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Media Releases

Media Release 31 Nov 2016


Call for action to end indefinite detention of people with disability

Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) welcomes the report on the Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment, which was tabled yesterday by the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs.

The report outlines 32 recommendations for concerted law reform and justice measures as well as the development of integrated policies and programs to prevent people with disability from being indefinitely detained in prisons and psychiatric facilities. 

The majority of people with a cognitive and psychiatric impairment who are subject to indefinite detention are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Damian Griffis, CEO First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) said: “The ongoing and indefinite imprisonment of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment is a serious abuse of human rights. We welcome the Senate inquiry report and commend the Senate for turning its attention to this issue. It is critical that swift action is taken in order to end the incarceration of people with disability and to provide appropriate support and services as an alternative to jail.”

Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia said: “It is just unacceptable that indefinite detention is a reality for many people with disability.  The United Nations has made a number of recommendations to Australia to act to end indefinite detention, and Australia responded with a commitment to do so in November 2015, but so far little has been done.  The recommendations from this report must form the blueprint for coordinated action by all Australian governments to fulfil this commitment.”

DPO Australia also stressed the connection between the recommendations from this Inquiry and the recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into violence, abuse, and neglect of people with disability, which was handed down a year ago but has not been responded to by the Government.  DPO Australia looks forward to working with the Government on implementing robust, national reforms based on the recommendations from both Inquiries.

DPO Australia also calls for the Australian Government to urgently ratify and ensure domestic implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and the establishment of an independent national preventive mechanism to monitor places of detention, including prisons, forensic facilities, juvenile justice detention centres, disability justice centres and mental health facilities.

Note to editors

The Indefinite detention of people with a cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia Senate report is available online:

Disabled People’s Organisations Australia submission for this Senate Inquiry is available online:



Sara Irvine: 0402 982 002
Therese Sands: 0412 935 128


 Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) is an alliance of four national Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations made up of and led by people with disability). DPO Australia was founded by, and is made up of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDNA) representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) representing culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) a national cross-disability organisation and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), the national organisation representing women and girls with disability.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA)

First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN)

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)


Media Release 18 Oct 2016 B

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) continues to be dismayed by the number of cases that are being referred to us by people being denied residency visas in Australia due to their failure to satisfy the health waiver condition. Most of these cases involve people with disabilities or people with a family member with a disability.

This week we were contacted by a family that have been denied residency due to the possible health needs of Jacqueline Ingram, wife and mother. Jacqueline and her family moved to Australia in 2011 from South Africa seeking a better life for her family. She and Clive, her husband, have two children. The family have been denied residency as Jacqueline has kidney disease.

Both Jacqueline and Clive are educated professionals; Clive has a law degree from South Africa and Jacqueline a Masters (MBA) from the USA. Both works within the disability sector in Canberra and both have undertaken studies in Australia to work.

“The disability sector is desperately short of staff, the Ingrams provide us two trained and qualified professionals to undertake a vital service in placing people with disabilities in employment,” said Dwayne Cranfield (CEO, NEDA). “It is inconceivable that we would even consider denying the Ingrams a visa.”

As Clive Ingram stated to us “We have private health insurance, and my wife’s illness is under control. We pay taxes and international school fees for our children”. “We pay our way,” said Jacquline, “we are not a burden”. Jacquline continued “If we fail in our bid for residency, we will be given 21 days notice to leave the country. Further, we are particularly devastated for our 15-year-old daughter, Caitlin who has completed most of her schooling here in Australia.  She has been studying in Australia since Year 4, and the transition back to a South African school will be extremely traumatic for her. 

Jacquline continued by stating ‘Caitlin is settled here in Australia and is very involved in her academic studies, sport and dance extramural activities.  She has a dance performance in December which she will likely have to miss as a result of us having to pack up and leave because our immigration matter is now concluded.  They have kept us in limbo since 2014 dragging out this decision.  We don't even know if Caitlin would get into a high school for Year 10 in South Africa next year as their enrolments have closed in August already and most of the good schools are full by now.  So that's another distressing situation for us.  The life of a young teenage girl could be ruined by sending her back to South Africa, but the Department of Immigration is not interested in a human life, they just measure our situation by the financial burden we might become.”

“This is disgraceful behaviour on the part of our government,” stated NEDA President Suresh Rajan. “With the NDIS being the biggest social reform in decades, and service providers crying out for skilled staff it is ridiculous that we would send this family away. These people have chosen Australia; we should be honoured that they want to live here and contribute to our community. And this continues to show that we, as a nation, are not interested in complying with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)”.

For Clive and Jacqueline, it has also been a difficult time as they are separated from their son Brett 19, who upon completion of his studies at a private school in Canberra returned to South Africa for a holiday. Brett's visa has been cancelled by the Department of Immigration. Consequently, he is now stuck in South Africa unable to return. Their 15-year-old daughter Caitlin has been offered overseas school trips, but can't participate as if she leaves the country she will not be allowed back in due to the families visa requirement.

“When did we as a nation become so punitive” stated the NEDA President Suresh Rajan, “when did we decide that we would punish people based on illness or disabilities, separate families, cause distress and pain, rip families apart with no concern for their wellbeing. The Department of Immigration has some real soul searching to do and so do we as a nation”.

The Ingram family has a petition. NEDA encourages everyone to sign this petition below. For additional information, please follow the links below:

For further information, please contact NEDA CEO Mr Dwayne Cranfield on 02 62626867 or NEDA President Mr Suresh Rajan on 0413436001.


Media Release 18 Oct 2016







ACT NDIS shutdown must be reversed

A number of national and ACT disability representative and advocacy organisations are today calling on the Australian and ACT governments to immediately work together to reverse the shutdown of the NDIS in the ACT.

Despite welcome reassurances from Ministers, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has stated that there will be no new NDIS participants in the ACT because the estimate of 5,075 participants contained in the ACT NDIS Bilateral Agreement has been reached. Significant alarm is being experienced by people with disability who have been waiting many years to receive appropriate disability support and they need a clear statement that the scheme will continue to make plans with eligible NDIS participants.

Craig Wallace from People with Disabilities ACT (PWDACT) stated, “We welcome efforts to resolve this, but are appalled at the decision to cease offering plans to new participants. People were explicitly told that there was no linkage between when you entered the scheme and the access to support you got. We were never told it would become a triaged system. It reverts us back to the old irrational first come, first served model. The Federal Government needs to swiftly move to end this cap and communicate that to people with disability and families.”

“The NDIS was never intended to be a rationed system and this move by the NDIA goes against the principles of the Scheme”, said Fiona May, CEO of ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS).  “We are very concerned for people who are affected by this freeze.  We work with people with disability who because of the complexity in their circumstances have not yet applied but very clearly need NDIS support; we have other clients whose NDIS applications have been delayed for many months by the NDIA and who are now left wondering whether they will ever get the services they need; and a group who have been found eligible but do not yet have planning appointments.”

The disability organisations acknowledge that both the ACT and the Federal Government have stated that the NDIS is not a capped scheme and that action is being taken to bring in additional ACT NDIS participants.  However, they are extremely concerned that shifting responsibility and blame gaming is counterproductive to ending this crisis.

“This takes us back to the State and Territory / Commonwealth cost shifting and game playing around disability supports that were a feature of the old, broken disability support system,” said Mr Wallace.  “We will not accept this - politicians are morally and politically accountable to uphold the principles of the NDIS and act now to fix this.”       

Therese Sands, Director of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) said, “Halting access to the NDIS in the ACT has profound implications for people with disability across Australia.  It creates uncertainty in all jurisdictions if the NDIS will be shut down when estimates of the numbers of participants contained in NDIS bilateral agreements are reached.  The situation in the ACT must not become a precedent for other States and Territories.  We urge the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Christian Porter to quickly resolve this for people with disability in the ACT and people with disability across Australia.”


Media Contacts:

Craig Wallace 0413 135 731
Campaign Manager, People with Disabilities ACT (PWDACT)


Fiona May 0411 538 879

CEO, ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS)


Therese Sands 0412 935 128

Director, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia

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