair, Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee

The first scheduled meeting of the NT Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was held on 7 July 2020.  The Minister for Disabilities welcomed members to the meeting and thanked members for putting their hands up to be members of the committee. The minister noted the important role of the DAC to represent people in the NT living with disabilities to provide advice to government on issues affecting them.

The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the frameworks and policies that are in place internationally and in Australia which support the rights of people with disability and which guide Commonwealth and state / territory governments in ensuring they meet their obligations to people with disability. Including through ensuring that people with disability have access to the supports and services they need to have a good life and equal opportunities in life as other Australians.

Mr Damian Griffis, Chief Executive Officer of the First Peoples Disability Network, made a presentation to the DAC. Mr Griffis talked about:

  • the First Nations Disability Network its establishment and role
  • the importance of culture and how this can influence the way people view disability and how people with disability are treated
  • the United Nations Human Rights System and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous people; the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability
  • the Royal Commission into Violence Abuse and Neglect of People with Disability.

Mr Griffis spoke to members about the importance of their role as advocates and representatives of people with disability in the NT.  He provided inspiration to members in talking about how people with disability may seek to advocate for their own rights and the rights of others.

For more information about the network, go to the First People’s Disability Network Australia website.

Ms Kate Costello, from the Australian Government, Department of Social Services talked to members about the national disability strategy. Ms Costello talked about:

  • the key policy areas addressed by the national disability strategy
  • the development of the new national disability strategy, and
  • consultations that are planned to occur for the new strategy and how the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee could be involved in these.

More information about the new national disability strategy is available at the Australian Government's Department of Social Services website. Information about upcoming consultations for the strategy will be available from the Department of Social Service engage page.

Members of the committee talked about two key discussion points in the meeting:

  • What makes a good life?
  • What is your experience of mainstream services?

What makes a good life?

Members were asked to talk about what makes a good life for them, the things that are important to them and the people they care for and how we can achieve this.

Key themes discussed by members were as follows:

  • Community awareness and understanding regarding disability and the importance of educating the community to promote and develop this.
  • Inclusion, communication and acceptance in your community as key to supporting the quality of life of individuals and their families and carers.
  • The fundamental importance of family and your support networks to achieving a good life, noting their role as advocates and believers in your capacity and ability.
  • The ability to access the specialist services, supports and technology that you need in order for you to carry on with your daily life and to be able to engage in the community, your workplace and in activities of your choice.
  • Options to have choice and control in the supports and services you choose and how they are provided.  Members noted that this option was not available in rural and remote areas and this detrimentally affected their quality of life.
  • Being independent and feeling empowered to be able to be your own advocate.
  • The importance of supports for families of people with disability, both carers and dependents. Noting that few people are islands and the impacts of disability on family also need to be considered and supported to maintain these important relationships.
  • Security and safety, including ensuring you have access to a stable home, economic security, a career and options to work and solid support networks; and that you feel safe in the community.
  • Access to mainstream services, including education and transport.

What is your experience of mainstream services?

Members were asked to talk about their experience of using mainstream services, including what services worked well for them, things that need to be improved and how it could be better.

Key points raised by members across a variety of areas were as follows:

  • Services and expert advice, when available has been good. There has been some improvement in some mainstream areas particularly around provision of real time captioning and interpreters.
  • Increased education and awareness of mainstream service providers, including schools and health services is still needed around some conditions and disabilities. This includes education of those less visible disabilities and to accommodate high turnover of staff, particularly in remote and regional areas.
  • There are challenges around service delivery and availability in remote areas. This makes it difficult to access specialist services and appointments when needed.
  • General infrastructure including public transport, access to buildings, equipment on aeroplanes continue to be a struggle.
  • Infrastructure requirements in remote areas still requires work. This may include aids to improve accessibility to buildings, aids to ensure people in buildings are safe.
  • Having access to transport, and out of care transport is important to access services and community events is important.
  • Need more programs to promote and support exercise and social interaction for people with disability.
  • Communication around service delivery could be improved. Lack of communication of available services mean services are not being utilised.
  • Limited options for children with disabilities post school.
  • COVID-19 has stopped many services, such as respite and support. There are limited services in Alice Springs because it is classed as remote.

The date for the next meeting of the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee will be provided when it has been confirmed.

Chris Blackham-Davison
Vice Chair, Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee

The second scheduled meeting of the NT Disability advisory Committee (DAC) was held on the 5 November 2020.

The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the development of the NT disability strategy, the Northern Territory plan to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability and the National disability strategy. Members of the DAC were asked to talk about what they would like to see included in the NT disability strategy (the NT strategy) and to provide advice on how the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities should consult with people with disability and other key members of the community to gain their input to the NT strategy. The meeting was the first opportunity for many members to meet the Minister for Disabilities and the Chief Executive of the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities (DTFHC) which supports the DAC.

Dan English, NT Manager of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), presented to the DAC. Mr English spoke to members about the following NDIS initiatives:

  • Remote Community Connector Program
  • Participant’s service charter
  • Participant service guarantee, and the
  • Participant’s improvement Plan.

Mr English explained to members that the community connectors are employed as trusted members of the community in which they work; and that since the introduction of community connectors their role has broadened from creating awareness of the NDIS and supporting people in community to access the NDIS to helping NDIS participants to use the supports in their plans. Mr English also talked about the positive changes that are being made with the introduction of the participant charter, service guarantee and improvement plan. He noted that the changes were improving the timeliness of services provided to NDIS participants and supporting the NDIS to be transparent, responsive, respectful, empowering and connected.

Ms Andrea Mason OAM, Commissioner for the Disability Royal Commission into Violence Abuse and Neglect (the commission), presented to the committee. The commissioner explained that the terms of reference for the commission specifically asks that attention be paid to the needs and experiences of First Nations People, and noted this is the first time these stories have been told. The commissioner shared some of the key responses the commission has received from First Nations People, particularly in response to the Royal Commission’s First Nations People with Disability discussion paper and provided members with a summary of key findings from the commission’s interim report. The commission noted that the First Nations engagement team, located in Brisbane, are scheduled to come to the NT in the beginning of April 2021. The purpose of the team is to go across Australia and engage with First Nations communities and people with disability to have a say and tell their story.

Northern Territory disability strategy

Members spoke about their vision for the NT strategy, the principles that should guide the NT strategy and priorities that should be considered for inclusion in the NT strategy.

Vision

Members talked about the following ideas that they through were important and should be included in the vision:

  • inclusive communities - people with disability are involved, accepted and are a part of their communities
  • people with disability have universal access to the built environment, services care and supports, information and communication - members noted that universal access across all these areas should also include universal access for people who live in remote areas
  • people with disability have equal opportunities to others
  • people with disability have a say on, and knowledge of, those things that affect them
  • commitment and accountability (of all stakeholders, including government) to make the NT strategy happen and to make a difference.
Principles

In addition to the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability. Members said the following principles should be included in the NT strategy to reflect the NT and our values and out beliefs in what is rights and fair for people with disability:

  • cultural rights
  • equitable access to services regardless of where you live
  • safety
  • choice and control
  • strength-based and trauma informed
  • education and de-stigmatisation
  • recognition of the importance of carers and significant others and family inclusion
  • all agents work as a team.
Priorities

The following priorities were discussed by members for inclusion in the strategy:

  • review and update of the laws that define the rights of people with disability and the obligations of others to ensure these rights
  • better access to allied health professionals
  • more options for people with disability once they leave school
  • access to employment.

Northern Territory disability strategy - consultation

Members provided the following suggestions about the best ways to let people in their community know about the NT disability strategy and to get people’s ideas on what should be included in the strategy:

  • using existing community groups, local government councils and schools and their communication channels and tools and existing representative groups
  • using key contact points for people with disability and their families, carers and guardians to share information such as general practitioners, clinics and schools
  • social media campaigns (in plain English and language) and using visual information (photos and videos)
  • use of community radio and TV
  • meetings and input sessions targeting stakeholders.

Members noted a number of barriers that can stop people giving their input and solutions to address these.

BarriersSolutions
Stigma People need to feel safe to speak up and give their input.  When people speak up they need to be supported and empowered to speak up. Support is needed for self-advocacy.
Over use of government speak and inaccessible language Make things easy to read and plain English
People not feeling confident that their voice will be heard or listened to. People's input is recorded and people can see what actions have been taken in response to their input.
Reliance on the internet for all communication, the internet is not accessible for everyone. Make sure that the internet is not the only source of information and that the sharing of information is people based as opposed to internet based.
Creating false expectations We need to be clear not to make promises that can’t be kept.
Language Translation of materials and communications into language. Use of radio, including Yolgnu radio and other community radio to share messages.

The Minister for Disabilities thanked members for sharing their idea and their thoughts on the NT disability strategy. The minister noted the important work to be done on the strategy and that the NT Government was grateful to members for their time and contribution. The minister noted that the committee was one of a kind in its representation of people with lived experience of disability.

Ken Davies, Chief Executive of the DTFHC noted that the new agency is well placed to work with the DAC to make sure people with disability are getting the right support and the right services in the NT.

The date for the next meeting of the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee will be provided when it has been confirmed.

Chris Blackham-Davison
Vice Chair, Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee

The third meeting of the Northern Territory (NT) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was held on the 12 February 2021. The purpose of the meeting was to talk about key issues Members would like the NT DAC to address in 2021. Presentations were made to Members on a number of projects and initiatives occurring in 2021 of importance to people with disability in the Northern Territory.

The Meeting was attended by the Minister for Disabilities, the Honourable Kate Worden MLA and Chief Executive of the Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities, Mr Ken Davies PSM. The Minister reiterated that the meeting was an opportunity to flag issues and for her to listen.

She noted the range and scope of discussions of the NT DAC were impressive and that the diverse membership of the NT DAC meant it had diverse experience to share.

Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee – Priorities 2021

Members identified the key issues of importance that they would like to see carried over from 2020 and new issues to be addressed in 2021.

Member noted that a key opportunity to address issues is through inclusion in Northern Territory Disability Strategy and liaison through the DAC forum with the lead responsible areas and stakeholders who can instigate change.

The following items will be considered by the NT DAC in 2021.

  • Review and implementation of new legislation for Guide Dogs and Assistance Animals.
  • Employment opportunities for people with disabilities and supporting people with disabilities to maintain employment, including in the NT Government.
  • Improving the options for people transitioning from school.
  • Fair and equitable allocation of resources and expenditure for people with disability in remote areas that provide for the additional expenses incurred due to remoteness.
  • The treatment of people with disability within the justice system and improving the interaction between the justice system and disability services and supports.
  • NDIS related matters, including:
    • the effects of the NDIS on the mental health sector and people with psychosocial disability; and
    • barriers to accessing supports, with a focus on the NDIS access process.
  • Sector development and market stewardship of the disability services sector, including a key focus on shortages in allied health services in the NT for children.
  • Greater awareness and understanding of disability in mainstream services and the broader community, with a focus on:
    • the ways that disabilities can affect people’s interactions with services and the community; and
    • how service systems and community can accommodate and make reasonable adjustments to ensure inclusion and appropriate and accessible services for people with disability.
  • Changing community attitudes towards people with disability, including:
    • changing the perception on what people with disability look like; and
    • looking positively at what people with disability can do, particularly when it comes to training, education and employment.
  • Create greater awareness in the community of the NT Disability Advisory Committee and its role.

Current projects and initiatives of importance to people with disability in the Territory

Dan English, Northern Territory Manager of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), presented to the DAC. Mr English spoke to members about important changes to NDIS legislation and processes to occur in 2021. These changes were the subject of national consultation which closed on 23 February 2021; and continue to be discussed by the public and governments. Mr English noted the changes intend to lead to greater flexibility for participants when managing their plans; and will reduce inequities that have been observed in the NDIS in terms of the variation in supports that are provided to participants with similar functional capacity.

Mr English provided an overview of the following:

  • Access and eligibility policy with independent assessments
  • Planning policy for personalised budgets and plan flexibility
  • Supporting young children and their families early, to reach their full potential - Early childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) reset.

Michelle McColm, Acting Director, Office of Disability (the Office), Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities spoke to members about the key priorities for the Office in 2021. Ms McColm provided an overview of the following key projects:

  • Development of the NT Disability Strategy and the alignment of this to the new National Disability Strategy. The Strategy will be a plan which shows what we want for people with disability in the Territory and how we can make this happen. The Strategy will guide the Northern Territory Government and stakeholders as we work towards a more inclusive society where people with disability have the same opportunities as others to achieve their goals.
  • Review of the current Northern Territory, Disability Services Act. Noting that the Act needs to reflect the changes that have occurred with the establishment of the NDIS and a renewed focus on access and inclusion for people with disability to mainstream services and social inclusion.
  • Establishment of the NDIS Worker Screening regulations with SAFE NT. The Worker Screening regulations provide important safeguarding for people with disability who access specialist disability services under the NDIS by ensuring screening of the disability sector workforce.
  • NT Data Sharing Arrangements with the NDIS, noting that this project includes a number of NT Government Agencies and clarifies data sharing arrangements between the NDIS and these agencies. Mr Ken Davies noted that the outcomes from the information system would ensure young people are getting the right supports early (so that it is not too late) and that everyone is getting their fair share.

Darwin Community Legal Services (DCLS) talked to members about their services and briefly on their submission to the NDIS consultations addressing changes to the NDIS in 2021. DCLS provides advocacy across a broad range of issues, including housing, care and support, employment, NDIS access, assisting applicants with reviews of NDIS decisions and assisting NDIS participants to self-advocate. DCLS noted that they welcome stories and feedback from the community so that they can also have a bigger picture of the systemic issues that people are facing in their day to day lives and are open to feedback regarding Independent Assessments and other processes. A number of members praised the service and stated it had been critical to them achieving NDIS access and in addressing equity and access issues.

You continue to support people in rural and remote, make yourselves available, come out, there are many stakeholders using your services and agree that without your help, we would not be heard.

Trudy Lee, Project Coordinator Disability and Primary Care Interface, NT Primary Health Network (NTPHN), talked to members about the Disability and Primary Care Interface Project being led by NTPHN. The NTPHN have been funded by the Information Linkages and Capacity Building program for three years to deliver a project to increase access for people with disabilities across the NT to mainstream primary healthcare.

The current focus of the project is on access to GPs. The project involves a range of consultation activities with people with disability, service providers and GPs and opportunities for people with lived experience and their families and carers to participate in co-designing of activities and resources. The project will result in resources and education for GPs and other primary healthcare practitioners in the mainstream area on best practice in Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities – Office of Disability Page 3 of 3 providing good service to people with disabilities.

NT DAC members were invited to participate in consultation activities.

The fourth meeting of the Northern Territory (NT) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was held on the 21 June 2021 via Microsoft Teams. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Australia’s Disability Stategy (ADS) and NT Disability Strategy (NT Strategy).

The meeting was attended by the Hon Kate Worden MLA, Minister for Disabilities, and Mr Ken Davies PSM, Chief Executive of the Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities (TFHC). Minister Worden welcomed Ms Susan Burns, Territory Manager NT, National Disability Services and Nadia Lindop, Chief Executive Officer, MJD Foundation as newly appointed ex-officios for the DAC. Minister Worden also provided an update to members on a number of local and national reforms and initivates, including:

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reforms, including Independent Assessments
  • NDIS financial sustainability
  • Disability Reform Ministers Meeting on 9 July 2021
  • Information, Linkages and Capacity Building grants
  • COVID-19 vaccinations

Mr Luke Twyford, General Manager, Strategic Services, TFHC provided an update on the development of NT Strategy and the alignment of it to the ADS. Mr Twyford gave an overview of the governance and engagement for the NT Strategy, and the DACs role in decision-making and providing advice to Minister Worden on its development.

Ms Vicki Telfer, Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment (OCPE) and Ms Libby Doney, Director, Strategic Workforce Planning and Development, OCPE presented to members on disability employment and inclusion initiatives within the NT Government.

Ms Liz Reid AM, Executive Officer, YouthWorX NT explained to members her role as a member of the Independent Advisory Council and ADS Reform Steering Group, NDIS and ADS governance, and her vision for the NT Strategy.

Mr Stephen Moger, Branch Manager, Disability Policy, Department of Social Services (DSS) and Kate Costello, Director, Engagement and Governance, DSS presented to members on the development of the ABS and the consultation process to date, including the DAC submission.

The date for the next meeting of the DAC will be provided on the webpage.

The fifth meeting of the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was held on 9 November 2021. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed legislative amendments to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act) and the Participant Service Guarantee, and the Northern Territory Disability Strategy.

The meeting was attended by the Hon Kate Worden MLA, Minister for Disabilities. Minister Worden provided an update to members on a number of local and national reforms and initivates, including:

  • The Northern Territory Government awarding four parcels of land in August 2021 to enable the construction of Specialist Disability Accommodation.
  • The launch of the consultation period for the Northern Territory Disability Strategy on 4 October 2021.
  • The Northern Territory Government’s announcement on 25 October 2021 to fund an Northern Territory based Auslan interpreter and Auslan scholarships to grow local experts.
  • The release of Australia’s Disability Strategy on International Day of People with Disability, 3 December 2021.

Ms Julie Yeend, Participants and Performance Group, Department of Social Services (DSS) presented to the DAC on the outcomes of their Australia wide consultation on the proposed legislative amendments to the NDIS Act and the Participant Service Guarantee. The Commonwealth Government released an Exposure Draft of the Bill (the Bill) for a four-week public consultation period from 9 September 2021 until 7 October 2021. Public consultation was hosted on DSS Engage and contained copies of all legislative products including the Bill, the new and amended NDIS Rules.

DSS hosted four public forums and engaged with state and territory officials, disability representative organisations, NDIS advocacy organisations and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) board members. These activities reached a total of 864 individuals and 313 submissions were received from individuals and organisations. The Bill has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Committee which will report by 25 November 2021. The Commonwealth Government will seek formal agreement of states and territories to the NDIS Rule changes so that they can be in place when the relevant parts of the amended NDIS Act commence.

Ms Kellie Streeter, Team Leader, Seniors and Disability Rights, Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS) presented to members and ex-officios in regards to DCLS submission to DSS on the proposed NDIS Act legislative amendments and the Participant Service Guarantee. The submission touched on three key points, including collecting evidence to satisfy NDIS access, early intervention and psychosocial disability and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Ms Melanie Barker, Senior Policy Officer, Office of Disability and Ms Streeter presented on the progress of the Northern Territory Disabilty Strategy, including:

  • The discussion paper and a survey for the consultation are available on the Northern Territory Government Have Your Say webpage. The Northern Territory Disability Strategy webpage provides a one stop shop of information stakeholders need to know about the development of the Strategy.
  • DCLS and Disability Advocacy Service are leading face to face engagement on the Northern Territory Disability Strategy until 22 November 2021, and are holding consultations in Darwin, Katherine, Tiwi Islands, Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Amoonguna.
  • DCLS and Disability Advocacy Service are also providing support to individuals and groups to complete the online submission process, or to provide a submission in an alternative format.
  • Four working groups have been established to support the consultation and seek the input of the stakeholders, including people with lived experience and advocates, Northern Territory Government agencies and statutory offices, mainstream service providers and the NDIA, and specialist disability services providers.
  • The Office of Disability had received seven submissions coordinated by Victoria Daly Regional Council. The Have Your Say webpage had received 521 visits and 18 submissions. An overarching theme of feedback received to date was that people need to have their immediate, basic needs met such as housing, food, employment and education before they can consider other priorities.

A key action for the DAC is to provide feedback to the Office of Disability on how they can contribute to promoting the Northern Territory Strategy, and supporting their networks to provide input to the Northern Territory Strategy.

The date for the next meeting of the DAC will be provided on this webpage.

Mr Chris Blackham-Davison
Chair, Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee

The sixth meeting of the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee (the Committee), and the first of 2022, was held on 3 March 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the outcomes of the Northern Territory Disability Strategy consultations, proposed amendments to the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007, modernisation of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 and the new Northern Territory Library at the Education and Community Precinct.

Minister’s Update

The meeting was attended by the Hon Kate Worden MLA, Minister for Disabilities. The Minister provided members with an update on a number of local and national reforms and initivates, including:

  • The Northern Territory Government release of a further seven parcels of land in December 2022 to enable the construction of additional Specialist Disability Accommodation in the Northern Territory.
  • The consultation period for the Strategy concluding on 31 December 2021, and the Strategy being released in mid-2022.
  • The commencment of the fulltime, Northern Territory based Auslan interpreter on 24 January 2022.
  • The Northern Territory Government, in partnership with YouthWorX NT and Deaf Connect, having selected 13 Territorians to participate in the Northern Territory Auslan Scholarship Program.
  • The release of Australia’s Disability Strategy on International Day of People with Disability, 3 December 2021 celebrated locally at Parliament House.
  • The Disability Service and Inclusion Awards held at Parliament House on 15 December 2021.

Law Reforms

Ms Seranie Gamble, Director, Law Reform, Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities, presented to members on proposed changes to the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 as it pertains to children with disability under the care of Territory Families. Law Reform is proposing to, amongst other amendments, include a new principle to assist decision-makers when exercising a power or performing a function for children with disability. Ms Gamble sought members’ views on what is important for decision-makers to consider when providing care to children with disability, and who needs to be involved to ensure the child is safe.

Northern Territory Disability Strategy

Ms Karen Giele, Senior Project Officer, Office of Disability, presented on the outcomes of the Northern Territory Disability Strategy consultations. At completion of the public consultation on 31 December 2021, 55 surveys and 29 submissions were provided via the Northern Territory Government Have Your Say webpage and to the Office of Disability directly.

Approximately 146 members of the public participated in face-to-face consultation through Disability Advocacy Service and Darwin Community Legal Service engagement activities. The activities occurred in Darwin, Tiwi Islands, Nhulunbuy, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Amoonguna.

During the consultation period, the Office of Disability also held an online information session and attended key events to consult with the public. In addition, four working groups were established to support consultation and seek the input of stakeholders, including people with lived experience and advocates, Northern Territory Government agencies and statutory offices, main-stream service providers, and the National Disability Insurance Agency and specialist disability services providers.

Priorities identified from the consultations include:

  • Provide community education and awareness on disabilities, including mental illness, supporting accessibility and being inclusive.
  • Reduce the confusion and challenges experienced by people with disability and their families when seeking to access and utilise the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and increase supports for participants and families to navigate and manage the NDIS and their packages.
  • Increase availability of accessible housing and accommodation options available and improve timeliness of access to housing.
  • Increase affordable public transport options for people with disability, particularly in remote areas.
  • Improve accessibility of buildings, places and infrastructure such as pathways.
  • Increase opportunities for employment and improve employers’ inclusive practice and disability awareness.
  • Increase the number of local services and local access to services, particularly for allied health and mental health services.
  • Increase employment of local people in disability services provision, particularly in remote areas to improve local knowledge and cultural competence of workers.

Changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992

Ms Sally Sievers, Commissioner, Anti-Discrimination Commission, described the changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act) which are most relevant to the disability community, including:

  • Establish a representative complaint model to allow organisations (including disability organisations) to bring complaints on behalf of groups they represent in relation to an Act, practice, policy or program that is discriminatory towards that group.
  • Create rights to protect those living with a disability who experience vilification because of their disability. This may include words made in a public space may reasonably offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person living with a disability, about their disability.
  • Provide rights for assistance animals beyond guide and hearing dogs.
  • Update language in the Act, remove reference to “impairment” replace with “disability” and remove offensive terms such as “handicapped.”
  • Include rights for carers who experience discrimination. This could be at work, while receiving a service, or through education.
  • Provide that accommodation of special needs for a person with an attribute (includes those with a disability and their carers) at work, in education, service provision, accommodation and clubs is a positive duty.
  • Provide a positive duty to achieve equality for Territorians.
  • Expand the definition of work, including volunteer and non-traditional work arrangements.

Northern Territory Library at the new Education and Community Precinct

Mr Patrick Gregory, Senior Director, Library and Archives NT, Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities explained how the Northern Territory Library is moving from Parliament House to the new Education and Community Precinct at Charles Darwin University in 2024. Mr Gregory sought members’ feedback on accessible requirements to be incorporated into the design.

Office of Disability Update

Ms Michelle McColm, Acting Director, Office of Disability, Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities informed members of the Office’s key priorities for 2022, in addition to the items mentioned in the Minister’s update, including:

  • The review of the Northern Territory Disability Services Act 1993 to reflect the changes that have occurred with the implementation of the NDIS and a renewed focus on access and inclusion for people with disability to mainstream services and social inclusion.
  • The Northern Territory data sharing arrangements with the National Disability Insurance Agency which includes a number of Northern Territory Government agencies and clarifies data sharing arrangements between the NDIS and these agencies.

The date for the next meeting of the Committee will be provided on the webpage.

Mr Chris Blackham-Davison
Chair, Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee


Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (The Disability Royal Commission) was established on 4 April 2019 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retired). The Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by no later than 30 October 2020, and a final report by no later than 29 April 2022.

Community Forums

The Disability Royal Commission will hold community forums across Australia.  Community forums are a key way people with disability and others in the disability community can directly share their personal experiences with the Disability Royal Commission. People attending a forum can either speak publicly or with staff on a one to one basis.

Dates for these forums, as they are set, will be advised on the Disability Royal Commission website.

Submissions

The Disability Royal Commission will be accepting submission from members of the public.  A submission is the main way people and organisations can provide information to the Disability Royal Commission about their experiences of violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation of people with disability. Anybody can make a submission. A submission can be submitted in any way you feel comfortable – by telephone, email or through our website.

Further information on making a submission can be found on the Submissions page of the Disability Royal Commission website.

Hearings

At hearings, the Disability Royal Commission will hear from people identified by Counsel Assisting to appear as a witness and give evidence. People who are expected to appear as witnesses will be contacted by the Disability Royal Commission in advance of the relevant hearing.

The Disability Royal Commission will publish details of hearings on this page to assist parties, witnesses and members of the public.

Further information can be found on the Hearings page of the Disability Royal Commission website.

Support

The Disability Royal Commission is committed to being accessible to all. The following types of support are available to assist people requiring assistance during the Disability Royal Commission.  These include a free legal advisory service, emotional support, legal financial assistance scheme and advocacy services.

Further information about these types of support can be found on the Support page of the Disability Royal Commission website.

Hearings to come

The Disability Royal Commission will conduct hearings in capital cities and regional locations.

The timing and locations of future hearings will be announced as arrangements are finalised.

Hearings will be open to the public, although seating will be limited. Hearings will also be streamed live on the Disability Royal Commission website.

For further information, visit the Disability Royal Commission website.


Northern Territory Disability Strategy

The Northern Territory (NT) Disability Strategy 2022-2032 and the three-year action plan 2022-2025 is the first of its kind for the Territory.

It demonstrates the NT Government’s responsibility and accountability to all Territorians with disability.

People with disability have guided the development of the strategy, and their voices, experiences and choices are reflected throughout.

Who the strategy is for

The strategy is for:

  • the more than one-in-nine Territorians with disability
  • businesses that employ and support people with disability
  • the community that welcomes people with disability
  • the public sector that provides services that everyone can access.

Aim of the strategy

The strategy aims to address the barriers to equality, and improve and empower Territorians with disability through:

  • protecting and respecting their rights and choices
  • breaking down barriers to achieve social inclusion and participation
  • increasing accessibility to places, information and services
  • providing education, skills and opportunities to increase employment and provide financial security
  • supporting their health and wellbeing.

The strategy is a whole-of-government commitment for the NT in fulfilling its:

  • obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • commitment to Australia’s Disability Strategy (ADS), released in late 2021
  • Closing the Gap: Disability Sector Strengthening Plan.

To find out more, read the strategy and action plan.

Disability strategy PDF (1.8 MB)
Disability strategy - action plan  PDF (401.3 KB)

If you require an accessible version of the documents, email officeofdisability.tfhc@nt.gov.au.

Vision

An inclusive Territory where people with disability are valued, respected and can contribute to community, no matter where we live.

Principles

The strategy is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is also guided by the following principles co-developed with people with disability:

  • promote the dignity, autonomy, and freedom of people with disability
  • champion the key role of those who support people with disability:
    • families
    • kinship families
    • carers
    • guardians
    • significant persons
  • ensure people with disability aren’t disadvantaged because of personal circumstances, such as age or home location
  • recognise the important role of Aboriginal peoples in achieving the outcomes of the strategy
  • value the importance of culture to improving life outcomes
  • create environments that are culturally safe for Aboriginal people
  • make people with disability the key decision makers in decisions that affect them, including by promoting collaboration and co-design between people with disability and other stakeholders
  • recognise that disability is only one part of someone’s story.

Outcomes and priorities

The outcomes and priorities reflect key themes identified by people with disability through the consultation process. The 5 outcomes are:

  1. People with disability have rights and choices which are protected and respected.
  2. People with disability are included and can engage, participate and contribute to community life.
  3. People with disability can access the places, information and services they need.
  4. People with disability have the skills and opportunities to participate in the economy and be financially secure.
  5. The health and wellbeing of people with disability are supported.

Action plan 2022-2025

The three-year action plan is the first of 3 action plans to be developed over the life of the strategy. It lays the foundation for the 10-year strategy to be implemented.

The actions chosen have been selected as they align with key priorities raised in consultation with people with disability, government, community stakeholders, mainstream and specialist disability services.

Key focus areas

The action plan focuses on these key areas:

  1. Change community attitudes by increasing the community’s visibility, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.
  2. Improve access to services for people with disability, including health, education, community and other services.
  3. Increase availability of suitable housing options for people with disability and ensure that public spaces and building are designed with inclusion and accessibility in mind.
  4. Foster cultural connections for Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, and build the cultural competency of disability service providers.
  5. Increase employment of people with disability, including through enhanced transition pathways from school.

Contact

To find out more, email officeofdisability.tfhc@nt.gov.au.