HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [9.43 pm]: I rise because Monday, 3 December was International Day of People with Disability, and this is a really good opportunity for us to acknowledge people living with disability and the extraordinary gains that have been made in our disability sector. This year’s theme is “empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. It is also a day to promote awareness of the challenges that continue to be faced by people who live with disability and the role that our community plays in accelerating the eradication of barriers to social inclusion and equity and participation and citizenship.
In the spirit of celebration, I use this opportunity to acknowledge and highlight the fantastic initiative that has been undertaken by People with Disabilities (WA) Inc and that is the Connect with Me project, which is particularly in keeping with this year’s theme. The Connect with Me project aims to make co-design a valued component of business rather than a compliance consideration. The project provides a mechanism for organisations to capture information based on the lived experience of people with disability. It helps to ensure that people affected by a decision have some direct say in what happens in their lives. There is always a lot of discussion about the importance of co-design, but there is precious little information about how to actually do it. Connect with Me is thought to be the first co-design tool developed specifically for people with disability living in WA. The model has three components—a guide explaining the co-design process, a toolkit to support co-design practice and a group of co-designers who provide advice and support to organisations hoping to go down this path. It effectively helps organisations to co-design better to ensure that our communities are appropriately accessible and inclusive for everyone going forward.
Another key strategy needed to ensure that people with disability are able to fully participate in society is the provision of ongoing funding for systemic advocacy. Of course I acknowledge that this government has recently announced funding for systemic disability advocacy as part of the transition phase to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but I cannot stress enough that this interim funding does not remove the need for ongoing systemic advocacy services in this state. It is really important that we do not go down the same path as Victoria and New South Wales, where the withdrawal of systemic advocacy funding at the end of their NDIS transition periods resulted in a lot of turmoil and problems within the sector and they ultimately had to reinstate it. I urge this government to recognise that this is a core business of the disability sector and hopefully that planning will remain ongoing. Systemic advocacy plays a key role in ensuring that services such as housing, justice and support are all in place and operating effectively on an ongoing basis.
The reality is that we constantly need to improve. We need to make sure that the great work that has been started with the Connect with Me project and the interim funding for systemic advocacy ultimately becomes embedded in our system and that they are able to be relied on as key principles underpinning the way in which we build more inclusive communities now and into the future. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. Only this week I asked a question that highlights just two examples of barriers faced by people with disability when accessing transport services in WA. This arose out of some conversations I had with people. The issues are deaf people not being able to hear announcements of changes in schedules and wheelchair users not being able to access the allotted space on trains and buses because of people with prams and bikes taking up space. These are just everyday hurdles that people live with, but they are the sorts of things we should be able to simply address, yet we do not. It means that people cannot access the most basic services.
I note the words of the late Stella Young, writer, comedian and advocate for people with disability, who sadly passed away four years ago. I think her words resonate quite significantly. She said —
We are not wrong for the world we live in. The world we live in is not yet right for us, and we need to change it.
I say hear, hear! International Day of People with a Disability is a pertinent reminder to acknowledge the great things taking place in the disability sector, but there is no room for complacency. There is always so much more that needs to be done.