Office of Disability

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 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 Northern Territory 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 Karkadu
  • Joel Walker
  • Kate Jessica-Ranford
  • Christos Timotheou
  • Christine Cumaiyi
  • Gwilym Conran
  • Henbury School – Student Representative
  • Acacia Hills School – Student Representative

Meeting schedule

The Disability Advisory Committee meets at least three 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 in below Communique section

Meeting 1

7 July 2020

Meeting communique is available in below Communique section

Communique

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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 Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee (NT DAC) members on the work of the Northern Territory Government Health Services to manage the COVID-19 emergency and the work of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to support 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 Northern Territory 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 Northern Territory Government’s response to COVID-19 can be found at https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/

Mr Dan English, from the National Disability Insurance Agency (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 at https://www.ndis.gov.au/coronavirus

Ms Samantha Livesley, from the Northern Territory 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 Northern Territory (NT) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was held on 7 July 2020.  The Minister for Disabilities, the Honourable Natasha Fyles, 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.

More information about the First People’s Disability Network can be found at:  https://fpdn.org.au/.

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 Department of Social Services webpage.  Information about upcoming consultations for the Strategy will be available from the Department of Social Service engage webpage.

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 on the Northern Territory Disability Advisory Committee webpage when it has been confirmed.

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

Contact

Disability Advisory Committee Secretariat

Phone: 08 8999 2809
Email: dac.doh@nt.gov.au
Mail: PO Box 40596 Casuarina NT 0811

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Last updated: 10 August 2020

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