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Speech: Disability Inclusion (Review Recommendations) Amendment Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Disability Inclusion (Review Recommendations) Amendment Bill 2023, and I do so to overwhelmingly support
the bill but to flag that, as has been raised by the opposition, the Greens will be moving a set of amendments. Certainly, those amendments have been discussed with government, opposition and
members of this crossbench, but they were due to the advocacy of JFA Purple Orange, and I do thank the team there as well.

Disabled people, or people living with a disability, have fought for decades against the ableism that runs deep within our decision-making processes. We have seen progress. The Royal
Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, established by my federal Greens colleague Senator Jordon Steele-John, painted a confronting picture and marked
a significant milestone for people living with a disability in this nation.

This bill represents yet another positive step. This progress is a result of fierce and fearless advocacy and action by grassroots advocates, activists, our national advocacy organisations, peak
bodies and those from the community who speak up and say 'nothing about us without us'. However, the Greens know that significant barriers still remain in our society and that disabled people continue to fall through the cracks, often being denied the same rights and supports that they need to live the lives that they deserve.

We commend the work being done by this government and in particular Minister Cook in initiating this particular bill before us from the government. We are pleased to see the implementation of several recommendations from the Dennis review, and it complements Australia's Disability Strategy 2021-2031. The consultation undertaken when developing this bill made clear that the right for people with a disability to actively contribute to the design and delivery of inclusive policies and programs was vitally important. Again, I will echo the commendations of the former minister, the Hon. Michelle Lensink, in this place, who in her time as minister had charge of some of these matters and has done some stellar work.

My office has been working with disability advocate group Purple Orange and has put forward a series of amendments to strengthen this legislation, take advantage of the opportunity that the government bill presents and ensure that the contributions of people living with a disability are not simply tokenistic and have genuine opportunity to contribute to the process. I note that the Greens have lodged those amendments in two forms, so as we move through the debate I will note that the Greens filed a second series of amendments, and that is the one that I will be pursuing today. I thought it was simply easier to file a whole second set of amendments after the various negotiations rather than try to work from two documents.

One of those amendments seeks to ensure that government genuinely co-designs with people living with a disability rather than them only having 'a right to participate in the design and delivery of inclusive policies and programs'. A meaningful co-design process would run through the life of a project, from the planning stages through to the implementation and, of course, the review. Co-design leads to stronger outcomes and when compared to consultation alone is so far superior. It brings a range of perspectives, experiences and expertise that the process would otherwise miss.

The Greens will also seek to include certainty for independent advocacy services. There must be options for advocacy external from government agencies to allow for advocates to provide independent advice when issues arise that involve government departments, for example. We have also seen successive South Australian governments inadequately funding independent advocacy services, and that is to our loss as a democracy. Enshrining this in legislation and using this particular opportunity would reinforce the responsibility and provide funding certainty. This move would also
bring us in line with some other jurisdictions.

We are also moving, in our amendments from the Greens, to further acknowledge the impacts and barriers faced by LGBTQIA+ and people living with a disability in regional South Australia. Those amendments reflect the fact that people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and people who live in regional South Australia and have a disability may also encounter many additional and compounding barriers. They often have to straddle the hurdle of less access to essential supports and services that are appropriate to their needs. A further amendment seeks to expand the reporting requirements of the chief executive when 'advising the minister on systemic or emerging accessibility and inclusion issues'. In addition to this requirement, our amendment would require more information such as details of the issue and the actions taken and proposed and, if no action was taken, the reasons for that decision. That would provide for increased accountability and transparency and encourage broader conversations and
engagement on how best to manage emerging issues.

The Greens will also move an amendment to require the government to set public sector employment targets for people living with a disability in the State Disability Inclusion Plan. Our amendments also provide that an independent auditor would track the progress of achieving those targets. This way, the state government can serve as a model employer and lead the way in lifting the workforce participation rates for people in our state living with a disability.

The Dennis review, of course, highlighted the benefits of inclusive employment, if anyone needed to be reminded or advised that this was in fact something that we should be striving for.
There are positive economic impacts, increased independence, reduced pressure on public resources and contributions made by people living with disability as exceptional workers that are not only recognised in that report but, I would hope, would be supported by all in this chamber today.

Finally, we have an amendment that is designed to ensure that disability access and inclusion plans continue to develop and be effective. Some of the initial plans used ill-defined and vague language, resulting in ineffective and ill-defined outcomes. This amendment will seek to include a requirement for measurable outcomes. Clearly articulated outcomes ensure that it will be much more than just a tick box exercise, and help agencies and local councils to understand when it is working and when it is not.

I again thank Purple Orange and the team there for their work in ensuring that we had in this debate genuine insight into issues affecting South Australian people living with a disability. This bill does represent a significant step and is an opportunity to make our state a leader in this space. With that, I commend the bill

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