News | 20 March 2015

ACT NDIS live blog

With over 500 registered attendees, the ACT NDIS conference is set to be one of the largest, most comprehensive and practical events covering the NDIS held to date. Throughout the conference, we’ll be live blogging to bring you rolling coverage of all the latest news, views and discussion from on the ground.

Day 2


So that’s a wrap! That’s it from me (and the conference). Thanks for following along and if you have any other thoughts, questions, ideas you want to share, join the conversation at #ACTconference.


EAC takes the stage!

EAC campaign director John Della Bosca shares what’s next for the campaign. “When we started the campaign year ago, not many people thought we had the prospect of success. But it was a collective effort of advocates, carers, service providers and people with disability, and here it is, really happening.  But there are still two really big jobs ahead – we have to protect the scheme. There is still the possibility of the scheme having enemies. Second, we also have to make sure it’s the best scheme it can be – not settling for second best.”


Tough question of the day: What happens to people with disability who miss out on NDIS funding?

“Looking at what the Productivity Commission has termed Tier 2 support, there is no intention that those supports would be withdrawn either in the short or long term.  So people who have only occasional needs for support should still be able to get them from the system,” says Sue Salthouse, Convenor, Women with Disabilities ACT.


Just moments to go before the final sessions of the conference! We’re especially excited for EAC to take the stage.


“It’s my responsibility as well as Brenton’s to educate others who don’t have the opportunity to find out how unreal some people with disability can be – to give others a positive experience with someone that’s a bit different.”

– Lisa Ashford-Potter, mum of a person with disability, speaking about her son Brenton.

Lisa and her son Brenton Ashford-Potter speak to an auditorium about their story


How to cope with change

That’s the big issue being tackled by our panel right now. Some thoughts from Barbel Winter of Futures Upfront: “Transition isn’t always smooth. What’s critical in any transition is thinking, ‘how do I feel about change’? It we ask the right questions, it can help make transition easier.”

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s changed?
  • How will this change affect my life?
  • What can it teach me about the people around me?
  • What can it teach me about myself?


Great to see our #ACTconference hashtag is generating plenty of discussion on Twitter. Got any thoughts/questions/ideas? Join in the conversation!

Mobile phone screenshot of 5 tweets relating to the ACT Twitter hash tag.


Two minutes with Meagan Charleton, Community Connections

Portrait photo of conference attendee Meagan Charleton from Community Connections ACT

  • Describe your experience at the conference so far in 3 words.
    Organised, interesting and helpful.
  • Who have been your favourite speakers?
    Dougie Herd and Craig Wallace.
  • What did you hope to get out of attending the conference?
    To find out more about the NDIS. I’ve learnt a lot so it’s been really useful for me.


What can parents and carers do to build an inclusive environment?” asks Jennifer Kemp, Innovations Manager and occupational therapist, Lifestart

Here are some ideas that came out of the session:

  • Trust your community – trust that sometimes they can come together and do good
  • Develop your support networks and do it strategically
  • Reframe what you ask of your community. Ask: “what can you do to make us feel welcome?”
  • Say yes as often as possible. If someone offers you something, say yes even if it’s not the right time, as it may lead to something big.


Ever dreamed of having your own business? Maybe it’s come to you in a flash in the shower or something you’ve been mulling over for years. This morning’s panel explains how to make it happen in three steps:

  1. Draft your idea – An idea in your head is just that, so to get moving, get it on paper.
  2. Challenge your idea – is there a market for it? Put yourself in the customers shoes. And talk to people, your family, friends, a business adviser.
  3. Repeat! Do steps one and two again and again and suddenly you’re developing your business plan without even realising it.

The only way to make your idea a reality is to action it, so give it a go. There’s really nothing to lose!


It’s a full house for this morning’s session with Jill Maginnity of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. The key question being discussed? What are the benefits of support networks – not just for people with disability, but organisations and communities too.

Packed session about support networks led by Jill Maginnity of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.


“Sometimes in life things look big, overwhelming and we think to ourselves ‘will I be able to keep going’? I can assure you, that you can get through it.” International humanitarian Moira Kelly reaffirms why she was named Victorian of the Year 2012. #Inspirational

Moira Kelly speaks to a packed auditorium about her life story


It might be rainy and grey outside for day 2 of the conference, but it hasn’t dampened our spirits – or conference numbers! First up, Senator Mitch Fifield talks to a packed room via video conference. He reinforces the government’s commitment to the NDIS.

Senator Mitch Fifield speaking to a packed room via video conference


Right, that’s it from us for the day!

Until tomorrow, here’s a few themes that came out of today:

  • The NDIS will pose complex challenges as well as widespread rewards. The full nature and scope of change will unfold in the years to come – it won’t be an overnight transition.
  • If it is to succeed, we need to talk to one another. As Dougie Herd said this morning, “No one has a monopoly on wisdom.”
  • The planning process alone isn’t enough – it’s important to prepare for this. This means thinking about short and long term goals, considering what you want to achieve and using the resources available to you.


Another great audience question for one of today’s last presenters, Sean Fitzgerald, CEO, Awareness Technology Training and soon to be NDIS trial participant (ACT): How do you screen your support staff?

Image of Sean Fitzgerald, CEO of Awareness Technology Training speaking to an audience at the ACT Conference.

“It can be about many things such as trainability, empathy, manual dexterity. But when it comes down to it, it’s about personality. Sometimes it’s as simple as they open the door, give you a big smile and in that moment, you just know you have a lifeline.”


A tough question from the audience: Tasmania has a disability employment rate of 7-8%, while in the ACT the figure is just 2%. What can we do to improve these numbers?

The panel’s answer: “The Productivity Commission has said that the benefits of the NDIS will exceed the costs, due to the opportunities it will open up for education, training and employment. But these things won’t happen without jobs created. Governments need to educate employers that hiring someone with a disability will not be a burden – but a fantastic opportunity.”


With just seconds to go before the afternoon panel discussion, the crowds are piling back in!

Crowds enter the auditorium for a panel discussion at the ACT Conference


Know and talk about your human rights with your services, your family, carers and your friends. That’s the key message from this afternoon’s workshop led by James Bannister, from NDS Sector Development.

Photo of audience at workshop about rights for people with disability

Where you can get more information on your rights:


Two minutes with Leigh Creighton, NDIS Trial Site participant

Portrait photo taken of NDIS Trial Site participant and panellist taken at the conference.

Just before we kick off our afternoon workshops, here’s a few thoughts from panellist Leigh.

  • What do you hope to get out of today’s conference?
    That it will enrich and empower the people who attend it.
  • What’s been your favourite part so far?
    Delivering my speech and being part of the panel discussion. It’s also been really interesting to hear what other people have to say and hear their experiences.


Panel discussion: How do you prepare for the NDIS planning process?

Panel discussion at the ACT Conference

Today’s first panel discussion tackles this big question. Jacqui Suares, CEO of CODA and parent of a person with disability, says preparation is key. “Use the planning resources on the NDIA website, think about the services you’re already using, and consider the things you might have liked to do in the past but been unable to. Finally, think about your short and long term goals – where you want to be in 12 months and up to 10 years, to give you a sense of achievement.”

Jacqui and daughter Mia have been involved in the Barwon Project in VIC.


All set for the second session!



Bruce Bonyhady, Chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board, publicly acknowledges the impact of Every Australian Counts in getting the NDIS off the ground: “The EAC campaign was of great significance and continues to be. I thank those service providers who helped fund that campaign and the people with disability and their families who told their stories, which led to the eventual adoption of the scheme.”


The NDIS: reality vs vision

Dougie Herd talks to a packed audience about the NDIS

“How do we make the NDIS real? We need to talk to one another. We must recognise the enormity of the task and the complexity of the ever-changing landscape. We must also recognise that no one person has a monopoly on wisdom – each of us has a valid point of view.”

– Disability advocate Dougie Herd tells a captive crowd at the conference.


Here we are, reporting live from the ACT Conference! Two coffees down, so feeling revved up and ready to go. And check out the Every Australian Counts stand all set up and ready to rock! #Winning.

Photo of the EAC stand at the ACT Conference

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