Speeches

ACC Access and Inclusion Panel Meeting

ACC Access and Inclusion Panel Meeting
November 25, 2016 

As Dignity for Disability’s MP in state parliament for more than 6 and a half years now, and as the only MP in an elected position representing our small party I have to have a position, a yae or nae vote, on every Bill or motion that comes before the Legislative Council – whether it’s Government business, or Private member’s business.

The majority of matters we’re dealing with have nothing to do with disability rights, nonetheless myself and my small office team examine impact on PWD and other groups fighting for a fair go of legislation and policy.   So that’s first part of my role – to be a legislator representing the people I was elected to represent – the whole state of South Australia.

The second thing is, I am an advocate for the constituents. If you are a South Australian resident and enrolled voter (or you would be eligible to vote if you were 18 years old, but you’re still too young!) then I can advocate for you to Ministers of the Crown – either state of Commonwealth Ministers. Given my somewhat unique role as Australia’s only ‘disability rights’ MP, I also often advocate for constituents to corporations (eg Westfield about the toilets in their shopping centres), to independent or Catholic schools (eg. services for students with disabilities), local government/councils about facilities and programs they run or have jurisdiction over (eg. footpath access, Changing Places toilets), state or Commonwealth government departments (eg. federal Immigration Department about how the Immigration Act discriminates against PWD, National Disability Insurance Agency [NDIA] re the Scheme [NDIS], SA Health about how supports are provided for PWD in the hospital environment).

Finally, perhaps because of the somewhat unique role I mentioned before as Australia’s first elected disability rights platform MP, I am a change agent on our systems, policies, legislation and public discussions around social justice issues. Advocating for change on disability and other social justice issues involves speaking and commentating in the media on an almost daily basis and speaking at local, interstate and international conferences on these matters.

Here’s a snapshot of issues I have spoken in the media about, implemented, or played a part in implementing, policy or legislative change on, or work with community groups, Council, disability service providers, PWD, constituents etc:

1) NDIS – portal fiasco, plans that are reasonable & necessary, lots of disability jobs for SA with fully rolled out NDIS, roll out for adults, ensuring people are better off not worse off under new system.

2) Education – Select Committee on experience of students with disabilities. Soft bigotry of low expectation.

3) Employment / Access to tertiary education & training – barriers to access/cultural issues.

4) Disability Justice Plan / Barriers to Justice – courts, police training (understanding of PWD, questioning methods etc), prisons, access to understanding system in the first place, law reform and programs to improve access to justice (eg. communication partners, allowing video evidence)

5) Health system – access to and design of for PWD, regional areas (Social Development Committee inquiry)

6) Mental health – BPD, general resourcing problems, understanding nexus between disability/mental health

7) Transport – City South tram stop, kneel down buses, trains, bus shelters in inclement weather.

8) Innovation & industry – making SA the mobility aid manufacturing state.

9) Emergency services – AUSLAN interpreters, having emergency procedures for people with assistance animals and equipment, People with autism/ID, information in accessible formats.

10) Accessibility – divided into sub categories:

  1. a) Parking – demerit points if you park.
  2. b) Universal Design / Planning – we’ve achieved amendments legislation change: residential housing, public places – many of which local government responsible for, playgrounds etc.
  3. c) Toilets (Changing Places)
  4. d) Many other areas to consider: websites, the arts, tourism.

Finally, you may have heard we’re changing our party name from D4D to Dignity Party. It just represents what we already do – advocate for dignity for people on so many fronts. Many other interests that I already do, and will continue to pursue: youth, children, aged care, the arts (I was a playwright before I entered Parli), women & DV, indigenous, CALD, refugees, LGBTIQAP+, diversity in community.