WhatsUp in Disability Magazine January February 2022

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$2.00

January / February 2022

Disability Information Services by People with Disability Toowoomba and Southern Queensland

Volume 1, Issue 104

Subscription $20 PA

Proudly supported and printed by ToowoombaWhatsUp Region in Disability

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WhatsUp

Highlights January / February 2022

09 11 14 21 25 26

COVID-19 Updates

Financial Benefits of Good Access

Appeals at what cost?

Welcome to Radio Persia

No Sweat!

Young People in Residential Aged Care Cover Page Wendy Adams Spinal Life Photo by WhatsUp

Steven Paull JP (Qual) President Page 2


The Editor’s Desk So here we go again First target is reach 80% fully vaccinated and the borders will open. No wait, others can enter Queensland but they have to have a negative reading 72 hours before coming here. Now the target is 90% fully vaccinated and doors will open. But wait again, you can only go into pubs, clubs and hospitality if you show proof of being fully vaccinated and you will have to wear masks everywhere else, except in the workplace. What? No wait, we now have a new target of having the booster shot before things are open. Guess what? When you receive the booster shot the previous details of you being fully vaccinated disappear from your Digital Certificate. Oh dear!

Wow, what a month! Our Editor Courtney and her husband Will were blessed with the birth of their first child, a son, Brady Scott on 14 December 2021 at 5:38pm. Both mother and baby are well and this is a first for me as I’m now a Grandfather. Our volunteer Monique graduated from USQ with a Bachelor of Laws in a ceremony held at the Empire Theatre. Well done Meek. Our magazine’s legal advisor Kyle was engaged to his long time partner Mishel in an event held in Highfields. Congratulations to you both.

A message from the creator of the magazine Very proud of what you have achieved with the magazine. When I originally planned it, I intended people with disabilities to run it. I also saw it as a way of communicating with the vast number of new Toowoomba families who had a child with a disability who were beginning to settle in this area at the time. Best wishes Michael Barber

Steven Paull JP (Qual) President WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp I first met Wendy at the Toowoomba Disability Service Providers’ Network (TDSPN) sometime back in 2007 when she was representing Warrina Services at that meeting.

In Disability by Steven Paull

Wendy was accompanied by Robin Meredith -Bramwell and they both made an immediate impact to the meeting with their views on footpath accessibility and the their work with Council on identifying those areas in the CBD where there were barriers for those who were in wheelchairs. They also identified that there were barriers for other members of our community including the visually impaired and were working on having tactile paving installed along footpaths and intersections. And was Wendy passionate about having these upgrades. She immediately enlisted me to help her make this happen. The results are there in the CBD for everyone to see and utilise. This was just how she operated and I was grateful that I got to work with her on this and other projects over the years.

One of the things that I so greatly admired about Wendy was that she never blamed anyone for her accident. She was never bitter or revengeful. Life went on and she lived her life as best as she could. Wendy was invited to schools around the state to talk about spinal injuries, how best to avoid potential injury and how she lives with her injury. Wendy was so very open when responding to a student’s question whether it was about hygiene or even sex. There was not a dry eye in the class, from either the tragedy of her accident or the laughter that her answers to questions about her body and other things.

Always generous of her time and of her support of the magazine and her community and me personally, I will miss her greatly. As previously noted, Wendy was a passionate advocate for disability, accessibility and driver safety topics at the state and local levels. While not inclusive, next are some of the programs Wendy was actively involved in.

• Warrina Services – Board Member and Community representative

• SEAT – Spinal Education Awareness Team (1999 – 2021): educating students from Prep to Year 12 about the risks and associated dangers and how to prevent a spinal cord injury.

• Peer Support Person – Spinal Life (20052021): gathering information and advocating for members of Spinal Life Australia Inc.

• RYDA – Rotary Youth Driving Awareness (2013-2021): program developed by Rotary in conjunction with the Police, Ambulance and TK Driving school with Wendy as an educator to promote driver awareness through encouraging the youth who are entering the automobile driving population.

• RADAC – Regional Access and Disability

Advisory Committee Member (2013 – 2021). Gathering information from the community on how better to meet the needs of local people living with a disability. Sub Committee member to develop the 2018/29 Disability Action Week event.

• Development of the 2014 Toowoomba CBD Accessibility Map

• What’s Up in Disability (2007–2017): Editor for 10 years assisting with the production of the magazine.

• Toowoomba Disability Service Providers Network (2006-2021)

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Wendy Adams

Top: Wendy, TRC Councillor and Robin Middle: Accessing the streets Bottom: NDIS Planning

WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp

A Legacy

by Kim Stokes

Warning… I’m worked up. I’m feeling a little raw after the farewell service for long standing Disability Advocate Wendy Adams yesterday. As expected, Burstow’s Chapel in Toowoomba was at capacity. It was an honour to be in that room with Wendy’s family and closest friends. It was an incredibly moving service; Wendy’s sudden passing was a great shock to so many and collectively we already feel the undeniable loss of a powerful voice in the room who often spoke for those who cannot (for a variety of reasons). As I looked around the room there was an invisible but obvious thread of commonality between so many; resilient survivors (not victims), tough, tough fighters, compassionate hearts…everyday people who have a purpose driven mentality to create impact and outcomes that matter, one change at a time. Wendy and I served on the Regional Access Disability Advisory Committee to Toowoomba Regional Council, and I’d shared that space with her for a few years now. I appreciated and respected her contribution in that room very much but also, I really admired her dedication to speak with thousands and thousands of high school students about road safety, speaking candidly about her truths around her acquired disability of quadriplegia due to a road accident. Now that takes guts. So here we are at another day of IDPwD. Hmmmm I understand it, I acknowledge it and I value it for what it can do and undoubtedly has done but, bloody hell let us not EVER fall into the trap of narrowing our focus on “disability” to 1 day or 1 week (next week is Disability Action Week) EVER! Sadly, I remember once being asked to qualify why I wanted to be invited to a Page 6

particular disability action group meeting and what my disabilities were! I wasn’t using a wheelchair. Nope that’s correct. No words appropriate for this post. Ummmmm… I’m here to HELP! Not all impairments are physical or obvious. And, I repeat, I’m here to help. Wendy’s passing is a strong slap in the face reminder that ALL of us have a finite amount of time so truly, let’s all just cut the ego driven BS and just do the right thing by each other as human beings who all deserve to have a fulfilling, meaningful and joyful life (whatever that can be for each of us)! Whilst I value the word inclusion, I’m just going to swap it out for another more appropriate word today #respect. That’s what we all want and deserve. I’ll just repeat that #respect #respect #respect R.I.P Wendy. forgotten.

Your

legacy

will

not

be


A Broken Heart

by Helen Youngberry

Often, words cannot express how a broken heart feels, so we can only speak of your nature and how much we miss you already and we now have a void in our lives. Wendy taught us to live life to the max and to always love others. It can be said that mood and mindset is a choice. You Wendy, chose happiness. Love. Positivity. Humour. And really bad jokes…. And that laugh! A mix of pure joy, gasping for air and snorting. Your laugh was contagious. These are my favourite stand out memories of Wendy. An advocate for disability, you took great pleasure in telling unsavoury and poor taste disability jokes, such as - Why don’t blind people sky dive? Because it scares their dogs – and then laughing at how hilarious you are. Or when RSVP’ing, telling other’s you’ll bring your own chair, and cackling like it’s the first time you’ve ever said it. That’s two of your G-Rated poor taste disability jokes. There’s much more in your repertoire. I had the pleasure of taking you to several Gala Dinners in Brisbane for Spinal Injury Awareness fundraising. You were in love with the lead singer of the band that played every year, Lisa Hunt’s Forever Soul – Motown, Soul, Funk and Disco. Lisa is a BIG, beautiful black woman with a set of very powerful lungs! Every year, when Lisa spotted you on the dance floor, it was like you knew each other with the way you both grinned and waved, while she was belting out tunes. In intermission, she’d come and give you a cuddle. She’d thank you for coming and you’d tell her she looked great. I asked you if you knew each other and you said no! – But Lisa remembering your smile from the year before, always greeted you that way - every year.

Another gala year we were both excited as the MC was Wendy Harmer. We were even more excited when we ran into her in the bathroom. It was almost like you cornered her by the hand dryer and you asked her for a photo. She asked if we could wait until after she pee’ed and we weren’t in the toilet. You had a way of keeping me calm. The first time I took you down for the gala dinner, on the way home, I accidently ran a red light. I was horrified and distraught of what I’d just done. My heart was racing because I’d done the wrong. It was your car, it was 2am and I’d put you in danger. You calmed me down with reassurances of “It was OK. There were no other cars around. No cop saw us – and if I got a ticket, I’d be paying for it. “ When I was 7, I was visiting Toowoomba for the first time and whilst I was excited and happy to see you; it was the first time I’d seen you in a chair. You were completely in control, barking orders from bed or the armchair. I remember being in your bedroom and feeling embarrassed because you were being dressed and you talked me into staying. “It’s ok” and “it’s just a body” and “everyone has boobs” Before we left, we had a family BBQ and I didn’t want the onions – I was 7 – yuck. (Us adults know better!) You asked me to hand feed it to you. I was scared – what if you bit my finger? What if it hurt? You gave me reassurance and I trusted you. You were right. My finger was intact. Today we all mourn a great loss in our personal lives. Wendy truly was something special to this world and we are better people for having known her and to be loved by her.

WhatsUp in Disability

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COVID-19 Updates From 17 December 2021, restrictions will ease for many businesses and fully vaccinated Queenslanders. These new measures will help to unite families, support our business community and keep all of us safe. Non-essential leisure businesses - hospitality and entertainment venues - that are only allowed to permit entry to vaccinated staff and patrons, will no longer need to follow capacity restrictions. To manage the new measures these businesses will need to display the vaccination rules at the business premises and use best efforts to ask for evidence of vaccination from customers at the time of check-in (this is a legal requirement) through the Check in Qld app, an immunisation history statement or a COVID-19 vaccination digital certificate If a customer cannot or refuses to provide evidence, ask the person to leave the premises and if they refuse to the leave the premises, call the police. Essential businesses can also voluntarily elect to adopt these measures if they believe it best suits their business needs and customer expectations. Queenslanders can now link their COVID-19

vaccination certificate to the Check In Qld app. This means customers can check in and show they are fully vaccinated, all through the app. The Queensland Government has been working closely with industry bodies to deliver a range of resources including signage to support businesses to manage entry of patrons under the new measures. From 23 December you must wear a face mask:

• in cinemas and theatres • when working in a hospitality venue. • Face masks are already mandatory: • at indoor retail venues including shopping centres, supermarkets and retail shops

• on public transport • in taxis and rideshare vehicles • visiting

vulnerable facilities, including hospitals, residential aged care facilities, disability care accommodation and correctional facilities

• at airports and on planes.

WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp

Wheelchairs

and Mobility Scooters in Queensland Queensland Transport

Department

of

An electric wheelchair or mobility scooter is defined as a motorised wheelchair. In Queensland, a motorised wheelchair that is used outside of the home, for example on footpaths and to cross over roads, must be registered with the department. If you use a motorised wheelchair and are visiting Queensland, your motorised wheelchair is exempt from registration. However, if you move to Queensland from another state or territory and you use your motorised wheelchair outside of your home, you must register your motorised wheelchair in Queensland within 14 days. To be registered, your motorised wheelchair must:

• have an electric motor • be designed and built for a person with mobility difficulties

• have a tare weight of 150kg or less • not be capable of travelling more than 10km/h on level ground.

• Motorised Wheelchair Statement form • evidence of the wheelchair’s origin, for example old registration papers or the purchase receipt.

• evidence of the wheelchair’s Queensland garage address, for example your current Queensland driver licence, property rates notice, gas, phone or electricity bill.

• evidence of personal identification, such as your current Queensland driver licence, Medicare Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs/Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card (including Healthcare Card). If someone is lodging this application for you, your representative will need to bring their personal identification as well as proof of your identity.

Registration is provided free of charge and includes compulsory third party insurance which may protect the user against compensation claims for personal injury following a crash (for example, a crash between a motorised wheelchair and a pedestrian on the footpath where the motorised wheelchair user was at fault).

Registration does not mean the device can be used on the road in the same way as a car.

Each time you register a different motorised wheelchair you must complete the relevant forms.

The tare weight refers to the device only, and does not include the user, goods or equipment.

The motorised wheelchair may also be used by another person. Other users must also be aware of the Queensland Road Rules relating to the use of a motorised wheelchair.

To register a motorised wheelchair, you (or your representative) must visit a Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre and bring with you the following completed forms:

• Vehicle Registration Application form • Vehicle Details Inspection Sheet form

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Information about registering motorised wheelchairs and copies of relevant forms can be found at www.tmr.qld.gov.au or by calling 13 23 80 or by visiting a Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre.


Financial Benefits of good access

by Dane Cross—Spinal Life

Every business owner knows the importance of good customer service for anyone who enters your business or facility, but what about the customers that don’t even make it to your front door? Consumer research reports have found people who encounter an access barrier or experience poor disability awareness at a brick -and-mortar and/or web business will simply move or click away to another site. The provision of “Good Access” is therefore vitally important to any business or facility. Beside the fact that it’s unlawful in Australia to not provide equal access to goods and services, the provision of “Good Access” makes genuine, good business sense. Research by Deloitte Access Economics estimated the economic dividend to Australia from having a more inclusive society to be $12.7 billion annually. While this figure encompasses a broad spectrum of minority groups, people with disability make up a large proportion of this study. We know that approximately 1 in 5 (or almost 20%) of our population here in Australia have a disability. This increases to 35% when we take into account people with temporary disabilities due to injury or illness. We also know that people with disability are accessing the community in ways and frequency that we haven’t seen in decades past. Currently in Australia there are over 450,000 people accessing NDIS funding annually. In the last 12 months, each NDIS participant, on average, was allocated $8,600 per annum to fund “Social and Community Participation”. This translates to around $3.5bil/annum being invested into enabling people with disability to access and participate in their communities. These same people were estimated in 2014 to

have a combined disposable $54mil.

income of

Known colloquially as the “disability dollar”, the financial opportunity that “Good Access” presents to businesses is therefore enormous on any scale. Additional proof that the “disability dollar” exists as a genuine market opportunity for Australian businesses comes from a report by Monash University called “Putting a dollar value on accessibility.” The report, which was commissioned by the City of Melbourne, found that for every $1 invested into accessible environments, $13 was generated as return revenue and that universally accessible retail environments benefitted from a 20 to 25% increase in turnover, when compared to non-accessible environments. For the tourism industry, studies have shown that People with disability spend $8 billion annually on tourism services, on average, spent more on day trips than people without disability, $111 compared with $106 and take around 9 million day trips each year, accounting for 21% of all day trips. Aside from the financial and social benefit, accessibility could be the competitive edge you need. Australia has a shortage of accessible venues, presenting a significant gap in the market that you could fill. We know that people with a disability are far more likely to become return customers and brand advocates when discovering welcoming and accessible businesses and venues. All this evidence adds up to the fact that, if you’re one of the $2.4mil businesses currently operating in Australia and you’re not providing people with disability equal access to your goods and services, you are missing out on an enormous opportunity – one that potentially could increase your business’ revenue by more than 20%!

WhatsUp in Disability

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NDIS Provider Charged The Hon Karen Andrews MP Minister for Home Affairs 7 December 2021 Australian Federal Police (AFP) executed search warrants across three premises on the Sunshine Coast, following an investigation by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) fraud team – with support from Services Australia, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Queensland Police Service. A 36-year-old Caloundra woman, listed as a director of two registered NDIS providers, was later served with a notice to attend court where she failed to have her name suppressed in court. Candice Dixie Dover left Maroochydore Magistrates Court on 18 December charged with General Dishonesty in relation to alleged offences of fraud to a value of more than $480,000.

said. “Many NDIS participants rely on their plan funding to access the disability supports to which they are entitled, and that support them to lead the life they choose. That’s something every Australian needs to protect.” Anyone found guilty of fraud against the NDIS faces the prospect of imprisonment. The NDIS Commission has significant powers to take action against NDIS providers registered or not, where they are found to have not complied with their obligations. Anyone with concerns that fraud is being committed against the NDIS should contact the NDIS fraud hotline on 1800 650 717.

According to the NDIS provider finder website Ms Dover is the founder of national notfor-profit aged care and disability support service provider Candice Care. Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said today’s action was proof of the Morrison Government’s commitment to catching anyone intending to defraud the Australian taxpayer. “Any disability service provider who thinks they can get away with criminal activity targeting NDIS participants will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Minister Andrews said. Last week’s activity continues the NDIA’s ongoing focus to crack down on fraud against the NDIS and its participants, Minister for the NDIS, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said. “One dollar fraudulently obtained is one dollar that isn’t received by those who are entitled to NDIS funding,” Minister Reynolds

Report now available to download WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp

Appeals

by Chris Coombes

DSC 17 December 2021 Government data acquired by Team DSC reveals that the NDIA spent $34.8 million on Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) matters in 2020-21 (NDIA Freedom of Information – 3 December 2021). Of this, over $17.3 million was paid to private law firms to represent the NDIA at external reviews (an increase from $13.4 million the year before). The NDIA has refused to release the names of the law firms contracted to represent the NDIA at the AAT and the amount paid to each, claiming “trade secrets or commercially valuable information” exemptions under s47(1)b of the Freedom of Information Act. The number of cases before the AAT can be viewed as the tip of the iceberg, giving us an insight into tensions in the planning process. The AAT Annual Report (2021) revealed that “in this reporting year, there was a 76% increase in applications for supports”. Last month, The Australian noted a 20% increase in external plan reviews year on year. The NDIA responded to claims of rising AAT matters with a media release of its own. On 5 December, an NDIS media release titled “Clarification of NDIS AAT Applications” claimed that the increase in external review applications was proportional to new participants entering the Scheme. On 11 December, citing data retrieved from the AAT, The Guardian revealed a 300% spike in NDIS appeals when compared with the same month-by-month period in the previous year. Additionally, The Guardian found that this increase was not proportional to the number of new entrants to the Scheme, as the NDIA had claimed. On 30 November 2021, information obtained by the Guardian showed that the AAT had 3,084 NDIS cases on hand; by comparison, the

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AAT had 913 NDIS cases on hand on 30 November 2020. The NDIA spokesperson told The Guardian, “The statement issued on the NDIS website relates to figures released in the AAT’s annual report and the agency acknowledges the increase in the number of AAT appeals since 30 June”. Where is the NDIS cutting plans? We might not have a full picture of exactly what is being cut from plans for at least 12 months, when we begin to see published decisions by the AAT from this period. In the absence of published data, DSC consulted disabled people, providers, legal representatives, and appeals advocacy organisations about where they’re noticing cuts over the past five months. From what we have heard, cuts are widespread and felt across all states and territories. They noted the following trends:

• Participants who had previously been approved to live alone in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) dwellings or have requested that kind of SDA arrangement are now being approved for three- or four-bedroom dwellings instead.

• The

NDIA has reduced Supported Independent Living (SIL) funding, particularly for people with higher staff-to -participant ratios.

• The NDIA has reduced or is now funding only a portion of intensive programs for children.

therapy

• People are also reporting cuts to their Support Coordination funding. These cuts will surely save the NDIA some money in the short term. But at what cost?


at what Cost? Legal Costs As mentioned above, the NDIA spent $34.8m on pursuing AAT matters in the last financial year, including $17.3m on external legal representation. It is likely that this figure will increase this financial year, given the Agency’s need to respond to the 300% spike in matters before the Tribunal.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) recently released a tender for advocacy organisations to compete for approximately $10 million dollars a year. This is less than a third of what the NDIA spent on external reviews last financial year and does not cover the cost of legal representation. In a separate FOI release by the AAT obtained by Team DSC, the AAT revealed that 1,780 external review applications were received in 2020–21, but only 91 NDIS participants were listed as receiving “nonlegal advocate/organisation representation” at the time their application was finalised, and 325 received legal representation. Put simply, access to advocacy and legal support is a massive problem for NDIS participants, which will only be exacerbated by this recent spike in external reviews. Human Costs There are other costs associated with the 300% uptick in AAT matters, including:

• Parents, nominees, and disabled people have reduced working hours to collect evidence, submit reviews, and attend case conferences. This has lessened economic productivity and caused significant stress.

• For participants who don’t have access to informal supports or advocacy, Support Coordinators are helping collect evidence to bolster their internal and external reviews. This means that fewer Support Coordination hours are dedicated to linking people with services and working

toward their goals.

• Disabled people who have not been successful in pursuing an external review or don’t have the resources or emotional energy to appeal a decision are losing supports. This can have wide-ranging consequences, including loss of function, serious harm, or even death. Advocates felt that this undermined the Royal Commission’s cautions against participants being left without adequate supports. Broken Trust With people around the country noticing these dramatic reductions in plans and in the absence of communication about what is happening, the sector’s trust in the NDIA has taken a hit. DSC Executive Director Roland Naufal questioned Martin Hoffman, the NDIA’s CEO, about reports of widespread cost cuts to plans, particularly in the home and living area. “What’s happening?” Mr Hoffman suggested participants who are unhappy with a decision should gather the evidence that the support is reasonable and necessary and submit it to the NDIA. This can only be described as a missed opportunity for Mr Hoffman, on behalf of the Agency, to address the elephant in the room. What does all this mean for NDIS participants and providers? For those who can stomach a review, it could very well be worth it. There’s no evidence that the AAT itself has changed its interpretation of the NDIS Act or the level of evidence required. And the AAT Quarterly report (2021) showed that, in 2020-21, 98% of matters don't go to hearing. But we are still left with the question… is the $34.8m the NDIA is spending on external reviews money well spent?

WhatsUp in Disability

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SUPER STARTERS TEN PIN BOWLING LEAGUE for Disabled

SUNSET SUPERBOWL 07 4634 0233

South & Greenwattle Toowoomba

10.00 am every Saturday $20 per session 3 games Sports Registration $52 (membership) Glenda (07) 4614 1136 Kathy (07) 4630 5221 Page 16


The NDIS has introduced mandatory "Epilepsy Management" to enhance quality and safeguard employers, employees, clients and representatives. Epilepsy is a condition affecting the brain that is more common among people with disability. It causes several types of seizures depending on what part of the brain is affected. People with intellectual disability and epilepsy are at increased risk of severe and uncontrolled seizures compared to other people with epilepsy. What is Epilepsy?

• Focal aware seizures – the person is aware of their surroundings but may not be able to talk or respond normally. Patients with intellectual disability may have trouble explaining their experience during a seizure.

• Focal

impaired awareness (previously called complex partial seizures) often involve the person appearing confused and engaging in unusual behaviours

• Focal to bilateral tonic clonic seizures – start as focal seizures but are often indistinguishable from generalised tonic clonic seizures.

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition characterised by abnormal or excessive brain activity that results in seizures.

• Generalised

seizures impair consciousness. Generalised seizures include tonic clonic and absence seizures.

• Tonic clonic seizures (previously called grand mal seizures) commonly involve falling, convulsing, screaming, tongue biting, or loss of bladder control.

such as fidgeting, mumbling or chewing.

Seizure Triggers Triggers are specific situations that can either bring on a seizure or significantly increase the risk of a seizure. Common triggers include:

Lack of sleep

Missed medication

mal seizures) are often mistaken for daydreaming or inattention. They are characterised by staring, unresponsiveness and suddenly stopping activity. Awareness is generally impaired for a very short time (often 2-10 seconds) and normal activity is resumed immediately.

Fever or other illness

Call an ambulance if:

a seizure lasts 3 minutes or more

the person is unconscious

another seizure starts shortly after a previous seizure

• Focal seizures start in a specific part of

the person has an injury

it is thought to be the person’s first seizure

the person pregnant

the person has breathing difficulties after the seizure

• Absence seizures (previously called petit

the brain and may or may not impair consciousness. There may be a variety of non-intentional movements or vocal sounds which may resemble behaviours associated with other disorders. The person is unlikely to be aware of them and distraction is unlikely to reduce or suppress them.

also

has

diabetes

WhatsUp in Disability

or

is

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WhatsUp Aaa aaa

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Access


Design Failures Accessibility in urban planning is a vitally important feature of any civilised society everyone, regardless of their mobility, should be able to access and enjoy public facilities. Poorly designed accessibility for people in wheelchairs, for example, sends a pretty insulting message: "We added this feature because someone told us we had to, but it's not important enough that we put any effort into making sure it actually helps." Accessibility then becomes purely symbolic, something designed to show that we care, but has no practical purpose. Sadly, people with a disability encounter this kind of attitude all too often, and beyond the continuous and ongoing campaigns for wheelchair accessible planning, there is little left to do but laugh at these outrageous design fails.

So what can be done to improve awareness on the importance of accessibility? How do we get businesses to understand that cutting costs and corners to make inadequate facilities isn't just inconvenient and potentially dangerous, but offensive too? People with disabilities and their supporters have to speak up. Take pictures and post it on social media". The best thing businesses can do is to simply ask a person using a wheelchair to share their experiences, and learn from them. It all starts with the individual’s awareness, so don't be afraid to talk to people with disabilities about their accessibility needs and frustrations. The more we learn to empathize with each other and experience the world in another person's shoes, the better things will be for everyone!

WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp

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Community


Welcome to Radio Persia by Mahsa

I am 17, and the voice of the Afghan community in my new hometown I was nervous but being able to broadcast the language of my birthplace across the airwaves of my new home city was very special. I am 17 — and have become the voice of the local Afghan community on my weekly program on Toowoomba's community radio station FM102.7. I volunteer my time to help other people who speak Persian, with settling here in Australia, reading the news in a familiar language, giving information on different organisations and services that are available here. There's a lot to talk about. All the things people might think are general knowledge, are new to migrants and refugees — even simple things like opening a bank account or paying an electricity bill and how to dial emergency services. My family migrated in 2014 from war-torn Afghanistan. We found the people in Australia to be generous and welcoming. And that has been inspiring for me. I found it easy to learn English and the Australian way of life because I was young. But it can be harder for older migrants. There are all sorts of barriers in making friends and finding work — language and cultural barriers. So, talking to them on the radio helps.

people need. While the adults needed to hear what to do here, the children needed other kinds of help, so I started volunteering at my local council. We filled backpacks with essential school items and games for young kids coming from overseas, who might not have school items or things to play with. It just takes the pressure off their parents who are trying to settle in a new place. When you move to a new place you can feel unseen and unheard … I'm going to use my voice — and my skills — to help my community.

I like how young Afghans can listen and still be connected to that part of their culture too. And it's not just talking — music can do so much. I noticed a lot of the songs I play are from when I was young, so I think it connects me to that part of my culture too. Volunteering has helped me meet different people and learn so much about what WhatsUp in Disability

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WhatsUp

Toowoomba by John Elliott

Christmas Wonderland The 'Burstow's Christmas Wonderland' began in 2003 with the dream of creating an event that the whole community could come to and experience the joy and wonder of Christmas. They wanted to create a delightful display of lights and provide supper and free give aways for the children. Don and Trevor Burstow are very proud that this has grown beyond a 'Burstow's' event, becoming truly a Toowoomba event. 2007 saw the event re-named Toowoomba's Christmas Wonderland in recognition of the support Burstow's receive from the entire Toowoomba community. In January 2008 Don and Trevor Burstow officially passed the responsibility for hosting 'Toowoomba's Christmas Wonderland' to the Lions Club of Toowoomba West.

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Photographs of the Lions Christmas Wonderland by John Elliott

WhatsUp in Disability

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Warrina Services is a specialist support agency that has been providing individual support to people of the Darling Downs since 1986. We support people with a diverse range of needs and also provide mental health services to assist personal recovery.

(07) 4659 5662

We can help you to achieve positive outcomes in your life. These may be related to choice and independence, education or training, attending social activities, increasing skills, getting a job or contributing to your community. If you would like further information please visit our website

www.warrinaservices.org.au Or contact us Phone: 07-46 380 399 Email: warrinas@warrinas.com.au or visit our office at

172 Bridge Street Toowoomba Office hours Mon-Fri 9-5pm

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No Sweat! Top Tips

How to stay cool in the summer when you have a spinal cord injury Summer in Australia can turn anyone into a hot mess. But summer in Australia if you have a spinal cord injury can be especially challenging, because you’re more susceptible to overheating. In an able-bodied person with a nervous system that functions normally, the average internal body temperature is around 37°C. If this temperature begins to rise, the body sends a signal to the brain to say the body is overheating. The brain then sends a signal back to the body, telling it to cool itself (by, for example, sweating). The entire process is called thermoregulation and it all takes place via the spinal cord. So, when the spinal cord is damaged and this communication between the brain and body is lost, there can be serious problems. Because the body no longer receives the appropriate signals to start regulating its temperature, there’s a very real risk of overheating, heat stroke and all of the associated side effects, such as delirium, dehydration, confusion, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. And if the internal body temperature rises as high as 42°C, there’s also the threat of damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles, and even death. Generally speaking, the higher the injury, the more likely it is that a person will have issues with heat (and also cold). The completeness of a spinal cord injury can also affect thermoregulation: the more severe it is, the greater the interference is likely to be between the brain and body. If you do overheat, you can go from feeling a little uncomfortable to having a full on heat stroke quite quickly, so being able to regulate your temperature is vital. If you haven’t tried them already, here are a few strategies that could offer relief.

Hydrate Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Shelter Avoid extreme temperatures, don’t stay too long in hot weather and stay in shade as much as possible. Try to enjoy outdoors early in the morning or late in afternoon/evening.

out the the the

Dress When you’re outdoors on a sunny day, wear loose, breathable and light (both in weight and colour) clothing. And don’t forget a hat! Wrap Keep things like ice vests, wet towels or gel packs in the freezer and then drape them around your neck when you need to cool down. Other options include cooling bands and ice neck wraps just be sure to check the skin after you apply any sort of wrap: ice can burn! Mist Create ‘artificial sweat’ by misting yourself with a spray bottle filled with cold water (keep it in the fridge if possible). Misting works best when humidity is low, as evaporation rates will be higher. When humidity is high the water just sits on your skin and doesn’t actually cool you. If that’s the case, make the most of any natural breezes or get in front of a fan. Chill Seek shade, stay indoors, be prepared with sun safe protection, take breaks in air conditioning to help keep your body temperature steady.

In the meantime, stay cool, people!

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Media Releases

Young people in residential aged care 22 December 2021

The Australian Government is investing an additional $35 million to continue delivering on its commitment to reduce the number of younger people entering, and living in, residential aged care. Minister for the NDIS Linda Reynolds CSC and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said the investment will ensure younger people currently living in residential aged care receive the tailored support necessary to ensure that where they have a goal to leave aged care they can do so.

The funding provided as part of the 2021-22 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), will reduce the number of people entering aged care and support a greater number of people to leave residential aged care between 2022 and the end of 2025. The funding includes:

• $16 million for the Department of Health to extend the current Younger People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) System Coordinator Program to engage with younger people who are not NDIS participants. This is on top of $10.1 million announced in the 2020-21 Budget for Health to establish a national network of up to 40 YPIRAC System Coordinators to help younger people find appropriate accommodation and supports.

• Around

$18.9 million for additional National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) staff to help younger NDIS

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participants, their families, carers and support coordinators to explore reasonable and necessary supports to meet their home and living goals. The new team will complement the NDIA’s existing 80 YPIRAC Planners who work with NDIS participants to ensure their plans reflect their housing goals as well as all other supports. Minister Reynolds said the initiatives will help the Government meet its targets to have no younger people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022, and under the age of 65 by 2025 (other than in exceptional circumstances). “This Government has prioritised the provision of choice to younger people in residential aged care, and while there has been significant progress in reducing the number of younger people entering and living in residential aged care over the past 12 months, more needs to be done,” Minister Reynolds said. “The investment in additional dedicated NDIA YPIRAC Planners will ensure participants are supported to navigate the multiple and complex systems required to source ageappropriate accommodation to transition younger people out of residential aged care,” Minister Reynolds said. “The aged care system was designed to best support the needs of senior Australians, not younger people,” Minister Colbeck said. Minister Colbeck said it was clear activities being progressed by the Government, in collaboration with state and territory governments, sector stakeholders and younger people themselves, were contributing to significant reductions in the number of younger people entering, and living in, residential aged care.


NDIS in Brief My NDIS Mobile App The my NDIS mobile app will work alongside the myplace participant portal to help selfmanaged participants quickly, easily and flexibly manage their NDIS plans. When you log into the app for the first time, NDIS will send you an SMS code to confirm your information. This will be sent to the mobile phone number they have recorded for you. Once you get your code you can set up a PIN. Please remember this PIN as you will need it to log into the app.

Changes to the NDIS Board Media release from the Minister 17 December 2021 Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC announced a number of appointments and reappointments to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board. Four new members have been appointed to the Board with effect from 1 January 2022; Ms Leah van Poppel; Dr Peta Seaton AM; Ms Meredith Allan and Dr Denis Napthine. Minister Reynolds said these appointments were made in consultation with the states and territories, and with careful consideration of the specialist skills, knowledge and experience required to guide the NDIA through its next phase. “Importantly, two new appointments to the NDIA Board are people with disability which will ensure that the leadership of the Board has direct representation of lived experience. This aligns with the Government’s commitment through the NDIS Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021 introduced into the Parliament recently, which will legislate people with disability as a key consideration when making appointments to the NDIA Board.” “I congratulate and welcome the new Board members. Their wealth of experience across the public and private sectors, as well as their demonstrated commitment to, and advocacy for, people with disability, will strengthen the Board’s leadership of the NDIS.” Of the remaining current Members, Professor Jane Burns, Ms Estelle Pearson, Ms Sandra Birkensleigh, and Mr Glenn Keys AO have all been reappointed to the Board.

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Provider Updates Insurance threat for providers Rob Woolley 14 December 2021 The problem of providers being unable to find insurance coverage appropriate to their supports became more prominent earlier this year, although the issue has been on insurers’ radar for several years. All providers choose their level of insurance coverage – that is a business decision, and PSA has been a relatively common coverage that many find fundamental to the effective financial governance of a provider. There seem to be some consistent themes in what brokers, insurers, and providers have told us in recent months:

• The issue only emerges at renewal time, so it often blindsides providers. Some providers have said that they walked into the annual meeting expecting to renew their existing insurance and walked out with effectively no PSA coverage for 1:1 overnight supports. This is often a result of insurers updating their forms or questionnaires to dig deeper and ask for more granular information on the specifics of support provided.

with lots of policies and procedures...but we still can’t provide insurance coverage for PSA on your 1:1 overnight supports”, which makes it very difficult for providers to respond with appropriate risk management strategies.

• There’s been no specific cause identified for this widespread withdrawal of insurance. This seems to be a slow adjustment of coverage that has recently picked up speed. There are general and wide-ranging industry fears about ineffective sector safeguarding standards, loose registration requirements, highprofile cases like the abuse of Ann Marie Smith, and the role of the Royal Commission in rightly shining a light on abuse, but no single or dominant factor can be attributed to the change in approach from insurers. Insurance companies seem particularly concerned about retrospective claiming. These claims are often (again quite rightly) high in value to reflect the significant scope and impact of abuse, and it’s very difficult for actuaries to set premiums today to reflect these potential future costs.

• The withdrawal or heavy restriction of coverage seems to apply mainly to 1:1 overnight supports in the participant’s home. Group arrangements or situations with more than one worker on shift and supports during the day often don’t face the same insurance restrictions. This is odd because abuse doesn’t only happen on overnight shifts!

• Many insurers are saying that risk mitigation and management approaches won’t change what they will cover. In many cases, the insurer is saying, “we understand that you recently passed your NDIS Commission audit with flying colours, have never had any previous claims, and have a sterling reputation

WorkCover Medical Fees Effective 1 December 2021 WorkCover Queensland has reviewed and updated the tables of costs for medical treatment applicable for workers' compensation in Queensland. The changes are effective 1 December 2021 and reflect the maximum fees payable. The Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers, explanations, definitions, rules, and conditions for services provided by medical practitioners have been adopted. Fees have been indexed in line with CPI and wage index increases where appropriate.

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With Andrew Spradbrow A year of achievements Rising to the challenges of COVID-19, seizing new opportunities for the Region and planning for the future – these are the hallmarks of 2021 for TRC. As the Region gets ready for a new year, Council reflects on the year that was and a long list of achievements. Prudent financial management ensured essential services continued to be delivered throughout the Region, while significant investment was made in infrastructure and community services. From hosting iconic events to celebrating our history, to spearheading new initiatives and completing major projects, here are some of the Toowoomba Region’s best moment of 2021. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2021 received a standing ovation in September. The first ever month-long program in the history of the event, a change from the traditional 10-days, reaped significant rewards for the Region. Data from Tourism and Events Queensland recorded an economic impact of $32.95 million for the Region, significantly up on the $12.7 million figure for 2020. Attendance topped 284,758, up from 214,217 in 2020, and on par with 2019 figures. The NRL returned to Toowoomba in August with the Roosters taking on the Dragons, three years after the Garden City hosted its first NRL match. 2032 Olympic Games For six years, 11 Mayors of South East Queensland asPage 32

pired towards one dream. Finally, in July, the sweet taste of victory with Brisbane officially announced as the host of the 2032 Olympic Games creating a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Toowoomba Region to shine on the world stage. Toowoomba Region Futures, a major planning project that will build a community vision for the Region’s growth and development for the next 30 years. Informed by extensive community consultation, the five-year project will deliver a new Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme, a Growth Plan (to guide population and employment growth) and a Toowoomba Region Infrastructure Plan. Community takes to Russell Street to celebrate. Residents and business owners had the chance to celebrate the completion of stage one of the Russell Street Refresh project at a special block party in November. A new water supply for Clifton Regional water security continued to be a key focus for Council in 2021. Design and construction of Clifton’s new reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant is now well underway with the purchase of equipment, building of water storage tanks and connection pipes. New Library for Highfields


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