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AFDO eNews

Issue #01
4th December 2017

Ross JoyceFrom our CEO

Ross Joyce

Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter.  I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a brief overview of the work that we have been doing. 

We held our Annual General Meeting on 16th October, where we amended our Constitution to broaden our membership criteria to include national organisations representing people with intellectual disability, children, and carers & family members. Please follow the link to read our Current Constitution,

We welcomed new Director, Debbie Kennewell from Deaf Australia, and welcomed back Nick Rushworth, Frank Hall-Bentick, and John Simpson to our Board for another two year term. The Board re-appointed Richard Dent from Leadership Victoria as a co-opted Director for a further twelve months.  AFDO is very fortunate to have a Board with such vast experience in the disability sector.  I have listed our new Board below,  and you can learn more about each of our Board members by reading the Board member profiles.

Current AFDO Board members

  • Liz Reid (Physical Disability Australia) – Chair & President
  • Trevor Carroll (Disability Justice Advocacy) – Deputy Chair  & International Representative
  • Frank Hall-Bentick (Disability Resources Centre) – Treasurer & International Coordinator
  • Peter Miller (Deafness Forum of Australia)
  • Nick Rushworth (Brain Injury Australia)
  • John Simpson (Blind Citizens Australia)
  • Debbie Kennewell (Deaf Australia)
  • Richard Dent (Co-opted Director)

Below is information on our recent Information Forum which we held immediately following our AGM, as well updates on our work in the areas of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Employment, and Policy, Advocacy & Research.  For a more comprehensive report on our work over the past twelve months, please have a read of our 2016 – 2017 Annual Report.    

The team at AFDO are continuing to work hard to support our Board and members to deliver on our vision and mission.  You can learn more about our team here.

On behalf of everyone at AFDO, I wish you a restful and happy holiday season and look forward to your continued support in the new year.

Information Forum 

We held our Annual Information Forum on Monday 16th October,  and were honoured to have the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin present the opening address. Alastair spoke about abuse and neglect of people with disability, employment, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

We were also honoured to have our Deputy Chairperson, Trevor Carroll, CEO of Disability Justice Advocacy, deliver a compelling speech about the work of Disability Justice Advocacy.

Christine Smith from Great Ocean Stays spoke about accessible accommodation and the benefits of employing people with disability. Great Ocean Stays is one of the businesses participating in our very successful employment project Diversity Field Officer Service.

And our management team provided an overview of the work and projects we have been doing over the past year.

We will be holding another Information Forum next year in Melbourne, so please save the date in your diary - Monday October 22, 2018.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin speaking to the audience at the 2017 AFDO Information Forum. There is an Auslan interpreter beside him, and people with disability in the audience in the foreground.

NDIS workshops

We received funding from the Victorian Government through the NDIS Transition Support Package (TSP) to develop and deliver workshops for people with disability and their families. The aim of the workshops is to support people to better understand the pre-planning and planning process and to explain how the NDIS works. The workshops have been designed by people with disability for people with disability and will be delivered by people with disability.

The workshops will be held throughout 2018 in each of the Victorian regions  where the NDIS is yet to roll out: Inner Gippsland; Ovens Murray; Wimmera South West; Inner Eastern Melbourne: Outer Eastern Melbourne: Hume Moreland; Bayside Peninsula: Southern Melbourne; Brimbank Melton; Western Melbourne; Goulburn; Mallee; Outer Gippsland.

In 2018, AFDO will also deliver NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity building (ILC) readiness workshops for user-led disability organisations throughout Victoria in 2018. The workshops are designed to build the capacity of user-led disability organisations by delivering ILC readiness workshops to equip them with the skills and knowledge required to successfully operate in the competitive NDIS ILC environment.

Sign up to the AFDO Disability Loop eNews to find out more about our NDIS workshops.

Policy, advocacy and research

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission


The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission legislation has been passed by Parliament. AFDO and DANA prepared a joint submission on the Quality and Safeguards Commission legislation and provided evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on concerns we had.

The Quality and Safeguards Commission will be responsible for receiving complaints about NDIS registered and unregistered providers. It also has responsibility for providing leadership around restrictive practices under the function of the Senior Practioner. Finally, the registrar function of the Commission will be responsible for screening and registering providers who are providing disability support to NDIS participants.

AFDO and DANA also met with Minister Jenny Macklin  and Senator Rachel Siewert twice in Canberra to advocate for changes to the legislation, particularly around:

  • The importance of independent advocacy
  • The independence of the Commission in the face of Ministerial oversight
  • Separation of the complaints function to avoid a conflict of interest
  • Concerns about the Senior Practitioner function

AFDO have been invited by the Department of Social Services to participate in targeted consultation around the Delegated Instruments for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards legislation. AFDO have provided a Submission on worker screening, and are developing submissions on:

  • Code of conduct
  • Registration and practice guidelines
  • Behaviour support
  • Reportable incidents
  • Information disclosure
  • Complaints


Employment is one of three key areas of dedicated work undertaken by AFDO. We have sought to identify how the employment system can be reoriented to better meet the needs of jobseekers and employers to improve employment outcomes.

A key area of focus has been employer engagement and seeking to understand how to better support small and medium sized businesses to become more welcoming, confident and accessible, with a focus on employment, retention and customer service. In 2016, the Diversity Field Officer Service was piloted for 15 months in Geelong, Victoria working with 50 businesses across 15+ industries in conjunction with Deakin University. The service is currently working with 60 businesses.

Pilot outcomes included:

  • 10% increase in confidence
  • 97% satisfaction, with business expectations ‘fully’ or ‘mostly’ met
  • 75% employed people with disability at the end of the pilot, compared to 38% at pilot commencement
  • 86% indicated that there might be an opportunity to employ people with disability in the next 12 months, compared to 58% at pilot commencement.
Read more results (PDF)

An independent sustainability analysis has been commissioned to determine how the model can be delivered with less reliance on funding in both Geelong and new sites. Two year follow up evaluation will commence in March 2018 to measure impact.

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