ACWA Disability Project

The core purpose of ACWA’s disability project, ‘Falling through the gaps? Delivering the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and young people with disability’, is to identify practical pathways, initiatives, tools, training and other resources that will enhance sector capability and practice in this important area of the system.

As the first step in this initiative, ACWA undertook an extensive consultation with members who are providers of out-of-home care and other stakeholders, as well as engaging with peak bodies ACWA, Create and Youth Action and engaging extensively with Department of Communities and Justice. The objective was to assess, primarily for children and young people in out-of-home:

  • The prevalence of children and young people with a diagnosed disability within this cohort
  • The potential extent of undiagnosed or under-diagnosed disability within the cohort
  • The nature and scope of NDIS packages and plans currently in place, and the adequacy of those plans to meet individual needs
  • The potential opportunity for other children and young people to access supports through NDIS packages
  • Barriers and challenges to children and young people and their carers being able to effectively access the NDIS
  • Looking at those causative factors, to consider potential opportunities for improving support for these young people, consider potential opportunities for enhancing support for these young people.

The review included consideration of all out-of-home care arrangements across NSW including foster care, residential care models (ITTC, ITC, THBC), Alternative Care Arrangements, Specialist Disability Services and Transitional models (TSIL, After Care).

A detailed report and summary report of the findings and opportunities has been published. Since then, ACWA has engaged with a range of stakeholder to identify key strategies to support enhanced practice in this sphere. In partnership with AbSec and DCJ, a Collaborative Action Plan has been developed which includes a program of sector capacity building events and activities across the next year, as well as identifying key areas for advocacy and ongoing engagement with service providers, government and regulatory agencies, peak bodies, carers and young people themselves.

Over the past two years, ACWA has collaborated with DCJ and AbSec to provide opportunities to enhance the capacity of the sector to understand and respond to the needs of children and young people in care with disability and their carers. We have engaged in advocacy across a range of government portfolios, contributed to research and worked on strategies to attract specialist carers.

As a capstone to our Disability Project, ACWA, in collaboration with DCJ and in consultation with AbSec, presented the Disability Good Practice Symposium on 7 June 2023, bringing together 100 practitioners and experts from across NSW to identify innovative emerging practice and further explore ongoing challenges.

With the benefit of expert presenters and facilitators, participants had the opportunity to:

  • Learn about innovative models and practices that are being developed and implemented by some agencies and that appear to be creating good outcomes
  • Understand further research and development that is underway and how they may be able to contribute to and benefit from that research agenda
  • Collectively problem solve and share ideas and develop networks to support a positive response to ongoing challenges in this area
  • Reflect on opportunities to leverage these insights in their own practice and across their organisation.

The Symposium opened with a message of strong commitment from the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Inclusion, the Honourable Kate Washington MP. Presenters and facilitators represented an extraordinary line up of perspectives, insights and expertise, and highlighted the progressive practice of some of our member agencies.

Resources developed for the Symposium will be valuable across the sector and are available here.