Parliamentary Triangle Seminar Series

Disability Policy Reform - Confronting The Realities

Thu 9 October 2014Facilitator: Adjunct Professor Virginia Haussegger AM

Registration: 12 noon  and lunch
Venue: Old Parliament House  
Event: 12.30pm

On 9 October 2014 the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis(IGPA) will hold its Spring Parliamentary Triangle Seminar. These seminars are designed to provide a neutral space in which public servants, members of the public and academics can feel free to discuss the critical governance issues confronting Australia in an open and frank way. Our spring seminar will focus on concerns about the extent to which current initiatives in disability policy reform enable people with disability to more fully participate in our society. As our seminar occurs on the eve of World Mental Health Day, our seminar will particularly address gaps in provision including of the needs of people with mental health concerns. Some of the issues to be addressed include:

  • Focus: What issues should disability policy reform address?
  • Outcomes: What do people with disability require that will enable them to more fully participate in our society?
  • Advocacy: What role, if any, should existing disability services play in a new system of disability services?
  • Mental Health gap: With the development of the tiered NDIS system, what gaps may arise in the delivery of health, employment and other services for key disability groups, such as people with mental illness?
  • Data gaps: What data needs to be collected to ensure that outcomes for PWD can be compared just before entry to the scheme and, say, five years later?
  • Consumer expectations: What are the expectations of consumers (and their families or carers) and what are their concerns?


Virginia Haussegger AM, is an award winning journalist, author and social commentator. With more than 20 years in news broadcasting, her work has taken her around the globe – from the Middle East, Iraq, Europe, Afghanistan and Washington - reporting for Australia’s leading current affairs programs on Channel 9, the 7 Network and the ABC.

Virginia currently presents ABC TV News in Canberra, and hosts a variety of broadcast discussion events and panel forums. She is widely published across Australian print media and has been a weekly columnist for The Canberra Times, and contributor to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

She is Adjunct Professor with the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra, where she runs Masterclasses on Strategic Communications. Earlier this year Virginia was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Awards, for significant service to the community, particularly as an advocate for women's rights and gender equity, and to the media.

Panel Speakers

Graeme Innes AM is a lawyer, mediator and company director, and was appointed Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner in December 2005. During that time, he also served as Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner (2005–2009) and as Race Discrimination Commissioner (2009–2011). As Commissioner, Graeme contributed to human rights reform initiatives. He participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its ratification by Australia. He also played an instrumental role in the Same Sex: Same Entitlements enquiry, which resulted in the removal of discrimination across Australian federal law. Graeme also contributed to the development of the National Disability Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010, as well as to the establishment of Livable Housing Australia. In his role as Human Rights Commissioner, he undertook three annual inspections of Australia’s Immigration Detention facilities. As a human rights advocate, in his personal capacity as well as professionally, Graeme has achieved a number of reforms for people with disability. In 2013 acting in a personal capacity, he won a case in the Federal Magistrates Court against RailCorp.
John Walsh AM has recently retired as a Partner in the Advisory division of PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked for over twenty years. He has been a Board member of the NSW Motor Accident Authority and the NSW HomeCare Service and statutory actuary to workers compensation authorities of both New South Wales and South Australia and the NSW Lifetime Care and Support Authority. In 2008 Mr Walsh was a member of the Disability Investment Group established to study options for increasing the investment opportunities in the disability sector, and in 2010 he was appointed to the Productivity Commission to investigate the feasibility of a National Disability Insurance Scheme and other options to fund lifetime care and support for people with a disability. In 2011 he was made Deputy-Chair of the National Health Performance Authority and recently was appointed to the Board of the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Sue Salthouse has worked as a systemic advocate in the area of social justice and human rights since 1996.Australia’s ratification of United Nations Human Rights conventions provide the scaffold she uses to address the discrimination and marginalisation experienced by women and girls with disabilities. Since 1997, Sue has have convened Women With Disabilities ACT, and is a Board member of Rights & Inclusion Australia (RI Australia), Advance Personnel (a Disability Employment Service), Women in Adult & Vocational Education, and is a member of the Council of the University of Canberra. Sue has been part of a team which has pioneered the ACT Crisis Service Scheme which provides support for women with disabilities escaping situations of violence. Sue is the 2014 ACT Senior Woman of the Year.
Liz Carr was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her late 20’s, and has been actively working on her recovery for over 25 years. She has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Diploma in Community Development. Her own experiences with mental distress and recovery led her to start working as an advocate with VMIAC in 1998, at which time she was one of only three employed staff. VMIAC gained recognition as the peak body for people with lived experience of mental health issues in 2008, and the organisation has grown in size and profile since this time. Liz is currently the Acting Director of VMIAC. In her various roles at VMIAC, Liz has maintained a passion for promoting the voice of people with lived experience in all matters that affect their lives. Liz has a strong view that people hold expert knowledge about their own lives and needs, and that this knowledge must be heard and responded to by mental health services to maximise outcomes for consumers. She is very pleased that Victoria’s new Mental Health Act establishes principles and processes to support this being achieved. Liz has broad experience in individual and systemic advocacy within Victoria’s mental health service system, including working across both metropolitan and rural regions. Her work has also included specific projects such as developing consumer participation in aged persons’ mental health services and working with a rural community to establish a peer-run consumer organisation.

next steps

Meredith Edwards AM is Emeritus Professor at the University of Canberra.  She is an economist who has been a lecturer, researcher, policy analyst and administrator through her career. From 1983 until 1997, she advised on some major social policy issues in the Australian Public Service, including in the role of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1993. Professor Edwards served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra from 1997 to 2002. She became its Inaugural Director of the National Institute for Governance in 1999 until 2004. Her publications include: “Social Policy, Public Policy:  From Problem to Practice”  (2001); and co-author of “Public Sector Governance in Australia” (2012) and “Not yet 50/50: Barriers to the Progress of Senior Women in the Australian Public Service” (2013).  She has been a member of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration since 2010 and is Chair of the IGPA Disability Policy Advisory Committee.


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