Wednesday, August 31 2011
The recent high court immigration decision (LINK) demonstrates the level of legal and media support available to those seeking to become Australians. Whereas, Australian citizens with a disability get little legal and media support in comparison.
There is an enormous amount of legislation and regulation governing the lives of people with a disability, especially those with an intellectual or multiple disability.
Yet these Australian citizens and their families, have little real access to legal support to help ensure the legislation and associated regulations are effective and implemented to ensure their often limited lifestyle is enhanced to the best possible.
In Victoria, residents of government supported accommodation group homes are denied residential tenancy rights under section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act, despite they pay rent.
When those unable by reason of their disability to make reasonable judgements in respect of all or any matters concerning their personal circumstances and/or estate become adults, their family support is legally cut by common law which says any person is an adult, with adult ability and responsibilities, at 18 years.
Families who try to reinstate support for their member, through plenary guardianship, face the wrath of VCAT in its use of section 22(c) of the Guardianship & Administration Act to block the family’s application. This is despite their adult family member may be functioning at the level of a 3 year old child.
Even those families who are formal (VCAT) Administrators, for their family member with limited intellectual capacity, face legal constraints. These administrators are legally responsible for the finances of their family member. Yet, legally, they are not permitted to check their family member’s clothing and property, especially if their family member lives in a group home.
Families, naturally, have concerns about the treatment of their family member with limited intellectual capacity living in a supported accommodation group home, and is attending an adult day centre.
These facilities are often covert, with their clients unable to communicate concerns. Yet families are legally blocked, under the common law rule, from accessing their family members activity records.
So no one independent of the service provider ever sees these records. With such barriers to scrutiny and credibility (transparency), it is perhaps not surprising many families are looking towards self-directed services (SDA), through individualised service packages (ISP), in an attempt to move away from the service barriers produced by entrenched bureaucrats.
Whereas, families should not have to seek alternatives to questionable services and processes, as the legal and media fraternity should be willing to assist, as they have and are doing for those seeking to be new Australians.
We call on the legal and media fraternity to give people with a disability and their families more profile and assistance to break down the bureaucratic, restrictive practice, barriers.
Monday, August 29 2011
Government ministers are responsible for government departments.
When a member of the public has exhausted all complaint areas within a government department, they refer the matter to the Minister.
Quite naturally, they expect the Minister to question his or her department on their behalf. After all, the Minister was elected by the public, to serve the public.
Whereas, it has become common practice for Ministers to send an original complaint directly to their department, the very department the complaint was against. And to allow that department to reply directly to the person who made the complaint.
So the person making the complaint receives a letter from the department, stating this is a response on behalf of the Minister, referring them back to the actual area to which the original complaint was directed. Ater at least two months, the complainant is no further forward!
Whereas, the responsible action is for the Minister to send a copy of the complaint to his or her department, with a, “Please-explain directly to me!”
Then, it is the Minister who should respond directly to the complainant, having first checked the department’s response for credibility and relevance.
Friday, August 26 2011
“DISABILITY SPEAKS” from South Australia of, “The widespread concern that the Federal Government has no real intention of attacking the disability crisis in the short term is increasing.
The government while positive in its rhetoric is being highly selective in which parts of the report it wants to highlight and action and of course all this is being done under an umbrella of secrecy of how the Prime Minister intends to pay for the $6.5 billion dollar per annum bill.
Until the Prime Minister details a funding model the chances of NDIS ever happening remains effectively zero.
It’s time to find out how serious Julia is about NDIS. The disability sector cannot wait another 8 years subject to the vagaries of politics and the economy for a solution.”
“LISA INC.” from Victoria says, “This is because ‘Disability’ has a very low profile!"
This is demonstrated in Victoria, where group home supported accommodation is a despotic lottery. Where the lives of disadvantaged people are totally controlled by a government department power broker – the DSR.
If the residents of both government and non-government group homes were given the "service bulk funding" in an ISP, they could have choice of service provider right now.
Friday, August 26 2011
Department of Human Services, Disability Accommodation Services (DAS), Victoria, Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Information Bulletin: 11 October 2010 states:
Direct support staff should wear shoes which are:
- Fully enclose the foot to limit the entry of liquids, sharps, insects or spiders and to minimise injury.
- Low heeled and flat soled of a material (tread preferred) that reduces the potential of slipping.
- Thongs are not acceptable footwear.
The guidelines were developed in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives, Work Health staff and members of the DAS Area Occupational Health and Safety Committees.
If a member of staff does not adhere to these guidelines, their line management will take appropriate action
Wednesday, August 17 2011
No matter the capacity of your son or daughter with an intellectual or multiple disability, your official parental powers are taken from you by common law! At 18, your family member is an adult by common law!
You no longer have any rights!
Problems can manifest in many ways. Banks may not accept you represent your family member, Health funds may not accept you, service providers can be difficult.
If you wish to continue to protect your vulnerable family member, as you did before they were 18, in the State of Victoria, you need “Plenary Guardianship and Administration” under the Guardianship and Administration Act - through VCAT.
If your family member has sufficient capacity, you can get Enduring Power of Guardianship and Enduring Power of Attorney (Finance and Medical). Check it out with your lawyer!
Tuesday, August 16 2011
Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) - specifically designed to set and measure goals set jointly between the worker and a service user.
Participants will develop a working understanding of Goal Attainment Scales (GAS) and their application to their work, with particular focus on setting, reviewing and measuring SMART goals. The scales provide an individualised, criterion referenced measure of change, providing a clear expression of plans, outcomes and a measure of attainment of these goals.
Saturday, August 13 2011
The review of the “Defence Accountability Framework”, by Professor Rufus Black, in the Executive Summary, said:-
Defence has a complex accountability system that has evolved over many years. It has its strengths and weaknesses, however Defence has reached a point in its evolution where there is a strong case to redesign its accountability system
Current arrangements are under stress and their failure damages Defence. This stress is manifested in poor outcomes for Defence. Recent examples include: delivery failures for capability projects; non-compliance with AusTender reporting; poor or inappropriate procurement decision-making; poor outcomes in pay for Special Forces and a lack of cost consciousness in the management of day-to-day activity.
Current accountability arrangements also constrain leadership capability and management capacity by reducing the ability of decision makers to exercise strategic control over the construction and implementation of decisions.
In total contrast, government departments funding, directly supplying and regulating services for people with a disability have little or no accountability framework to review. They need an effective accountability framework. The above negative factors in Defence, are very relevant to government direct and indirect services for people with a disability, especially those with an intellectual or multiple disability.
Perhaps Professor Black can be encouraged to review the accountability and governance of services across Australia for people with a disability, especially those where government departments are directly and indirectly involved.
DEFENCE REVIEW LINK
Thursday, August 11 2011
"DISABILITY SPEAKS" - South Australia - says in their MEDIA RELEASE:
August 10th, 2011
Can the announcement today about National Disability insurance by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard be a tragic example of political grandstanding at its very very worst using people with a disability as a political football?
With 410,000 Australians with disabilities confirmed as desperately needing support this announcement consigns some of Australia’s most disadvantaged to long term ongoing misery while the Federal Government works towards a NDIS program that is not guaranteed to ever happen. Do you remember Bob Hawke in 1990 with “No child will be living in poverty”
Who knows what the political or financial climate will be in 12 months time far less in 7 years time
Why can Australia start the roll out of a $42 billion dollar national broad band project within 12 months?
Why can Australia implement an $8.0 billion dollar Carbon Tax program within 18 months of announcement?
Why will a NDIS disability support program take 7 years?
Most importantly no additional crisis funding is allocated for additional crisis support in the interim period. The current despair will roll on.
Whilst the rhetoric towards a disability support program is positive anyone who believes that the Gillard Government is actually taking action to resolve a crisis described previously by Assistant treasurer Bill Shorten as a national disgrace may be being misled by a dishonest government.
If Julia Gillard is serious about NDIS she must immediately do three things to prove her intent
1. Pump an additional $2.5 billion dollars per annum into the current National disability Scheme to provide services to the clients currently on high priority waiting lists around the country
2. Demand that the NDIS program is implemented within 3 years and provide additional resources to achieve this.
3. Explain how she intends to fund NDIS
Any less than this from the Prime Minister may expose her as a shallow leader without the passion and family commitment that is necessary to resolve the national disability crisis and who may well be using grubby political tactics to deflect attention from her failure to address a crisis that needs resolution now. Talking about delivering a program in 7 years time, to fix a clearly identified crisis today is so ludicrous as to be bordering on farcical
Could it be the government does not want to pump any more money into disability and a protracted delay is the best way of avoiding doing so. Given the failure of the 2006 COAG plan to remove young people with disability from aged care facilities any one who believes rhetoric without funding commitments and shorter deadlines has been disappointed before.
The Gillard Labor Government today announced
Tuesday, August 09 2011
NSW Minister for Disability Services:
The Hon Andrew Constance, MP, said, “I have seen examples of shocking supported accommodation!" "I walked out with tears in my eyes!”
Prof Christine Bigby (La Trobe Uni):
"Choices, Outcomes & Evidence. Working practices of staff is a problem. Community Living is possible for people with very severe disabilities. Raising our Sights – Report (see LISA Website) Low engagement continues to occur in group homes. Right design of CRUs to get outcomes. What do staff have to do on an everyday basis? Staff need to be supported and monitored every-day. Everyone needs to have high expectations.
Anita Phillips, (ACT Public Advocate):
Assumption v Reality
Attitude of Staff
ACT Community Living Project
Aine Healy (NSW Council on Intellectual Disability):
We need a strong Voice. People have been so denied in their lives.
David Hoist (Disability Speaks). Kardinya:
Need to be living with compatible people
The knockers need to give ideas
Estelle Shields & Lyn Allen (parents):
Subject to Abuse & Neglect
Belinda Epstein - Family Advocacy:
”Supported Living” rather than “Supported Care”
People need relationships with people who care about them, rather than people who are only in their lives because the get paid to do so.
Separate Support from Housing!
With Supported Living, Supported Accommodation is not necessary!
Max Jackson (JacksonRyan Partners):
Despite all, Choice is rarely a reality! Options available to other Australians, should be available to those Australians with a disability.
LISA Comment: The seminar was first class! But, a coordinated and well financed effort is required to break the bureaucratic green zone defenses
Monday, August 08 2011
ISPs (Individual Service Packages)/SDA (Self Directed Approaches) is the trend, and is the focus of the Productivity Commission for NDIS.
People with a disability and/or their families will expect their ISP to directly translate into hands-on service provision. Whereas, there is a service coordination factor to be considered.
In some regions it is very difficult to receive funding for service coordination, and then sometimes not provided in a consistent manner within the region.
There are different funding responses across the regions. Some using a formula, or accepting formula based costing from services, like: “1 hour service coordination to 10 hours direct support; or 1 hour service coordination to 5 hours direct support; or 1 hour coordination to 8.6 hours of support; etc. etc.” Clearly, little consistency.
The Productivity Commission have identified service coordination as an issue requiring further investigation.
It is interesting to note that government funds coordination of its own direct care services, but not the coordination of non-government services. As we have always said, government department look after their own service, at the expense of non-government service providing similar
Monday, August 08 2011
DHS House supervisors guard their good direct care staff from the eyes of other house supervisors looking to improve their team, as 90% of house issues, are staff related.
The residents are no problem, it’s staff and management problems which take up most of a house supervisor’s time.
This is as a direct result of, “The inability of department management, above house supervisor, to man-manage staff lore – to properly manage the business within departmental care policies, standards and values, to ensure residents receive quality of life care within the direction, intention and spirit of departmental care policies, standards and values”.
Sunday, August 07 2011
An elderly long time widowed mother, with a son in a Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, group home, visits her son each week to take him into the community and lunch with him.
Most time she takes him out, he is poorly dressed. Yet she says he has good clothes, and she can’t understand why he is not dressed better per se, but especially when department staff know he is going out with his mother into the community
This mother feels so intimidated, she does little more than pass the time of day with the house direct care staff.
The mother feels so embarrassed when meeting people she knows, that she pro actively apologies for the way her son is dressed.
Yet, the Office of the Disability Service Commissioner (ODSC), Victoria, an independent statutory body, set up specifically to deal with complaints, actively encourages parents/families to complain, but does little to shield them from the wrath of the all-powerful DHS.
The ODSC, a pseudo government department, certainly does not actively and assertively encourage the DHS, a government department, to provide real customer service within the principles of its ‘Quality Framework’, Section 5.2, ‘Consumer Assessment’, and within the principles of AS ISO10002 - 2006.
Rather, the ODSC has a philosophy of “Equal Opportunity” for both the DHS and the parent/family.
The ODSC feels it is providing a level playing field, with the all-powerful DHS (with no reason for customers or customer service) at one end of the table, and a very weak parent/family at the opposite end. And, the ODSC conciliator in the middle, with a mandate not to help either side.
So why would any parent/family feel other than intimidated in the presence of a service provider who considers the parents/family are lucky to get any service, and should be extremely grateful for whatever they get, as there are many on the ‘Disability Support Register (DSR)’ who are only too willing to take anything on offer for their family member.
Sunday, August 07 2011
The Office of the Disability Service Commissioner in Victoria say the top reason people with a disability and their families don’t complain about questionable services is, “Fear of Intimidation”.
This also applies to direct care staff in supported accommodation group homes.
Despite the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011, staff who speak out about questionable activities are treated like undesirables – sent to “Coventry”, at best.
Those who are really effective in penetrating bureaucratic green zone defences, can expect to receive the full impact of their missile defence system…..
For the past five years, the Department of Human Services in Victoria, with ministerial support, has electronically blocked/redirected, within the firewall of their statewide web-server, the Emails of LISA Inc Coordinators, Tony & Heather Tregale.
This all powerful government department implemented its discriminatory action with no consultation whatsoever. Tony & Heather had no knowledge of the six page, ministerial approved, directive against them.
It's presence was mooted by the State Ombudsman, and revealed by FOI application. But only two pages would be released. The DHS say they periodically review the matter, but Tony & Heather are never part of that review.
This government department has never justified that which they used to convince the then minister to approve the restriction order. There is no termination date - So it is a life sentence!
These despotic actions of this state government department is little better than those of many third world countries.
Saturday, August 06 2011
It has taken 10 years for this state government department to produce any resemblance of a policy on “White Goods”. Yet the policy is not consistently implemented.
If the House Supervisor can screw the money out of the department for this or that, the residents don’t have to pay. Otherwise, they do!