QAI Newsletter – July 2018


Welcome to QAI’s July 2018 newsletter.

Latest news

  • Mental Health Act 2016 Review: Queensland Health is evaluating whether key changes have been implemented effectively. QAI’s Mental Health Legal Service is in the thick of it, and while Queensland Health’s consultation period on broader issues has now closed, QAI is still interested in hearing from you if you have any comments or would like to be part of a focus group. Call 07 3844 4200 or
  • NDIS Serco Call Centre Survey is live:  Soon after posting it, QAI got just less than a thousand responses to our petition (now closed) protesting the NDIS-involvement of Serco, a multinational company that runs prisons and 11 Australian immigration detention centres, and  Queensland Advocacy Inc is concerned that Serco won’t support NDIS values and principles. QAI has released a Survey to gauge people’s experiences with the NDIS call centre (1800800110).  Please check it out if you have called that number recently.
  • QAI calls for sensitivity in reporting on controversial bookFor the first time, victim and patient advocacy groups have come together in response to the impact that the publication and promotion of a controversial book is having on clients they work with. The book, Killer Instinct: Having a Mind for Murder, was written by forensic psychiatrist Dr Donald Grant and published by Melbourne University Publishing on 28 May, and uses case studies which impacts on victims and offenders alike. QAI joins the call by the Queensland Homicide Victim Support Group (QHVSG) to encourage anyone identified in the book to make contact with QHVSG or QAI for legal and non-legal advice and assistance.
  • The Shadow ReportOver the next 12 months, disabled persons’, advocacy and human rights organisations will develop a shadow report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).   As part of its commitment to the CRPD, the Australian government agreed to report to the UN on its implementation  the Convention.   Signatories generally paint a rosy picture by focusing on (their) achievements and not the half-measures, failures and emerging abuses.  NGOs author their ‘Shadow Report’ at the same time: a kind of ‘minority report’ or report card on Australia’s implementation.  The last ‘shadow report’ was  Disability Rights Now in 2012.We are part of the group of NGOs developing the report.  We’ll be consulting with people with disabilities and collecting stories for the report.
  • QAI granted Special consultative status:  On 8 June 2018, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated was granted Special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This enables representatives of QAI to register and participate in events, conferences and activities of the United Nations and sit as observers at public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other United Nations intergovernmental decision-making bodies. We are also able to make written or oral statements to ECOSOC relevant to their work.

Campaigns for change

A Human Rights Act for Queensland

QAI is a leading voice in the coalition driving this reform. We need a Human Rights Act in Queensland that clearly sets out what our human rights are, that guarantees that governments respect our rights and that provides avenues to seek justice when our rights have been violated.  The dream is getting closer with funding of nearly $3 million allocated over four years provided in the Queensland State Budget for this  legislation.

Sexual freedom for people with disability in Queensland: Time to Nix Section 216

Incredible! In Queensland it is unlawful for any person to have intimate relations with another who has ‘impairment of the mind’.   Self-advocates and QAI are trying to have this Criminal Code provision repealed.  We’ll speak about this at the 2018 ASID Conference at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

Accessible trains: the new generation rollingstock

This is campaign of twists and turns.  In 2013, the Newman government commissioned 75 New Generation Rollingstock  that  were not wheelchair-friendly nor compliant with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT). Despite the Australian Human Rights Commission refusing to grant the Queensland State Government an exemption from DSAPT, the trains continue to run.

QAI Law Reform; Selected Submissions, Inquiries & Presentations

  • March 2018 – Response to the Queensland Government’s Application to the Human Rights Commission for Exemption from the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (Trains)
  • February 2018 – Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws in Queensland
  • Market Readiness for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • 2018 ongoing – General Issues around the Implementation and Performance of the NDIS
  • March 2018 – Ensuring a Strong Future for Supported Employment – to Department of Social Services (Cth)
  • April 2018 – Disability Services and Other Legislation (Worker Screening) Amendment Bill 2018
  • May 2018 –  Response to Education Queensland’s Disability Response Plan – ‘Every Student with Disability Succeeding’

Individual advocacy

NDIS Reviews and Appeals

NDIS Appeals advocacy with new recruit Caitlin (pictured), Evee and Jenny in Rockhampton is going strong.  If you are having problems with your NDIS plan, give us a buzz.  Appeals can be daunting and frustrating, especially when in conciliation the NDIA has a tendency to lawyer up at the first instance, but our advocates are up to the challenge.

DSS has funded QAI to give free and independent support for you to have a fair go with:

  • Accessing the NDIS
  • Planning for the NDIS
  • Appeals

Call us if you need our free assistance.

Mental Health Legal Service

The Mental Health Act 2016 provides for certain categories of matters before the Mental Health Review Tribunal to be appointed free, independent legal assistance coordinated through Legal Aid Queensland. QAI welcomes the resulting expansion of lawyers practicing in this area of law.

However, QAI continues to provide free advice and representation to the many clients whose mental health law issues fall outside these parameters, including review of treatment authorities and treatment support orders, use of restrictive practices in mental health settings, transfers, and complex matters that require advocacy outside Tribunal hearings.

Niamh Fields joined QAI’s Mental Health Legal Service as a solicitor in February 2018. Niamh practiced as a criminal lawyer in the private sector for two and half years prior to her appointment at QAI.

Please contact QAI to book an advice appointment with a lawyer if you need assistance with a mental health law issue.

Pro bono, volunteers and student placement

We thank barrister Dan O’Gorman for his pro bono discrimination advice in relation to our accessible trains campaign, and we thank the University of Queensland Disability Law Clinic and Professor Heather Douglas for advice on discrimination law.

We thank law firm Maurice Blackburn for its generous donation, which has funded the reprint of QAI’s Easy English Guide to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, an in-demand publication.

We are grateful to law firms Allens and Hall & Wilcox who provide pro bono professional support to ensure that we can maximise our limited resources.

QAI continues to be supported by a number of student volunteers through the University of Queensland’s Disability Law Clinic (two students every Tuesday) and Queensland University of Technology’s Legal Clinic (two students every Friday).  We also receive assistance from many enthusiastic and long term volunteers and students on practical legal training placement. We thank these students and universities for their ongoing support.

A huge thank you to Karen Williams who resigned from our mental health law barrister panel after 7 years of reduced fee and no fee work for our clients. Thanks also to remaining members Nanette Noble, David Cormack, and new member Ben McMillan. We also thank barristers Matt Black and Ben Moses for their pro bono contributions.

We are grateful to Minter Ellison for reviewing QAI’s pro forma employment contracts on a pro bono basis.

Finally, a thank you to psychiatrists Professor Harry McConnell and Dr Jeremy Butler for their excellent work preparing careful second opinions for some of our complex clients.

Date claimer

#Advocacy Matters
People with Disability in Action
10-3pm Monday 10 Sept 2018
What:  #Advocacy Matters – People with Disability in Action” A community Systems advocacy event
When:  10-3pm MONDAY 10 September
Where:  Musgrave Park, South Brisbane
Why: To promote people with disability and their roles in advocacy – advancing the changes to laws, policies and practices to create good but ordinary lives and healthy communities
Who?: QAI & YOU!

QAI invites you:  to join this community event – on Monday 10th September 2018 to Speak, Write Act (or sing, dance or whatever medium) to tell your advocacy message.  It can be a personal message; it can be about people you care about.  The messages will be short and sharp and have impact upon the systems that need to change. Your messages will be collected to document and sent to politicians, bureaucrats as a united collective voice in advocacy.  Our event aims to increase the capacity individuals have (through advocacy) in helping bring about systemic change.  Join QAI and be the change – together we are better.

There will be accessible facilities, food vendors, entertainment and photographic opportunities for free portraits for people with disabilities and their families.

Families, advocates and service providers are invited to bring and support as many people with disability to attend as possible.

Call us to get details of how to register the type of action you want to do.

Please RSVP for this event by 10th August 2018 online through EventBrite, phoning us on (07) 3844 4200 or emailing

Support QAI

You can make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people with disability by financially supporting QAI to make sure our advocacy efforts continue in the future. Donations over $2.00 are tax deductible, and gifts are welcome.
For more information see our website or contact us on 07 3844 4200.
Are you a person with a disability?  Are you a family member or supporter of people with disability? If you share the values and vision of our organisation, we need you.  Please call us or download a membership form and help us to uphold the rights of vulnerable people with disability.
Read more about membership >>
Donate now

This newsletter contains general information about legal matters.  It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.