Blog posts by Maree Ireland

Inclusive Community Development Network Forum - November 2016

Dec 12, 2016

The topic was ‘It (inclusive communities) can happen if…’  This forum explored the relationship between individualised funding and the capacity of the community to be ‘ready and accessible’ for people with disabilities.

Guest Poet

The forum commenced with a guest poet, Sandy Jeffs. Sandy was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, and it was then she felt she had lost her identity. It wasn’t until she started writing poetry that she felt she regained her identity.  Through her public speaking and advocacy, Sandy has brought a human face to this often misunderstood and disputed condition. Her poetry is quite poignant, personal and funny. Sandy has published several books including Poems from the Madhouse.

Guest Speaker

The guest speaker was Dr. Christina David from RMIT. She spoke about her PHD research on the tensions between individualised funding and community inclusion. Christina also spoke about how ‘community’ resources are dwindling so the ability to be involved in the community for people with disabilities is not a sure outcome as expected.

Panel Discussion

There was also a discussion panel consisting of mother - Annette Axen; an advocate - Bill Lawlor; and a woman with disability - Jenny Macpherson.

The discussion was around what real community inclusion is, how it can occur, and the need to start collecting data for future reference, so we can learn from our experiences:

  • Annette Axen related her beliefs that inclusion is about meaningful interaction with people in the community; and also spoke about the need to make that happen. People with disabilities not only need to be ‘seen’ in the community but to start forming interactive relationships wherever they go.
  • Bill Lawlor spoke about the need to collect data on the development of the NDIS, especially around the need for community development for future reference.
  • Jenny MacPherson (Peer Action Facilitator) spoke about her experiences when she left home as a teenager and lived in the community, without the disability supports that are now available to her. Jenny spoke on how disability support systems can work for and against the individual. She is currently using her community development training and experience to assist other people with disabilities to live in the community.

Wrap up

There was discussion about further barriers that need to be addressed, which prevent real and meaningful community inclusion for people with disabilities.

Issues such as:

  • OHS legislation posing restrictions on activities/choices that people with disabilities can make and do
  • Professional therapists are now charging an individual rate to be paid from an individual’s NDIS package rather than being paid through disability services
  • The lack of real choice of disability services in rural areas.

These issues and others will be explored at further forums in 2017.

If you wish to become involved in the Inclusive Community Development Network, please contact Paul Dunn on 9416 4003