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Taking disability issues to the Australian Parliament


Earlier this month Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) went to an Australian Parliament hearing on how the NDIS can be improved.

Alanna Julian, our Community Engagement Officer, and Jim Simpson, our Senior Advocate, presented together at a public hearing into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Sydney on 3 July. The hearing was being held by a committee from the Australian Parliament.

Alanna began by telling the Committee about CID – who we are, what we stand for, and some of our most important work.

“It was quite scary – but exciting at the same time – presenting at such a formal meeting, especially to people I have seen on the news such as Carol Brown and Jordon Steele-John,” says Alanna.

“I explained to the Committee that people with intellectual disability make up half our board, and that we have a lot of staff members with disability, such as me. I told them about our Speak Out Reach Out group, which helps CID understand the issues that are important to people with disability, and advises us on how we can do better.”

“I think the Committee was really impressed about how people with disability are at the heart of CID.” 

Ensuring the NDIS works for all

After Alanna’s presentation, Jim presented results from a CID roundtable about how to make sure the NDIS works for people with intellectual disability and complex behaviour support needs.

“The panel asked Jim questions about how ready organisations are for the NDIS,” says Alanna. “Senator Jordon Steele-John asked Jim if enough has been done to help people with intellectual disability make a complaint about NDIS. I was very happy when Jim asked me to help answer the Senator’s question, given I have been working on this very issue.”

“I told the Committee about training we have been doing for the new Quality and Safeguards Commission. We have been training Commission staff about how to reach out and work with people with intellectual disability who have complaints about the NDIS and services.”

“Although I was very nervous, it was great to be able to tell the Committee about this work – it’s so important to make sure the NDIS works for everyone.”

Being heard

Alanna was the only person with disability presenting at the hearing.

“It was amazing to be able to present at the hearing,” says The Alanna. “We got to tell the Committee about CID – some of the Committee members didn’t know that CID has been around for 60 years! But I also think we showed how important it is that people with disability get to tell their own story.”

“Although I sometimes couldn’t understand what was being said at the hearing, it felt really good to be able to feel included.”

“We should make sure that more people with disability get a chance to speak at these hearings. That way politicians can hear directly from the people who are affected by government decisions."

“Having an opportunity to present, share information and a chance to voice an opinion was so important to me. People with disabilities are the core to understanding what is working and what may not be working with the NDIS.”

We asked Alanna what her highlight was from going to the hearing.

“Meeting Senator Jordon Steele-John. It was good to see a person with a lived experience of a disability being in an important role as a senator in Parliament. If only there were more!” 

About the Inquiry

Alanna and Jim were presenting at a public hearing for the Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme – Market Readiness inquiry.

The Committee is a group of politicians who help parliament find out what it wants to know. When a Committee holds an inquiry, it talks to people and organisations like CID to ask questions and get ideas about how to do things better.

In the hearing that Alanna and Jim went to, the Committee wanted to find out how ready people and service providers are to be part of the NDIS. They wanted to find answers to questions such as: are there enough service providers? What will happen if there aren’t enough? Are service providers following the Quality and Safeguard Framework that makes sure NDIS participants are safe, and getting good quality service and have choice and control?

The Committee will report to the Australian Parliament about what they find.

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