Northern Territory in Focus by Mick Fallon, April 2023
Let me begin by thanking everyone who attended our Regional and Remote Conference in Darwin on 14 March. It was great to see so many attendees — 90 on the day and another 40 listening in on the livestream. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting many new people from NT and interstate.
We had a fine line-up of expert speakers, delivering their opinions, insights and solutions when supporting people with disabilities in regional and remote Australia. They spoke about the challenges and difficulties, of course. Still, there were plenty of glass-half-full moments when they pointed out the promise, opportunities and privilege of working in remote areas.
Among my highlights was Tino Encabo, from Broome, who spoke about the hardships and rewards of delivering positive behaviour support in the Kimberley. The Kin Connect program from the MJD Foundation, presented by CEO Nadia Lindop, was a perfect way to close the day. Nadia was just one of the speakers who spoke about the importance of community, country and culture for First Nations people with disability. And three guests went to the source of the region's major headache — workforce recruitment and retention.
I want to thank everyone who gave up their time to share their experience and wisdom with us.
NT Hot Topics Breakfast
Most conference attendees gathered for our Hot Topics Breakfast earlier that day. The NT Minister for Disabilities, Hon. Ngaree Ah Kit, told us about the NT Government's work in the sector before an address by NDS CEO Laurie Leigh. After reminding us of the stark findings in the NDS State of the Disability Sector Report, released late last year, Laurie went through the hottest topics for Territorians: culturally appropriate support, the burden of NDIS compliance, regional voices being heard in the current NDIS review and, of course — again — workforce issues.
Laurie also went through the lessons from the recent report Quality and Safeguards Commission's report on SIL accommodation and our response, which broadly agreed that many failings of SIL are systemic issues that must be addressed soon. Staying with national issues, she discussed the Disability Royal Commission and what we might expect from their final report, due later in the year.
Finally, Laurie looked at the NDIS Review, whose report is also due later this year, noting the positivity of the commissioners – but reinforcing the importance of advocacy if providers are to see significant improvements in the scheme.
National Communities of Practice
It was evident at breakfast and the Conference everyone appreciated the time and space to exchange ideas and experiences. I encourage you (and your colleagues) to join our National Communities of Practice to continue these conversations. They are a great way to explore critical issues, create networks of peers and have your say in your area of interest. There is a CoP for every significant issue in disability support, but I recommend the Remote and Very Remote CoP especially.
All Abilities Expo
May I remind you of the All Abilities Expo on Friday, 19 May, run by IdA. It's a unique and interactive event that connects disability service providers with people with disability, carers, guardians and families. It's an excellent opportunity to speak directly to participants about your services.
SoSAFE training session
For support workers, trainers and teachers, there is a free full-day training session on supporting the social and sexual safety of people with mild to severe intellectual disability or autism. The SoSafe project is part of the National Safer Girls and Safer Women Project and members can register for one of two free sessions: Tuesday 2 May and Thursday 4 May at Darwin Corporate Park, Berrimah.
Go to the event page, to find out more and register for the Tuesday event or the Thursday event. Each event is capped at 25 participants. If there is no vacancy on your preferred date (and you cannot attend the other), please email convenor Sue Gore Phillips: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also contact Sue if you have any dietary requirements.