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AFDO eNews

Issue #10
16th March 2020

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Ross JoyceFrom our CEO

Ross Joyce

As we enter unfamiliar territory in Australia with the spread of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), I am concerned that we continue to see important public announcements on TV without Auslan interpreters. 

It is essential that all levels of government in Australia ensure that public announcements are accessible for all Australians.  We also need COVID-19 information and resources provided in accessible formats such as Easy English and Auslan so that all Australians have the most up-to-date information on this health crisis.

AFDO, along with other Disability Advocacy Organisations will continue to raise these issues with Government, and we will continue to share accessible information as we receive it. 

Included in this newsletter is an update on our work around increasing employment opportunities for people with disability, as well as information on Advocacy Campaigns that AFDO supports.  Also included in this edition of AFDO eNews is information on supports and counselling available to people with disability who have experienced abuse, violence, neglect or exploitation, as well as support and counselling for their families.

I hope you enjoy this edition of AFDO eNews.  

CoronaVirus information and resources

Over the weekend, the Australian Government launched a national campaign to inform Australians about the coronavirus (COVID-19).  The campaign includes four videos with captions and is aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus:

Easy Read Information

If you are looking for Easy Read resources on CoronaVirus – the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has published information on keeping yourself safe, as well as Easy Read information and frequently asked questions.  You can find this information on the NDIS website.

The Growing Space has also published a 4 page Easy English Guide that clearly explains:

  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • Preparation advice for people with disability
  • Safety precautions
  • What to do if you’re unwell

You can read the Easy English Guide here (PDF), and it is also available on The Growing Space website (HTML).

Provider Obligations

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has published information on provider obligations – how to reduce the risk to people with disability, as well as links to updates and resources. This information is available on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website.


If you are concerned about your exposure to CoronaVirus, the Department of Health has a specific hotline to respond to your enquiries.  You can call 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service to access any of the department’s listed phone numbers.

You can visit the National Relay Service website or call 1300 555 727. If you need translation and/or interpretation support, Translating and Interpreting Services are offered by the Australian Government on the Department of Home Affairs website .

CoronaVirus Campaigns

  • Deaf Australia, the national peak organisation representing Deaf people whose first language is Auslan is calling for the provisioning of Auslan interpreters during all emergency and disaster broadcasts and advertising around COVID-19, and that legislation be amended so that broadcasters are obligated to include interpreters in screenshots. AFDO joins Deaf Australia in this campaign as it's essential that all emergency and disaster broadcasts, and advertising around COVID-19 is accessible to all Australians. You can read Deaf Australia's letter (PDF) here. There is also a Word version of Deaf Australia's letter on the AFDO website.
  • The Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH) is calling for urgent action from State and Federal Governments to develop a targeted response to COVID-19 for people with disability. We join in calling for Government to ensure that sufficient support is available for people with disabilities, and that Government ensures continuity of support for people with disabilities, especially those with complex needs.  You can read more about this COVID-19 campaign on the
    CRE-DH website.

Disability Advocacy Campaigns

  • The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) and Down Syndrome Australia launched the Welcoming Disability campaign. The campaign responds to ongoing discrimination faced by people with disabilities or health issues applying to come to Australia as temporary or permanent residents. AFDO has joined the ALHR and Down Syndrome Australia in calling for an immediate review of the 2010 parliamentary report Enabling Australia: Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability and for a revived investigation into the application of migration laws to people with disability or with health issues.  You can learn more about, and join the Welcoming Disability campaign here.
  • AFDO is a member of the Assistive Technology for All (ATFA) campaign, working to ensure that those who need assistive technology can get it when they need it, and that it's affordable.  Many older Australians with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS can wait upwards of 18 months for funding for assistive technology, it means paying for it themselves or just going without. You can learn more about the ATFA campaign on their website.

AFDO Business Inclusion & Diversity Services logo

A new way of thinking about employment

Launch of AFDO's Business Inclusion & Diversity Services
At AFDO, we believe that a new approach is needed – one that focuses on the needs of employers and the skills of people with disability. This approach needs to get more people working, meet the needs of businesses and increase productivity.

Between 2013–2014, we met with a range of stakeholders, including the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council and individual Council members, to talk about ways to improve the number of people with disability in the workforce.

Then in 2015, a two-year pilot began in Geelong, Victoria, to trial the new employment model, which included two Diversity Field Officers that provided specialist advice and worked one-on-one with small and medium businesses that were committed to hiring people with disability.  

This project was a significant step forward for the employment of people with disability in the Barwon region of Victoria.  Due to the success of the 12-month project, we continued this service to businesses in the Barwon region, and to date, we have worked one-on-one with 110 small to medium businesses to improve their disability confidence, which has created 124 employment pathways for people with disability.

With the success of this service, we have launched a new name and logo for the service - Business Inclusion & Diversity Services, which we launched last week.  You can learn more about Business Inclusion & Diversity Services (BIDS) on our website.

Support for people with disability

If you, or someone you know has experienced abuse, violence, neglect or exploitation, there is free, independent and confidential counselling and support  available through the National Counselling and Referral Service, which is run by the Blue Knot Foundation.

The National Counselling and Referral Service provides: 

  • professional short-term counselling and support
  • a gateway to frontline counselling services
  • warm transfers to and from the Royal Commission, advocacy and legal support services
  • information and referrals about other useful services

They can also help you find:

  • someone to support you with legal issues
  • someone to support you with financial issues
  • an advocate
This service is available to people with disability and their families even if you do not want to be part of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Below are some fact sheets and resources on the  National Counselling and Referral Service.  We have set up a page on our website with more information, as well as contact and accessibility information.

Fact Sheets and Resources

Group image of six people, one is in a wheelchair, one has a guide dog, one has a prosthetic leg, and three do not have visible disabilities.

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