Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR)

The Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR) is a new applied disability research centre based in the sector and seed-funded by NSW Government. The intent is to bring together academic, applied, and policy-based research in light of the new NDIS developments and the need for good evidence.

The CADR ‘Research into Action’ Conference was held on 26 and 27 May in Sydney, and Emily Steel, a member of AEAA and associate lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Queensland, attended. Emily will be briefing the AEAA Board as to the current disability research agenda and where AT fits in the picture, and has provided this update for AEAA members.

Emily says:

It was great to attend a conference focused on disability research and practice in Australia. There were some excellent speakers and a range of presentation topics. The most important message I took from the keynote speakers is about focusing on inclusion as a mainstream societal issue, not a disability sector issue that can be addressed by the introduction of the NDIS. Here are a few of the highlights:

– Gwynnyth Llewellyn of University of Sydney won the NDIS tender to conduct an audit of disability research in Australia. The report has not yet been released, but key points are shown in the presentation slides via the link below. In summary, there is not a critical mass of research on topics of priority in the disability reform agenda, which is guided by principles of human rights and social inclusion.

The audit was based on 8 domains informed by the UN CRPD, but found that key policy concepts, such as choice, empowerment and person-centred research, are relatively absent in research. Research into the experiences of people with disability accessing specialist or mainstream services were under-represented, along with co-production of research with people with disability. Recommendations included research that explores the experience of policy for people with disability, and funding to ensure that research findings are disseminated. A greater focus on inclusion in society and mainstream services, not just specialist disability services or programs such as the NDIS, was also recommended.

My conclusion from this presentation was that the AEAA’s research is exceptional, in that it meets many of the aims of Australia’s National Disability Research & Development Agenda (2012). Many good reasons to continue this work.

– Tom Shakespeare, AT user, advocate and academic from the UK, gave a brief history of policy reforms toward personalisation in the UK. He pointed out that direct payments for personal assistance began in the 1970’s and have been shown to be effective. Personal budgets, introduced in 2003, have had mixed success.

He emphasised that the freedom and choice agenda overlaps uncomfortably with neoliberalism and individualism, and discussed the implications of this. People are opting out of collectivism (or finding that it is no longer available) and this can lead to greater inequalities. There is also a gap created when DPOs become service providers, thus having competing interests and not being able to provide independent advocacy. This is concerning because people generally choose not to pay for specialist advice and support, yet intermediary services are vital to consumer empowerment and the effective uptake of direct payments.

– Richard Madden presented on the NDIS budget, showing the financial implications of the rollout across Australia until 2019. The 2018-19 and 2019-20 budgets will be key events for the future financing of the NDIS. The NDIS is funded by a complex arrangement of payments between states and the Commonwealth, but the continuing contribution to mainstream services by the states is essential to support the aims of the NDIS.

– Dr Lynne Adamson, Manager of Research for NDIS, provides context for the Disability R&D research agenda in Australia comes from the NDS, but also see the draft WHO global disability action plan (2024-2021). AT is one of the key elements of the research agenda, along with understanding decision-making, assessing support needs, establishing networks and developing markets. A blended approach of research and evaluations was mentioned as a way to develop a spectrum of evidence on these elements so that services can determine and deliver reasonable and necessary supports.

– Daniel Leighton from Inclusion Melbourne made an excellent presentation

Presentations are available for viewing by clicking here.

ATSA Daily Living Expo

Put May 15th in your diaries and come to the ATSA Daily Living Expo at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Admission to the Expo is free & there is plenty of onsite free parking.

The Aids and Equipment Action Alliance will be holding a General Members Meeting on the topic: ‘Reasonable and Necessary’ Assistive Technology. This will run from 3.15 – 4.15 in Seminar Room 3, at the rear of the Exhibition Hall.

Come early to view the exhibits and hear other clinical speakers from the free clinical program, which can be viewed at www.dailylivingexpo.com.au

RSVP is essential and can be made by emailing info@aeaa.org.au

See you there!

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AEAA Social Inclusion Inquiry Submission

The Aids and Equipment Action Alliance have made a submission to the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into Social Inclusion. You can click here to view our submission.

The AEAA have been called to give evidence on Thursday 20 March, and the resulting record within Hansard will record our messages and policy suggestions formally.

Natasha Layton, Peter Willcocks and Carl Thompson will represent the AEAA to the Committee, with the following key messages:

  • Aids and equipment or assistive technology (AT) are facilitators of social inclusion
  • Evidence regarding performance of State AT funding bodies in delivering social inclusion
  • The role of community attitudes and understanding

As an example, here is what Carl Thompson will present:

Much of my assistive technology has been funded out of my ISP to top up excess costs. Although I know that my ISP is not recommended to be used in this fashion, it has been necessary to use it as such in order to afford appropriate assistive technology. Unfortunately, when my ISP is used to subsidise assistive technology its resources are diminished, meaning it cannot serve its original purpose to the fullest extent, i.e. personal care.

Long wait times, often in excess of six months have meant that assistive technology that is custom to the individual may no longer be relevant, due to new technological advances or changing needs/medical conditions. This means that the wait time directly influence the effectiveness and relevance of prescribed assistive technology solutions.

This has happened many times through personal experience, for instance I was fitted for wheelchair seating, and then needed subsequent fittings due to the long SWEP wait times and my needs changing during this period. This resulted in an increased cost, both opportunity cost and financial cost for the occupational therapist and wheelchair manufacturer needing to see me again.

Sufficient, timely and relevant assistive technology can help reduce other costs of managing disability and ageing. For instance, in my case, installing a remote operated door has allowed me to enter and exit my house freely, without the use of a carer. This saves money by reducing care hours and extends the value of my ISP.

Further, this assistive technology reduces my reliance on informal support, including my parents and other family members, freeing up their time to contribute economically and socially to the community.

Peter Willcocks will present the following five ideas to help make social inclusion a reality:

  • Ensure social inclusion is a priority for all people, regardless of ability, and should be seen as such
  • Remove financial barriers and time delay with the supply of assistive technology
  • Encourage future proofed adaptable housing — a manageable incentive for future proofing housing may be via home owner grants, just as we have with solar power
  • Manage public transport access needs by employing access consultants who work with the community and who have a direct impact upon design
  • Provide financial support for public awareness programs that are managed by organisations that work with and employ people in an inclusive manner and that understand the impediments and consequences of isolation
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AEAA Video Interview – Carl

As a way of reaching a wider audience and conveying relevant aids and equipment stories in innovative ways, AEAA has started producing a series of conversational videos where equipment users and practitioners alike discuss various facets of aids and equipment.

The first video can be seen below:

Please contact us using our contact form if you have any suggestions for videos or would like to be interviewed.