This week I had the privilege of participating in Minister Bill Shorten’s engagement with leaders from the disability sector in preparation for the Job Skills Summit and I am sold!
I am sold – not only on the array of ideas that came forward to improve access to employment for participants, the thoughtful approaches proposed to improve quality services and workforce development, but on the model and approach to the activities of the day.
We in the mental health sector have a long way to go in our approach, and much to learn.
Before the event Minister Shorten said: “COVID exposed the fault lines in disability workforce planning. We need to listen to people with disability, and workers to ensure the NDIS is an attractive career, so people with disability receive high quality support when they need it. In order for the NDIS to thrive, innovation needs to follow the voices of people with disability”.
Grassroots campaign spokesperson Elly Desmarchelier (a young participant in her twenties) was the emcee for the Forum. My estimation was that at least 50% of the people involved were people living with disability, and their support workers. They had been involved in planning the day. They facilitated the working groups. They featured in the panels and discussions. They were enabled to fully participate – whatever form that took – from live captioning on big screens to Auslan interpreters in person.
From what I witnessed yesterday, the disability sector does lived experience leadership better than anyone.
For those of us representing the mental health sector, it was an honour to be there and even more so to be involved with such a diverse group of leaders.
The other thing I noticed – which is not new but worth commenting on – was that there were many peak bodies participating in the conversation. We worked together for a shared outcome. There were some minor differences but actually what stood out was the cohesion and the consolidated message.
I am sold and I am sure the Minister was too.