History of PWDWA

PWdWA was originally conceived in the year preceding the International Year of Disabled People (IYDP) in 1981. In 1980 a small group of people tendered a submission related to the IYDP for a computer which was to establish a database to be operated by volunteers. This submission was successful and the next stage was to find a home for the computer and a base from which to operate. After considerable difficulties, it was eventually located in the old library in Leederville and the people involved were able to utilise half the library.

The excitement and high expectations associated with the changing social and political environment in 1981 raised the level of awareness of people with disabilities by government and the community. It also highlighted the many problems faced by people with disabilities in taking an equal place in Australian society. The year, 1981 saw the release by Senator Don Grimes, the then Shadow Minister for Social Security, of the report on Intellectual Handicap in Australia: Background and Areas for Action. This had the effect of putting disability on the Federal Government political agenda.

In early 1981 a Committee was set up calling itself DASH – Disabled Advocates and Self Help. The Committee consisted of nine people all but one of whom had a disability. A letter from the President dated 27 February 1981 stated;

“We are aware of many problems of the disabled but are continuously astounded at the number and different types of people and problems which have already presented themselves, we have now reached the difficult part, doing something about solving the problems and identifying needs”.

The IYDP generated the impetus required for the disability related action which followed the development of that Committee. The perceived need at that time, was for an umbrella organisation which could provide guidance and comprehensive information concerning community services and facilities available to people with disabilities, their families and those interested in disability related issues.

It was not until 9 March 1982 that DASH was finally registered as an incorporated association under the Associations Incorporation’s Act. This was the actual forerunner of PWdWA.

Funding for the new group was difficult to obtain and many short term “grants in aid”, mainly from the Department of Community Services were obtained to keep the organisation going. Accommodation for the operation was always a problem, and over the years considerable time was devoted to the search for affordable and accessible office space.

Following the election of the Labor Government in 1983, the Handicapped Programs Review and the release of New Directions began a process of rapid change accompanied by social and political reform. Disabled Peoples International (Australia), DPI(A) officially came into existence in January that year.

The first real funding commitment that was attracted for DASH was for the establishment of the Disability Resource Centre. This took place in March 1984. DASH acted as the sponsoring and controlling body of the Centre which collected and disseminated information on all aspects of disability and related issues and increased the role in the area of advocacy.

One of the key objectives was to “enhance the degree of control which disabled people need to acquire over their own services”. This is a direct quote from an early undated description of the goals of the new body.

In December 1985 DASH decided to amalgamate with two other disability agencies, the Disability Information Service Council (DISC) and the Western Australian branch of Disabled Peoples’ International (Australia). As a consequence of this amalgamation the Constitution of People With Disabilities (WA) Inc. came into being on 25 June 1986.

One of the major tenets on which the organisation was founded still remains the key feature, that it is managed by people with disabilities or the carers of people with disabilities. The original concept was that it would be a self help group based on the Disability Rights Movement and would be representative of people with disabilities. This would ensure that the organisation would always be driven by people with disabilities and focused on consumers.

1986 was also the year that the Disability Services Act (1986) became law. This progressive social justice legislation was a substantial historical development and was accompanied by a changing world view of the rights and equity of people with disabilities. The Act provided a substantial shift from paternalistic policies early in the century which were based on the charity model of service provision.

PWdWA maintained the Disability Resource Centre as the service provision component of the organisation and after being located in Applecross and Cottesloe, the Centre was relocated in the Department of Community Services building at 189 Royal Street in East Perth in July 1987.

By 1991 PWdWA had four full time staff. As a result of the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement, signed in July of that year, which provides for both levels of government to be responsible for advocacy, PWdWA was jointly funded by the Disability Services Commission and the Department of Human Services and Health.
In January 1993, PWdWA moved to new premises in Oasis Lotteries House at 37 Hampden Road in Nedlands.

In 1999 there were five full time staff with PWdWA;

Systems Advocate
Individual Advocate
Resource Officer
Administration Officer

Over the years PWdWA has become recognised as the peak consumer disability organisation in Western Australia and numerous organisations and government departments regularly consult with PWdWA. This has occurred, in part, in the absence of any other group providing this role.

As a consequence of this historical anomaly, the mission statement of PWdWA today reads;?“Empowering the voices of people with disabilities in Western Australia”.

In the years associated with the development of PWdWA, advocacy has never clearly been articulated as the fundamental basis on which the agency functioned. Inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities were early objectives but the adherence to the principles of advocacy as conceptualised by Wolfensberger have not seemed to be reflected in the available history.

Advocacy is a relatively new concept which has only appeared in the literature since approximately the late 1960’s. In Western Australia, advocacy has been part of the disability field for approximately two decades. Informal advocacy mainly by family and friends had emerged earlier, but Citizen Advocacy was initiated in 1980, Western Australian Association for Self Advocacy – WAASA in 1987 and Personal Advocacy in 1987. Parent Advocacy in Education does not receive funding.

Despite the often contrary perception, there remains a paucity of advocacy services in Western Australia, particularly since WAASA was de-funded early in 1995. With the emergence of the more complex human service systems, the need for advocacy has become even more crucial. Associated with this is the uncertain economic and political climate which has created considerable turmoil in society in general.

A very wide range of issues are brought to PWdWA, particularly those affecting individuals. Some of these will be identified as issues for systemic advocacy. These can vary from issues related to travel, access, family law, criminal prosecution, immigration, education, accommodation/respite, Social Security benefits and entitlements, Ombudsman, aids and appliances, disability related costs, compensation, grants and many others.

Referrals come from various avenues; other agencies or service providers, government departments, family members, partners, friends, carers, neighbours and self referral.

Over the years numerous issues have been addressed at a systemic level. These have generally focused on the issues which impact on the day to day lives of people with disabilities such as health, education, community housing, access, transport, mental health, multipurpose taxi schemes, attendant care, service provision (particularly practices and policies which may be seen to exclude people with disabilities).

There has also been extensive input and consultation provided into legislative initiatives. PWdWA was part of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) Steering Committee which established the DDA Legal Advocate position in WA. PWdWA also convened the DDA Standards Interim State Reference Committee and this is ongoing. It was set up to ensure that the DDA Standards development process is properly consultative and inclusive of all people with a disability.

Consumer participation is encouraged wherever possible. This occurs through consultation with members in relation to responses required for discussion papers, policy issues and consultancies conducted on many of the major areas affecting people with a disability. Members of the Committee of Management actively participate on numerous committees, both internal and external, and PWdWA nominates consumers to represent the agency on various committees.

Disability Access and Inclusion Plan

28 April 2015

Page 1 People with Disabilities (WA) (PWDWA) Disability Action and Inclusion Plan 2015-2017 People with Disabilities (WA) Inc is the peak disability consumer organisation representing the rights, needs and equity of all Western Australians with disabilities via individual and systemic advocacy. PWdWA is run BY and FOR people with disabilities. PWdWA’s head office is located in the Oasis Lotteries House building in Nedlands. PWdWA has a second smaller office located in the Peel region of Western Australia. PWdWA is committed to ongoing improvements to its services and facilities to ensure access and inclusion for all people with disabilities; including its clients, associates, members and employees. This document details the actions that PWdWA takes and will take to meet the 7 outcomes of Disability Access and Inclusion Plans from the Disability Services Act WA and the Disability Services Commission. PWdWA is committed to being an organisation that is accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities at all levels.

Download the PWdWA Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP)

National Standards for Disability Services

At the 18 December 2013 meeting of the Standing Council on Disability Reform ministers from all jurisdictions endorsed the revised National Standards for Disability Services (NSDS). A copy of the standards can be found in the right hand column of this page.

These standards are seen as a transitional reform enabling nationally consistent quality standards to apply for the disability services sector.  They have a greater focus on person centred approaches and promote choice and control by people with disability. These are considered critical under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Australian Government is adopting the standards for its employment and advocacy services for people with disability.

It is important to note that the intent of the standards in promoting quality services remains the same.  If your organisation meets the existing standards then you should have few issues transitioning to the NSDS.

The NSDS have been through exhaustive stages of consultation, validation and user testing, culminating in a set of six standards that are able to be applied across a broad range of circumstances.

They are:

  • Rights
  • Participation and Inclusion
  • Individual Outcomes
  • Feedback and Complaints
  • Service Access
  • Service Management.

Download the The National Standards for Disability Services