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Disability, Medical Health Aged Care

Disability Sector Outrage as Both Major Parties Snub Australia’s Biggest Disability and NDIS Related Event in History Coming Up this Week in Queensland

Mr River Night, National Disability Sector Advocate 6 mins read
National Disability Advocate Mr River Night

Available for Comment 


Radio - Live, Pre-recorded and Talk-back 




Mr River Night 

Leading National Disability Sector Advocate

Co-founder at Developing Australian Communities 

Public Officer at the National Disability Leadership Organisation


Mr Night is physically located in Brisbane this week


Mr Night is a National Disability Sector Advocate and outspoken supporter for reform and improvements in the Disability and NDIS sector and has worked across Disability, Youth Justice, Guardianship, Child Safety, Education, TAFE, Aged Care, Forensics Disability and Mental Health.


"I grew up, living with disability and working across the sector. I am also a full time carer at times for a partner with significant disability support needs and father", said Mr Night today.


"After hearing so many promises of co-design, working with people, an end to this arms length approach some of our leaders take, I had hope. 


"This week my hope and confidence has wavered as our newly appointed Queensland State Minister for Disability, The Hon Charis Mullen, said she was too busy to open or attend Queensland's biggest event for the Disability sector in history despite months of ignored invites and requests. I was simply told 'she has some meetings on sorry'.


"What upsets people living with disability like myself and our community even more than our own Minister not being able to attend the biggest event for their own portfolio and the community, is that they couldn't even find one representative from the entire Queensland Government to demonstrate an ounce of care and commitment by showing up even briefly as well. Not even one! 


"As a community we don't get any funding or support to run these massive events.


"While a Minister being too busy given their hectic schedules is understandable, an entire State Government and both major parties, suggesting no one is available to face and connect with the community, is hard to interpret as anything else but a clear snub and sign of disconnect and disrespect.


"We cannot expect our federal Minister to come to every event across Australia and right now we need to feel confident and connect with our State leaders even more.


"Connecting face to face, opening and attending the biggest event in our community isn't the only way to demonstrate that you value the community. But an entire Government and both major parties snubbing the event does a lot to devalue those living with disability at a time where trust is so needed. It really communicates something. 


"With the Royal Commission, NDIS Review and announcements by our Federal Minister shaking up the sector and taking steps for major changes, the 4.4 Million Australian's living with Disability are unsure and some are plain scared that their lives may be significantly impacted. 


"The one thing our leaders can do is show up and help the community feel confident they care and they connect on a human level. Especially when we had hundreds of disability advocacy, service provider organisation and community groups as well as over 8600 people at our last event and hope to be even bigger this year in Brisbane. 


"When it is just another small event or show you can forgive our very busy leaders who may have competing priorities. But when it is the biggest event for the entire calendar year in 2024 for the Disability Sector during a time of major upheaval and reform, following a Royal Commission, there is no excuse for not even one State Government representative being available. 


"As an adult and advocate, I established, along with my Cofounder Mr Mike Clark, this huge community event. As a person living with disability I got together with the community and we have created an amazing celebration and opportunity to connect across 2 full days.


"The thing that makes me so happy at these events is that they are not a room of stalls and pamphlets but a huge event run by the disability community, shaped by and for people with disability. There is no 'token consultation', it simply is by us and about us. 


"We have created and shaped our events as people living with disability. I strongly believe in the motto 'nothing about us without us'. 


Mrs Robyn Night who is also an adult living with disability, with a career spanning decades in the disability, mental health and education sector, has championed work at State and Federal levels introducing the new revenge porn and domestic violence legislation reforms. 


"It is an atrocity that no Minister of either side of the two major political political parties is sending any representation to the biggest disability and participant expo in Queensland's history", said Mrs Night today. 


"Turing up at a football game is something our leaders must do apparently but to give priority to the biggest event in the disability sector is asking too much it seems. 


Our Federal Minister for NDIS, Minister Bill Shorten recently visited Brisbane and renewed his commitment to the work ahead to fix NDIS and support the work to be done, from the NDIS Review and the Disability Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation. Mr Night watched the event and applauded the work of fellow advocates and representatives along side Mr Shorten.


"We have a new Minister in the Disability portfolio in Queensland and I was looking forward to working closely with the Hon Charis Mullen as we implement fast and concrete safeguards. This week my faith and hope for real action have been challenged as our invitations and requests, emails and calls were ignored these past 2 months", said Mr Night today.


"I know personally that behind the scenes our Queensland Government has already met with community representatives and is developing action plans towards the recommendations highlighted by the Royal Commission and Reviews. I have been involved in that myself. I urge the State Government to help the community see and know that you are taking action by talking to them and showing up. You can not have confidence in a secret. 


"What we have heard a lot of is 'talk' of real commitment and respect, but little in the way of fast tracked plans to reintroduce practical safeguards for the children, adults and families being subjected to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation every single day. Much of that will lay in the hands of our State Ministers and local efforts, but where are they?



"What is terrifying is that the roll out of NDIS saw a reduction in some of the safeguards that existed and still, after a Royal Commission and NDIS review, we haven't seen swift action to get back to the bare minimum we previously had at a local and State level. This is scary for many people living right now, subject to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.



"The very least the State Government could do is turn up and reassure us all that they are doing things to address this crisis and lack of safeguards.



"This is a huge community event but it is also a safe space where we would welcome with open arms our leaders, as they update us and demonstrate that they have listened and have solutions for those still in crisis right now. 



"While the disability sector respects and supports the commitment and talk occurring right now by our leaders, that is not likely to last long if we do not see real, concrete change and action fast in areas like practical safeguards, checks and provider policing. 



"We know that not addressing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation has a current economic impact of over 40 Billion dollars a year in Australia, so we cannot afford for it to continue without local and State safeguards urgently. 



"I can only hope that the State Government realises the monumental mistake it is making by snubbing the largest event for the Disability Sector in 2024 in Queensland on Friday this week. I hope they can find it in their heart to reach out and do something to show those of us living with disability needing reassurance, that we are valued by those we have elected and might be asked to re-elect in the not too distant future. 



"If a representative realises the magnitude of this mistake, I look forward to them reaching out urgently to me before Friday.  Perhaps a loved celebrity might take up the invitation and help us show the 4.4 Million people living with disability in Australia that they are valued, by coming along and helping us open 10am Friday March 1 at the BCEC.  



Friday March 1 and Saturday 2, 2024, 10am to 4pm at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre we will see the largest free Disability and NDIS related event in Australia's history. Not just some expo - it is created, shaped and delivered by people living with disability for people living with disability. We will see a huge community collaboration through the 2024 Brisbane Disability Connection Expo, with providers, advocacy groups, people living with disability and agencies working together over 2 full days, with entertainment all day, free activities and a quiet time the first 45 minutes each day for those with sensitive hearing. After Brisbane we head to Sydney, Perth and then Melbourne.



Contact details:

M 0401429403



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