19 August 2022

Graeme Innes reflects on the value of lived experience and Labor’s priorities now they are back in charge of the NDIS.

Illustration of Graeme Innes with the text "Really, I think we need to be presented as agents of our own destiny." Graeme Innes. Episode 37 Disability Done.

DSC is Australia's leading training, conference and consulting group specialising in the NDIS. Staff members Evie Naufal and Roland Naufal sat down in the studio with Life Without Barriers Non-Executive Director Graeme Innes AM for their podcast Disability Done Different and had a candid conversation about reclaiming the NDIS.

The DSC team said it was, "Amazing listening to former Disability Discrimination Commissioner and all round great guy Graeme Inness talk on Disability Done Different."

Below are some exerts from the podcast.

Evie asked Graeme, "Whether organisations in the disability sector really are leaders in terms of disability employment, and disability access?"

Graeme Innes shared, "I think a number of organisations play that role. I like to think that Life Without Barriers, to name one, only because I'm on the Board of it, plays that role. I think that Northcott plays that role. I think there are a number of other big disability service providers who do try to lead in that area."

"One of the areas where I think we fall down is that disability service provision organisations should be far better at employing people with disabilities than they are."

"It's often the first question I ask senior people in such organisations, so what's the percentage of people with disabilities that you employ?" Said Graeme.

The conversation then turned to the current issues and also changes happening in the NDIS.

"I think the right positive noises are being made and there are clear intentions to address the problems in the NDIS. The NDIS is like a big cruise ship or container ship. It's a big scheme. There are more than 500,000 people now supported by the NDIS, it's going to take time to turn it around. So I'm seeing good signs, but I don't know yet that we're seeing that many positive results." Said Graeme.

A key theme of the podcast was disability employment and where organisations are doing great work, but also, not so great work.

"I think 19% of the employees of the NDIS are people with disabilities, but if you took the top two or three levels of leadership, I think you would find that percentage would drop very significantly." Said Graeme.

"We need to change that so that we have people with lived experience of disability."

"I think lived experience of disability has to become one of the criteria for finding leadership of the scheme. It just hasn't been in the past, and we wouldn't have a huge agency supporting women without women running it at the top. We don't have large agencies supporting the First Australians, Aboriginal people, which don't have strength of Aboriginal leadership. Why is it any different for people with disabilities?"

You can find the full episode here and the full transcript below.

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