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Empowering perspectives: Insights from the National Disability Summit

Hi my name is Frances.

I’m a mature woman with a disability who is trying to live my best possible life, which has included working and travelling around the world. This has enabled me to work and be involved in some amazing projects. I’m also a carer for someone with a psychosocial disability.  

As a person with a disability, my recent attendance at the 14th Annual National Disability Summit in Melbourne was an invaluable experience.

This event brought together passionate leaders and speakers from various corners of the NDIS, disability, and mental health sectors. It left me feeling not only recharged but also profoundly motivated to continue improving the systems and services that cater to individuals with disabilities.

Above all, it reinforced the fundamental principle that individuals with disabilities should always remain at the heart of everything we do.

Accompanied by 2 of my colleagues from Peoplecraft, we embarked on this journey to the heart of Australia’s disability service landscape. The National Disability Summit is a pivotal event for disability service providers and industry leaders alike, serving as a platform for vital discussions surrounding the NDIS and broader concerns within the disability sector.

One central theme reverberated throughout the conference: How can we enhance our support for people with disabilities and their families? The answer lies in creating a framework that offers greater choices, thereby maximising independence and participation.

The event’s diverse audience reflected the comprehensive scope of the disability sector, including NDIS service providers, community care organisations, support coordinators, individuals with disabilities, dedicated caregivers, government agencies at both state and federal levels, council organisations, NDIS representatives and  aged care providers. It was a testament to the widespread commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of people with disabilities.

The keynote address by the Honorable Bill Shorten MP, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, was a highlight. Mr Shorten expressed his unwavering dedication to improving the NDIS, with the aim of making it ‘world-class’ in every aspect. He emphasised the scheme’s long-term sustainability, ensuring that future generations could benefit from this vital support system.

What made this summit truly exceptional was the presence and participation of individuals with lived experiences of disability.

Organisations like Social Futures, serving as an NDIS Partner in the Community in various regions of New South Wales, deeply value the contributions of their employees who have firsthand experience of disability. These individuals bring unique insights and empathy to the table, enriching the dialogue and driving progress.

The event featured a lineup of distinguished speakers, including Caroline Tjoa, Director of the Include Ability Project at the Australian Human Rights Commission, and Dr Dinesh Palipana, a remarkable individual who wears many hats – doctor, lawyer, researcher and disability advocate. Dr Palipana’s recognition as the 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year is a testament to his unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

In conclusion, the 14th Annual National Disability Summit was more than just a conference – it was a rallying point for individuals and organisations dedicated to championing the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities.

It left us with a renewed sense of purpose, motivated to continue pushing boundaries and ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not just heard but actively engaged in shaping their own destinies.

The summit exemplified the power of collective action in the pursuit of a more inclusive and empowered society for all.

Frances Kupke-Smith

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