Transcript 3

Interview with Liz Reid, AFDO President

AFDO Next Wave Advocacy Conference.
21 October, 2019.

We now have a little piece, what we have here is an interview with a young emerging advocate. So if I can call C Moore up. And older advocate. We go with Liz Reid, the President of AFDO, and also the President of Physical Disability Australia. And C Moore who is the CEO of Women with Disability ACT.

LIZ REID: We have decided to tag team. We have got questions.

C MOORE: As the government advocate in the room I strongly believe I should be learning where this all came from. A lot of the big events in advocacy history in Australia, I wasn’t born yet! So, I’m really I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to Liz about some of those events I missed. And what their impacts were, because I believe I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, some of whom are in this room and it is fantastic to have this opportunity to have a chat. So, first up, I want to ask you about some of the big milestones in disability advocacy, particularly some of those that are the legislative milestones we mentioned might not have been so useful but what were the effects of those? A.

LIZ REID: Can you hear me? Wonderful. From my perspective, there has been a whole heap of stuff that has happened in the Australian space. The first was in 1908, which was the lunacy act which we won’t talk about much. From then on we went to the 1970s and it was the start and change of the disability landscape, where the conversations where starting from the medical model to the social model. Can I remind everyone in the room, the NDIS conversation started in the ’70s. Look how long it’s taken. From there we went to 1981 and the UN declared the International Year of the Disabled People and the shift in human rights. In 1986, I am telling you things you don’t know or do know? OK. In 1986 was the birth of the Disability Services Act where advocacy was funded for the first time as a fundamental and vital service offer. Going back that far, in’ 92, along came the Disability Discrimination Act, and this was followed by a swag of subordinate legislation, how it went back to what Jordon was talking about about access to transport, etc and we need to focus on that. In 2008, Australia ratified and endorsed the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And it is fundamentally a list of rights that guaranteed to people with disabilities to improve their access to an inclusive society, education and employment. In 2010, was the making of the National Disability Strategy which is the operational arm of our reporting requirements to the United Nations. I think that’s absolutely a biggy but we have got a lot more to do. For my journey I know most of them, they’re probably the most important milestones.

C MOORE: Hello? OK. The one, two that I’m very curious, the disability discrimination at and the Disability Services Act, I’m really interested in the positive impacts they had. I feel like you might have noticed those. Sorry, Ross was signalling at me. The positive impact in your life.

LIZ REID: In 1992, the disability standards act was a precursor for the DDA. I think one of the most significant things that happened in that period of time was the fundamental shift of funding of service providers. Back in those days, I think it was called section 5 then moved to section 10, funding. What that meant was no one disability organisation could be responsible for a person’s entire lifestyle. And it was probably the biggest shift. Getting service providers to think differently and really empowering individuals and families and carers to make some of those choices, the choice and control that we talk about today. ’92 was also instrumental, that’s when buildings became accessible apparently. Yeah? Yeah… That was one of those amazing bits that came with it. Funding for service providers, it was a chance to look at service offer and to make choices in a real and meaningful way.

C MOORE: The next one that I’m really curious to know about is one I was alive for which was the CRPD. I remember learning about this in year 8 as it was happening. Which was that Australia contributed quite a bit to the advocacy around the CRPD and I’m interested if you know much about the key players in that and what came out of it?

LIZ REID: I could, but I would say that the people in this room were absolutely fundamental in the implementation and in getting the CRPD. I know that Frank, who is sitting in the middle, was an absolute key contributor. Would anybody like to make a comment in regards to CRPD? I know Australia has done magnificent work in this space and continues to do work in this space. That would be amazing. Frank, would you?

FRANK HALL BENTICK: The CRPD has come about because of, not only pressure from people with disabilities here in Australia, disability organisations, but worldwide people with disabilities and their organisations. And it was at those UN meetings that they put pressure on their governments to actually begin to change things. I might say that the original government that we went in under, the Australian government, was the Howard government. And they were resistant to the CRPD for quite a number of years. But it wasn’t until other countries came on board with pressure from their people with disabilities within their own countries that eventually the Howard government decided that it was better to be seen to be on board than to be against it. So, the upshot of the CRPD is the input from disabled people through their organisations and how crucial that is, and back in Australia how crucial it was for us to get that through but also to continue to put pressure on government to change things. If you are expecting others to do it, it won’t happen. So we’ve all got to be involved.

NEW SPEAKER: Thanks, Frank.

C MOORE: I think we might try to wrap it up with this last one. I really want to know what you think this next generation needs it pull out of this, learning from history is how we do better and as Jordon says, there is lots for us as advocates to do.

LIZ REID: Hit the nail on the head. We really need to embrace and take young people on the journey so that they can follow and that we’ve got succession within our community being the disability community. That is probably the most vital thing that we can do.

C MOORE: Thank you. I’ll let you all get lunch now.

ROSS JOYCE: Thank you, C and Liz.

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