The Disability Inclusion Act 2014: What needs to change?

The NSW Government is currently reviewing the Disability Inclusion Act 2014. When the Act was introduced, we welcomed the focus on human rights, inclusion and equality across the whole community, not just on providing disability services. But after nearly 5 years of the NDIS, does anything in the Act need to change?

Despite the rollout of the NDIS, we strongly believe that state governments (including here in NSW) still have a core responsibility to ensure that the rights of people with disability within their communities are upheld. This includes a chief role in shaping community attitudes and behaviours and addressing barriers to accessing mainstream services.

As one participant in the SAX review of the NSW Disability Inclusion Plan said in relation to stigma and exclusion, “People with disabilities are always fighting battles every day. Why do we have to keep fighting the battle? It shouldn’t be this hard.” (p.24)

For many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) people with disability, the battle is even harder due to racial stigma, language barriers and different understandings of disability.

How can the Government take a lead role in addressing these barriers to inclusion?

A key piece of the Disability Inclusion Act puzzle is disability inclusion planning. The Act requires the NSW Government to develop an overarching NSW Disability Inclusion Plan (DIP); and most government departments, including local Councils, need to develop their own Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP).

Part of the review of the Act is looking at how effective these plans have been, and what needs to change. The Sax Review found that while some departments were doing “some fantastic things” with their DIAPs, the process of developing the DIAPs was often siloed in an HR Department, lacked buy-in from the senior executive, and laid a heavy burden of over-consultation on disability advocacy groups. Participants in the Review also called for greater accountability, such as performance targets and public access to progress reports (p. 24-25).

We believe the NSW Government needs to be a leader in disability inclusion planning – with a plan that is comprehensive (not piecemeal) and with true accountability for disability inclusion action planning at the departmental and local government level. The Act needs to be strengthened to promote greater integration, resourcing, leadership and accountability in disability inclusion planning.

Another piece of the puzzle is providing sustainable funding for disability advocacy and safeguarding the rights of people who are ineligible for the NDIS but who still face significant barriers to inclusion or whose informal support networks are stretched thin. We are concerned that in the rush to embrace the NDIS, the NSW Government has moved too far away from its own responsibility to meet the needs of the 500,000+ people (aged under 65) in NSW who have a disability but who are ineligible for an

Individual Funded Package under the NDIS. We believe the Act needs to be strengthened to adequately set out the duties of the state government in funding advocacy and supports for its own residents.

ECSC is currently consulting with our participants, families and carers to see what matters most to them in promoting inclusion and human rights.

How could you consult to make sure the views of people with disability, their families and carers are heard during this important review?

You can give feedback to the review of the Disability Inclusion Act via an online survey here, by emailing your feedback to or posting it to Department of Communities and Justice, Locked Bag 4029, Ashfield, NSW 213. Alternatively you can join one of the many workshops listed here.

By Ingrid Boland, Social Work Consultant for ECSC

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Premiers Award for CALD Dementia initiative 

We were honoured to be among the Finalists for the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards (PMCAs), which recognise excellence in the multicultural media and marketing industry.

Ethnic Community Services Co-operative in partnership with Community and Cultural Connections Inc, Inner West Area Sector Support Development Officer, Inner West Council, Sydney Local Health District, Canterbury-Bankstown City Council and 16 other community organisations, were awarded finalists for Campaign of the Year – Community for their project the Sydney Inner West Dementia Campaign or Multicultural Dementia Campaign as it is also known.

NSW is one of the most successful Multicultural states in the world and as the PMCA web page states: “it is important to celebrate the benefits of our diversity and recognise the valuable contribution multicultural media and marketing plays in our society by connecting people to their culture, identity, and language.”

Attendees of the Awards night were encouraged to wear their favourite traditional cultural attire and our Multicultural Access Project officer Sharitah donned a stunning purple sari with rose gold and pink accents for the occasion.

While the awards celebrate and recognise the important role journalists, editors and publishers in print, radio, television and digital media play, they also honour innovative and creative marketing campaigns that inspire social cohesion and community harmony – like ours!

The main aim of the Multicultural Dementia Campaign was to determine the best way to provide information on dementia to 5 targeted Cultural and Language communities in the Inner West: the Chinese, Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese communities.

Consultations were undertaken with each community in the relevant community language. A total of 99 people from the 5 targeted communities participated in face-to-face group consultations, and a carer survey.

The findings showed how these communities needed and wanted the information communicated to them in their language and that they generally would like more information about dementia.

The second phase of the project used the recommendations from these findings. Expos were held for each of these 5 communities where information was tailor-made and delivered in ways that each community identified that they needed. At each, expo over 100 to 130 people attended and this was highly successful from a community engagement perspective.

We hope the award will further demonstrate the ongoing need for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to have information communicated to them in ways that are both culturally and linguistically appropriate. 

This project also highlighted the importance of consultation with communities for effective communication and development of the capacity of individuals within that community.

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