Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – 639ABC Interview on Offering protection for people living with disabilities

Kelly Vincent, Dignity for Disability, Member of the Legislative Council (639ABC 8.42-8.47) State Government legislation: Offering protection for people living with disabilities

Sarah Tomlinson: The State Government has announced new legislation that will offer greater protection to people living with disabilities. Kelly Vincent, what is the legislation that’s just been passed?

Kelly Vincent: This is an amendment to our very out-dated Disability Services Act of 1993 and this is the Disability Services Rights Protection and Inclusion Act and basically it aims to provide greater choice and control and protection for people with disabilities which is something I’m sure you’re aware has been missing from our discussion around human rights for a long time.

Sarah Tomlinson: So how will it work?

Kelly Vincent: The act seems to provide greater control over what services people can select, health service providers interact with consumers just [unclear] in a human rights framework and also a lot of other measures that Dignity for Disability has been long advocating for including the appointment of a senior practitioner whose job it is to oversee the use of what are called restrictive practices so that’s things like tying someone down, over-medicating them to control their behaviours and so on. This might sound surprising but this is actually a very common practice in a lot of service providers so it is good to see this finally happening. The senior practitioner idea that I put forward in a disability services amendment bill back in 2012. Unfortunately, the act that has just passed doesn’t legislate for the role of the senior practitioner and that is one concern that we certainly hold about this act in that we think that not legislating the role could almost at once give the senior practitioner no powers and limitless powers so we think it is important to define that role. I did put amendments up to make sure that that did happen. Unfortunately those amendments failed but we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the senior practitioner and trying to see how we can better define and legislate for that role.

Sarah Tomlinson: This is state legislation – is it working in any other states?

Kelly Vincent: We certainly have similar bills in other states which is why again it’s so pleasing to see South Australia at least following by example I suppose finally. Victoria has a similar act in some ways but I would hasten to add they have actually legislated for the role of the senior practitioner. So different in some ways but still very pleasing to see this important step forward.

Sarah Tomlinson: Will this legislation have any effect on people in nursing homes?

Kelly Vincent: It is my understanding that not necessarily. Of course these things are always open for debate and I hasten to add that I’m not a lawyer. I’m open to advice from people in the legal profession unless of course that person in a nursing home was in receipt of very disability specific services.

Sarah Tomlinson: Does it have any bearing on the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Kelly Vincent: It certainly is trying to move our state legislation to a place where national legislation is starting to move with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme I’m sure you’re aware that the aim of the NDIS is to move disability services to a human rights based framework where people have that choice and control over what services they access and the outcomes that has on their lives. So it’s very important that state legislation makes that move as well.

Sarah Tomlinson: It also mentions individualised funding. Can you explain how that would work?

Kelly Vincent: Individualised or self-managed funding is a concept by which a person has their money, their disability services funding, given directly to them into a specific account or to a parent or family member or other support person if they so choose – it’s a completely optional scheme and they then have the control over what that money is spent on pertaining to their own disability needs. So this is a very important step forward. Whenever I’m asked why is this important I always say to that person asking that question I want you to tell me why it’s important that you get to choose what you spend your wage on. So this really is again another step forward in actually recognising that people with disabilities are the experts in their own lives and they can make their decisions about how they live those lives.

Sarah Tomlinson: Thank you for being with us today.

Kelly Vincent: A pleasure. Thanks for your time and interest, Sarah.