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FREE National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Sessions


The number of people on the Sunshine Coast living with a disability, and who are entitled to government funding, is expected to double in the next few years under the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Sunshine Coast-based charity, 121 Care, will host a series of information sessions in March on what the introduction of the NDIS will mean for those on the Coast living with disabilities.

While the NDIS has been rolled out across much of Australia in the last 18 months, it will not come into effect on the Sunshine Coast until January 1, 2019. However, the evidence suggests that those who have access to quality information about the NDIS are able to make a smoother transition to the new system than those who do not.

The information sessions, to be held at libraries throughout the Sunshine Coast, will examine the ways in which the NDIS operates, eligibility for the new system and what the next steps are.

“There has been a lot of concern among with people with disabilities, their families and carers about what the introduction of the NDIS will mean for their funding,” 121 Care General Manager Kym Chomley said.

“It is likely though, that many more people will be eligible for long-term funding under the NDIS for the provision of support services. We have seen the NDIS rollout in other parts of Australia and we have seen what has worked well with the system and what clients need to be aware of.

“Like all things, the more information individuals have, the more empowered they can be.

“The Federal Government has given an undertaking that no individuals will be worse off financially under the NDIS. We want to ensure people on the Sunshine Coast living with a disability know how to enter into the NDIS and get the most out of it to ensure they have all the support they need and can aim to live a life which is enriching and joyful.”

Free NDIS Information Sessions
Library Date Time
Coolum Library Thursday, March 2 2pm-3.30pm
Kawana Library Saturday, March 4 10am-11.30am
Maroochydore Library Thursday, March 9 10.30am-noon
Maleny Library Saturday, March 11 10am-11.30am
Caloundra Library Thursday, March 16 10am-11.30am
Beerwah Library Thursday, March 23 10am-11.30am
Nambour Library Saturday, March 25 10am-11.30am


The reason so many people are concerned about changes to their funding models is because the funding is used, among other things, to pay support staff to help them get in and out of bed, meal preparation, bathing, dressing, social interaction, shopping. These are things those without a disability take for granted.

“The more planning people with disabilities do before the NDIS is introduced, the more likely they are to get the funding they both need and would like,” Ms Chomley said.

“121 Care is encouraging people with a disability to start planning for the NDIS as soon as possible. This allows them to be clear on what they need and allows their service providers to help them get it.”

NDIS funding will be available to Australians with a disability, who are aged 65.

Bookings for the sessions are essential and can be made here: https://library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Whats-On/Legal-and-Finance/Disability-Support

If you would like more information on the NDIS or the information sessions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 5443 9777.

What to do if you receive a Centrelink debt notice

centrelinkYesterday the Canberra Times ran a story about a new round of Centrelink debt notices expected to be issued in coming weeks to some people on a Disability Support Payments.

We understand receiving a debt notice can be extremely stressful. However, we are encouraging recipients of these letters to not panic.

If you do receive what you believe to be an incorrect debt notice, we strongly suggest you to take advantage of the resources being offered by the Queensland Council of Social Service here QCOSS website.

Below is the Canberra Times story.

Noel Towell

The Coalition government is to target families, pensioners and disabled Australians with its controversial Centrelink “robo-debt” campaign, Parliamentary documents show.

The mid-year economic forecast tables published last week shows the government has booked savings of $1.1 billion clawing back overpayments of the aged pension and another $400 million from the disability support pension.

The tables also show the government believes it can retrieve another $700 million from hundreds of thousands of Australian families who receive parenting payment or have been paid the benefit in the past.

The moves could bring up to four million more Australians into the sights of the data-matching program, which uses an automated system to match information held by Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office and calculate overpayments.

Centrelink’s parent department, Human Services, confirmed on Tuesday that its data matching technology would be picking up any income from investments, business or real estate declared to the ATO, usually in annual tax returns going back many years, but not to Centrelink.

A departmental spokesman said the activity, which could lead to debt collectors being called in or even criminal prosecution, was “normal”.

But the policy has been beset by errors and has been hugely controversial with many of those targeted for debt recovery saying they are being hounded by debt collectors, or threatened with jail, for money that they do not owe.

Elderly Australians have already begun contacting Fairfax to say they have been received letters generated by the data matching program.

After weeks of concerted protest against the robo-debt campaign, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge Tudge agreed this week to make some modifications to the letters, which he insists are not debt letters, but pledged to push ahead with the campaign which the government says will add $4.5 billion overall to the budget bottom line

But he has not satisfied the program’s many critics who want it shut down until the high rate of bogus debts being generated can be addressed.

The data matching effort so far has been concentrated overwhelmingly on mostly young people who have received the dole or Youth Allowance, although evidence is emerging that students have also been hit heavily.

But the supporting tables to the government’s mid-year financial and fiscal outlook, published on Thursday by the Parliamentary Budget office, reveal that Coalition policy is to massively extend the data matching effort to the more than 2.5 million age pensioners and about 800,000 disability support pensioners.

The papers also reveal that the government believes it will slash spending by $400 million on the disability support pension and $700 million on parenting payment.

Centrelink spokesman Hank Jongen said that people caught in the data dragnet would first be asked to clarify their position.

“It is important to note that these measures only pick up those cases where the information declared to the ATO is different to that declared to Centrelink,” Mr Jongen said

“In the first instance people are simply asked to either update or confirm their details.

“The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook measures are intended to extend the current compliance activity for non-employment income, assets and investments e.g. income from financial investments, business and real estate that has been declared to the ATO.”

Equip yourself with this app


The free Equip Myself app – developed by the Western Australian Independent Living centre – basically transformed my iPad into a virtual, world exploring assistive technology. This is done by touching tabs at the top of the app which include some true stories, a virtual world and an independent search function that accesses the National Equipment Database.

 The app, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play for both Apple and android mobile devices respectively, was developed by a team of people including some with disabilities, healthcare professionals and digital design specialists.

 To start using Equip Myself, you will need to set up a user profile so you can request more information which is directed via email to, in this case, LifeTech which is the former Independent Living Centre in Brisbane.

 By filling your profile in, you will automatically be directed to your closest Independent Living Centre based on postcode and state. The Equip Myself app is very easy to use and through accessing the search function, you can find a list of products and suppliers.

To your profile, you can add support people, service providers, occupational therapists or anyone else you want to include in your quest to discover assistive technology. This will be particularly useful when it comes to discussing the different options presented to you.

Alternatively you can browse the items showcased in the app by category including home, work, leisure and sports and mobility. For example in the home category it includes bathroom, bedroom, entrance, garden, kitchen, laundry, living room and study. You can touch anyone of these and then it breaks down into subcategories to assist narrowing your search.

 It includes pictures of the assistive technology which is great and can save you time finding a product.

The Pros: It’s free and a breeze to use; you have access to a fairly extensive database which I imagine will only increase over time.

The Cons: I have quadriplegia and the database for my purposes could be more specific and extensive; it is a very new app so one would imagine over time the database will grow.

My advice: If you need access to assistive technology, is to download it NOW and start using it; I very much doubt you will be disappointed.

– Steve D, 121 Care Management Committee Member




Help us find D’Wayne some tape recorders


This piece of equipment may seem charmingly retro to many but for Sunshine Coast’s D’Wayne, it is a lifeline to the world he cannot see. And it is a lifeline which is in alarmingly short supply.

Beerwah’s D’Wayne, 26, was born blind and autistic and his tape recorders are a way for him to connect with the world through sound. Each day D’Wayne takes out his tape recorder and literally, records his day. Each night, his mum transcribes the tapes from the day so D’Wayne has an audible record of what he has done.

D’Wayne also uses tape recorders to listen to his large collection of tapes.

However, D’Wayne and his family are running out of tape recorders and are looking to stock up now while they may still be able to.

While switching to an iPod or an android phone may seem like a smarter way to go for D’Wayne, new technology is not something he can embrace easily because of his autism. People with autism generally experience difficulty with social interaction and communication and are most comfortable engaging in repetitive behaviours.

However, D’Wayne’s practice of recording his day means he wears out old tape decks pretty quickly. The family has enough for the next few months.

Given D’Wayne’s autism, the type of tape recorder he is familiar with operating is a standard 23cm by 14cm and takes normal tapes.

If you have a tape recorder with these dimensions, D’Wayne and his family want to hear from you. Obviously, donations would be preferable, but the family is able to pay a small sum for any tape recorders which fit the bill. Blank tapes will also be most welcome.

If you can help, or suggest where D’Wayne may be able to source some old-time tape decks, please email social@121care.org.au or call us on 5443 9777.


Tania’s day at the beach


As Sunshine Coast Regional Council considers the feedback from the accessible beach matting trials at Alexandra Headland and Maroochydore in November, Coastie Tania S. shared her experiences of one of the trials.

As Tania explains, a day at the beach is no easy matter for a person in the wheelchair. As for getting in the water, well that is an event in itself. So when the beach matting was at Alex on November 5, Tania went into the water. And then again, the second time fuly clothed.

Read about her day here and make sure you check out the video Tania’s day at the beach


Accessible beach matting trial brings smiles (and tears)

Amy Deguara enjoying the beach.

Amy Deguara enjoying the beach.

Something pretty special happened at Alexandra Headland Beach last weekend as quite a few people who hadn’t been able to get into the ocean for years were able to have a dip.

The distance from the footpath through the sand and into the ocean may as well be miles for some people with disabilities, those in wheelchairs, the elderly and anyone unsteady on their feet.

Some of this distance was bridged on Saturday with a Sunshine Coast Regional Council trial of wheelchair accessible beach matting. The matting provided for the trial was 15 metres and ended tantalisingly close to the water’s edge.

Spontaneously, volunteer lifesavers – both on and off duty – family members and beach-goers pitched in offering to take those who wanted to go the extra few metres into the ocean so they could enjoy waves crashing over them.

The beach matting was excellent, offering a stable, durable way for wheelchairs to traverse soft sand while the community bridging the last few metres from the end of the matting into the ocean created many magical moments for those at the water’s edge.

The trial was an unbridled success, not least of all because of the amazing sense of community we enjoy here on the Sunshine Coast.

There are many emotional stories from Alex on Saturday morning; not least of all young Chase who appears in Jason O’Pray’s video (below), or 15-year-old Ryen who hadn’t been in the ocean since he was five.

One young man, usually confined to a wheelchair, was taken into the ocean for a swim and said he wished he could surf. The lifesavers grabbed a boogie board and this man then spent 20 minutes catching waves. His only complaint was the waves were not big enough!

There was an older man who said he had not been able to get into the ocean for two decades while another woman went in the water once, wanted more and came back down the mat and had lifeguards help her into the water so she could feel the waves on her body.

The unbridled joy, the squeals and happiness and the tears of joy at seeing people re-claim their right to have a simple dip in the ocean had a profound impact on many of us there.

Council is now seeking to trial a second beach matting product to ensure the most appropriate beach matting is used. It is hoped this trial can be conducted in the next few weeks.

Local Councillor Jason O’Pray has committed $2,500 towards the cost of the matting while 121 Care has kicked in $1,500. All going well, it is likely the Sunshine Coast Regional Council may be able to roll out matting at two Sunshine Coast beaches before Christmas.

Funding support from the public and community groups will encourage Council to introduce the matting onto more Sunshine Coast beaches, so come on Sunshine Coast, #letsmakethishappen.

To see some footage of the morning, check out Councillor Jason O’Pray’s video here: https://www.facebook.com/jason.opray/videos/1079689858814641/




Accessible matting to be trialled


This Saturday, November 5, a trial will be held of wheelchair accessible beach matting at Alexandra Headland Beach.

Starting at 10am, the trial is an opportunity for Sunshine Coast Regional Council to test one of a number of beach matting products which have been designed to make access to the beach easier for people in wheelchairs, people unsteady on their feet, parents with strollers and the elderly.

This is the Sunshine Coast’s opportunity to send a clear message to Council that this kind of matting is both needed and wanted on some of our beaches. The best way to do this is a show of numbers at the trial this weekend.

Sunshine Coast Council has organised the trial after lengthy community consultation.

121 Care has committed $1,500 to the installation of the first accessible beach matting on the Sunshine Coast while Councillor Jason O’Pray has contributed $2,500. A successful trial will go a very long way to encouraging Council to commit further funds to make this a reality.

The trial starts at 10am and is expected to last about two hours – depending on the number of people wanting to use the matting. The matting will be set up at the ramp near the lifeguard tower.

Council has organised additional disability parking spots at the beach for the day.

121 Care believes the installation of beach matting will go a long way to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities living and holidaying on the Sunshine Coast. Research has proven being at the beach has enormous and numerous health benefits including boosting your immune system and soothing emotions.

The product being tested this Saturday is Mobi Mat’s portable roll-out beach access mat. The matting is designed to be rolled out of a morning and rolled back up again at the end of the day for internal storage.

At least one more trial of a comparable product is expected to be held in coming weeks on the Sunshine Coast.

NDIS glitches being addressed – NDIA Chairman


As I am writing this letter to you, I can hear my two adult sons with disability in our kitchen. They are with my wife, preparing our Father’s Day lunch.

I am grateful they have allowed me time today to write to you, my NDIS family; the thousands of Australians with disability, their families, friends and carers.

As I travel across Australia, and speak to and receive many letters and emails from the NDIS community – whom I now call family – I am constantly reminded of the daily and lifelong struggles you face with great courage and determination.

This makes me acutely aware that the past few weeks must have been very difficult.

Each time the NDIS experiences challenges, hundreds and thousands of Australians fear the worst: that the NDIS won’t reach them and help change their lives for the better.

I assure you, the NDIS will be delivered in full, right across Australia.

From July 1, there have been some significant issues, with the introduction of the new portal and our communications with stakeholders. I apologise for the stress this has caused.

Now the portal is operating successfully with 96 per cent of payments being processed and paid within 48 hours.

I thank you for your patience while we have been working to improve the new portal.

What has given me great confidence during these last few weeks has been the commitment and high capability of our staff, the culture we have built of learning as well as performing and the expertise and commitment of our many partners.

Minister Porter, our staff, other members of the public service, our partners, and many service providers have all united to overcome this challenge. It is shared commitments, like we have seen in recent weeks, that will ensure that the NDIS is delivered successfully.

During the trial phase of the NDIS, we also experienced and overcame many challenges.

Looking ahead, some of the risks and challenges will be big. Others will be small. Not everything will be right first time.

However, our track record of agile, measured and highly effective responses should give you and the Australian community confidence that we are building the NDIS successfully.

Getting back on target

On Friday, I was invited to speak to all the Ministers responsible for the development and delivery of the NDIS at the Disability Reform Council Meeting in Sydney.

I advised the Ministers that I have full confidence in the National Disability Insurance Agency and our ability to deliver the Scheme on time and on budget, because our loyal and dedicated staff and partners are our greatest asset.

The CEO of the Agency, David Bowen, and I presented our strategies to get plan approvals back on track by the end of this year.

We expect that by the end of this calendar year up to 38,500 more participants will have approved plans, provided we get the data we need on time. This will amount to more new participants in six months than the total that came into the NDIS during the three-year trial period.

We will be greatly assisted in meeting these targets, as a result of significant additional resources that have been allocated to the Agency by Minister Porter.

All the Ministers responsible for the NDIS gave their strongest support and assurances that they and their Departments will work cooperatively with the Agency to deliver the full NDIS.

The high level of goodwill between governments and strong commitment and collaboration from everyone who is contributing to the roll-out of the NDIS will need to continue and, indeed, strengthen for us to realise the vision of a better life for thousands of Australians with a disability.

Unity, singularity of purpose and mutuality are the foundations on which the NDIS is being built.

We need to remain united – to continue with our shared vision, purpose and actions.

The best thing you can do to help us deliver the NDIS is to give us your feedback directly at Feedback@ndis.gov.au

On behalf of the National Disability Insurance Agency, you have our unwavering commitment to deliver the NDIS in full.

I have included in this letter a personal photo of me and my sons today. They are my absolute joy and enable me, in so many ways, to contribute to building the NDIS.

With my best wishes to you, your family and friends,

Bruce Bonyhady AM Chair National Disability Insurance Agency

Dating for people with disabilities






michael-burkeMichael Burke is a man who likes to get thing done. And having chanced his hand at internet dating, the Buderim man reckons there’s gap in the market so this week he launched his own website – datingmyability.com

“There is a clear gap in the market,” the 46-year-old said. “As someone who suffers from mental health issues I found it hard to meet people on regular online dating sites and those I met stopped talking to me when I told them about my disability.

“After having no luck on various dating websites, I went looking for a disabled dating website and found almost everyone one of them required monthly fees, which people on a disability support pension can’t afford.

“So I started my own dating site where people with a disability can meet other people with a disability and everyone knows what is what from the beginning and there is no monthly fee so it is 100% free.”

Michael is confident there is a market for his new website and while he has no grand ambitions to bank a fortune from his latest endeavour, he is hoping to find love and to help others along on the same journey.

“I just want to meet someone who is like-minded and who won’t discriminate because I have a disability,” Michael said. “I have met a lot of people and I am a pretty honest bloke who just likes to be upfront with people.

“I also want to make sure people with a disability have the chance to meet others who understand them and won’t be put off by the idea of being with someone who has a disability.

Michael said the website is open to adults with all forms of disability.

The website, www.datingmyability.com, has been made possible with “a lot of help from overclockers”, an online forum where Michael sourced much of his information and tested the site. Michael has also set up a Go Fund Me page where he hopes to raise $250 for Google ads to help the website thrive and to cover hosting fees.

“The more donations I receive, the more I can advertise the site to people who may benefit from it,” Michael said.

“The more people who join the website, the more the lives of people in the community who have a disability will grow.”

For more information, contact Michael on admin@datingmyability.com


Ensuring access to sex workers for people with disabilities

Rights denied forum

Tickets are now available for the Rights Denied forum, looking at challenging the criminal code allowing easier access to sex workers for people with a disability.

Below is the full agenda for the day with a group of high profile, leading industry advocates and speakers set to speak on a topic many think of as taboo.

The forum is open to the general public, people working within the disability sector, people with a disability and their carer/family. Tickets can be secured now at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/rights-denied-forum-tickets-27118623533

To hear an interview about the purpose of the forum, you can listen to ABC Coast FM”s Annie Gaffney interview 121 Care General Manager Kym Chomley, here: https://soundcloud.com/abc-sunshine-coast/disabled-seek-access-to-safe-sex-with-help

The Rights Denied Forum is proudly presented by


maurice Blackburn logoQAI Logo with Name 3Quality Lifestyle Support logoQCIDD logo121 Care logo (2)








Program for the day

Time Topic/s Presenter/s


9:00 Registration and coffee


9:30 – 9:45 Welcome – Setting the scene and housekeeping Miriam Taylor – QCIDD


9:45 -10:15

Including question time

Presentation 1: Human rights perspective

– Understanding our obligations

– Recognising the issues for Qld

Michelle O’Flynn – QAI
9:45 – 10:30 Conversation 1: What are the most important considerations in balancing the right to choose against protecting the most vulnerable? Participants – perspective from person, family, service provider, system


10:30 – 11:15 Presentation 2: Individual and family perspectives

– Over-riding the perception of PWD as the eternal child

– Remembering the person within and the right to choose

People invited by core team

Helen Mills – parent

4 people speaking on video – QLS

11:15 – 11:30 – Morning Tea


11:30 – 12:30

Including question time

Panel discussion 1: Informed consent – the need for information and education

– Promote understanding of limited ‘natural’ relationship and sexuality experiences for PWD in as teenagers and young people

– Discuss what may be needed to bridge the gap and bring PWD ‘up to speed’

– Capacity based approaches to sexuality and consent, (as opposed to purely protective based approaches)

Family Planning Qld – Anthony Walsh

Respect – Annie

Consentability – Natasha Alexander

12:30 – 13:00 Conversation 2: What is needed to break down the taboo?

– What might be needed to help understanding?

Participants – perspective from person, family, service provider, system
13:00-13:30 – Lunch


13:30 – 14:30 Panel discussion 2: Opportunities and challenges under the NDIS

– When choice and control is limited by law

– The risk that the NDIS is not nationally consistent

Simon Wardale – Endeavour Foundation

John Hart – QLS

Maurice Blackburn rep

14:30 – 15:15 Conversation 3: The Key Three – articulate the three most pressing factors (positive or negative) that need to be considered in developing options and progressing change Participants – perspective from person, family, service provider, system


15:15 – 15:45

Including question time

Presentation 3: Operationalising the Criminal Code – the challenges currently and possible future options

– Summary of Qld provisions

– Overview of provisions in other jurisdictions

Benedict Coyne – Australian Lawyers for Human Rights


15:45 – 16:15 Conversation 4: What would an appropriately balanced legislative model for Qld look like?

– What situations should invoke additional penalties? Think power issues (staff/client, rape)

– What are the initial concerns?

Participants – perspective from person, family, service provider, system
16:15 – 16:30 Bringing it all together – discussion from the floor – thanks and acknowledgement Michelle O’Flynn – QAI

Proposed Attendees:

  1. Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)
  2. Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD)
  3. Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ)
  4. Family Planning Queensland (FPQ)
  5. Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI)
  6. Queensland Aged and Disability Advocacy (QADA)
  7. Speaking Up For You (SUFY)
  8. Community Resource Unit (CRU)
  9. Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN)
  10. Queensland Parents of People with Disability (QPPD)
  11. Queensland Mental Health Commission (QMHC)
  12. The Advocacy and Support Centre (TASC)
  13. Queensland Police Service (QPS)
  14. Endeavour Foundation
  15. Synapse
  16. Open Minds
  17. Mamre
  18. Alzheimer’s Association
  19. Down Syndrome Association
  20. Qld Govt (DS, DJAG)
  21. Centre of Excellence (DCCSDS/UQ)
  22. Queensland Law Society (Health and Disability Committee)
  23. Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)