There are a number of services available to individuals living with a physical disability and their family and carers. The services discussed below can be used in circumstances where you seek to enforce or protect your legal rights as a result of your physical disability, or if you are seeking disability support.
The Disability Act 2006 (Vic) (“Disability Act”) came into full operation on 1 July 2007 and replaced the Disability Services Act 1991 (Vic) and the Intellectually Disabled Persons’ Services Act 1986 (Vic). The Disability Act is the legislative basis for services to people with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities, and provides for the funding of service providers or researchers in accordance with scheduled objects, principles, objectives and funding agreements. The provision of these services is administered by the Disability Services Division of the Department of Human Services (DHS), which is a component of the portfolio of the Minister for Community Services, the Minister for Mental Health and the Minister for Senior Victorians.
Under the Disability Act is the Disability Services Commissioner (“the Commissioner”) whose role is to investigate and conciliate complaints about the delivery of services by a provider and to make recommendations to ensure the best quality disability services are provided. The Commissioner is independent of the government, DHS and Victorian disability service providers.
A complaint can be made in writing, in person, in electronic format, or over the phone, but it is best to make a written complaint whenever possible. The Commissioner may also consider complaints against a disability services provider that has not responded in an appropriate manner to a client’s initial complaint. In all cases, the Commissioner may decline to investigate complaints that are lacking in substance, are vexatious, have already been determined or are currently being considered by another body, or if the subject matter of the complaint relates to an incident that occurred more than 12 months before the complaint is made. The Commissioner may allow late complaints, provided the delay is not unreasonable and there is good reason for the delay.
The Disability Act also created the position of the Senior Practitioner, vested with extensive powers to set standards and guidelines, and monitor direct disability service providers in relation to the use of restrictive interventions and compulsory treatment.
Other Acts discussed in this chapter in relation to provision of services to people with a disability are the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (“EO Act”) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (“DDA”).
Physical Disability Australia (PDA) is the national peak organisation that represents the opinions and concerns of individuals living with physical disability. The purpose of PDA is to convince governments to implement laws that allow for the full participation of individuals with physical disability in all aspects of society.
PDA has several aims including:
•to generate political influence through proactive lobbying and representation to promote change, to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities;
•to share information with state and territory organisations and individual members on issues concerning people with physical disabilities;
•to provide avenues for informal and formal consultations with members and physical disability service providers.
Membership with PDA is free and accessible to all persons aged 18 years or over with a physical disability. Individual membership comes with voting rights. Family members of individuals with physical disabilities can also become members but this membership does not allow voting rights.
Physical Disability Australia
Level 30, Westpac House,
91 King William Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Tel: (08) 7129 8085