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Public hearing 31 - Vision for an inclusive Australia - Day 4

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CHAIR:  Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the fourth day of the Public hearing 31 of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. As those who have been following the Royal Commission will know, we are considering a vision for an inclusive society. I shall ask Commissioner Mason to make the acknowledgement of country. 

COMMISSIONER MASON:  Thank you, Chair. We acknowledge Meanjin, Brisbane. We recognise the country north and south of the Brisbane River as the home of both the Turrbal and Jagera nations. We acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera nations as the traditional owners and custodians of the lands upon which this Royal Commission is sitting. We acknowledge and pay our deep respect to Elders, past and present, and we acknowledge First Nations young people who one day will take their place as Elders. 

We extend that respect to all First Nations people and acknowledge their enduring connection, the land, sky, seas and waterways. We pay our deep respect to First Nations people here today and who are following this Public hearing online, on the mainland and on islands, including Tasmania and the Torres Strait, especially Elders, parents and young people with disability. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR:  Thank you. I note just before calling upon Ms Eastman that Ms McMillan KC representing Queensland is in the hearing room. 

MS McMILLAN:  Good morning.

CHAIR:  Thank you. Yes, Ms Eastman. 

MS EASTMAN:  Good morning, Commissioners, and good morning to everybody in the room and those following the proceedings online. So, I'm very pleased to welcome our first witness this morning, Dr Manisha Amin, and you will see that she's here with us in the hearing room, and I understand you've made your oath or affirmation before coming. 

DR AMIN:  Yes, I have.


CHAIR:  Dr Amin, thank you for coming to our Brisbane hearing room and I assume travelling from Sydney for that purpose. Thank you for the written statement which you provided. We each have a copy of that statement and we've each read it. So, thank you very much for that as well. I'll now ask Ms Eastman to ask you some questions. 


MS EASTMAN:  Right. And I know that you'd like to be referred to as Manisha this morning, rather than the more formal title; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  Absolutely. 

MS EASTMAN:  But I can confirm that you are Dr Manisha Amin. 

DR AMIN:  Yes, I am. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you are the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Inclusive Design. 

DR AMIN:  Yes, that's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  You've made a statement dated 22 November this year.

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  You've got a copy with you. 

DR AMIN:  I do indeed. 

MS EASTMAN:  Am I right in understanding that there is no changes you want to make to the statement?


MS EASTMAN:  And the statement is true?

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to ask you some questions about the statement and some of our work, but I want to start with your professional background. It may be of interest to the Commissioners to know how somebody comes to be the CEO of the Centre for Inclusive Design. You've provided your full CV to the Commissioners in the material, but the Centre for Inclusive Design was formerly named Media Access Australia, and the Centre is a not for profit registered charity working with clients to create products and services using inclusive design principles. And you've been in this role since September 2016. 

Now, prior to taking on this role, you've worked for other not for profit organisations over time and you have a Doctor of Philosophy in Arts and Social Sciences, a Masters in Professional Writing and a Bachelor of Business Marketing. So, how does someone with this background become the CEO of the Centre for Inclusive Design? 

DR AMIN:  Can I just say that would probably be the most difficult question I have to answer. I think that I've always been quite interested in social justice, and I would like to also acknowledge the First Nations people on whose land I have the privilege to live on and thrive, actually, on land that is unceded and   

MS EASTMAN:  I might just ask you to slow down and also just check with our technical team whether we've got any echo or reverberation coming through? All good. Okay. Sorry about that. I just hear a bit of an echo coming through. 

DR AMIN:  Not a problem. The reason I say that is because I've always been quite interested in what it means to be the other.  You know, as somebody who comes to this country from another place, as someone who identifies as neurodiverse, as someone who has a child who has a lived experience of disability, the notion of other has always been quite interesting to me. 

What I would like to focus on though is also the change from Media Access Australia to the Centre for Inclusive Design, and to do that we went through an inclusive design process without knowing that that's what we were doing, but we really asked people in Australia, we took ourselves out of the picture and said to people with disability, as well as to businesses and government, why don't we have a more accessible Australia? What's stopping us? 

Because the technology exists. The tools exist. We're not talking about something that's overly complicated from a practical kind of tools perspective. However, we weren't seeing the change that you would expect when everything's there to make something happen. And we realised the problem was actually that the conversation was the wrong conversation. The conversation was it's good to have, it's nice to have, this is important to some people. 

MS EASTMAN:  That sounds a bit aspirational. 

DR AMIN:  Well, not only aspirational but it doesn't fit into why people are rewarded in this world. So we're rewarded when we make products that sell. We're rewarded when we do what's on our PDs. You know, we're rewarded when we do well at school. None of those things were connected to this conversation. And inclusive design was the way to actually link the reward systems that exist in Australia today with the needs of the people who are actually missing out because the reward systems actually exclude them. 

MS EASTMAN:  So tracing the history of the Centre for Inclusive Design, I've already mentioned that the predecessor name was Media Access Australia, but that organisation formed out of the Australian Caption Centre, and this was an initiative that was undertaken in the very early 1980s because captions were not available on Australian TV at the time. So, the Australian Caption Centre was    and it created   was created to lobby for captioning for Deaf and hearing impaired Australians, and out of that lobbying work developed commercial captioning services for television, video, DVDs across Australia; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  Yes, that's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, then there's a process of the commercial operations, going in one direction, and this all   it's in the statement, Commissioners, but it all evolves and leads to the Centre for Inclusive Design. So, you do have, as I've mentioned earlier, that status as an Australian charity, and you work on a not for profit basis, but you've got some commercial aspects to the work you do, and we'll get to that shortly. 

I want to ask you about this organisation and the extent to which people with disability, lived experience of disability or direct experience of disability, are part of the leadership and the governance arrangements in the organisation. So, what can you tell us about the board of the Centre for Inclusive Design? 

DR AMIN:  We're very lucky. The board of the Centre for Inclusive Design, a lot of the board members have been with us since the days of the Australian Captioning Centre. So, unlike many boards, we have longevity. In terms of the board, we have   because we have that longevity, when we think about, disability, we have people who are now   have aged out of the, you know, NDIS version of disability into adgeing, but we have one member of our board who identifies as person with a disability. We have four other members of the board who identify as having age related disability conditions or medical health conditions as well. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's every director. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  Has either lived experience or direct experience. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  And the Centre also has a number of employees. I think you currently have a head count of 16 people. 

DR AMIN:  16. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of the people who are employed by the Centre, what can you tell us about the employees, their experience of disability but also just generally the skills and the experience of people who work with you? 

DR AMIN:  We have   I think I'm very fortunate. I have one of the best teams I could ever ask for, for the work we do, but also as a general organisation. They have various lived experiences. The youngest person in the team is 21 years old. The oldest is 60 years old. The 60 year old reports to the 21 year old. We have people with physical disabilities, people with neurodevelopmental disorders, people with mental health issues. And when I use those words, those things are actually not   they're so important in terms of the insight and the quality and the calibre of the work that people bring. 

They also force us to look at the systems that are in place in our organisation every day. And sometimes that's tough, but I think I would be one of the only organisations that when COVID hit, we didn't have to change one thing in the way we worked. 

MS EASTMAN:  Why was that? 

DR AMIN:  Because our systems were already made for people who lived at home as well as people who worked in an office. And so when we actually moved into lockdown, we thought we'd have to change things, but actually because we had systems for people who lived in different states who needed captions to understand what was being said, who needed audio description, everything was already in place for all of us. So, we all benefitted when COVID happened from the systems that we'd had to have designed that were not necessarily part of the standard. 

MS EASTMAN:  And a purpose of the Centre is to promote, facilitate and advance universal access and usability and its aim is to reduce isolation, discrimination and inequality people facing vulnerability may experience, and a further purpose is to increase the participation and the inclusion of people who experience vulnerability in economic, social, civil, political and cultural life. So, that's quite an ambitious aim, is it not?

DR AMIN:  Well, if you're not ambitious, you know, what's the use of existing? 

MS EASTMAN:  So, how you achieve these purposes is through creating policy, products, services in collaboration with people most affected by policies, products and services; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, that's really the core or the essence is about thinking right at that point of origin, what in developing or creating policies, products or services do you ensure start with the person with the vulnerability or people with disability   if I use people with disability for a moment   right in the centre. That's the starting point. So, it's not coming after. It's the starting point; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  Yes. That's absolutely right. I think that what we want to do is really focus on the how, because there are a lot of organisations who focus on the why or the why should we, or what needs to be done, but actually what we found was that the biggest gap was people just don't know how to be inclusive, and so that's what we do. 

MS EASTMAN:  In your business, you use this expression called "edge user" and we were quite intrigued. What does an edge user mean and why do you use that expression to describe some people? 

DR AMIN:  I think it's because when we think about the creation of policies, products, experiences, whatever it is, there are the people who create the world that we're in, and then the people who use that   those products, and when we focus on words like "disability", number one, you know, there's the ableist construct around these words, but also people tend to focus on the person, not the challenge that they've created. But when we talk about edge clients, edge customers or edge users, the edge is actually about the mismatch between what they're designing and that person's ability to use it. 

MS EASTMAN:  Can you give me a practical example of that? 

DR AMIN:  Absolutely. So, when we think about   the example I've used actually in the statement is around, say, transport and so an edge user for a transport system maybe   this example actually came in our office, we were looking at some accessibility around a new app that had been designed for people with vision impairment, and if you looked at the app from just a disability perspective, they had made some changes so you could say the edge user in the first instance might have been someone who couldn't see, and so they fixed that. 

But actually the edge user was the person in that   sorry, bit confused   so in that instance, though, if the person didn't use transport they weren't an edge user of that product. So, for instance, that product was accessible from a WCAG perspective but when we show that to somebody who actually used buses every day, he said Manisha, this is a great   sure, I can access this product, but I would never use it because it doesn't tell me which order the buses are in, so I'd still have to ask the person next to me whether my bus was here or not and, in fact, which number   which one it was in the queue, because buses will come in a big row. 

So, I guess the edge user is actually the person first who would use that product and then what are the functional issues that we've forgotten about that need to be considered for that person to be able to use that product. Does that explain it, sorry? 

MS EASTMAN:  It does. So, to be able to do the work you do, you need to have access to and engagement with edge users? 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And how do you do that? 

DR AMIN:  It's actually not as hard as people think. I think the first question we ask people is who have you considered when you're looking at your services, who haven't you considered? And then we take a functional look at it. So, we go, well, what if people can't see, hear, think, you know, so looking at, I guess, the five senses. And then also thinking about other ways that people can't access. So, it could be because of region, it could be because of gender. So, looking at the intersectionality piece as well. And then looking at how we find those people, because they exist, just like everybody else exists, right?

MS EASTMAN:  So, with the edge users, there might be some people who might be quite unique as an edge user, so the example that you gave, that might be quite unique because of the person's circumstances, and the nature of the transport that's available. Are there edge users where you're seeing the collective edge user or the sort of systemic impact on a group of people who could then be identified as edge users? 

DR AMIN:  Yes or no, and this is where it does get a little bit theoretical. If we think about one of the biggest biases in the world at the moment is this idea of average. So, if we look at Tod Rose's work on The End of Average, what they're kind of arguing is there's no such thing as an average person. And the minute that we start to join people together, what we're doing is looking for the generalisations that actually exclude other people. The problem with people   or the challenge that sometimes people have with people with disability and when we throw user groups or populations across a scattergram, what you find is   

MS EASTMAN:  What do you mean by "scattergram"? Work with me, give me some   . 

DR AMIN:  Sorry. So like a bell curve. Right? So, if you think about a bell curve and look at the bell curve from the top, often when we design, we design for the middle of that bell curve. We're not designing for the edge of the bell curve. If you look at the people on the edge of the bell curve, not only are they different from the middle, they're often different from each other. So, you'll find   and I know that through the Commission as well   you'll find people who say I like X. I might be someone who's an Auslan   use Auslan as my first language, or I might be someone who identifies as Deaf but actually prefers captioning or I might prefer something else. 

And often people in the mainstream will say, "But I just want to know the one thing" because they're trying to generalise. When you look at the edge as something that's super different, if we design for the edge we're actually designing for the middle as well as for the differences on the sides. It sounds like a complicated concept, but actually it means we need less people, not more people, and we need to think really carefully and deeply about what they're saying to us on the edge. 

When we've done this work in mainstream organisations in terms of research, we find that we spend maybe 10 to 20 percent of the revenue that an organisation would normally spend on market research. We get the same issues that the mainstream gets, plus more, and what we also get is a heat map where in the middle   

MS EASTMAN:  What's a heat map? 

DR AMIN:  Yes, so where in the middle something might be just difficult for people. On the edge, it might actually be unusable or life and death. So, the heat map is actually where the priority is of what you should change first. Is that   


DR AMIN:  Yes. Sorry is that   

MS EASTMAN:  I want to move into how this happens in practice. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And then connect that to the concepts of inclusive design and universal design. But before we get there, coming back to the Centre and the work that you do   and this might help the Commissioners sort of think about what you've just described in the way you deliver your services. So, you've said in the statement   and, Commissioners, this is paragraph 20   that there's five areas in which you provide services. One is innovation and that's conducting the design   inclusive design workshops and innovation labs, and that's really looking at new ways of doing things, so a very innovative approach. But what you've just described is part of that process of innovation, that you have to really understand what it is that you're trying to address before you can start innovation. 

DR AMIN:  Well, I think it's both. So, it does 100 per cent cover innovation. It also covers the edge user research that we've just spoken about. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's the second. 

DR AMIN:  The second one as well. I think in innovation space, the critical issue is how we design and who's in the room and being very clear about what we're doing. I think in Australia, we bandy about co design a lot but we actually very rarely co design.

MS EASTMAN:  What do you mean by co design when you use that expression?

DR AMIN:  So, when I use that expression, what I mean is that the people that we're designing with have equal rights and power and choices about the end product. So, often we'll design it with people, but the person who has the final decision on what's designed or comes up with a solution is often outside the room. So, it might be participatory design, but the    dynamic is still not with the people who are most affected. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, we've dealt with innovation. The other is edge user research, which we've touched on. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  One is leadership and change, and it's just part of looking at an organisation. You're looking at the behaviour of organisation, how culture works in organisation, and picking up issues around governance, risk and leadership. What approach do you bring to looking at the culture of an organisation through that perspective of governance, risk and leadership? How do you do that work? 

DR AMIN:  There are two things we need to do. One at a leadership level is really, I think this is a really   it came through in yesterday's conversations with the Commission as well, is that we need to actually have people understand that the reason that they are leaders, the reason I am a leader is because I have the skills that work to the bias of the community and society we're in today. It's not because I'm better or that I deserve this. I just work with the system and I'm good at that. When leaders understand that and actually realise the reason other people are not leaders is because the system's flawed, then it's incumbent on them to fix that system. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's a big thing, isn't it, to say to leaders, actually, you're not there because you're necessarily the best of what you do across everything, but it happens to be a match of where the culture bias or the regulatory bias connects you at that moment in time. 

DR AMIN:  Yes, that's right. 100 per cent. How many times do we say to children at school, you know, Bob is great at history but he doesn't speak up enough in class. Now, when did speaking up have to do with that history? It doesn't. It's actually because of a bias and privilege that we have around people who speak and articulate themselves in a particular way are more likely to raise up the ranks. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, how do you unravel that in terms of looking at culture in organisation? 

DR AMIN:  It's really hard. I was speaking to somebody at Microsoft about what they've done from an inclusive design perspective and how they were able to make the change, and certainly they had a leader who had lived experience around family and disability. They had a vision which is about everyone, so it's incumbent on them to do the right thing. But the other two things they changed, one was that they changed their reward system so that inclusion became part of the reward system in terms of people's work practice. And then they had every staff member go through bias training as mandatory. And so when people understand bias and privilege, then the conversation around disability stops becoming person centric. 

MS EASTMAN:  That requires people to undergo training that forces reflect reflection. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, it's a very internalised approach rather than training that connects you to the other people in the organisation, where you could all say, "We've got a shared experience now. We've done the training." It's a different type of training, isn't it, when you're going internally to ask people to really question their own bias and reflect on their own privilege and power and how they use that.

DR AMIN:  So, the way we do this, and part of the reason we do this, go back to that idea of systemic change, is that often when people do training, how many of us have done training where you go off, you do this training, it's really exciting, come up with lots of, you know, great things we're going to do back at work, and then none of it happens. You're there   by the third week, we've forgotten that training and we're back in our normal system. So, what we do in our work is rather than have separate training, we bring it through in this cultural process change piece. So, we start by actually explaining what inclusion is and isn't. We really moderate around shame. We ask people to bring into the room the people who are struggling the most with whatever it is that we're looking at. 

MS EASTMAN:  That    people to be fairly vulnerable in an organisational context.

DR AMIN:  That's right. 100 per cent. So, these groups are not big. So, we normally look at about 20 or 30 people and we normally externalise some of the problems. So, instead of saying we're bringing you in to look at   you know, if the issue is, say, disability recruitment, what we actually do is say this is about having the best staff you can possibly have in this organisation. What's stopping you from doing that?  And then by the second day we're co designing together and we bring in the people who are missing out on the system. 

The reason that we move away from that shame, the vulnerability, is we're not asking people about why they personally have done the wrong thing. We're asking them what it is in their system that stops them from doing what we think is the right thing and how can we nudge the system by about five percent to actually make it better. 

MS EASTMAN:  How do you ensure that the training work you do   and that's one    actually gets those outcomes? Because I think one of the questions might be, well, people got a lot of training, or they do the online training and it's a pretty good day, and, as you say, nothing really happens. So, how do you make sure that the training is effective, it can be evaluated and it's sustainable in achieving change? 

DR AMIN:  So, in terms of this sort of work, what we do   there's two answers to that. First of all, I   instead of calling it training, we actually say we're actually working on your reward system. So, tell us what you've got a problem with in your   what you want to make   say you're a company that makes, I don't know, coffee machines. How do you make a better coffee machine for more customers to access? We're not saying to them, how do you make your coffee machine work for people with disability, because actually the person with disability will have unique insights that can help make a better coffee machine for everyone. So, we've flipped the conversation around firstly. 

Secondly, when the actual co design or the participatory co design happens and we have a list of ideas, we then measure how many of those ideas happen and how they happen. What we don't measure is how many people, say, with disability are able to use that coffee machine because the minute we go into that space, we're back into the old medicalised model again. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's fixing people with disability to use a product that requires an adaption by them, rather than the product adapting; is that right?

DR AMIN:  Exactly. And we're so   when we think about the fourth industrial revolution and innovation and technology, before COVID, if I asked people about what they liked or were scared of, most people were scared about their privacy being removed, their choice, their control as technology becomes more and more ubiquitous. People with disability have two key superpowers. One is a   there are people who have such a strong understanding of technology because of the way they have used technology to make the world better for them and the hacks that they have. And the other group have actually experienced the things we don't want anyone to have experienced. So, what better groups of people to actually design the world for the future? 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, one other area of your work is accessibility auditing. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And I wanted to ask you, what does that actually mean? How do you go into an organisation or look at a product or a way in which services are delivered and audit? What are you auditing against? 

DR AMIN:  So, there's two types of accessibility auditing that we do. The first one is, you know, you talked about how work as Media Access Australia. When the internet first came out, it actually removed disability for a lot of people, and then as we became more complicated, it actually brought back disability. And so what we do when we audit is look at the World Wide Web Consortium Standards, which is the WCAG guidelines, and we actually   they have a series of dimensions or rules around what would make a site accessible for people with disability, particularly people with mobility issues, screen readers et cetera. 

So, we will check a website, make sure it works. If it doesn't work, we give recommendations to the organisation about how to make that work, and then we go back and check it again. One of the things that happened is, you know, something can be accessible one day and then three weeks later, somebody else does something to that site and it's not accessible. So, it's important to go through that circle over and over. 

The other part of our accessibility auditing that we're doing more and more these days is actually looking at processes and behaviours as well. So, we've noticed, for instance, you can have a room with a hearing loop in it but no one knows how to use the hearing loop or where the instructions are. So, it would meet the audit, the building audit, but actually it's useless. So, we're looking at that side now as well more. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, now I want to turn to getting some concrete understanding of the difference between universal design and inclusive design. And you think it's important that we understand the difference between these concepts and then bringing them together, how they work in practice. 

DR AMIN:  Yes, I really think it's critical at this point that we do, and I'm looking at this from a design perspective rather than from a, I guess, an equity perspective, though the two are quite related. I think universal design came out of a time before technology when we had a physical world. So, you think about a ramp. The idea is if somebody used a ramp it worked for everyone. Inclusive design has come out of the next step, which is around hyperpersonalisation, so when we talked earlier about   

MS EASTMAN:  Slow that down and just that again. So, universal design is design that everybody could use. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  I think   so, if a building had stairs, somebody put in a ramp, then everybody could use the ramp. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  But it also provides a greater degree of access for   I'm thinking about an example very close to home where I am in the Phillip Street, is we had law chambers that had steps. We put in a ramp for wheelchair access, but it actually became extremely helpful to move large trolleys full of lots of books. 

DR AMIN:  Absolutely. 

MS EASTMAN:  Or as wheeling bags became more and more popular. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, it actually used more by people for other purposes rather than for wheelchair, so would that be an example of universal design?

DR AMIN:  That's exactly right and it fits into closely with that social model of disability where we're looking at medical disability but also temporary and situational disability. So, anybody who's in that basket can use that service. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, basically, universal design, you're looking for a design that will be accessible and useable by as many people as possible. 

DR AMIN:  That's exactly right. 

MS EASTMAN:  But universal does not guarantee universal accessibility; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  No, because we're all very different. So, what inclusive design does is actually what we're looking for these days and personalisation and hyperpersonalisation. 

MS EASTMAN:  I think that's where I paused. What do you mean by "hyperpersonalisation". 

DR AMIN:  So, back in the day when we had a phone, we all had a phone on our desks, and if you can't use that phone you needed a special adjustment, right, to that device, to be able to use it. If we look at our smart phone, most of us in this room I'm guessing might have a smart phone but no two people in this room, I guarantee you, will use that phone in exactly the same way. We all use it completely differently. And the reason we're able to use it completely differently is it has been designed inclusive inclusively.

So, if it wasn't   you know, the first technology around gesture control came from people with carpal tunnel. If it wasn't for things like voice over, we may not have had a Siri. When we think about things like pinch technology on that phone, the use of voice to direct rather than having to type, all of these things come from people who are on the edge. So, some of the people on the edge might be using that technology every day all day. Others of us use it sometimes, not always, and we use a little bit of it. So, it's hyperpersonalised to me as opposed to everybody else in this room. 

MS EASTMAN:  There's three dimensions, isn't there, to the approach that your Centre uses on inclusive design, and these are derived by some research done in Canada; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  The first one is to recognise diversity and uniqueness. The second is using inclusive processes and tools. And the third is broad beneficial impact. So, can I ask you about each one of these elements. That first element, is that what you've just been talking about, about recognising diversity, but that step further, uniqueness. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. So, you're designing for one, not designing for many. But the ones that we design for are the people that, you know, have the most   the richest experience of exclusion, the richest experiences of functional need. That's what you design for, and then that way everybody else benefits. 

MS EASTMAN:  You use   

DR AMIN:  The other thing   

MS EASTMAN:  Sorry, go ahead. 

DR AMIN:  The other thing in recognising diversity in uniqueness is we also have to recognise the diversity of the group who's doing the design work and recognise the challenges of that group or the blind spots or the biases of that group, so it comes in both sides. Who are we designing for and then who's doing the designing. 

MS EASTMAN:  Using inclusive processes and tools, this, you say, is trying to live the values of nothing about us without us, and so this is a very proactive approach in bringing edge users into the process; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  That's right. And I think there's a lot of conversation, and a lot of the talk is actually about this middle part, the inclusive processes and tools, but I would argue that if we don't recognise our own diversity or our own blind spots beforehand, then actually when we walk into the room to use inclusive processes and tools, we're actually setting up a flawed system. Our foundations are shaky. 

MS EASTMAN:  Does this challenge the idea that, well, this is the way we've always done things and this is the way that suited our organisation in the past? Do you have to really confront that bias of the status quo and that pulls always, maybe go back to what's safe or what we've done all the time? Is that part of the challenge of doing this? 

DR AMIN:  Yes, it is. I think the reason is that systems hate diversity. Our systems are basically   if something is different, we notice it really really quickly and we move to make it the same again. Our large complex organisations, the way we write policies, it's all in a particular way. It's really hard to change that. So, that's why we go back. 

If we don't go back, then what we do is go, oh, we'll just use the processes we already have and we'll just add some different people in. But the problem in doing that is that unless we know how we're doing it, why we're doing it, chances are we're just being more exclusionary or paying lip service to particular groups or particular advice. Because you're looking for the advice of uniqueness, not the advice of many. And the bias in the many is that when many voices say something, they often say the same thing and then we think that we have   

MS EASTMAN:  You're getting groupthink bias. 

DR AMIN:  You get groupthink. 

MS EASTMAN:  And attribution bias and confirmation bias   

DR AMIN:  Absolutely. That's right.

MS EASTMAN:    and halo bias and all of those. So, the broader beneficial impact is, really, a simple concept, solve for one and extend to many. 

DR AMIN:  That's right.

MS EASTMAN:  So, it's not just solved for one and that's the end but to think about solving for one with the capacity to extend to many. And don't assume that solving for one is only a unique outcome but it may, in fact, have a broader benefit in the way products and services are designed; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  That's right, and it also means that we need to make sure that when we're   the broader beneficial impact is also around the system itself. So, the language we use comes out of the inclusive playground movement, which is can I get there, can I stay there and can I play there. 

MS EASTMAN:  Let's   can we perhaps   because I know  

DR AMIN:  Did I talk about that?

MS EASTMAN:  No, I think you have mentioned that, and I'm not sure we went into the inclusive playground design in the statement, but I was going to ask you about some examples, and I think the inclusive design in playgrounds is a really good way of illustrating. Do you want to speak to how inclusive design in developing play areas for children have been a tool to including kids with disability, kids from different backgrounds and really bring children in in that way? 

DR AMIN:  I can't talk necessarily about actually designing an inclusive playground, but that modality, that can I get there, can I play there, and can I stay there, is now embedded into all the work we do, everything from policy design to, you know, shop layout. And what we're talking about here is can somebody get   it's great to have an inclusive playground, right, but if someone can't get to the playground, there's no buses, it's not accessible, it doesn't matter. 

So, it's like with recruitment, you know. You can have a great disability recruitment service but if someone can't find it, can't access it, can't do the ad, well, then it's not inclusive. The second one, which is where we normally focus, is can I play there. Do the tools actually work for us. And the third one, which again is often forgotten, is can I stay here. And in a playground, that is, is this place safe, is it enjoyable and is the experience one that brings me laughter, like, is it a joyous experience to be here, do I want to be here.

And that's really really critical when we think about not only the outcome but also the process. So, one of the questions we now ask in our co design is what are you doing as a participant to make me feel comfortable? Because chances are you haven't told me what you're doing, all that extra work you're doing, and how can we make this a better space so that you don't have to mask. You don't have to do all of those things. 

So, those three steps actually mean that we're taking into account the principles of universal design   there's too many for people to remember   the principles of inclusive design and just generally good design and service design together in can I get there, can I play there, can I stay there. The other part of it, from the perspective of the playground itself is playgrounds work   a good inclusive playground works for everyone. 

So, it doesn't matter if you're a baby, a grandparent, a young child. Some children like the tactile pieces, some people will listen to the sound, or a teenager who uses the playground at fight. We all use that space in different ways. And some of us won't touch parts of that space but they'll touch other parts. So, we need systems that are what I call omni channel, not digital first, we need to make sure we have every channel so that everyone has a way to participate. Does that answer that? 

MS EASTMAN:  It does. So, I know you've given the Commissioners two case studies in the statement and I'm going to jump over because I want to ask you this:  what you've described today, some people listening might go, "That sounds interesting, but it also sounds like it would be very time consuming and very costly to implement". Now, you have undertaken some research or had some research done on looking at the benefits of designing for everyone that sought to test the assumptions that this is too difficult, too costly, too time intensive or requires a particular level of great expertise and skill. So, it's all a bit too hard. Can you tell us about the outcomes of the research in the report in terms of whether those assumptions about it being too costly, too hard, just too time intensive, is that what the research tells us? 

DR AMIN:  Look, it does and it doesn't. So, is it   does it cost more to actually change the way we currently work and do things the way we've always done them? Yes, sure it does. And actually one of the case studies in that report talks about a system in Canada, and it cost a lot more at the beginning, but within five years actually they were paying significantly less, their systems were more nimble, so the long term cost is significantly less. 

When we think also about our customers in the three areas that we looked at, by designing things inclusively, it's not about the 18.5 percent of people with disability that you're going to get as customers. Actually, it's   you're going to get three to four times your intended audience because all of a sudden your products are working in better ways for most people. So, there are definite financial benefits, and if we looked in that report, I think the statistics around the GDP if we start to design things inclusively, also looking at the burden of care, if we had more young people able to finish education, the impact on that for our society is much greater. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, the Commissioners have got a copy of your report. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  But you give a little snapshot of it at paragraph 51. 

DR AMIN:  Thank you. 

MS EASTMAN:  So the report focussed on higher education, domestic retail and banking for a number of reasons. So, again, your report said this is where we think the research and the data tells us a problem might exist. So, what was it that caused you to look at each of these three areas:  Higher education, domestic retail and banking. 

DR AMIN:  We looked at those areas for a number of reasons. The education one was really a no brainer because we know that if people can't have that piece of paper that says they have a particular level of education, it's harder to get roles in the workplace, et cetera. And also education is one of the first places where young people start to feel really excluded and marginalised. It's really important to change that dynamic as well. 

In the report, we actually looked at what would happen if I think it was something like two to three percent   I'm not too sure of the exact number   of the young people who actually dropped out at 16 or 17 because of disability were actually able to move on and get through tertiary education. 

MS EASTMAN:  And what was the modelling and the finding on that? 

DR AMIN:  Well, that   we'd actually have   

MS EASTMAN:  So, paragraph 52(a)?

DR AMIN:  Yes, exactly, I'm just looking at the numbers there, but I think it would be 30 percent more people would actually qualify. So, when we think about these things, of course, there's a whole system would have to change for those people to get through. Because they're not getting through because they haven't got the ability. They're not getting through because the system just doesn't work for them. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, you're looking at what the increase in higher education for excluded population groups could result in 228,000 additional tertiary qualifications. 

DR AMIN:  Thank you. Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  With an increase in employment and salaries by 4.5 billion annually. Did this search look at a period of time over which that could be achieved, or was this something that if it was a direct result of an increase, I think you've said by three percent, this would be the immediate effect. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. So, it's just the immediate effect. 

MS EASTMAN:  Then you looked at domestic retail. So.  You were looking at retail products, and you said:

    "20 percent of Australians are unable to access and use goods appropriately."

And you said:

    "If we look at the retail industry, that using inclusive design in relation to those products, there could be an increase of $4 billion in household goods, clothing, footwear and personal accessory sales to be achieved by making those goods accessible to a larger number of Australians."

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  Did that have a timeframe in it?

DR AMIN:  No, that was again looking around the metrics around the purple   they call it the purple dollar and the international figures around that. 

MS EASTMAN:  You then looked at financial services and said as a starting point:

    "Almost 17 percent of Australian adults are financially excluded."

And noted that this was:

    "... significantly higher than in comparable developed nations like the UK, Germany, Austria, France and Sweden."

And you said:

    "If financial exclusion was reduced by 25 percent, then 832,000 additional Australians would become financially included and an additional $1.5 billion generated for the financial sector through annual fees."

That might be a music to the banking sector. Can I just ask you about that financial exclusion. Is this about accessing the way in which financial products are marketed or used, or is it something more around financial literacy? 

DR AMIN:  It's actually three things. It's financial literacy. It's vulnerability, so the way   so these statistics in this report, the reason we included the financial piece was that the inquiries had just finished and we'd been looking at some of the work that have been done there, and when we think about the people who are most impacted by the ability to make choices, the ability to advocate on their   you know, for themselves, their literacy, and then also the ability to access   literally just access the banking sector, right, all of those things together. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to turn   just   I'm looking   got one eye on the clock here. Looking at the levers for change. So, you've spoken about the way in which inclusive design working with also universal design can actually make a material and practical change, sometimes quite quickly, but there's more that needs to be done around the systems; is that right? And you've identified in your statement some of the levers for change. So, can I ask you about that. 

DR AMIN:  Yes. Is there a particular one you'd like me to focus on, just with an eye on the time?

MS EASTMAN:  Well, I think just   so, Commissioners, I'm up to paragraph 53. So, the first lever for change is just a simple thing about who we ask and who we bring into the design process; is that right? So, is this really a very proactive approach on edge users? 

DR AMIN:  Yes. I think if you look at most of the levers here, there's a fundamental, I think, philosophical shift behind them, and that is that we're not doing this because it's a good thing to do. We're doing this because we're living in a world that is based on antiquated rules and theories. So, the systems we've set up, the constructs   we talk a lot about colonisation and feminism and all of these other constructs. There is a fundamental construct around the rights of people with different abilities. And some of that stuff is kind of baked into the world that we're in. So, what we need to do is actually go, well, that's wrong. Now we need to actively change that unhidden bias that is baked into our world. 

So, that's a reason that these levers are here. So, things like the best insights for change come from the people who have been impacted. It's not just about learning their pain points and then going away and you designing something. The example I've given here is that of braille. When sighted people tried to make the equivalent of braille, they got it wrong many times. It took someone who identified as blind to actually make a system to work. And, you know, it's the same for many other products as well. 

MS EASTMAN:  The second one you've identified is designers, companies and government all have a role to play by designing, investing and legislating difference in mind so inclusive design process becomes standard practice. So, what does that mean for, say, government? We're going to look in the course of this afternoon and in tomorrow at how the Australia's Disability Strategy, the ADS is working. We're going to ask some governments about what steps have been taken in the past year to implement the ADS, how have they evaluated the ADS, and for those in the room, don't be surprised if I ask about how inclusive design processes may be used by government in the ADS later today. 

So, if we were looking at something like a large disability strategy that's got a 10 year life span in it, if we put our inclusive design glasses on and we look at that document through the perspective of inclusive design, what should we expect to see in that document to see governments having a role to play in using and investing and legislating using inclusive design?

DR AMIN:  I commend the work that's been done on the ADS, and we have been involved in some of that work as well. Because one of the things the ADS have had done is have people with disability on all sides of the conversation of that Strategy. I think the things we need to continue to do is not just ask people at the beginning of the process, and this is actually more a government issue than an ADS issue, is that traditionally what governments do is they do lots and lots of consultation at the beginning, they come up with a decision, come up with a framework and then roll that out. 

But what we don't often do is loop back to see whether or not what we've rolled out has any unintended negative consequences, and we're not able to very quickly or nimbly shift what we've done if we see something wrong with it. So, I think that the thing that government needs to do better is   there's two things. One is the feedback loop. So, not just fix the problem for one person but fix   if the strategy is wrong or one of the principles is wrong and we find that out two years from now, can we change it or are we stuck until the next time we go through the process again. 

MS EASTMAN:  That seems to suggest that universal design and, in particular, inclusive design is not just sort of something that you tick off as we've done that at the beginning of the process, but the design continues through the life of a strategy or the way in which services are delivered. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's what you said, you're always coming back to check whether it's still fit for purpose or   

DR AMIN:  That's right. 

MS EASTMAN:    including the edge users.

DR AMIN:  So, when we think about the way we design digital products and technology products at the moment, we use iterative processes, so we're constantly designing and re designing. That why sometimes things get broken from an accessible perspective, but it also means we are nimble. What we need to be careful about that when we're using that design cycle, that we're not only focussing on what the world used to look like or our knowledge in our heads, but making sure we get the right insights at the right time through that process. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, you've also mentioned in the statement that you'd like to see in legislation something a little more concrete, and you've used the example of the Disability Discrimination Act. And you'd like to see that updated in consultation with, in a way that meets the requests of people with disability to be enforceable. So, this is about implementing but also meeting the intersectional experience with First Nations people and people with intersectional experience; is that right? 

DR AMIN:  Yes, and actually that last question you asked, I think one of the other things we have to remember is, at the moment, intersectionality is really important. It's one of the things that people are talking about a lot. But we need both things when we're thinking about disability. We need the specific experiences of people with   where there's a particular functional bias against that cohort. 

So, if something is made for people who are   that excludes people who are blind or vision impaired, then we need that cohort and then we need the intersectional lens that comes with that cohort. We can't forget one for the other. Sometimes what seems to happen is that we'll move to going it's all about intersectionality, so all the intersectionality groups come in and the ones that are more medical based get forgotten or vice versa. So, we need to include both all the time. And then in terms of the Act, the idea of positive obligation is one that we would really espouse. 

MS EASTMAN:  Just there, to that, you've talked about duty of care or positive obligation   

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    at paragraph 59. So, that   a positive obligation means what? 

DR AMIN:  It actually means that people have to move first to actually go, "We need to do this", not be punished for doing or going   punished for not doing the right thing. Have I explained that properly? 

MS EASTMAN:  So, you are saying that a positive obligation is something that acts to encourage people to think ahead? 

DR AMIN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  To anticipate and to plan to remove discrimination or biases in whatever their area of activity is. It could be delivery of services, it could be at work, it could be at school. 

DR AMIN:  That's right, and so   

MS EASTMAN:  And moving from a model which is that these laws mostly kick in when something goes wrong. 

DR AMIN:  That's right. And I think also part of that is this idea that a person has to actually make a complaint. So, at the moment, what happens is we have a complaints based approach, not a systems based approach. So, when we think about those obligations, if we say that organisations have obligations to people, like some of our, I guess, essential services do, then what we're doing is we're setting up a framework for organisations. 

One of the things we hear a lot, particularly at the grassroots level in organisations is, "We'd love to do more around accessibility or inclusion." But because it takes up more time and costs at the start, they're told they can't. So, in fact, if the organisations had an obligation, it gives people within that organisation a way to fight the internal culture as well. 

And I think the other part of that for us is the complaints based approach assumes that the problem is about that individual and that individual not being able to access something when really the problem is actually a systems based issue. And so we would really advocate for a systems based approach to considering penalties and also incentives. So, things like the way we do our tax for environment, it's for the greater public good, and we think accessibility in the broader sense of the word is the same. This is about the greater public good. 

MS EASTMAN:  The very last thing I want to ask you about are the matters you've spoken about at paragraph 61 of the statement and that's, as you say:

    "All three tiers of Australian Government need to lead by example and make accessible and inclusion for the disability community a priority."

But you give the example of Canada having a First Chief Accessibility Officer and she is an independent special adviser that promotes positive dialogue between government, disability stakeholders, national and international organisations. So, when you look at the current structures of Australian government, you say we don't have someone like Steph Cadieux, the Chief Accessibility Officer, in Australia, and you'd like to see someone like that in Australia. Why, and what would you expect someone like a Chief Accessibility Officer to be able to do? 

DR AMIN:  So, in Canada they've taken the approach that they want a barrier free Canada, and they have accessibility legislation. Her job is to hold government accountable to that legislation and make sure it happens and also keep the spotlight on the area all the time, and the reason I think this is so important is that we've had   too long have we had a situation where access is not considered a problem. 

I guess my example is that if we had a house and we said, right, we've built this great house but we don't have money or time or resources to buy a door, so there's this great window next to where the door should have been and you can just go through the window and it's not that complicated for you.  People would laugh at it. But we do this every single day in all our work. 

So, the Chief Accessibility   like, having someone like an Accessibility Officer is to shine a light on that and to say, look, that's not okay. Or why is there a problem here and how can we actually think about removing the barriers or the systems issues also that are causing that, and to hold government to account to the legislation that they have created as well as to I think the CD   I'm going to get, sorry, my brain does funny things with letters, but the Convention of   you know, the   


DR AMIN:  Thank you, CRPD. Because I think what happens is everyone has great intent. We write great things. And then we go away and those things don't happen. We look at how many sites in Australia, how many government websites are accessible, it's woeful. Yet the need to put them in is certainly there. It's the same with accessible purchasing. The information is there, the regulations are there, but no one's actually doing it. So, having someone actually keep an eye on it for a while, make sure it happens. 

MS EASTMAN:  Well, I've gone a little over time. I hope the Commissioners will indulge the extra time, but thank you very much for your statement, but also explaining to us today some of these key and core concepts and showing us that this can actually be done in practice. So, we're very grateful for your evidence. Thank you very much.

CHAIR:  On behalf of all of the Commissioners for your statement and for your evidence today and the information you've provided us with, and very clear explanations you've given of the various concepts that are embodied in your statements, so thank you very much indeed for the assistance you have provided. 

DR AMIN:  Thank you. 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. So, Chair, just before we adjourn could you receive Dr Amin's statement and the accompanying material into evidence?

CHAIR:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And mark the statement Exhibit 31 012.

CHAIR:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And then the accompanying material has the extra dots on it, so it will be 31 012.1 and 31 012.2.

CHAIR:  Yes, those three documents will be admitted into evidence with those markings. Thank you. 




MS EASTMAN:  Could we take an adjournment for 15 minutes for morning tea.

CHAIR:  Yes, it's just after five past 11, so we'll resume at 20 past 11. 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you.




MS EASTMAN:  Thank you, Commissioners.

CHAIR:  Ms Eastman, I understand there's an appearance to be announced for   

MS EASTMAN:  Yes, there is. Ms Knowles, I think, is appearing online.

CHAIR:  Is there an appearance for the State of Victoria. 

MS KNOWLES:  Yes, there is. If it pleases  

CHAIR:  Yes. Well, we're having some difficulty hearing you. I'm not sure whether it's your end or ours?

MS KNOWLES:  I'll try again. I'm appearing on behalf of the State of Victoria, if it pleases the Commissioner, Ms Knowles.

CHAIR:  Thank you very much. We heard you that time, Ms Knowles. Thank you. Yes, Ms Eastman. 

MS EASTMAN:  Our next witness is Mary O'Hagan, who is the Executive Director of the Lived Experience Branch in the Victorian Department of Health, and she's joining us here in the hearing room in Brisbane.


CHAIR:  Yes, Ms O'Hagan, thank you very much for coming from Victoria to Brisbane in order to appear at the Royal Commission. We're very grateful to you for doing that. We have your detailed statement and we thank you very much for that as well. We have had the opportunity to read that and we have read it. If you would be good enough to follow Ms Eastman she will now ask you some questions.


MS EASTMAN:  I want to start by confirming that you are Mary O'Hagan. 

MS O'HAGAN:  I am. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you are the Executive Director of the Lived Experience Branch of the Department of Health in Victoria. 

MS O'HAGAN:  I am. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you prepared a statement dated 2 December this year. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes, that's right.

MS EASTMAN:  And you've read through the statement and there's one matter at paragraph 50 and that part of the statement that we might clarify as we go along, but other than that the statement is true and correct; is that right? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Okay. So, we have asked you to come and tell the Royal Commission about taking on this role as Executive Director of something called Lived Experience Branch in the Victorian Department of Health. It's a new and innovative model. But before I launch into what the Department has done and your role as Executive Director, I thought we should start with some of the terminology, and you've set this out at paragraph 5 of the statement so that when we use the expressions "lived experience", "living experience", you want to have some precision in what we're talking about when we use those expressions. So, can we start with that? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. So, in the area of psychosocial disability, "lived experience" refers to people who have direct experience of mental distress. That could be mental illness or psychological distress, and also the people who they are close to, their families and supporters. "Living experience", we also refer to alcohol and other drugs, because that's part of the responsibility of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Division, and we often refer to living experience as people who are currently going through those experiences. 

I   I would say I have lived experience because I'm not currently experiencing mental distress but   so that's the distinction as between the current experience and the past experience. 

MS EASTMAN:  And when you've used the expression psychosocial disability in your statement and in the work that you do, what does that mean? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Psychosocial disability refers to people who have had significant life changing experience   experiences of mental distress, and who have used the   the secondary or tertiary mental health services, often. And they   their lives have been very impacted by their distress, often over a long period of time. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to turn now to how you came to be the Executive Director of the Lived Experience Branch. Your professional background, which you've set out in your statement, was that you have used mental health services for several years as a young woman. And so you've had that direct experience of admissions to psychiatric hospitals and the disruption in your life, in your studies, in your relationships, in your self image and you say in your statement, in your place in the world. 

And so you believe that the paternalistic and discriminatory way services and society has responded to your distress, delayed your recovery. So, I'm not going to ask you about that part of your life, but may I thank you for sharing that to help the Royal Commissioners have the context that you bring to this role very direct experience and the insight of looking through the life course as to where those interruptions in your life have occurred. 

So, you've learnt a lot from your experience and you consider that that lived experience has been part of some of your major qualifications to do the work that you've done in mental health and grassroots advocacy, peer support, entrepreneurialism for 35 years. Well, you are now a public servant. So, what was the approach that you took in moving from the world where you're working at very much at that grassroots level into the work that you're now doing in the public sector, and on policy? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, I   I've worked all over the place. In fact, my career hasn't been a ladder; it's been a jungle gym. So, basically, I've followed the Royal Commission. I gave a witness statement to the Royal Commission. This is the Royal Commission into Victoria's   

MS EASTMAN:  Victoria. 

MS O'HAGAN:    mental health system and I was very interested in the report and how much it emphasised lived experience. And when this job came up, the Executive Director position, I thought, well, I'm going to put my name forward for that job because I saw in it an unprecedented opportunity for lived experience to be embedded right in the core of the bureaucracy, driving decision making and the allocation of resources during a time of very, very profound reform. And so I wanted to be part of that, so that's why I put my name forward. 

MS EASTMAN:  Well, the final report for the Mental Health Royal Commission in Victoria was tabled in the Victorian parliament on 2 March 2021, and there was a series of recommendations in the Royal Commission's report. And some of the reforms coming from that Royal Commission were aimed to redesign Victoria's mental health and wellbeing system. So, it's structured around community based model of care where people can access treatment, care and support close to their homes and support networks. 

So, to facilitate this reform and the redesign, the Department in working through implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission established a new division in the Department of Health, and within that division it's described as the Lived Experience Branch; is that right? 

MS O'HAGAN:  That's right. And as far as we're aware, there's no other equivalent branch of that size anywhere else in the world that we can find and the branch has 24 FTEs in it, and that is people who have a carer background or people with a direct lived experience background. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. So   and I know you set out in the statement a sort of more detailed structure of the Department and the different branches, but I want to then come to the three units within the Branch that you oversee and they're described as the Lived Experience Policy Team, the Lived and Living Experience Advisory Hub, and the Program Design and Management Team. So, you've described each of those teams and then, further in the statement, the key work undertaken by the Branch. 

But could I start by asking you to tell the Royal Commission about the nature of the work and responsibilities of the Lived Experience Policy Team. And, Commissioners, I'm at paragraph 31, sub paragraph (a). 

MS EASTMAN:  So the Lived Experience Policy Team is responsible for   for the more policy areas of work, and one of those is workforce development. There is a $40 million investment into lived experience workforce development in Victoria, and so that team is focussing a lot on that, but there are policy issues that come up quite often. There's one policy issue at the moment that is about denying people who are in hospital leave because of COVID restrictions and a concern that   that people   that the hospitals are getting a bit overzealous with the   with the inpatient wards on this, or that there's no consistency across the state, and how they do this. So, we're doing a policy piece of work to try and get some   some consistency across the state on that. So, that's one issue. 

MS EASTMAN:  And some of the other work that the Lived Experience Policy Team's doing you've set out at paragraph 38   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    of your statement. I wanted to ask you about sub paragraph (c) which is embedding human rights within reform initiatives   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    according   in accordance with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. And that work include:

    "The development of a protocol and guidelines to support all staff across the division to embed the Charter in their work."

And I think towards the end of your statement, you've also addressed some other aspects of the Victorian Charter and the CRPD. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, I'm jumping a little bit. I'm connecting sub paragraph 38(c) with picking up some of the observations that you've made at paragraphs 90 to 95 of the statement. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Right. 

MS EASTMAN:  Pausing there, we've got the Victorian Charter.  The Victorian Charter has been in place for some time now in Victoria. What are you doing that might be different or innovative with the Charter and also specifically bringing in the rights of people with psychosocial disability? 

MS O'HAGAN:  So people with lived experience find human rights frameworks very helpful because they   they outline inclusivity, non-discrimination and a   you know, one of the things in mental health that they're very strong on, particularly the CRPD, is a great caution, I guess, or   on the use of compulsory interventions. So   so, we find them very supportive to the issues that we're trying to address and the improvements that we want to see in the lives of people. 

So, the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities has been around since 2006 and it very clearly states that:

    "Public authorities must uphold the Charter."

But one of the problems is that there is no routines in place within the Division for people to consider the charter when they're developing policies or programs, and we think there is a real oversight. So, we are getting a consultant in, a lived experience human rights expert, to   to talk   to educate the Division on the Charter and then to help us develop routine processes and reminders for people to think about the Charter when they're developing policies and programs. 

MS EASTMAN:  And the Victorian Charter is not disability specific. 


MS EASTMAN:  It covers a range of rights that might traditionally be called civil and political rights   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    on international conventions. But that embedding of human rights within the reform initiatives is applicable to the impact on people with disability, and particularly people with psychosocial disability; is that right? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Absolutely. We think it's core. And the great advantage of the CRPD, of course, is that it is specific to people with disabilities, and I think in Victoria, because we've got the Charter, people often forget about the CRPD, but we see that as a very key   that's a ground-breaking Convention that we also want to raise awareness of. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, coming back to the other areas. There's the Lived and Living Experience Advisory Hub, and the hub provides strategic lived experience advice to the Lived Experience executive and to all staff across the divisions. So, how does this work in practice? What does the Advisory Hub do? 

MS O'HAGAN:  So the Advisory Hub provides advice across all the reform initiatives, and there have been up to 200 of them running at one time, and what happens is that the people who are starting the initiative in another branch come to the Advisory Hub and say, "Well, we need you to be part of the team that is developing this" and the Advisory Hub then joins that team and gives advice and feedback based on lived experience aspirations and perspectives. 

MS EASTMAN:  The Chair has asked whether you could provide some examples of recent work and, without disclosing anything that might be confidential   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    is there an example that you can give the Royal Commissioners about how the Advisory Hub might work in practice? 

MS O'HAGAN:  So in Victoria at the moment there is a service setting up, a new bed based service that has come out of the Royal Commission into Mental Health Services recommendations. And the people in the Advisory Hub said well, this   they haven't done any co design with the people who are going to be using the type of service, and also they said that the people who are designing it, that are designing it like a sort of secure inpatient unit and not the sort of   what the term of sub acute unit that it is supposed to be. 

And so they escalated that to me and the directors within the unit. The clinical hub got involved, and now there is going to be a major alteration of that process so that that particular bed based service, if we hadn't   if the Lived Experience people hadn't been there, it would have just continued to go down this very unfortunate track, and we've managed to bring it back to its original purpose and to the sort of place that people with lived experience would like to stay in. 

MS EASTMAN:  I think you heard Dr Amin's evidence earlier this morning. Would that be an example of what she described as the edge users? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. That would be   that would be an example of that. Very much so, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. Then the third area is the Program Design and Management Team and this team is responsible for the implementation of the key recommendations made by the Mental Health Royal Commission's interim and final reports related to the establishment of the new lived experience led entity and services, and at paragraph 40, you've identified the key work undertaken by that team, which is referable to some specific recommendations. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, again, without asking you to go into anything that might be sensitive or overly confidential, what has been the experience of taking a set of recommendations from the Royal Commission and actually realising them? Is there any suggestions or advice you can give about the way in which that process operates? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, we have been true to our   we've been true to our values and we have been very much co designed these initiatives with lived experience communities. One of them is a lived experience residential service that will be an alternative to a hospital admission for people, and we   we went into a co design phase with people with lived experience, the sort of people who would use a place like this. 

And then we now have a provider to provide that service and we're going into a bit more detail with co design, and this process really has been very important for understanding exactly it is what the users of this service will want, and doing the very best that we can within certain constraints to make sure that that happens. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, I want to   just conscious of the time   move to an aspect of the work that involves bringing people with lived and direct experience in. There is the Lived and Living Experience Workforce Advisory Group, and does that bring together lived experience workforce disciplines, again to advise the Division on lived and living experience workforce needs? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. So, there is   this advisory group has four kind of groups in it. One is the consumers or the people who have direct experience. One is the families. But also there's an AOD element and a mental health element. And as I said, there is a $40 million investment going into lived experience workforce development in Victoria over four years and this group is here to advise on that investment.

MS EASTMAN:  One matter that we asked you about was how does the Branch and the work that you do incorporate consultation, co design and co production. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  These are expressions used.  And you've addressed this   Commissioners, you will see this from paragraph 47 onwards. So, the Branch and the Division more broadly applies consultation, co design and co production using what's called the Lived Experience Engagement Framework, and that was published by the former Mental Health Branch in June 2019. So, I want to ask you about this framework and its elements and I think we've given the Commissioners a document that you've got. But you've got a summary of the elements of this in your statement. So, this is the point that we wanted to clarify. So, if we start, can we go to paragraph 50. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. Yes, paragraph 50, we just want to clarify that the IAP2 framework, the headings in that are Inform, Consult, Collaborate and Empower. We have superimposed Co design and Co production on   on Collaboration and Empower. And I'm   

MS EASTMAN:  Can I jump in?

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  You weren't sure that   the superimposing under Collaborate as actually Co design. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Or that Empower is Co production, so you just wanted to talk about   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    what they actually mean rather than necessarily have the words in brackets as   . 

MS O'HAGAN:  So you want to know what Co design and Co production mean? 

MS EASTMAN:  Yes. So, what we might do is walk through the steps. So, the first step is Inform, and that process, it has two aspects. One, it's public participation into the process of informing. But it's also a promise to keep people informed. So, there's a two way aspect on Informed; is that right? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Can I give an overall comment on this framework? 

MS EASTMAN:  Yes, of course you can.

MS O'HAGAN:  So, one of the   we're moving on from this framework and the reason we no longer find it a totally adequate framework   and this is reflected in the   in the statement   is that the voice that the   that the words Inform, Consult, Involve and Empower is in as the voice of the powerful party. And we don't think that reflects partnership. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, what do you want to do to change this in terms of how you meet the inclusion involvement?

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Whether it's called Consult, Inform, Collaborate, Empower. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, we think the language of Co design and Co production do better at   because the   that sort of reflects a partnership approach. Whereas the framework, the participation spectrum really is the powerful party deciding when people will be involved, how they'll be involved and   and things like that, and a partnership is where the parties come together to both determine those issues. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, the focus is to move to a more partnership model. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Where there may be more sort of equality in terms of how power is used   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    and exercised. So, one element of that is Co design, and you've addressed Co design with that link to Collaborate at paragraph 55 to 57 of the statement. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  So if we substitute the word "Co design" for "Collaborate" what can you tell the Royal Commissioners about the way in which you approach co design? Does it have a practical element to how you do co design? 

MS O'HAGAN:  So, one of the initiatives, the recommendations from the Mental Health Royal Commission was to set up eight family led centres throughout Victoria, and what we   we asked the peak body for mental health carers in Victoria, called Tandem, we funded them to go around the state and to talk to people about what they really wanted from these centres, and they sent us back a report on what people said they wanted. 

That then informed   very heavily informed the commissioning of those centres. So, it was reflected in the documents, the tender documents, and so the   the applicants then needed to show how they would   how they would fulfil the wishes of the carers around Victoria through that process. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you've set that out in a little more detail in paragraphs 72 to 75 of the statement. One of the questions Commissioner Bennett has asked is:  is capacity building needed for the advocates? Or if I look at those involved in the co design   families, carers and supporters   does there need to be capacity building in that group to better support their input into co design processes with governments? And if so, how can this capacity building be achieved? 

MS O'HAGAN:  I think in the case of the families and supporters around Victoria being involved in co design, the capacity building wasn't needed there. It was needed for the government people to understand how to   how to work in a new way with people. And if you think about, you know, the traditional leaders, power holders and decision makers, often it's that group that needs to unlearn and relearn in order to go into a more power sharing relationship with groups than they traditionally have. 

MS EASTMAN:  And how has that group had to learn and unlearn? 

MS O'HAGAN:  It's been difficult, I think. For people with lived experiences, it's not so hard because we've been doing this all along. But for colleagues in the division and their   and on the whole, they're very willing, they want to do this right, but they've had to   I mean, we do   that   you know, they have training opportunities, and they get support to do that, and that's one of the   that's one of the services that the Advisory Hub can offer people, but there's nothing like just in the deep end and trying it out. 

And, you know, the lived experience community   communities can be pretty harsh in their criticism. So, sometimes there's a   people are very fearful of doing new things because they are worried about being criticised and that's a hurdle that we need to help people get over as well. 

MS EASTMAN:  On Co production, in your statement you've described the example of co production which is the matter that you spoke about a few moments ago, the lived experience residential service. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And that's an example of co production that's been utilised taking the recommendations from the Mental Health Royal Commission. That process of co design, but the actual production of   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    where and how people live. Is there anything else you want to add to the way in which you reflect on that use of co production to get a good outcome? Or is it still an outcome that's yet to be finally determined? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, yes, it's an outcome that's yet to be finally determined, but I think, as the previous witness said, co design is over   well, it's overused then used badly, and often when people are saying, "We're doing co design", they really mean "We're doing consultation". But co production, the way I understand co production is that co design is a phase in co production. 

Co production starts with understanding what the problem is and what people's needs are. The design is   is about a kind of collaborative way, a power sharing way of designing a solution where the people most involved have the greatest power to determine that. And then   and then there's codelivery which is, you know, when the initiative was set up, how do we work together to deliver it. 

And then there's co evaluation which is how can we   what can we learn from this that we can use to shape other similar initiatives or improve the one that is we're already delivering. And so I think co production is a much larger and it's part of that whole cycle, whereas co design just tends to be part of the cycle. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, one aspect that's important in this work is that for families, supporters, advocates and people with lived or living experience is if they are part of the Co design or Co production, they don't do that on a volunteer basis. 


MS EASTMAN:  So they are remunerated for their time and their knowledge, their skill   

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:    and their wisdom; is that right? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And why is that important? We hear a lot that there's this sort of expectation on people with disability or advocates to participate or be invited into a consultation process, really from the goodness of their hearts because they'll be the ultimate beneficiaries, and so this shift that you've taken to see remuneration and respect for the participants, why is that important? 

MS O'HAGAN:  It's important because they're providing essential expertise and to the   and to the development or the maintenance or the evaluation of an initiative. And the other   the other thing that happens is that you've got people with different types of expertise in the room. It seems very discriminatory if a group of people with expertise aren't remunerated and everyone else is on a comfortable salary. That would be unjust. And so it's always been incredibly important that people's contribution and expertise is recognised in this way. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to ask you just about evaluation, and I know for the work that you're doing it's early days. You're into that process. And is the sort of next steps or the next issues really starting to evaluate some of the programs, some of the policies and the way in which the services are delivered on the ground? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. I mean, evaluation is something that is continuous, I think. It's not something you decide to do after you've started delivering. It's something that we need to have points along that cycle of co production where we're evaluating all the time. We're not quite at the phase yet where we're doing those kind of formal evaluations of how delivery is going at this point, but we see that as a crucial part of that cycle, and we are   we, you know, were really wanting to get lived experience led evaluation.  If that's not possible we would only choose evaluators who had lived experience people as a key part of their team. 

MS EASTMAN:  Right. Now, I'm conscious of the time and your need to get you to the airport. We asked you about whether you could reflect on whether there were any barriers to the work you have done using lived experience in consultation, co design, co production processes and you've given us a very frank account in the statement at paragraphs 102 and following. 

One that I want to ask you about is the pace of reform, and the challenge has been the pace of reform during   because of timelines set by the Royal Commission, plus COVID, plus the need to get this all working well, the co production, the co design, the consultation, and then setting up how you might evaluate. How do you balance the pace or the wish of urgent and quick change with actually delivering the work that you do on the ground? 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, as public servants, we don't decide on the pace of change. That's a sort of   that's a political decision. One of the   one of the worries about the pace of change   and these were   these were largely set by the timetables that were part of the Royal Commission recommendations   was that we couldn't get proper co design and co production processes into place, and this caused quite a lot of anger among lived experience communities. They felt that   they felt that they were, once again, being kind of   you know, that the process wasn't   wasn't good. 

But at the same time, it was very difficult to achieve a good standard and   or to achieve co design with the timeframes that we were asked to operate in. 

MS EASTMAN:  Reflecting back on the time that you've been in the role, and thinking about the breadth of different lived and living experience of disability, are you able to comment on whether or not the model of a Lived Experience Branch as it is in Health in Victoria would be a model that may be beneficial in other government departments where there is that frontline delivery of social services for people with disability? And I'm thinking there Education, Housing, maybe Transport or aspects of the Justice system. Have you got   if it's outside of your knowledge and expertise, I don't want you to comment on it, but if you would like to share a view on that, Commissioner Galbally would be keen to know what you would say about that. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Well, that's really interesting. Part of me thinks why didn't we do this before? I mean, why doesn't every government department have a section of it that's devoted to lived experience? So that's my   that's my question, is how come we've just thought of this in the mental health area at least now. I do know that the other departments within Victoria are taking a lot of interest in the Lived Experience Branch and are wanting to see how they can, say, use that as a model or adapt it as a model for their   for their own departments. That's an area of quite a lot of interest. 

MS EASTMAN:  And when you say why hasn't this been done before, Commissioner Galbally has raised that there is the notion of a consumer leader, and that's well known in the psychosocial disability community. Is part of the work that you're doing addressing the role of consumer leaders? Or is it something different? 

MS O'HAGAN:  So a   I'm not quite sure I understand that question. So, if you can clarify?

MS EASTMAN:  Well, I might ask Commissioner Galbally in relation to just clarifying what she wanted to ask by consumer leader in psychosocial disability. 

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:  Yes, I'm just very struck by the notion of consumer expert and consumer leaders that's so well established in psychosocial disability and wondering about the extension of it to other disability, including peer work and   yes. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. Well, I think it's incredibly   it's very   it's just so important that in the   that we are seen as leaders. And I don't just mean in government or in advocacy, but I mean as leaders in our own lives. I just think for too long we've been the passive recipient of, you know, paternalistic families, services, government agencies and bureaucracies, and really we need to be active agents at all these levels. I don't know if that answers your question. 


MS O'HAGAN:  Yes. 

COMMISSIONER RYAN:  I must say, I didn't get who you meant by "we". 

MS O'HAGAN:  We as in people with a psychosocial disability or lived experience of mental distress. 

MS EASTMAN:  Well, Commissioners, I would like to ask Ms O'Hagan a lot more questions, but I thank her vetch for the very detailed statement and for participating in the Royal Commission today. So, thank you very much, Ms O'Hagan.

CHAIR:  Yes. And on behalf of the Commissioners, we also thank you for your attendance and for the statement and for the additional evidence that you've given today. Thank you very much indeed. 

MS O'HAGAN:  Right. 

MS EASTMAN:  And I think Ms O'Hagan needs to move speedily to the airport. 

CHAIR:  Yes, please feel free to speedily go to the airport. 

MS EASTMAN:  And, Commissioners, could you receive the statement into evidence and mark the statement as Exhibit 31 013.

CHAIR:  Yes, the statement will be admitted into evidence and given the marking of Exhibit 31 013. 


MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. So, we just need a five minute adjournment to reconstitute the hearing room, and Mr Horsley will be the next witness. 

CHAIR:  Thank you. We'll adjourn.




CHAIR:  Yes, Ms Fraser. 

MS FRASER:  Thank you, Chair. Commissioners, the next witness is Mr Peter Horsley. He is the founder of Remarkable and he has taken an oath before joining us today.


CHAIR:  Mr Horsley, thank you very much for coming to the Royal Commission today in Brisbane to give evidence. Thank you also for your statement which we have received and we have each read. We're very appreciative of the assistance you're providing for the Royal Commission. Thank you very much. I'll now ask Ms Fraser to ask you some questions. 


MS FRASER:  Mr Horsley, could you please state your full name for the Commission. 

MR HORSLEY:  Peter Horsley. 

MS FRASER:  And you have sworn a statement to the Commission dated 30 October 2022?

MR HORSLEY:  I have. 

MS FRASER:  And you are familiar with the contents of that statement?


MS FRASER:  And that is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

MR HORSLEY:  Yes, it is. 

MS FRASER:  Commissioners, by way of background Remarkable is the start up accelerator associated with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It is committed to developing tech start ups which positively impact the lives of people with disability. In considering the work of Remarkable and the tech start ups that they support, it is important to remember that these types of technological advancements are not about curing disability, but, rather, about harnessing the power of technology to provide solutions for people with disability which enhance their personal choice, control and independence. 

Before I turn to ask Mr Horsley some questions, I would like to play a short video clip. The clip is about PolySpine, an invention that was developed by Riley Saban and his father Clint with the support of Remarkable. Riley is a teenager from the north coast of New South Wales who lives with cerebral palsy. PolySpine provides its users with a physical support to enable them to participate and are included in a wide range of social and recreational activities from which their physical disability may otherwise exclude them.

CHAIR:  Presumably, we're now going to see the video. 

MS FRASER:  That's correct. 

CHAIR:  Very good. 

MS FRASER:  It will be on our screens in any moment. 

(Video played )

RILEY SABAN:  Hey, I'm Riley, and I'm the co founder of PolySpine along with my dad Clint. To start, I'm going to tell you how this crazy journey began. My whole life I have been active. My family always found a way to include me, even though I had to overcome my challenges. We always find a way so I can participate. We began to realise that there are people like me who always want to be extremely adventurous and independent while supported with comfort. It isn't my physical disability that prevents me from participating. It's the man made environment. With PolySpine, we can participate and experience the activities that most take for granted. The opportunity are endless without a support system. Oh, did I mention that I want to skydive? Now, I am going to hand it over to the other co founder, my dad, Clint. 

CLINT SABAN:  It's a wearable torso and head support system which provides safety, comfort and it's easy to use. It's modular in form. It fits a range of attachments for different activities. Our unique design has the ability to follow the front of that curve of the wearer's back. We have been recognised by the International Searching Authority as a new invention and we are currently taking steps to make this   this design global.

(Video ends)

MS FRASER:  I would like to provide an inclusive audio description of what we just saw on the screen. Riley is a teenage boy wearing tan coloured long pants and a black short sleeved collared shirt. He's giving a speech on a stage that has plants and purple lighting. He is using an electric wheelchair and an augmentative and alternative communication device. He is smiling while giving the speech. The speech is complemented by a slideshow which contains the following slides. 

First, a black and white illumination of a person using a wheelchair sitting in darkness near a window. The slide reads, "Are you comfortable?"  Second, a video of Riley sitting on a standup paddle board in the water with the PolySpine product and smiling at the camera. Third, a video of Riley and his father on the standup paddle board. Riley sits on the front and his father is on his knees behind him, rowing across the water with the beach in the background. The final slide is a video of Riley in a home standing and squatting with the support of the PolySpine product. Riley's dad is sat on the floor in front of him, raising Riley's legs with his knees. 

The second clip that we saw is a split screen of Riley's dad Clint, who is wearing tan coloured long pants and a black short sleeved collared shirt with the PolySpine logo. The speech is complemented by a slide show that contains the following slides:  A picture of the black PolySpine product which is a black device that has segments similar to a spine. The slide reads "Patent recognised new invention". 

I would like to turn to you now Mr Horsley and thank you for joining us here today. Mr Horsley, if I could ask you to start by telling us a little about   a little bit about Remarkable and the program that is it offers. 

MR HORSLEY:  Certainly. So, Remarkable is a division of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It was an initiative of Cerebral Palsy Alliance that started in 2016, and we run a number of programs now. It didn't start that way, but we first started running an event called a Design athon, and that was commenced in 2014. And that program supports innovators, entrepreneurs, hackers, makers, creators, both with and without disability to tackle different problems. We take people through a co design process and an inclusive design process over a period of four weeks. 

The second of our programs is one called the Remarkable Accelerator. This is the heart of what Remarkable does, and that is about creating technologies and services that can scale and be commercialised. We give founders support through mentoring, some seed investment, as well as a growing network of people that can help that product and service succeed. 

Recently, we've also introduced a third program in between Design athon and the Accelerator called Launcher.  And that program is there to support founders who are at the very earliest stages of creating their products and services. They could be researchers, they could be just at the very idea stage of their product. And it is really about validating that problem that they're trying to solve and also then helping to validate the solution that they've got. 

Additionally, we've also started a fellowship program as well. And the Jessica King Fellowship Program was actually created in memory of one of our founders who sadly did pass away, and she came through our very first cohort and her name was Jessica King. She talked about the ways that sometimes she felt like a fraud or an imposter in being a founder. And it became, I guess, part of her identity that she then said, no, actually I am. She claimed that identity that she was a founder. 

And we wanted to see more founders with disability in our programs, more founders who were   who have lived experience of disability who are creating new products and services. And so we run that program now as a six month mentoring program. It also provides monetary support for the individual's own study to invest into themselves. 

MS FRASER:  Mr Horsley, we've just seen on the screen an example of PolySpine, which is one of the products that was developed with the assistance of Remarkable. Are you able to provide us with any other concrete examples of technology that has been developed with the assistance of Remarkable? 

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely. Yes, so to date through the Accelerator program there, has been 48 companies that have come through the Accelerator program. Through our Launcher program which just started this year, we've had 26 companies come through that. So, all up 74. So, another example might be one called Bookbot. That was created by another father and son, who was trying to figure out ways that   to assist teachers in helping their child who might have dyslexia to read. 

The current best practice around that is to have a teacher sit alongside the student and to be able to point out words and to be able to assist in helping them to read. This, obviously, is difficult to do when a teacher is also responsible for other students in the classroom. And so they have developed a product that actually listens to the young person or the person with dyslexia to listen to them as they read and to help correct and to help provide assistance, and it's been shown really great outcomes. 

One more would be a product called WheelEasy. WheelEasy was created by a wheelchair user who didn't want his social life to skip a beat and recognised the importance of being able to   to go out with friends and family, but oftentimes accessible information was   was disparate, if it existed at all, or was in multiple places that lots of research had to be done beforehand. So, what they are trying to do is to aggregate that information for locations, restaurants, to be able to express to people what accessibility information is available for that   for that particular venue. 

MS FRASER:  And presumably a product such as that would have flow on effects for people that are not just those that are perhaps permanently disabled but also those that may be injured or   

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely. 

MS FRASER:    require physical assistance.

MR HORSLEY:  All of these   quite a number of these solutions actually do have ongoing impacts and further impacts than just the initial target market that they've already tried to reach. 

MS FRASER:  Can you tell the Commission in your view what are the benefits of involving people with disability in all stages of the process of development in the Remarkable program? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we've heard quite a bit in the hearings today and other times as well about the importance of co design, but that co design   it's not enough just to have co design, that co production, co creation is also important. And so we want to make sure that any of these products and services are actually meeting the needs that they're intended to meet and not to have any unintended consequences of other areas of exclusion that they might create. 

And so if they are not being created by someone with lived experience of disability themselves, then we highly encourage each of our start up founders to be ensuring that they are consulting with the disability community and not just designing with   to tick a box, but to actually then think about that as an embedded part of how they create their business, how do they think about marketing messages in ways that are inclusive, how do they think about creating culture and values in their businesses that are inclusive. It shouldn't just be a one off opportunity. 

And I think that we sometimes ignore the incredibly rich history of products, services and technologies that are being first designed by people with disability or strong allies of people with disability. And we want to help recover some of that thinking in thinking about new products and services. So, if we think about things even that we use every single day like the typewriter   like the keyboard initially came from a typewriter and was designed to allow someone who had a vision impairment to be able to type legible letters. 

Even SMS designed first to allow Deaf students to be able to communicate to each other. One of the architects of the internet is known as Vint Cerf, who was profoundly Deaf by about the age of 11 or 12 and was trying to work out ways, while he was a researcher at university, that he didn't have to pick up the telephone to talk to research colleagues and so developed some of the earliest internet protocols that, of course, has gone on to influence not just the way that we work, but the way that we live, work and play now. 

So, I think there is this rich history there that we've forgotten about, or sometimes ignored, and we need to return to that, to make sure that people with disability are given the rightful place that they should actually have. 

MS FRASER:  And to what extent are the inventions that are developed in conjunction with Remarkable actually prompted in the first instance by people with disability? Are people with disability bringing the ideas to Remarkable or is the disability interface something that comes later? 

MR HORSLEY:  A bit of both. So, oftentimes, if it is not someone bringing, they're certainly experiencing some of the challenges that some of these barriers might be creating in the first instance. We oftentimes do have someone who has a strong ally of someone with a disability, whether that be a family member, whether it be someone that has worked in the industry and seen some of the challenges that we currently are still facing when we're not designing for a world that is inclusive and accessible. 

If that's not the case, then we are   it is   it is a   a strong part of the program that we provide, and the supports that we provide is that we make sure that you leave with an understanding of the importance of co creation, of co design, of ongoing input from the disability community in your products, design and services. 

MS FRASER:  You've just mentioned that it's a strong part of the program and supports that you design that there is that interface or connection with people with disabilities. Can you break that down for me? How does this actually occur? What does this look like? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we ask how many people with disability are you consulting with? We get baseline information around that. We run master classes as well around how to do good co design and co creation. How do you set up a great user testing strategy around your products and services that is inclusive as well? So, there are a number of different touch points that we have throughout our programs that encourage our founders to think that way. 

MS FRASER:  And what if a founder was to say to you, when asked how many people are communicating or connecting with who have disability, if they were to say none or very few, what then? What happens then? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, there probably could be a question as to whether they would actually get into the program if they weren't willing to make some changes to the way that they were designing their products and services. 

MS FRASER:  And is there an intention to move to a position where every step of the process involves a person with disability? 

MR HORSLEY:  Yeah, it's interesting. We just hosted a technology summit in San Francisco in November, and one of the speakers at that summit was talking about the importance of co design and co creation and actually asked the question to the audience:  should you actually be designing a product, should you be leading a product if you do not have someone with lived experience of that particular product or service on your team? And so really trying to push the envelope of are you in the right position in terms of the people you're engaging with to be designing that product, technology or service? 

MS FRASER:  So, that's looking at it from the founder's perspective. How does Remarkable create those connections from the person with disability's perspective? How do you actively identify that person and seek their input? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we do have   in the beginning, we had a beta testing group. It was a list of people that put up their hand and said we wanted to test products. Now we have a slightly more formalised process of that. We do have a great disability community, not just here in Australia but now around the world as well. So, for instance, we've just been through our application process for our next Accelerator program in 2023, and we had a number of people with disabilities who were invited to give feedback on technologies and services that could be relevant to them, that they bring relevant experience around that. Helping to give their understanding of how relevant that is as a solution for them, and   and we pay our   each time we have someone with disability either giving input as user testers or giving input   in this instance, giving feedback on applications for an Accelerator program, we pay them for their time. 

MS FRASER:  And how do you identify those people who you seek input from? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, a lot of it is through the network, so people who know people. We continue to amass, I guess, a list of people who are willing to give feedback and who   or who are willing to participate in our programs, and   but that is an ever growing evolution. We hope to have more and more people involved in all of our programs at all stages. 

MS FRASER:  Does Remarkable connect with what I will call similar   you may say to me not similar   but organisations Such as Technical Aids for the Disabled, now called Solutions in Victoria? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we are aware of their work. I believe in New South Wales we've actually   our organisation, Cerebral Palsy Alliance has helped to house them at a particular point in time as well. We would see ourselves as slightly different.  My understanding of their work   which is fantastic work, by the way. My understanding of their work is that they developed individualised solutions for people who might be adapting equipment or technologies, and what we're trying to do is to see solutions that are brought to the market at scale. So, how do we see these not just providing a solution for one person, but how do we see them providing solutions for many, many people? 

MS FRASER:  In your statement at paragraph 51, you provide a table that reflects the participation rates of people with disabilities. And with respect to the Accelerator and Launcher programs specifically, with four out of twenty participants being people with disability in the Accelerator cohort in 2022, and you've   in your statement, you also say at paragraph 29 that you have:

    "... looked at running a Launcher program exclusively for founders of people with disability in 2018 but you did not have sufficient interest for the program."

Can you tell the Commission what is being done to increase the number of program participants with disability in these two programs? 

MR HORSLEY:  It's a really great question. And it's something that we're very, very conscious of as well, is that we want to see greater numbers of people with disability who are founding their own companies, for some of the reasons that we've given before. So, part of the impetus of running the Jessica King Fellowship Program was to start even earlier and to give exposure of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to more people with disability. So, we're doing that at a small scale at this stage, but as we continue to grow that program, we hope to see more people with disability who are already interested in entrepreneurship. 

The other thing that we are trying to do around that is to increase our networks as well. And so perhaps even through this Royal Commission, we'll be able to continue to meet and be introduced to people who are potentially founders. We haven't got a really large marketing budget. So, there are still a lot of the Australian population and a lot of the global population who don't know who we are. And so we hope that we can grow the awareness of the opportunity that we've got to support founders with disability. We see that as the lifeblood of innovation going forward. So, it's not where we want it to be, but we're certainly making efforts to increase that number. 

MS FRASER:  So, the awareness of the program amongst the disability program is, to a large extent, currently dependent on word of mouth? 

MR HORSLEY:  It is, correct. 

MS FRASER:  You've identified in your statement a number of key funding providers or partnerships, including Telstra, the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services and the like. How has Remarkable gone about securing these partnerships? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, they're things that we have initiated. We've reached out to try and garner support for our programs. And so we harness putting in proposals, requesting that we have corporate organisations, sometimes government organisations to see if they can support the work that we're doing and to be able to help fund the operation's costs. We also do general fundraising as well towards supporting these programs, so events, also participatory programs that garner the support from the general community in supporting some of the programs that we do as well. 

MS FRASER:  And in seeking those private partnerships, what is it that you emphasise in relation to your program? What is it that you find private partners are particularly drawn to in relation to the program? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, I think a couple of things. They are particularly interested   I think an area of interest in the broader community at the moment is diversity, equity, inclusion. While sometimes disability perhaps is left off that list, or is not immediately thought of around diversity, equity and inclusion, it is an area that is garnering some interest from corporates. 

I think they also see the role of innovation and the role that it could play and the potential that it can play in corporate business and so this   this approach that we're using of venture building and creating new, I guess, pockets of ongoing sustainable impact is something that they get from a   from a business operations perspective as well. So, I think that there's a few different reasons why they might be interested in supporting. 

MS FRASER:  How do you consider that private sector investors can continue to support the programs? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, in a number of different ways. So, financial is obviously one of the ways that they can continue to support, and we continue to fundraise to be able to help us to do that. But also they have people within their organisations who have disability and who can be potential mentors or coaches for some of our start ups, and they can also provide particularly subject expertise. Helping founders as they try to navigate the really, really difficult role of creating a start up. 

It is a really difficult process, and we hear lots of stories of the number of start ups that do fail. And so what we try to do with the support programs that we run is to   to look at some of the pitfalls that start ups often may fall into, and to try and help them navigate those. 

MS FRASER:  Do you consider that private sector companies, or to what extent do you consider that private sector companies consider people with disability currently as viable consumers? 

MR HORSLEY:  That's a really great question and I think it's hard to generalise is across all corporates. There are certainly some who get it. Some who are saying that we've probably for too long ignored that as a target market and thought of disability more as the realm of charities and not for profits. But I think some of the   some of the corporate organisations are starting to say it is an underserved market. Our messages aren't particularly targeted towards being more inclusive around that. 

And I think we heard evidence earlier around the purple pound. There are reports around the purchasing power of people with disability, and their immediate families as well, of being in the realm of around $13 trillion globally. And so I think that there's starting to be some more recognition across the board in corporate organisations that this is actually a very valuable and valid target market as well. 

MS FRASER:  Do you consider that that recognition of value is a lever that can be utilised to facilitate further investment and further development? 

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely, it should be. I think, you know, if organisations are ignoring this market, they're missing out. They're missing out on talent. They're missing out on customers. They are missing out on making sure that   that people see themselves as users of their products as well. And so I think it's a missed opportunity for organisations who aren't thinking about that. 

MS FRASER:  To the extent that some innovators may well be designing products for people with disability that may not be fundamentally including people with disability in that process, do you consider that there's a power imbalance between the innovator and a person with disability?

MR HORSLEY:  Sometimes there is, and certainly we've seen this both in the venture capital world where, again, we've had to try to   to communicate to the venture capital community more broadly that this isn't just the realm of charities and not for profits, that there's actually a viable target market here. And it is not a niche   a small niche that needs to be kind of dealt with in that way. And certainly the hope with us advocating in that way is that they   they see more and more the value that they can have in investing in this space. 

If we are currently not someone with disability ourselves, there is a very high chance that at some point in our lifetime we will be. And so if we are not designing for our current selves, if we're not investing in products and services for our current selves, then we could be designing for our future selves in that regard. And so we are trying to help reframe this conversation as well away from only being seen as   and I think that the CRPD kind of puts it best   away from objects to subjects, people with purchasing power. People with agency who should have control and should have choice. 

MS FRASER:  In your work with Remarkable, have you seen that power imbalance between any of your founders and people with disability? 

MR HORSLEY:  It's a good question. I think that   that, again everyone, is on a journey in this and so   and we are learning as an organisation and as a division within an organisation as well. And so   so sometimes we won't get it all right. But certainly it is the place from which we're wanting to design and it's our aspiration that there is no power imbalance. In fact, it should be the other way around, that it is seen as a   as a   I guess, a benefit and a skill and an experience that you are bringing to this space that should be applauded and lauded because it is   you are bringing a new experience of ways that products and services could be designed. 

MS FRASER:  And how do you share that message with your founders who have not got firsthand or second-hand experience with disability? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we try to make sure that we have people with disability actually speaking and talking in these sorts of ways as well. It's certainly part of the values of our team, so the small Remarkable team. We talk about this a lot, we talk about how we can continue to grow and change as well as an organisation and learn. So, I think that hopefully it comes through in both our communications, in the values in which we work by, and   and also the specific programmatic elements that we at to what we do. 

MS FRASER:  Mr Horsley, Remarkable was founded in 2017, but as I understand it, it has not yet collected or produced any specific data, information or reports concerning the outcomes for participants. Can you tell me why you haven't undertaken this work? 

MR HORSLEY:  So, we see ourselves as an intermediary. So, we measure ourselves on the work that we're doing with intermediaries. And so the intermediary   the broader part of the ecosystem that we're dealing with are founders themselves. And so our work is to support those founders as they evaluate their business opportunities and try and grow their business. The   the next layer down, if you like, is the beneficiary of the products and services that they do create. We would love to be able to continue to measure or we'd love to be able to measure that in a more formal way beyond just hearing kind of net promoter scores that are given by the start ups talking to their customers. We'd love to be able to record that in a much greater way but we just haven't had funding for that at this stage. 

MS FRASER:  Have you got plans to do that in the future?

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely. If we do have funding for it, we'd love to be able to do that. 

MS FRASER:  And do you see a connection between the production   or the collection of that data and the production of those reports to further increasing the profile of the programs? 

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely. And I think I probably should say as well that it is a complex area around measuring impact. It is much more straightforward to measure impact around removing carbon from the atmosphere, for instance. When you are talking about a range of services or a range of technologies that might be impacting greater choice, it might be a quality of life outcome, it might be   

MS FRASER:  The measures will be different.

MR HORSLEY:  They will be different, and so there is complexity in there, and I don't think that there has been   from what we can see so far, there hasn't been lots of standardisation around social impact measures in that way, and we'd love to see some more development in that space. 

MS FRASER:  And certainly to the extent possible, the collection and reflection of those measures would be something of interest to the private sector? 

MR HORSLEY:  Absolutely. Yes. Yes.

CHAIR:  Ms Fraser, to plagiarise Ms Eastman, I am conscious of time. 

MS FRASER:  Thank you very much, Chair. I had just one final question.

CHAIR:  Very good. 

MS FRASER:  Mr Horsley, I wanted to just finish acknowledging your role within Remarkable as an organisation involved in Accelerator and tech start ups. I'd like to ask you what your vision for an inclusive Australia is? 

MR HORSLEY:  Thank you. And thank you for this opportunity as well. So, when we see the role that technology plays in our lives, it's becoming more and more prevalent that we are dealing with technology in every aspect of our life. And, ultimately, all technology is assistive technology. It helps us to do something. It is not a special category. And so I think my vision for a more inclusive Australia is that the Remarkable technology that we're helping to create isn't remarkable anymore. And that's not because of some kind of policy or it's not because of some kind of stick that is kind of given to organisations; it's because we have people with disability in the C suite. We have people with disability who are guiding the product development of large organisations. 

I think also too long   for too long we've   we've been subsidising the research and development of new services. People with disability have been subsidising that, because they've had to. When a world is not created for them, they have to create solutions for themselves. And we should be seeing disability as synonymous with innovation. That's what I would hope to see, is that when we think about innovation, we actually think about people with disability are actually the best advocates for that because they've been doing it for a really, really long time. 

And probably the last thing I would say is I think we actually have some of the policy settings here in Australia that lend itself to us actually leading this for the rest of the word. We have an opportunity here that we are creating a market where there is choice and control around technologies and products, but imagine if we could take that to the rest of the world and be a leader in that as well. So, my vision for a more inclusive Australia is that Australia leads the world in this. 

MS FRASER:  Thank you, Mr Horsley. Chair, if I could ask that Mr Horsley's statement be tendered into evidence and marked Exhibit 31 014; the Remarkable Social Impact Review, March 2016 to August 2017, be marked Exhibit 31 014.1; the Remarkable Evaluation Report, February 2019, be marked Exhibit number 31 014.2; and, finally, the Remarkable Evaluation Program 2018 to 2020 be marked Exhibit number 31 014.3.

CHAIR:  Yes. Thank you, those documents will be admitted into evidence with the markings that Ms Fraser has indicated. 





CHAIR:  Mr Horsley, thank you very much for your very interesting evidence about what Remarkable does and the opportunities that it has and the challenges it faces in realising those opportunities. It's been a very interesting session. Thank you very much. 

MR HORSLEY:  Thank you. 


CHAIR:  Now, Ms Eastman, isn't here to dictate to us, so how long are we going to take for lunch?

MS FRASER:  Chair, I can indicate that the intention is that we adjourn until 2 pm.

CHAIR:  Okay. We shall. 



CHAIR:  Yes. I apologise for the delay. Entirely my fault. Yes, Ms Eastman. 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you, Chair and Commissioners. We now turn to what I described at the opening of this Public hearing as part   are you right?

CHAIR:  Right. 

MS EASTMAN:  Part 3 and our attention is now focused on the   Australia's Disability Strategy 2021 to 2031. As the Chair and Commissioners are aware, the Strategy was launched on 3 December last year. And the Strategy is described as a call for all Australians to ensure people with disability can participate as equal members of society. And it's said to be at its heart a commitment to create inclusive community. 

It's said that the Strategy speaks to our national aspirations to enshrine and elevate the ideals of respect, inclusivity and equality, and that's why all Australian governments, the Australian Government, state, territory and local government are committed to delivering its principles. 

The approach taken in the Strategy is to outline a vision and purpose and for the course of this week, we've been talking about a vision for an inclusive Australia. The ADS, if I can use the shorthand expression, says that:

    "The Strategy's vision for an inclusive Australian society is one that ensures people with disability can fulfil their potential as equal members of the community."

And it's said to be in line with Australia's commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and that the Strategy will play an important role in protecting, promoting and realising the human rights of people with disability.

The purpose of the Strategy is to provide national leadership towards greater inclusion of people with disability, to guide activity across all areas of public policy so they are inclusive and responsive to people with disability, to drive mainstream services and systems to improve outcomes for people with disability, to engage, inform and involve the whole community in achieving a more inclusive society. 

The approach taken in the ADS is to identify some outcome areas and, Commissioners, you have been told at previous Public hearings that the identification of the priority areas followed a process of consultation with people with disability. The key policy areas include the priority that people with disability should be safe and feel safe from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation; that policies, processes and programs provide better responses to people with disability who have experienced trauma; policies, processes and programs for people with disability should promote gender equality and prevent violence against groups with heightened risk, including women and their children. 

So, there is a range of areas in employment, financial security, inclusive homes, safety, rights and justice, personal and community support, education and learning, health and wellbeing, and an area that we have addressed during the course of this week, community attitudes. The way in which the ADS is intended to work is to then examine further the way in which each of these priority areas will be acted on, and there's a number of features to this which I'll explore with the witnesses this afternoon and into tomorrow. But one of the key features is the use of Targeted Action Plans. 

Those Targeted Action Plans have asked the Commonwealth and each of the states and territories to identify their particular priority areas and initiatives. The Strategy then calls for an evaluation and a tracking process as to how each of the priority areas together with the Targeted Action Plans are given effect. 

You will hear shortly from the representatives from Queensland that in addition to what is happening at a national level, some states and territories take their own pathway to develop specific plans at a local level to give effect to the Targeted Action Plans and their respective commitments to the ADS. 

In preparation for this hearing, the Royal Commission sought information from each of the states and territories. We asked each of the states and territories to give us an overview of what steps had been taken to implement the ADS since December last year to realise the vision in the Strategy. We asked about the practical aspects of implementation. We asked about evaluation. We asked about the budget and commitment to financing the ADS. We asked about accountability, and we also asked about the relationship between the ADS and meeting Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Each of the jurisdictions, very kindly, agreed to keep their answers short and succinct and we've incorporated the answers for each jurisdiction in Part C of the Tender Bundle and I'll tender those materials into evidence at the end of the discussion we have with our Queensland witnesses this afternoon. 

Ideally, the Royal Commission may have wished to have the opportunity to hear directly from all of the states and territories, but in the time available to us at this time of the year and given the scope of this hearing, we focus on Queensland and also the Australian Government. So the balance of the hearing will be focused on the ADS and the issues that I've raised about realising the vision and looking at these issues from the perspective of government and hearing from the policy makers, the decision makers who have the power and responsibility to influence change. 

So, Commissioners, with that, may I introduce our witnesses from Queensland, and we have Kathy Parton and Michelle Bullen. I think you're going to take your oaths and affirmations. So the Chair's Associate will assist you.

CHAIR:  First, thank you very much, Ms Bullen and Ms Parton for coming to the Royal Commission this afternoon and for the material that you have provided and also for the evidence you will give about Queensland's approach to the Strategy. I'm grateful for your assistance. If you would follow the instructions of my Associate, who is sitting in front of me, she will administer the oath or the affirmation, as the case may be, to you.

ASSOCIATE:  I will read you both the affirmation. At the end, please both say "yes" or "I do". Do you solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the evidence which you shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?





CHAIR:  Thank you, Ms Bullen, Ms Parton, I'll now ask Ms Eastman to ask you some questions.


MS EASTMAN:  Ms Parton, can I start with you. You are the Deputy Director General of Policy, Legislation and Program Reform in the Department of Seniors, Disability Services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. 

MS PARTON:  Yes, that's right. 

MS EASTMAN:  And I think the abbreviation for the Department is very long that it can't even be used as shorthand to describe that; is that right? 

MS PARTON:  Correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Are you happy if I refer to it as the Department?


MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. In terms of this role, this is a role you have held since March 2019. 


MS EASTMAN:  Prior to that you were the Deputy Director General of Strategy and Governance and Engagement at the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs. Sorry, I can't hear you. 

MS PARTON:  Sorry. Yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And looking at your career, you've had a long and extensive career in the public sector in Queensland; is that right? 

MS PARTON:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  I won't take you all the way through to your early days. So, I'll ask you in a moment about your particular responsibilities, but am I right in understanding that with respect to Queensland's response to the Royal Commission's notice   and, Commissioners, you'll have this in Tender Bundle C behind tab 29. Have you got a copy with you? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, I do. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you can speak to questions 6 and 7; is that right? 

MS PARTON:  Correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Ms Bullen, can I turn to you. 

MS BULLEN:  Sure. 

MS EASTMAN:  You're the Executive Director, Disability and Seniors Program in the Department of Seniors, Disability Services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  And you've held this role for about a year; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  And prior to that, you've also had long experience in the public sector, but also roles, for example, in the Queensland Ombudsman and to undertake roles in relation to investigations and a role with the Queensland Family and Child Commission; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, in terms of your contribution to the Queensland response, you can speak to questions 1 and 5; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  Now, during the course of my questions today, I'm very happy for either of you to answer the questions, and it may be that some of my questions might cover both aspects of the areas. Can I start just with you, Ms Parton, to outline what your particular responsibilities are with respect to the ADS or the Queensland Disability Plan?

MS PARTON:  Certainly. Thank you, before I start I'd just like to clarify my role in the Department. The Department underwent a change during that time, so I started in 2019 as Deputy Director General for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and the Department merged with Seniors and Disability Services. That was late 2020. So, sorry, just to clarify. Thank you. 

MS EASTMAN:  So what's your role with respect to the ADS or the Queensland Disability Plan?

MS PARTON:  Certainly. Thank you. My role as Deputy Director General for Strategic Policy, Legislation and Program Reform is across all areas of the portfolio. So, there's a team in my area that is responsible for policy development, and that contributed to the development of the ADS. And we are also involved in supporting our Minister at the Disability Reform Ministers' Meetings and in inter governmental negotiations. 

MS EASTMAN:  And am I right in understanding   and I apologise if I've overlooked this   you haven't been in the hearing room during the course of this week? 


MS EASTMAN:  And have you followed the proceedings during the course of this week? 

MS PARTON:  I haven't had an opportunity to view the hearings, but I have kept an eye across the topics that have been under discussion. 

MS EASTMAN:  When you say "across the topics", someone from the Legal team has provided you with a summary or updates?

MS PARTON:  Someone from my Department who's just been doing a bit of a summary on what's been happening this week. 

MS EASTMAN:  Have you read the transcript at all?

MS PARTON:  Not in full, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. Can I ask you, just in terms of your professional background, what, if any, of your background has involved working directly with and about people with disability?

MS PARTON:  Really only since the Department merged in late 2020 have I worked directly with people with disability. Prior to that, I did do some work when I was with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority around communications in a disaster or emergency, and worked with some advisory groups, but only really in my current role. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in your current role have you had to undertake any particular training in relation to working with people with disability? 

MS PARTON:  We have   part of our mandatory training for all of our Department includes   it's an online training package. That's the only training that I have done. 

MS EASTMAN:  And was the online training package delivered by somebody with lived experience of disability? 

MS PARTON:  It was online, so I'm not sure who developed it, I'm sorry. 

MS EASTMAN:  Okay. Ms Bullen, can I ask you the same questions. What's your role, either with the ADS or the Queensland Disability Plan? 

MS BULLEN:  So my   as you said before, my substantive role is Executive Director in Disability Seniors Connect. At the moment, I'm Acting Deputy Director General of that program area. We have quite a range of responsibilities in respect of people with disability. I won't discuss the Seniors aspect, but if you don't mind I'll just refer to my notes to give you a concise summary. We have responsibility for inclusion, which is about leading action across government to support social and economic participation of people with disability. The key way that we do that is through the state Disability Plan. We also administer some programs and services so we fund disability peak and representative bodies and advocacy bodies. 

MS EASTMAN:  Can I ask you to slow down. 

MS BULLEN:  Sorry. 

MS EASTMAN:  I'm happy for you to read from your notes, but my colleagues here need to keep up with you and I don't want them to lose what you're saying. 

MS BULLEN:  Absolutely. Thank you. So, in terms of programs and services, we fund disability advocacy and peak and representative bodies, and we monitor and maximise investment in the NDIS on behalf of the Queensland Government, and we also administer a suite of safeguards and regulatory services that help protect the rights of people with disability and keep them safe in service environments. 

MS EASTMAN:  And like Ms Parton, you haven't been here during the course of the week; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  No, I have not. 

MS EASTMAN:  Have you followed the work of the Royal Commission this week?

MS BULLEN:  I haven't had an opportunity to watch all of the hearings. I have seen some summaries of some of the evidence that's been given. I've read some of the transcript of yesterday's hearing, and I've seen some of the media reports on it. 

MS EASTMAN:  And looking back at your career in the public sector, have you had the opportunity to work with or for people with disability? 

MS BULLEN:  I think throughout my career, I have worked directly with people with disability in various public service roles in different capacities. In my current role and in the time I've been in the Department, I've had a much closer opportunity to work with   directly with people with disability as colleagues and also through my work in supporting various forums, including the Queensland Disability Advisory Council, which is a forum of people with lived experience of disability, and working closely with our peak and representative bodies, who represent people with disability. And I do work closely   we had a number of colleagues in my area who are people with disability or lived experience. 

MS EASTMAN:  And have you also had to undertake any training?

MS BULLEN:  The same training. So, we have some mandatory training. I've also participated, I guess, in a number of forums where awareness raising and things like that have been the focus. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. I just want to start with a bit of a snapshot of the situation in Queensland. So, it's right, isn't it, that over 900,000 people in Queensland live with disability? 

MS BULLEN:  That's the ABS estimate, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of the distribution between men and women, it's roughly equal but slightly more men, or males identifying as people with   who live with stability; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's my understanding from that national data. 

MS EASTMAN:  Over 100,000 Queenslanders with disability are NDIS participants and they receive NDIS supports. You're aware of that? 


MS EASTMAN:  5.4 percent of NDIS participants in Queensland come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. You're aware of that?


MS EASTMAN:  9.6 percent of NDIS participants identify as Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people. You're aware of that?


MS EASTMAN:  The prevalence disability increases with age, and approximately 42.4 percent of Queenslanders aged over 65 live with disability; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's my understanding, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Might need you to say yes, rather than nod. 


MS EASTMAN:  In looking at the forecast for NDIS participation into the future, there's an estimate that the NDIS participants in Queensland will grow to over 1800   sorry, 180,000 participants in Queensland in the next 10 years. 

MS BULLEN:  Yes. That is my understanding. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, it's close to double in the next 10 years. Almost double the present number of NDIS participants? 


MS EASTMAN:  And 11 percent of Queenslanders with disability were born in non English speaking countries. 

MS BULLEN:  That I can't confirm, but   yes, it sounds right but I can't   

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. So, can I ask if both of you can speak to the information provided by the Royal Commission, were you both involved in drafting this document and preparing the contents of this document? 


MS BULLEN:  I'm just going to say I wasn't. I was on leave. I returned last week. So, it was prepared by my   the substantive holder of this position that I'm in now. 

MS EASTMAN:  The document itself refers to a number of other policies and plans and information. And are you familiar with the documents that are referred to in the response? 



MS EASTMAN:  And I think each of you have got a folder which you've brought with you. That's, I assume, not the folder that's the Royal Commission's Tender Bundle but you've got your notes and material; is that right? 



MS EASTMAN:  So can I take that you are both familiar with Australia's Disability Strategy 2021 to 2023? 


MS EASTMAN:  And you're aware that the Strategy identifies particular policy areas and policy priorities? I need you to speak up. 


MS EASTMAN:  And when we look at the   I might say architecture of the ADS, there are a number of elements to it. There are   there will be something called the ADS Guiding Principles; is that right? You're aware of that?


MS EASTMAN:  And they're currently being developed? You understand that?


MS EASTMAN:  And what role is Queensland playing in the development of the ADS Guiding Principles?

MS PARTON:  We're participating as part of working groups that   with other state and territory governments and with the Commonwealth Government. 

MS EASTMAN:  That's telling me where you're doing it, but what are you actually doing in terms of developing the Guiding Principles? What's Queensland's role? 

MS PARTON:  The Australian Government is probably leading that process, and we are contributing and we are engaging with our Minister's Council as needed to provide input into that process. 

MS EASTMAN:  What sort of input are you providing into that process? 

MS PARTON:  So, most of the process has been led by the Commonwealth. I just have to   let me refer to my notes and see if I have any details about what they're   I do know that we   we are participating as part of a working group with all of the other states and territories and the Commonwealth. I don't have any detail. 

MS EASTMAN:     what do you do with the working group? 

MS PARTON:  Sorry, I don't have the   I'm not the participant on the working group so I don't have the detail. 

MS EASTMAN:  Ms Bullen, are you involved in that?

MS BULLEN:  I'm not on that particular working group, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  One of the other pieces of the architecture is something called an Outcomes Framework and a Data Improvement Plan. You're aware of that?


MS EASTMAN:  Has Queensland had a role in the development of the Outcomes Framework? 

MS BULLEN:  That work   no, sorry, do you mind? Is that okay that  

MS EASTMAN:  No, as I said, either of you can answer it.

MS BULLEN:  Either way. That work was actually done some time ago, largely before   well before both of us were in the roles that we're now, and there were representatives of our Department in those working groups. In terms of their day to day activities, I don't think either of us have that information. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is that a mostly Commonwealth led initiative?

MS BULLEN:  The development of the whole strategy was led by the Commonwealth with participation from all the states and territories, as I understand. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you've mentioned already another feature which is the Disability Reform Ministerial Council, and, I think, Ms Parton, you've said that you've got some responsibility in relation to working with Ministers for that Council?


MS EASTMAN:  Can you tell us about Queensland's role?

MS PARTON:  Sorry, yes. We provide   so I provide support for Minister Crawford as the Minister who attends those Council meetings. 

MS EASTMAN:  And how regularly are you involved in attending the Council meetings? Is it something that you frequently attend or is it something that's happening on a quarterly or annual basis? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, so under the former Commonwealth Government, it used to be quarterly but since the change of government, those meetings are now happening monthly to six weekly. There was actually one on Tuesday this week, and most of those forums are in person, and all the Ministers met in Melbourne this week. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, another key feature of the way the ADS works is the development of Targeted Action Plans. And you're aware   I think their shorthand expression is TAPs, if you go with me on the jargon. There's currently five TAPs. You're aware of that? A Community Attitudes TAP, Early Childhood, Employment, Safety and Emergency Management. 


MS EASTMAN:  Now, I'm conscious of the time, so I'm not going to take you through all of the TAPs but I do want to focus on one. So, Queensland has identified its priority areas for the five TAPs to be 55 actions in total across 12 departments, and you've given us that response, Commissioners, in answer to question 2B on the table. But I wanted to ask you about Community Attitudes, which has been a focus of the hearing this week. Commissioners, in that Tender Bundle C, you will have a copy the Community Attitudes TAP, and it's most inconveniently the last document in that folder, if you're using the hard copy. 

So the Community Attitudes TAP says that:

    "This TAP should be linked to and include state and territory disability plans."

So, it speaks to that. And:

    "This TAP..."

If you've got the document there and, if not, we can give you a copy:

    "... talks about the growing understanding of the rights of people with disabilities to fully participate in society, and consultation on the development of the Strategy highlighted significant impacts community attitudes have on people with disability, specifically on their participation in the community, education and employment."

So, you are aware that the purpose of this particular TAP is to address what was perceived to be a problem with respect to community attitudes; is that right? 



    "This TAP indicates that people with disability were involved, their views were sought through a public submission process, a series of focus groups, workshops with the disability representative organisations, and cross collaboration workshops with people with lived experience and sector representatives."

With respect to that work, did Queensland have a direct and active role in that part of the development of this TAP? 

MS BULLEN:  As in Queensland Government, our Department specifically? My understanding is we did have people participate in all of that work, but I can't absolutely confirm that because I wasn't part of that process. We could   we could certainly find that out for you. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, it says that:

    "The key outcomes and objectives of this particular TAP is designed to drive progress under the Community Attitudes Outcomes area of the Strategy, and the Outcomes area aims to ensure that community attitudes are improved and enable people with disability to have full equality, inclusion and participation in society."

And then there's a description about some aspects of meeting the key outcomes and objectives. If we look at the document, it's then divided by each jurisdiction, and each jurisdiction has particular action items. So, if I can ask you to turn to page 12   

MS BULLEN:  I have a summary of the Queensland actions. I don't have a copy of the actual document. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. We'll make sure that you have the document. 

MS BULLEN:  Thank you. So, was that page 5?

MS EASTMAN:  If you go to page 12. 


MS EASTMAN:  These are the Queensland specific actions. There's four objectives and 13 actions, and they travel from page 12 to page 15. Now, if I just take objective 1, which is:

    "Employers value the contribution of people with disability to make the workforce and recognise the benefits of employing people with disability."

That objective is not identified by the Commonwealth. It's identified by Queensland; is that right? And do you know how that objective was identified by Queensland? 

MS BULLEN:  I don't have line of sight of how it was developed. I wasn't participating in those processes at that time. But we did have representatives there. We would be able to find that out for you. I just don't have it. 

MS EASTMAN:  You don't have any personal knowledge of this? 

MS BULLEN:  How that particular objective was developed. It was done before I was in this role and so I don't have, like, firsthand knowledge of how it was developed, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  Well, there's one action item under objective 1, which is:

    "To give businesses the confidence to employ Queenslanders who have experienced a period of unemployment and help workers facing disadvantage in the labour market, including people with a disability, through the participation in the revitalised Back to Work Program." 

And the timeline for this is late 2021 to 2024. So, that's the action. So, are we right in understanding that the Back to Work Program is a program that pre dated the development of these objectives and the development of the ADS? 


MS EASTMAN:  Are we right in understanding that the Back to Work Program is not a program specifically for people with disability? 

MS PARTON:  No, that's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  And would we be right in understanding that the Back to Work Program is essentially a little like a rehabilitation, that if somebody has had a workplace injury or a period of unemployment, that this is a program to support people returning to work? 

MS PARTON:  That's my understanding as well, but I would note our Department doesn't administer that program. So, I probably can't go into too much detail around that. 

MS EASTMAN:  But your Department's got the overall responsibility for the ADS. 

MS PARTON:  Yes, and for coordinating the input by other Queensland government agencies, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, can you help us about what's identified as the action and the objective. How does that go to the issue of community's attitudes? 

MS PARTON:  I think employment is one element, but in terms of the development of the Queensland actions for the TAP   sorry, for the Targeted Action Plan. Try not   

MS EASTMAN:  Go with the TAP. 

MS PARTON:  Try not to use acronyms because we have way too much of them in our Department. The Targeted Action Plans only formed just one part of Queensland's contribution to the ADS so   

MS EASTMAN:  I accept that. But what I'm trying to do is be quite specific. We're focussing on a Targeted Action Plan which has the objective of changing and improving community attitudes. So, my question's fairly narrow, and that is how does the objective 1 and the action item there meet that objective of improving community attitudes? 

MS PARTON:  I think the Department that put that program forward, which is the Department of Employment, would have been on the basis that the   an increase of people with disability in the workforce will increase visibility and people's interactions with people with disability and, therefore, potentially have an impact on community attitudes. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, that's a bit of an assumption, isn't it, about what a Back to Work Program might do?

MS PARTON:  Yes, it is. 

MS EASTMAN:  It's not a specific targeted program to community attitudes for people with disability, would you agree? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, I would agree. 

MS EASTMAN:  The second objective is described as:

"Key professional workforces are able to confidently and positively respond to people with disability."

Do you know who's responsible for either the description of objective 2? 

MS BULLEN:  I don't, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  What are key professional workforces? 

MS BULLEN:  My understanding of that is that workforces include health   those clinical workforces:  Health, education, emergency services, those other professions that support people in the community. 

MS EASTMAN:  And is this objective that those workforces need or should be able to confidently and positively respond to people with disability based on identifying some underlying problem that key professional workforces were not able to do that? Is that the basis of this objective?

MS BULLEN:  My understanding is the basis of it is improving or increasing their level of knowledge, awareness and confidence. So, it's not saying that they had   that there was an identified problem. It was just a recognition that there's scope for improvement of   of everybody in the   working in the Queensland Government to improve their awareness and understanding. 

MS EASTMAN:  But was there any assessment or identification as to any deficiency or any limitations on the key professional workforce with respect to responding to people with disability? 

MS BULLEN:  I'm not aware whether there was or not. 

MS EASTMAN:  When you develop an objective like this, should you not be able to clearly identify what the problem is that you're seeking to respond to by the objective and actions?

MS McMILLAN:  Well, I rise to object that neither of the witnesses are the authors of this document and, with respect, unfair to effectively test them about the wording and definitions of them in the manner that's being undertaken.

CHAIR:     that are being implemented or given effect to. In that sense, I think that the witnesses should be able to address the question. So, would you mind repeating the question, Ms Eastman. 

MS EASTMAN:  I don't have the transcript in front of me.

CHAIR:  When you develop an objective  

MS EASTMAN:  Like this, should you not be able to clearly identify what the problem is that you're seeking to respond to by the objective and the actions? 

MS PARTON:  I guess this goes to a little bit the development of the TAPs, which was done quite quickly after the ADS was released. And it was done prior to when we released our Queensland Disability Plan. So, I guess that   that would go back to my previous response where Queensland Government's implementation of the ADS is not just through the TAP actions, it's also just the Queensland Disability Plan, through the Human Rights Act and through a number of actions as well. 

MS EASTMAN:  I'm going to get to all of those as well. I'm just on understanding how Queensland, which has the responsibility for doing this bit, identified its objectives and the action items. So, I take it that neither of you were involved in the drafting of this, but you both are involved in different ways in implementing this; is this right? So, you have responsibility in relation to seeing how these objectives are fulfilled; is that right? 



MS EASTMAN:  And are we right to assume that in so doing, you've got to have an understanding of what these objectives are seeking to do; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  Looking at the action items   and, again, I'm not going to take you through each one or we'll be here till next year. I just want to look at 2.4 which says:

    "The review of Disability Awareness Training..."

Which has got three capital letters there, so I assume that's actually something rather than a broad description. So, this is a review of Disability Awareness Training:

    "... for the Queensland public sector to ensure the training content addresses the contemporary understanding of inclusion issues and promote across all agencies."

And this is said to have started in January this year and will continue through to December next year. I know we've got to get to the specific plan, but what is the Disability Awareness Training there? 

MS BULLEN:  So that is a training package that our Department developed some time ago and with the support of people with disability who helped inform that process. It has been in place for a little while now. It's been available to the public service, and we do track uptake of that training, and we recognise, and we   as part of our work in developing the state Disability Plan that that needs to be reviewed and updated and make sure that it   that it's refreshed. 

MS EASTMAN:  When it's talking about "contemporary understanding of inclusion issues" what does that mean?

MS BULLEN:  It just means make sure that we're getting current advice on the issues that are relevant and the things we need to address in that training, and things may change over time. So, it's just making sure that the content is still current and representing best practice. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, what are the contemporary understanding of inclusion issues for Queensland at this time? 

MS BULLEN:  What we do generally to inform that sort of work is seek advice through   well, we've got a number of opportunities to do that. We fund peak bodies, an executive peak body, to coordinate and provide advice to us if there is a new or emerging issue for people with disability. We use our Ministerial Advisory Council for that purpose as well. So, that process is really just one of making sure that if there is new issues that we are not aware of or haven't been raised with us previously, that we're building that into that process. 

MS EASTMAN:  Objective 3 says:

    "Increase representation for people with disability in leadership roles."

And to give a context to objective 3, are we right in understanding that, essentially, this is to promote opportunities for people with disability to participate on Queensland Government boards and improve representation of people with disability in leadership roles in the Queensland public sector?

So, in terms of the participation on Queensland boards, this timeline suggests that this will be completed by June next year, and are we right in understanding that how that's going to be done is through a process of the advertisements and recruitment processes? 

MS BULLEN:  So the way we promote opportunities where there is government board positions available, we have a circulation process where we distribute that information to our subscribers to our e newsletter, and we also share that information through our networks and ask our peak and representative bodies to share it with their members so that we're maximising, I guess, the level of awareness of those opportunities. 

MS EASTMAN:  And then the representation of people in leadership roles in the Queensland public sector has a focus on achieving a target of eight percent of representation. Does that representation mean employment or what does it mean? 

MS BULLEN:  So, the   there is an employment target for the whole of the public service, and that is the current rate. So, that's across the public service, eight percent of people with disability. 

MS EASTMAN:  This is eight percent at senior officer or senior executive service or equivalent levels; is that right? So, that's the level that you both are? Or are you lower or higher   


MS PARTON:  Yes, we generally look at from the Director level up as being a senior   sorry, I should say leadership roles. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, the eight percent is consistent with a target generally to achieve employment of people with disability in Queensland in public sector roles? 

MS PARTON:  Correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  That eight percent has been there for some time, hasn't it?



MS EASTMAN:  So, this isn't going higher than the eight percent to say, well, maybe if, looking at the numbers, you've got 900,000 people with disability in Queensland that you might want to strive for a higher target   . 

MS BULLEN:  So, at the time when the work was done on these actions, that was the current target. That work is under review at the moment. 

MS EASTMAN:  Right. Then the objective 4 speaks directly to improving community attitudes. This is on page 14. And the action items are directed to improving communication for the most part, and then over the page, some other priority areas, say, in transport, disability, advocacy and also First Nations people with disability. 

So, just looking at objective 4, which is improving community attitudes, is   it's suggested that there will be a guide or a toolkit developed in consultation with people with disability to include contemporary inclusive language use, with a particular focus on approaching and structuring proactive conversations around identity and consultation processes which value individual identity. Can you help me in explaining what that means? 

MS BULLEN:  So, the   the discourse, I guess, that we're looking to address there is the issue about the language that people with disability prefer to use and prefer us to use, and we know that there isn't one single approach to that. There is different perspectives on that. So, it's making sure there's information available for government and non government people through the information we publish on our website which helps to, I guess, debunk some of the myths. And there are certain terms that we suggest people don't use and certain preferred terms, and, again, that's one of those things that changes over time, and so we do review that and keep that up to date. 

MS EASTMAN:  Looking as a whole at just the Community Attitudes action items and objectives, would you agree with me that there's nothing that identifies as an action item the need to undertake some research and to collect data about the prevalence of negative community attitudes?

MS PARTON:  Yes. I agree. 

MS EASTMAN:  And looking at the action items, there is a reference to First Nations people in action item 4.6, but beyond that, the Community Attitudes objectives don't capture intersectional experiences and the impacts of negative attitudes where people may live not only with disability but with other intersectional characteristics, be it from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. 

MS BULLEN:  Not specifically in the TAP, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  And you know that almost 50 percent of people with disability in Queensland are women. There's nothing specific to address community attitudes to women with disability. 

MS BULLEN:  Not in that TAP, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  And looking at the timelines and the indicators, are these timelines set by the Queensland Government or is this the nudge from the Commonwealth on these timelines?

MS BULLEN:  I don't know.

MS PARTON:  I believe they were set by the government so by the Department that put the actions forward, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  And when the TAP talks about indicators, are these intended to be the outcomes that the action items are seeking to achieve or are the indicators the tools by which you may evaluate whether the action items have been achieved? There just seems to be a mix here, and I would appreciate your assistance in understanding what the Queensland indicators mean. 

MS BULLEN:  Some of them are expressed as outputs and deliverables, and some of them are expressed more as outcomes.  They are contributing overall to that outcome of improving community attitudes. The Outcomes Framework under the ADS, I guess, is the   

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. We've only just looked at some of the community attitudes, but you're aware, aren't you, that part of the involvement with the TAPs is that each of the jurisdictions are picked up in the Targeted Action Plans Report. You're aware of that? And to date there's been one report that's been published, Commissioners, which is the Targeted Action Plans Report for 3 December 2021 to 30 June 2022, and you will find that behind tab 26 in Part C. Now, do you have a copy of this? No. I'll make sure you have a copy. Thank you. So, turning to Queensland, if you start at page 56. 

MS BULLEN:  This is only the first little part. It doesn't go   it only goes up to page 36. Yes. Thank you.

MS EASTMAN:  I'll just make sure the Commissioners have caught up as well. Take your time. No rush. 

MS BULLEN:  Thanks. 

MS EASTMAN:  Page 56. This report takes each of   and, again, I'm just referring to Community Attitudes. So, it takes each of the TAPs, identifies each jurisdiction, sets out the objective and the action item, picks up the timeline and indicators, and then you will see there's the additional column of the status, being status in progress. And there's an indication that, for example, the first one which we looked at which was the Back to Work Program, that it's described as being on track and:

"132 people with disability were supported into jobs through the Back to Work Program employer incentives, 92 of which in regional Queensland. The initial information on the 12 month program completion will be available in late 2022, early 2023."

Just using that as an example, so that is information that Queensland has provided to the Commonwealth for the purpose of this. Were you involved in providing this information, either of you, to the Commonwealth on the tracking process?

MS PARTON:  My team was involved in the coordination of this information from the departments responsible for those actions, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Right. So, am I right in understanding, based on what you said earlier, that this is not a program that sits with your Department? I assume probably an Employment Department?

MS PARTON:  Correct, Department of Employment, Small Business and Training. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, your role on the coordination would be to obtain the information and the data, is that right, in particular?

MS PARTON:  The Department's, yes, we would have   I would assume go out with the templates for the departments to complete and they come back with the information approved within their structure. 

MS EASTMAN:  And then do you have a role in how this information may be reviewed, evaluated and then communicated to the Commonwealth? Or is it just a process of giving them the raw data that you receive? 

MS PARTON:  We would have gone back with the information provided by that Department. We would have done a check to make sure that it made sense and that they addressed the queries and gone back to them with any questions about that. But, ultimately, it's the responsibility of that Department to report on their action. 

MS EASTMAN:  Looking through those documents, if you turn to page 58, it looks like most things are on track, but the report up to 30 June this year for action item 2.3, which is:

"Review and update training packages for Custodial and Community Corrections staff to enhance staff awareness on the complex needs and vulnerabilities of people with disability."

As described as "having some delay". See that? 


MS EASTMAN:  So, that suggests that the training will be reviewed and be part of the Disability Strategic Action Plans. So, again, would that be something that your Department is involved in either collecting the information or driving the response? What's the responsibility?

MS PARTON:  So, we would have had that response. I think, from memory, that action was Queensland Corrective Services and they would have advised us that they are delaying that pending the development of their own Disability Service Plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  Then the other delay, if you turn to page 61, is in the:

"Advance market opportunities for First Nations providers to deliver culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability."

So, looking at that outcome, the delays indicate that there were   there's been some work done in terms of people attending NDIS business development seminars, but then some seminars have had to be rescheduled. 

MS BULLEN:  Yes, that's correct. I can speak to that. That's my area of responsibility. So, that program had a schedule of the seminars being rolled out in the discrete Indigenous communities in some of them, and there were some occasions where we had scheduled visits and forums that we then had to cancel and reschedule. So, at that point in time, yes, those couple had been rescheduled. 

MS EASTMAN:  And one item which is 4.3 on page 60 is identified as being completed. And does that mean that once the action item has been undertaken and completed, that's the end of it? There's not any ongoing work or progress attached to a completed item? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, that would be my understanding, but departments can put forward new actions when we review the TAPs as well. 

MS EASTMAN:  And has the Department put forward any new action items following the completion of that item, which is the Tenant Connect Scheme?

MS PARTON:  Not at this point in time but with the release of Queensland Disability Plan, all departments are now developing their own individual strategies. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, that process of identifying the objectives and actions for the TAP and then the progress report, is all of that information then used to bring the next level in, which is down at the Queensland level? So, you're moving from a national into a Queensland level. 


MS EASTMAN:  Is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  And the approach taken in Queensland is to have a Disability Plan that operates across all government, and then, within that, further plans called Disability Service Plans; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  Yes. Would you like me to just describe that a little bit more in terms of the framework that we're   

MS EASTMAN:  I'm going to start big. 

MS BULLEN:  Okay, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Bear with me, and go down. So, it's   I don't want to miss out anything as we go along. 


MS EASTMAN:  But just as a general starting point, we're looking at a plan, and then under that general plan, a responsibility for what's called Disability Service Plans. I'll get to each of them. So, if   are we right in understanding that when the ADS was developed, at that time, Queensland had a disability plan called All Abilities Queensland:  Opportunities For All.


MS EASTMAN:  That was a five year plan covering the period 2017 to 2022; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  If you've got a   if you need a copy of it, we have a copy.

MS BULLEN:  That was   actually, it was a three year plan, 2017 to 2020. 

MS EASTMAN:  Only to 2020?

MS BULLEN:  So, that built on our previous plan, so it was one of a series of three year plans. 

MS EASTMAN:  And that plan had five priority areas:  Communities for All, Lifelong Learning, Employment, Everyday Services, Leadership and Participation. 


MS EASTMAN:  That's right? 


MS EASTMAN:  And this plan was intended to be a coordinated effort across Queensland Government together with partnerships with the Commonwealth under the former NDS, the National Disability Strategy, to support in part Queensland's transition to the NDIS; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  So, that earlier plan had a focus around supporting Queenslanders to become NDIS participants, and the perhaps tilt or the lean of that policy was ensuring that the government departments were ready with the transition, and that a clear demarcation between the services that Queensland would continue to provide, and the services that may be moved into the NDIS, that all of that   again, I'll use that word architecture, if you bear with me on the jargon, but that architecture was in place. So, that was really what was driving that plan. Are we right in understanding that?

MS BULLEN:  Through that period of transition, yes, that was the plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  And that plan was the subject of a comprehensive report at the end of the life of that plan; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's right. We released the final summary, final progress report, that reported against all of the specific actions in that plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  And that report is quite comprehensive to say that:

"All of the items identified were successfully delivered, and the learnings have informed the ongoing development of other plans."

Is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  Yes. Correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Now, in terms of the comprehensive report, was that a report that was undertaken by way of an independent review? 

MS BULLEN:  No. That was a process similar to reporting against these TAP actions where agencies provided their advice to us on how they had implemented each of their actions  

MS EASTMAN:  Was there any   

MS BULLEN:    and consolidated it into the final report. 

MS EASTMAN:  Was there any independent review or oversight to take, perhaps, a second look at what the departments might be reporting? 

MS BULLEN:  As part of providing that report, I'm not aware of anything else that happened in terms of pulling that information together. As part of developing the next state disability plan, we had the working group review the previous plan and the actions taken under it and provide advice which informed the next Strategy. So, that review happened, if you like, after the report. 

MS EASTMAN:  I don't need to you dive deeply into the report, but on a reading of that report it's got a sense that it's very much about identifying what's been achieved, rather than the report taking an approach to say here are the barriers, here's where we haven't been able to achieve and these are the reasons why. So, it's not a report that really looks at the challenges. It's more a report that celebrates what has been achieved; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's correct, and that's effectively the feedback we received in terms of the next stage of the process, that we needed to have more of a focus on outcomes and measuring outcomes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Was there any part of the evaluation of the All Abilities Queensland that involved a very critical look at any barriers to achieving the plan? 

MS BULLEN:  It was   it was a couple of years ago now and I   I have to say, I can't recall. I'm not aware of anything specifically along those lines. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. But the work done in that evaluation report which seems to coincide with the development of the ADS and the Targeted Action Plans, they have all informed the development of Queensland's Disability Plan 2022 2027. That's called Together:  A Better Queensland; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  So, if I call that Queensland Disability Plan, that's    that. 


MS EASTMAN:  Now, this is   this plan is really in your Department, so you own this in terms of the overall responsibility? 

MS BULLEN:  It's a whole of government plan. We coordinated the development of it. All departments reviewed it and had input into it and it was approved at a government level, so it is   it's not our Department's plan. It's a whole of government plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  But in terms of    

MS BULLEN:  Yes, we have the lead. 

MS EASTMAN:    is there a person or agency in government with the sole responsibility for this? And I think you've said, well, there's not one person but your Department has got the overall responsibility. 

MS BULLEN:  The lead. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is that right?

MS BULLEN:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  The plan was released on 30 November this year. 


MS EASTMAN:  So, it's really only been in circulation for the past two weeks. 


MS EASTMAN:  The plan is available in a number of formats: Easy Read, braille on request, OpenDyslexic type face, and audio files. Why is the plan not available in Auslan? 

MS BULLEN:  If it's   I have to confirm, but there is a plan. I'm not sure where it's at in the process. It may not have been finalised yet, but we had   we released the plan only a couple of weeks ago, and we're finalising those formats, but I'm reasonably certain, but I would have to probably confirm that we are in the process of preparing. 

MS EASTMAN:  If you take it that we have checked the website as at today. 

MS BULLEN:  Today and it's not there?

MS EASTMAN:  And it's not there. But there's no   there's an indication that there may be a summary plan coming but nothing to indicate that the plan will be available in Auslan. 

MS BULLEN:  I take that feedback. 

MS EASTMAN:  Was it an intention not to have the plan in Auslan?

MS BULLEN:  No, it was an   no, no intention. 

MS EASTMAN:  When and how the plan was released?

MS BULLEN:  I was on leave when the plan was released. I understand it was launched by the Minister. It was released on our website, and there was a Ministerial statement at the time. It was released during Disability Action Week. 

MS EASTMAN:  Has the plan been distributed to all public hospitals in Queensland?

MS BULLEN:  It's certainly been distributed through government departments. I'd have to check whether Queensland Health have distributed it to public hospitals. I'm not aware that they have. We haven't sent it directly to them.

MS EASTMAN:  What about all schools?

MS BULLEN:  Same. I don't know if the Department of Education has sent it to all schools but we can certainly find out. 

MS EASTMAN:  What about police?

MS BULLEN:  Don't know. 

MS EASTMAN:  Courts and tribunals?

MS BULLEN:  Don't know. 

MS EASTMAN:  And into disability service providers who operate as NDIS registered or unregistered providers in Queensland. Do you know if the plan has been provided to service providers?

MS BULLEN:  So, we   as I mentioned before, we have what we call an e newsletter that we send out to our distribution list of around 6000 people, individuals and service providers, and a number of them are NDIS service providers. We also fund a number of peak and representative bodies, and we certainly ask them to distribute it through their network. One of those funded entities is National Disability Services, the Queensland branch, and we ask them to share it through their membership as well. But we didn't personally send it to every NDIS service provider. We wouldn't be able to do that. We don't have access to   

MS EASTMAN:  Why not?

MS BULLEN:  The details of every NDIS service provider is maintained by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. 

MS EASTMAN:  So a key part of this new plan was collaborating with people with disability to reflect on the implementation of the previous All Abilities Queensland plan. So, that work was led by Queenslanders as part of the disability network; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  The organisation's called Queenslanders with Disability Network. 

MS EASTMAN:  And how did that collaboration occur? I don't know if you were here earlier today when we heard some evidence about co design, collaboration, consultation and these words having different meanings. So, what does collaboration mean and what was involved in collaboration?

MS BULLEN:  So, in this process we engaged QDN, Queenslanders with Disability Network, on our behalf to coordinate a working group of people with disability and lived experience of disability. 

MS EASTMAN:  How many were on the working group? 

MS BULLEN:  That number I don't have in front of me. Yeah, I couldn't tell you the exact number. They ran a series of workshops. Those are, as I said, facilitated by QDN where they went through and reviewed the previous plan and looked at also a series or a selection of departmental Disability Service Plans, not all departments, but those   they chose a number of plans and reviewed those, and provided us with several versions of   several reports based on different aspects of their review. And then made suggestions, I guess, in terms of how they   this plan should be structured and some of the content of it came directly from that working group.

MS EASTMAN:  So, did they also have a role in co design of the current plan? 

MS BULLEN:  That's what we refer to it as, co design. I take the point that there are different levels of co design and collaboration. We refer to our process for developing this plan as co design. We genuinely   it was generally driven by the views of those people on that working party. That process, we   during that process and during the time we were developing this plan we had a Queensland Disability Advisory Council, a Ministerial Advisory Council that finished its term this year, and a new Council has since been appointed. And both of those entities also, you know, were involved and reviewed and provided advice on it. So, yeah, there was   there was a number of mechanisms, I guess, used to finalised the plan.

MS EASTMAN:  Were there particular co design principles that were used?

MS BULLEN:  So let me just refer, if you don't mind, to the document. The Queenslanders, as I said, with Disability Network facilitated that process. That is one   as one of our funded executive peak body, they are developing resources for us and for the sector on co design principles. I wasn't at those workshops at that time, so I can't say whether they managed that process using those principles that they have developed or some other principles, but we certainly were guided by them in terms of the process. 

MS EASTMAN:  Would I be right in making this assumption, that when you're talking about co design in the plan, this is all at the stage of reviewing the former plan and identifying what might need to either be priority areas or content for the current plan, and there were the workshops and consultation process at that stage? But the co design process did not continue on so that the Queenslanders with Disability Network had a role in actually determining what the action items might be, or the content or direction of the plan. So, they didn't have a decision making role, did they? 

MS BULLEN:  Well, not a formal decision making role, because it is a Queensland Government plan that was approved by the government. But they certainly guided and they certainly   the content is what came through those workshops. This work was being done at the time when the Australia's Disability Strategy was being finalised and hadn't been released. And a number of the members on our working groups were also involved in those national processes, so had visibility over the work that was being done nationally.

And they also   so they   and they also had the benefit of understanding the Outcomes Framework that was being developed. So, the advice that led to the way we developed this plan came from that group. This plan itself doesn't include actions. This is   if you like, this is the strategy document. We called it the State Disability Plan to differentiate it from the National Strategy, but the actions happen at the next layer down, which is departmental Disability Service Plans. 

MS EASTMAN:  But essentially, in terms of the decision making as to the final sign off contents of the strategy or plan, that's government. It wasn't the network; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  The final sign off is definitely government. Things like the name of the plan. By that time the working groups had been disbanded, but the Queensland Disability Advisory Council workshop then came up with the name of the plan. It was a name that resonated for them. So, there were aspects of it that they absolutely made the decisions on, and government accepted those decisions. So, the final approval of the document before release was government, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  But they didn't have a decision, for example, as to what budgetary allocation might be made to funding the plan?

MS BULLEN:  No, there's no funding allocated specifically to this plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to come to that in a moment. So, the plan opens with a reference to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability saying it provides the framework to promote and protect the human rights of people with disability. Australia has adopted the CRPD and that's been implemented through the ADS. So, that's how the Strategy or the Plan opens. 

We asked you in the questions whether Queensland has a body appointed within the Queensland Government to be a designated CRPD focal point for the implementation or the coordination on the Commonwealth on the CRPD. So, that's questions 7A and 7B. Now, we're right, aren't we, to understand that there is no standalone Queensland body appointed as the designated CRPD focal point, and there is no standalone body or person with a role responsible for CRPD implementation, including coordination with the Commonwealth? So, the process in Queensland is to have across departments and to have an inter governmental arrangement that together creates a group that then in turn liaises with the Commonwealth when it comes to CRPD implementation; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, if you have a look at your 7A and 7B. 

MS PARTON:  Sorry, would you mind just repeating the part about the group?

MS EASTMAN:  So there's no stand alone person, body, agency department in Queensland that says, "I or we have responsibility for CRPD implementation in Queensland." 

MS PARTON:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Or a standalone agency body or person to be that direct conduit with the Commonwealth on CRPD implementation where Queensland and the Commonwealth need to work together?  There's no one person or one entity. 

MS PARTON:  No, there isn't. The Commonwealth is the designated party, and if they were raising an issue with the state, it would most likely come through our Department, but you're correct, it may go to another agency depending on what it was in relation to. 

MS EASTMAN:  You've told us that, in Queensland, it's a combination of your Department, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and collectively implementing the responsibilities to give effect to the CRPD in Queensland; is that right? 

MS PARTON:  Correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, looking at how the CRPD translates into Queensland policies and practices, how do you connect the CRPD into the policies in the framework that you have in place? 

MS BULLEN:  So, in terms of   I just want to make sure I understand. So, in terms of actions, at that action level, that   that's where the Disability Service Plan, so the responsibility for implementing those actions sits with each government department that has to have a Disability Service Plan. And so the coordination of it is through our Department but developing those individual department's plans is done by a Minister responsibility of those departments. 

MS EASTMAN:  But if this   the plan starts with, in effect, the purpose of this is to give effect and to better protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Queensland, surely there's got to be some way of looking very carefully at the content of the CRPD and working out how does it filter down or translate at each level of government? Is that not a necessary step? 

MS PARTON:  The CRPD scope is, of course, very broad and so it covers actions across, like, education, employment. So, there are responsibilities that sit with each department. It's not a single focus point. 

MS EASTMAN:  I don't know if the two of you are familiar with the CRPD, whether you tuck it under your pillows at night or    

MS BULLEN:  I don't go to sleep on it, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  But if you are familiar with the CRPD, it contains a lot of rights, a number of guiding principles, and it's a document that requires an understanding about how each element of the CRPD works with each other to give effect to the relevant rights. Translating that into a local setting such as Queensland does require, does it not, an identification of which rights might connect with which department, which rights might connect with which policies, and then understanding that exercise and translating that. Do you agree with that? Who does that in Queensland? 

MS PARTON:  In terms of reporting through to the Commonwealth, our central agencies, so Department of Premier and Cabinet, would have responsibility for going out to all the departments and reporting back on their delivery of the CRPD as the central coordinating agency there. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is that   there a strategy or framework for how that's done within Queensland? How you collect the information, how you analyse, how you evaluate tracking with the CRPD? 

MS PARTON:  Not that I'm aware of. 

MS EASTMAN:  Why not? 

MS PARTON:  Because our Department wouldn't be the lead for that, so there may be, but it would sit within another department. And there's also Department of Justice and Attorney General through its role with its key administration agency for the Human Rights Act because a lot of those elements are also included in Queensland's Human Rights Act. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, what can you tell me about something called the Disability Reform and Implementation Interdepartmental Committee that's chaired by the DG of   


MS EASTMAN:    your Department and is comprised of senior representatives from all Queensland Government departments. What does that do? 

MS PARTON:  So, that committee was set up as part of our implementation around the NDIS, and our Director General leads that Committee and, yes, there are fairly senior officers from a number of departments, and so that's how we coordinated the reform and implementation of the NDIS, and we also use that forum for resolving any significant issue at senior levels around, across government. 

MS EASTMAN:  Are there people with disability on or included as part of the Interdepartmental Committee? 



MS EASTMAN:  As decision makers? 

MS BULLEN:  It's not a decision making body; it's an advisory body. So, well, actually I don't have the Terms of Reference in front of me, but there are   there are some decisions within its scope but there is   it's also a mechanism for escalating issues. So, if issues for instance relate to our interaction with the NDIA, there's a mechanism for discussing those issues at that level and then escalating it through the national governance forums. 

MS EASTMAN:  Does that committee have to have oversight of the separate Disability Service Plans?


MS EASTMAN:  So, is this a process   is this a committee that collates and collects information?


MS EASTMAN:  And how, practically, does that work? Is this something that requires weekly, monthly meetings? Or is there a streamlined process of checking the information. 

MS BULLEN:  So, that committee meets quarterly, at the moment. No, actually bi month   no, quarterly, sorry. I'm mixing my committees. But over the last   as we've been developing the state plan and before it was released, we've been   it's been a standing item on the agenda to talk in terms of progress of agencies working through their review of their Disability Service Plans in anticipation of relief of the Strategy. That group has also   members of that group have also recently presented progress reports on their development of their plans to the Ministerial Advisory Council. And the mechanism by which we will all be gathering information on progress of implementation on those plans is through that forum. 

MS EASTMAN:  I'm going to   

MS BULLEN:  It's just early days so we haven't got to that. 

MS EASTMAN:  I'm going to give you an opportunity for afternoon tea and everybody else, but I'm just going to do one question before we do that.


MS EASTMAN:  And just to square off these Disability Service Plan. So, you've told us in your response that there is legislated. It's section 221 of the Disability Services Act, says:

    "The Chief Executive of a department must develop and implement Disability Service Plans for the Chief Executive's department."

And then there's some timing in the plans. Essentially, they are every three years. And:

    "The purpose of the plan is to ensure each department has regard to the following to the extent they reasonably apply to the Department's operations: The human rights principle, service delivery principles, government policies for people with disability."

And if we look at what human rights principles mean, which is section 17 and section 18 of the Act, is that there's a range of descriptions about the outcomes of human rights, but no express reference to the CRPD. You're aware of that? 


MS EASTMAN:  And with respect to the role of the Chief Executive in developing the plan, there's nothing in the statutory framework that requires any consultation, co design or co production of the plans. You're aware of that? 

MS BULLEN:  The   so section 221(4)(c) talks about the government policies for people with disability, and this is our current policy, whole of government policy, for people with disability. And while it doesn't statutorily mandate co design there's certainly the four building blocks of developing both Disability Service Plans and any actions that flow under them. It's certainly strongly encouraged through this document that agencies adopt that co design process. So, the way that it is implemented is through the principles in the State Disability Plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  But it would be easier just to have it expressly in the legislation, wouldn't it? 

MS BULLEN:  I guess I don't really have an opinion on that. I think we've worked on the basis that we put it into the state plan rather than, you know, having it in legislation but I don't have a view on whether it would be easier. 

MS EASTMAN:  And while it's mandated in the legislation, there's no sanctions if the Chief Executive fails to comply? 

MS BULLEN:  There's no penalty in here, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  Right. Commissioners, I'm just mindful of the time. It's almost 3.30. If we could have a break for 10 minutes.

CHAIR:  10 minutes. Well, it's now 3.27. I suggest we resume at 3.40, is that alright? 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. 



CHAIR:  Yes, Ms Eastman. 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. Just a few small follow up questions from where we left before afternoon tea on the Chief Executive's disability plan. Does your Department have a role in approving those plans. 


MS BULLEN:  Not a formal approval role. It is individual Chief Executive's responsibility but the Act does outline consultation processes. 

MS EASTMAN:  With your Department?

MS BULLEN:  Yes, yes.

MS EASTMAN:  And what about monitoring compliance with the plan? Does your Department have that role and responsibility?

MS BULLEN:  Not monitoring compliance. We coordinate reporting, whole of government reporting, but compliance is a matter for individual Chief Executives. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of reporting to progress on the plan, does your Department do that work or are the Chief Executives required to do that? 

MS BULLEN:  They will provide us with information about the individual actions that they've taken in their own plans.  We'll consolidate that into a report, and we've committed to then having the Queensland Disability Advisory Council review that report and provide   we'll provide, based on the advice from that Council, a whole of government report. 

MS EASTMAN:  And are those plans public? 

MS BULLEN:  Yes   yes, so departments publish them on their website. So, at the moment, they have their   they're in different stages, so there isn't a one start date and end date. So, the agencies review their plans every three years. Most of them are in a process of finalising or developing their plans now that the state plan has been released. They've all got plans from prior years that are still on their website. 

MS EASTMAN:  And have all the Chief Executives had to have training with respect to the disability or the CRPD? 

MS BULLEN:  I can't speak to other departments and whether they have some training in the past. I don't know; I'm not aware of any. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of, I think, your earlier answer that if you followed through the section in the Act which makes a reference to government policy on disability and that's where you'd find an obligation to consult or to co design, other than that there's no requirement, is there, for the Chief Executive to have any engagement with people with disability at all?

MS BULLEN:  No statutory requirement but many of the departments have, I'm aware, their own Disability Advisory Councils or Forums. They have   and they are currently co designing their Disability Service Plans, and some of them are engaging, for instance, Queenslanders with Disability Network to facilitate that work for them, and others are doing it through other forums and, but there's no statutory requirement for them to do that. 

MS EASTMAN:  You've said earlier that the Queensland Disability Plan is more like a strategy, and you've said there's not a lot of content in that but you expect that detail to be in the Chief Executive   executive's for each of the departments' plan. 

MS BULLEN:  Plans, yes. That's where the actions are identified and track   you know, progress is tracked against those individual plans. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. So, I just want to put a series of propositions to you, and you can either assist me by telling me where this might be in the Queensland Disability Plan or we would expect to see this in a Chief Executive's plan. Looking at the Queensland Disability Plan there's no reference to the concepts of universal design or inclusive design as being a key principle in the way in which disability planning and policy development occurs in Queensland. Would you agree with that? 

MS BULLEN:  So, other   there's reference on the bottom of page 23 under the heading Human Rights, so these are the four building blocks that the working party told us were critical in the way that this plan was developed, in the way that agency Disability Service Plans are disability and in the way that agencies conduct their business and develop new initiatives or policies or practices, so under the heading of Human Rights, the last dot point on that page, it says:

"We consider universal design to be an important part of a strong human rights approach."

And then we outline what we say universal design means. 

MS EASTMAN:  But in terms of it being mandated as part of the process of developing policies, it's not there as a mandatory requirement?

MS BULLEN:  It's not a statutory requirement, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  In terms of the way in which the design of this plan operates and anything in the Chief Executive's plans, there's nothing to indicate that the approach must be one that embeds supported decision making in preference to substitute decision making. Would you agree with that? 

MS BULLEN:  Not in this plan, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of an emphasis on ensuring that housing, premises and public places are accessible to people with disability, it doesn't identify that as a key priority area that all the Queensland departments have to work to. Would you agree with that?

MS BULLEN:  Say it again. 

MS EASTMAN:  In terms of accessibility, particularly for accessible housing, workplaces or public places   


MS EASTMAN:    accessibility is not a mandatory element of the way in which the plan operates or the contents for the Chief Executive's plans. Do you agree with that?

MS BULLEN:  Again, it's not a statutory requirement but the   starting on page 25, the impact areas, again, this was the feedback that the working group gave us. To make that cultural   that long term cultural and systems change that people with disability want to see as a result of this, their advice was that every department needs to look in developing their Disability Service Plan and any other actions that they develop, they need to look at their four impact areas across their business, so they need to consider their service users, their people, their community and their places.

And we described under Our Places what we mean by that, but it does talk about physical places as well as online places, where our services are delivered and making sure that infrastructure is accessible, inclusive and universally designed. So, that's, again, not a mandatory statutory requirement. It's something that we've been engaging with departments over the   you know, the life and development of this and making sure that they are aware that that's an expectation, I guess, of this plan, rather than a statutory requirement. 

MS EASTMAN:  There's nothing in the plan that speaks to the experience of segregation and segregated settings. And there's nothing in the plan that requires the dismantling of segregated settings, is there? 

MS BULLEN:  Not in that language or terminology, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in the absence of having a clear priority area of moving from segregated settings, are we right in understanding that this plan assumes that there will be ongoing segregated settings, be it in housing, in schools, in justice systems? 

MS BULLEN:  The plan is silent on that, but the   the contents of the plan, I guess what we heard loud and clear from the working party was that the priority areas under the Australia Disability Strategy are the right areas for us to be focussing on. This plan and the design of it was to make sure that we'd drawn out the things that that working group predominantly told us were the most important things, and these are those four buildings blocks. 

So, that language around segregation wasn't part of that discussion and that input that we received. So, I wasn't in all of those forums, but my take on it is that then it wasn't something that was a burning issue for that group to see reflected in this plan. The Australia's Disability Strategy and the other structures that we have in place in Queensland to implement the Convention, including things like the Anti Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act already exist. So, while we've referenced and we haven't repeated necessarily all of that, so   

MS EASTMAN:  So, one thing about segregated settings and particularly if they're closed settings is that it's difficult, in some cases, to get access to people in those settings. Was the process of the consultation and co design one where people who live, work, or go to school or have the experience of segregation part of that consultation? Do you know that? 

MS BULLEN:  I don't have the list of attendees of those working groups in front of me. It was some time ago and we've had a number of other forums and co design forums, so I can't differentiate now in terms of over the last couple of years, which forums   who attended what forum. We   certainly those working groups, though, we didn't take them into those types of setting to do that work. It was done with people either online or face to face. It was also done   unfortunately, we had COVID, which had a big impact on our ability to bring people together at that time. 

MS EASTMAN:  Did you hear the evidence this morning or have you been told about Dr Amin's evidence this morning about what she called as edge users?

MS BULLEN:  I didn't hear it and I haven't read that   

MS EASTMAN:  Looking at the overall plan, there's nothing that says Queensland needs to look to the future by transitioning away from environments that exclude people with disability or maintain segregation. You agree with that? It doesn't speak to a transition plan. 


MS EASTMAN:  Why is that? 

MS BULLEN:  It wasn't something that came out through that feedback that we received as being of critical importance. I wasn't, as I said, in all of those forums. It may have been discussed. It wasn't, in terms of a final input from that working group, something that came to the fore and needed to be documented in the plan, noting that agencies responsible for those environments will be considering that as part of their Disability Service Plan development. 

MS EASTMAN:  Assume that it might not have come from the people who were part of that consultation, but these are principles that might be relevant to giving effect to the CRPD. It remains government's responsibility, does it not, to identify the areas where the plan should be addressing meeting the CRPD obligations and also looking at improving the lives of people with disability? You don't need the Network to tell you whether it should be in or out. 

MS BULLEN:  No, but what we need   what we wanted this document to do was to be honed and delivered and for the people with disability who had input into it to feel that it reflected what they told us, noting that Queensland had already signed up to Australia's Disability Strategy and Australia signed up to the Convention. That wasn't   I guess in terms of us needing to document that, we didn't   we certainly didn't hear that from them and we didn't   didn't need to but   

MS EASTMAN:  You're not suggesting that the absence of dealing with segregation and transition away from segregation is because the disability networks didn't tell you about it; is that right? 

MS BULLEN:  I'm just saying that this plan was not intending to cover the field, I guess, in terms of existing, or including things that are covered elsewhere, but, you know, we wanted this plan to be driven by the people who are intended to benefit from it. 

MS EASTMAN:  And accepting that the elimination of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability is in the justice priority area in the ADS, there is nothing specific in this plan that identifies the elimination of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as a priority area that takes into account the intersectional experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

MS BULLEN:  Not   it's not drawn out as a specific. It's the   the intent of the plan is to effectively adopt those priority areas under the ADS. So, it's not   we do   we do list them in the rights, safety and justice. It's definitely included there as referenced, but we didn't   we didn't reinvent the wheel. We relied on the work that was done forming Australia's Disability Strategy. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. So, Commissioner Mason may wish to know about the role of First Nations communities and organisations with respect to identifying the key action areas for First Nations people with disability in Queensland. You've spoken about working groups and consultation. How did the First Nations perspective, voice, and culture inform the way in which the plan was developed? And if I haven't got that question right, I'm sure Commissioner Mason will assist me. 

MS BULLEN:  Thank you. I guess the starting point is our department is the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. So, colleagues   our colleagues across our own Department certainly had an opportunity and gave us feedback through that process. The actual membership of the working group, I can't recall the exact members who attended those   those forums. We certainly had representation in other forums, including we now fund a disability   a disability advocacy body specifically for First Nations people so   

MS EASTMAN:  Can I get you to slow down a little bit. Thanks.

MS BULLEN:  Sorry. We didn't have that in place at the time this was developed, so I couldn't tell you exactly who was involved in developing this. Certainly it was   went through our Department's processes and was endorsed by our Director General. 

MS EASTMAN:  And with respect to looking at that intersectional aspect and given the relatively large number of Queenslanders with disability who don't speak English as their first language or identified as CaLD communities, how does this plan address their interests? I couldn't see, for example, a commitment to interpreters to be available for people whose first language may not be English. 

MS BULLEN:  It may not be. I can't recall whether it's specifically spelt out in here. Certainly on our website, we have information about different languages, interpreter services that we provide for people, you know, to communicate with our Department, and there's whole of government policies on that. I would have to re read it to confirm we didn't include anything about that, but I'm happy to take your word for that. 

MS EASTMAN:  I want to move to budget allocation. I think you mentioned earlier before the break that there's no specific budget allocation in Queensland. There isn’t a little budget line item for the ADS or the Disability Plan, but in your response to the Royal Commission at question 4(a), you did identify that the Department has $203 million allocated towards the delivery of disability and inclusion services in 2022/2023 in addition to Queensland's contribution to the NDIS. So, that response you provided to us in answer to question 4(a) is to say this is what our budget is overall but we don't have a particular line item budget allocation for the ADS; is that right? 


MS PARTON:  Yes, and I think that's because all the responsibilities are with so many different departments, so there would be budget line items within each department's budget. 

MS EASTMAN:  There's not a budget line item for CRPD implementation in Queensland. 

MS BULLEN:  Not in my cost centre, no. 

MS EASTMAN:  There's not a specific budget allocation with respect to each of the Targeted Action Plans under the ADS that I could see in your response? 

MS BULLEN:  Sorry, not   the ones that our department are responsible for are either things that we will do within our   so there's not a called out, stand out line item. Sorry. But the   the other agencies, I can't speak to, how they   how they structure their budget. 

MS EASTMAN:  When the Chief Executives are preparing a departmental action plan under the Disability Services Act, does that work in preparing the action plan line up with the specific budget allocations of the Department to give effect to, for example, the human rights principle in the Department's action plan?

MS BULLEN:  In our Department's action plan?

MS EASTMAN:  In any of the departments, any of the Chief Executives who have to prepare plans. 

MS PARTON:  Not that I'm aware. It would be up to each department as to how they report their budget and how those line items are aligned. 

MS EASTMAN:  I understand from reading the material that there's also a role for local councils to have a role in the ADS. But they don't come into the particular Targeted Action Plans. Where do local governments fit in in terms of your Department's responsibilities? Do you have a role of monitoring whether local councils develop any action plans, take any particular initiatives, do any training? Where's the eyes on local council?

MS BULLEN:  So the Disability Service Act doesn't mandate disability plans for local government. It is only for the Queensland Government departments. The Local Government Association of Australia, as I understand, signed   is a signatory to ADS, but the local government   Local Government Act in Queensland governs the requirements and obligations on local governments. 

We certainly encourage, and this document is a call to action and it does specifically refer to the role of local government in implementing, if not a Disability Service Plan as we describe it, a plan, and many do. There are some really good examples in local governments of plans that they have developed.  But it's not a statutory requirement under   under the state government for them to do that. 

MS EASTMAN:  So, where is there any either incentive or sanction for local councils to join in to give effect to the ADS? 

MS BULLEN:  The incentive, I suppose, is to represent their communities and their obligation to provide inclusive and accessible services to their constituents and the ratepayers, and I guess the ultimate sanction is if they don't do that, they might not be on the council, I guess, in the longer term but the sanction and the responsibility sits with local government. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is there any guidance from your Department for how local councils may   

MS BULLEN:  So, we provided   we provided all state government departments with templates and guidelines on how to develop their DSPs and processes to use. We made that available more broadly on our website for anyone who wishes to use it. We've had some initial discussions with the Local Government Association of Queensland around communicating that information to them and things like using their newsletters and things to distribute information. Obviously, this plan's only been released a short time, so we haven't done any of that for this plan as yet, but there's certainly scope for us to do that. 

MS EASTMAN:  What about out to the private sector or sort of quasi government private sector partnership. So, the plan as we read it is a very government focused approach, but surely to give effect to the objectives that are in the TAPs and the way in which Queensland delivers its services, there has to be some engagement, does there not, with statutory corporations, quasi government private partnerships, but also with the private sector?  Where do they sit in this plan?

MS BULLEN:  So, the intent of it is it's not just a government focused document. It is intended to, as I said before, be a call to action into business. We know that governments can't deliver disability inclusion alone. It is going to be something that requires collective action, and we also understand and we discuss in here it's an iterative process of change. We know that there's a way to go and that there is a role for everyone basically to play in achieving that. 

And in a Queensland Government sense, the government departments, so statutory authorities and GOCs, fall under the portfolio responsibilities of one or more government Ministers, so there is a mechanism within those structures for them to require that. But in terms of the private sector, we do that through, I guess, encouraging them to be, you know, to take these principles and develop their own strategies and plans. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is there any procurement practice or policy for any private sector organisation seeking either to consult, provide services or goods to Queensland that requires a private sector agency to have a Disability Action Plan or to meet particular indicators that you might set? I don't think we asked you that question in the material, but we haven't   I haven't been able to find anything that would indicate that there is some procurement program that could be an incentive to the private sector engaging with government to meet some indicators that reflect the ADS or reflect the broader objectives that you've got in the new plan. 

MS PARTON:  So the Queensland Government does have a social procurement mandate which encourages service providers to, or requires them to, demonstrate social outcomes, but I don't know   again, it's not delivered by our Department, but I don't think it's as specific as you're saying in terms of requiring them to have a Disability Service Plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  Do you think that's a gap in terms of Queensland Government being able to fully participate in the ADS and meet those objectives of the ADS? 

MS PARTON:  It could be. I'd have to look at what is in the social procurement, the existing materials, but it would be for that department, yes, could be. 

MS EASTMAN:  Right. I want to turn to evaluation. So, we've spent a lot of time on the development of the plan and the content of the plan. We asked you about evaluation of Queensland's performance against the ADS. We may have touched on that with respect to the TAP in the action report. But the commitment Queensland says it makes is that:

    "We set clear targets and we measure if we reach them. Measuring outcomes and impacts recognises that collecting, maintaining and reporting accurate and accessible information is essential to formulating and implementing best practice policies, programs, actions and making adjustments where needed. Our approach to measuring outcomes and impacts is embedded in the principles and the articles of the CRPD particularly in relation to statistics and data collection. This emphasis that the right data is collected, ensuring respect for the privacy of people with disability and follows ethical principles to identify and address the barriers faced by people with disability in in exercising their rights."

So, that's the commitment. How is that done in practice? Is there a strategy that specifically deals with targets, measurements and data collection? 

MS BULLEN:  There's a couple of aspects to it. So, specifically reporting outcomes under this plan is done through departmental Disability Service Plans, and it's up to the departments to develop their targets and their indicators of their performance. In terms of more broadly, the Outcomes Framework under Australia's Disability Strategy, the outcomes that we're wanting to achieve are those same outcomes. So, we'll be leveraging and also contributing to reporting against that framework. At a Queensland level, we've also developed some   we're in the process of developing some outcomes frameworks ourselves around the NDIS to augment on the nationally available information. 

MS EASTMAN:  Only the NDIS, not more broadly?

MS BULLEN:  And we're also participating in the National Disability Data Asset, which is no longer referred to as a pilot but that project is still on foot. We're still actively involved with that. 

MS EASTMAN:  Are there any challenges in participating in that to have a nationally consistent approach to disability flags or the collection of disability data that brings a consistent approach across the country? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, there are challenges, but it was discussed at the most recent Disability Reform Ministers Meeting and there seemed to be a high level of commitment in the room to that. I think there will be a communique released in relation to that, but it seems that there is a high level of commitment, so I'm sure we'll be able to resolve those issues. 

MS EASTMAN:  And is there any formal data sharing between Queensland and the Commonwealth around the data that you collect?  We've referred to a few, quite small pieces of data in the progress report for the first six months. 


MS EASTMAN:  And there seems to be data in different locations. 


MS EASTMAN:  Is there any data sharing arrangements presently between Queensland and the Commonwealth on those sorts of matters?

MS PARTON:  We're certainly in the final stages of finalising a data sharing agreement with the NDIA between the whole of Queensland Government and the NDIA, so that should be of assistance. 

MS EASTMAN:  If you're setting targets and measuring to reach them, what's the transparency in that? Is this information that will be prepared in a report and made public, and if so, when and how will that occur? 

MS BULLEN:  So, the individual departments will release their plans which will have their target indicators and timelines and things in that document, and we'll be collecting information from them as part of the annual report under this plan to consolidate all that information, and the intention is that there will be a public report. 

MS EASTMAN:  And in terms of taking the disability specific policies, to what extent are those policies taken and reviewed with respect to general policy? So if you've got a policy generally around transport, is it that that policy meets the sort of core group? I think Dr Amin described it this morning as sort of on a bell curve or a scatter, the majority, or is it that you're looking to bring the disability policies into the mainstream settings? Have you got an approach on integrating those policies?

MS PARTON:  The way that policy development occurs within government is generally that, say, the Transport Department would develop that policy, but then there's a consultation process with other departments. And our Department is a very strong advocate through that process on making sure that design and development of those policies occurred with people with disability, as we are for the First Nations people as well in those policy areas. 

So, it's through that process that we would strongly advocate with our colleagues in other departments that their policies go through that kind of a lens when they're being developed. We quite often assist them by connecting them up with organisations like our peak and advocacy bodies. A lot of those departments do have their own advisory groups as well. So, there is a process within government, but it is done   policy development is usually done by the delivering agency. 

MS EASTMAN:  Alright. So, when you've told us in response to the way Queensland approaches the implementation of CRPD, you also referred to a range of statutes:  The Human Rights Act 2019, the Disability Services Act 2006 and the Anti Discrimination Act 1991. And you said this is part of the collective framework established to bring together the CRPD, the ADS and the plan and the service plans developed at a departmental level. So, I just want to ask you about some of the legislation. The Human Rights Act 2019 is a relatively new piece of legislation in Queensland. 

When the Act was enacted, it didn't have a specific reference to or inclusion of the rights of people with disability, and you've said in answer to question B in your response that Queensland may consider increasing the inclusion of rights around disability in the future; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  It's the case, isn't it, that you're actually required to have a specific review of the Human Rights Act as soon as practicable after 1 July next year, and that must include consideration whether additional human rights should be included, including the CRPD; is that right? 

MS PARTON:  That's correct. 

MS EASTMAN:  Is that section 95, subsection (4) of the Human Rights Act? So, it's always been on the radar, has it not, for Queensland, with respect to its Human Rights Act, to give consideration to increasing or expanding those rights by reference to a number of international conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; is that right? 


MS EASTMAN:  With respect to the Anti Discrimination Act, you've identified that Act as part of the framework, and in May 2021, the Attorney General asked the Queensland Human Rights Commission to undertake a review of the Anti Discrimination Act, noting that it was almost 30 years old. That review has been undertaken and you're aware, aren't you, that a report was provided to the Attorney General in July this year?


MS EASTMAN:  And there were 46 recommendations and one specific recommendation in relation to the introduction of a positive standalone duty to make reasonable accommodations for a person with disability in all areas of activity covered by the Act. Are you aware of that recommendation?

MS PARTON:  I'm aware of it, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  Do you know if government has responded to any of the recommendations in the July 2020 report? 

MS PARTON:  I don't believe so, but it's not my Department's portfolio responsibility. That would sit with the Attorney General's Department. 

MS EASTMAN:  Even though it's not in your responsibility, in responding to the notice that the Royal Commission asked you to provide information, you made specific reference to the Anti Discrimination Act, and accepting that there is a very specific recommendation around the rights of people with disability in that Act, that would be part of matters that your Department would review, in terms of ongoing compliance with the CRPD, Human Rights Act and a general approach in terms of law reform. Would that be right? 

MS PARTON:  That would be correct. We would work with the Department of Justice and Attorney General on that.

MS EASTMAN:  Has any work been done then to revisit any of the recommendations or consider any amendments to the Queensland Anti Discrimination Act? 

MS PARTON:  I'm aware that there has been discussions, but I'm not aware of any substantial work at this point in time. 

MS EASTMAN:  Would any work on that kind be the type of matter that would be reported from Queensland into the ADS reporting processes? 

MS PARTON:  If   it would depend on the government's response to that report, but if there was a decision on a piece of work like that, then, yes, it would. 

MS EASTMAN:  And we couldn't see in the plan or your response provided to the Royal Commission any identification of any other laws in Queensland that may impact on the rights of people with disability, for example, laws that may impair autonomy and issues arising in relation to guardianship and financial administration. Is that the sort of thing that would be part of a disability plan in Queensland, to review laws that touched on the rights identified in the CRPD? 

MS PARTON:  Yes, that could be the case, for the departments where that legislation falls under their portfolio, yes. 

MS EASTMAN:  But you're not aware that that's been earmarked as a priority area in the Disability Plan, namely, to review or to audit Queensland laws to see the extent to which those laws may touch on or adversely impair the rights of people with disabilities? 

MS PARTON:  So, as part of the implementation of the Human Rights Act, all departments   so there are, you know, specific protections under the Human Rights Act that apply to people with disability as well. And every department has gone through a fairly comprehensive process of reviewing its legislation policies and procedures in implementing the Human Rights Act. That's such a big process I think that's still ongoing, and there's amendments to legislation being made on a gradual process, but that has already occurred. 

It's not specifically highlighted in the current Disability Service Plan, but it could be if the department identify something that has specific impacts or needs to be undertaken in implementing the Convention, then they could identify that in their Disability Service Plan. 

MS EASTMAN:  The last question is we asked you about barriers in terms of the inter governmental cooperation. So   and not that we want to open any constitutional issues here, but the extent to which you have states often with the responsibility for the delivery of services in a very grassroots and direct ways, and then the responsibility of Commonwealth, the ADS seeks to bring all parts of government together in a cooperative and collaborative process. 

We were keen to understand are there barriers in terms of effective national coordination processes, having regard to the differing roles and responsibilities across governments at the Commonwealth and state level? And we've asked all of the jurisdictions this   and I don't know if you've had the opportunity to read the responses   with varying degrees of candour    sense to which there are barriers. 

So, as I said, I'm not asking you this to open up any dispute with the Commonwealth, but to understand where are the barriers in effective inter governmental cooperation and the delivery of a very large enterprise in terms of the ADS. Do you want to speak to the barriers? 

MS PARTON:  Yes. Look, there are some challenges with any inter governmental process, and I think the way that the NDIS is structured is   it's a great opportunity, but it is also   has been difficult for all of the jurisdictions to come to grips with, you know, the Shareholding Ministers Arrangement. The Disability Reform Ministers Group, I think, is the very positive forum, and there is a group of senior departmental representatives underneath that, and we are working very collaboratively between all states and territories and the Commonwealth. 

We haven't identified any, you know, significant barriers, I think, at this point in implementing the, strategy, noting that it's only been in place for 12 months. We are working together on, you know, a work plan that articulates the priorities. We have some very good working relationships with working groups, supporting us. So, look, I think there are challenges but probably not barriers at this point. 

MS EASTMAN:  Thank you. And thanks for bearing with us going a little over time this afternoon. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR:  Ms McMillan, did you have any application for any questions?

MS McMILLAN:  No, thank you.

CHAIR:  Thank you very much. In that case, thank you very much, Ms Bullen and Ms Parton, for coming to the Commission and giving evidence and dealing with Queensland's responses to the questions that have been asked by the Royal Commission. We appreciate your assistance. Thank you very much. Ms Eastman, does that conclude our proceedings for today?


MS EASTMAN:  It does, and I'll deal with the tenders of all of the government material across Tender Bundle C tomorrow when we've completed the Commonwealth evidence. So, that concludes for today, and we'll resume at 10 am tomorrow. 

CHAIR:  Very well. Thank you very much. We'll adjourn until 10 am Friday.