Leaving No-one Behind: Inclusion for People with Disability

On June 16 this year, Melbourne Development Circle continued their Game Changer series for 2020 looking at the inclusion of people with disability. Our expert panellists explored the changing landscape, systems and innovations, in Australia and internationally, that have supported inclusion for people with disability. Times of crises, such as recent bushfires and the current global COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in rapid changes, leaving our systems strained, diverted and tested. They also shared about their experience with different structures (e.g. NDIS) and interventions to facilitate inclusion.

Panellists included:

  • Alexandra Gartrell – ANCP Disability Advisor, World Vision Australia
  • Ian Jones – Executive Director, Agile Development Group 
  • David Moody – Chief Executive Officer, National Disability Services
  • Peter Persson – Vic ABI Support Network Project Manager, Brain Injury Matters

Thank you to our panellists and all participants who joined. We had an engaging session that didn’t leave much time in the end to answer all the questions our participants had. Our panellists have kindly taken time to answer these via email below.

Question: Love to hear ideas from NDS on translating lessons learned in telehealth in Australia to the international development setting – 1) overcoming internet/phone access (remote Aus examples) 2) Applying cross-culturally.

[David Moody] The Victorian State Senior practitioner released guidance on Practice on a page: Telehealth and Functional Behaviour Assessments (direct download).

The Victorian government has worked to provide access to online services for many Victorian across the community services sector – not primarily or particularly disability as this would be now seen as a Commonwealth role. However NDIA sees internet connectivity as an everyday expense and outside the remit of NDIS funding. It is worth noting under Victorian ISP many people used their packages for Internet connections. Further whilst NDIA updated policy to allow tablets to be purchased to gain access to services delivered by Telepractice (Low-Cost Assistive Technology for Support Continuity during coronavirus (COVID-19)). It limits people to purchasing devices that have wifi only access and no to be able to take a data SIM. I think this is a very white middle class approach that assumes everyone has ready access to wifi. It fails to recognise potential difficulties with hotspotting from phones, etc. 

The Victorian Government Seeking Feedback on Remote and Flexible Learning through DET who acknowledge learning at home did not go well for many students with disability. 

Please see also this information from a Helpdesk response on the availability of extra data from telecommunications providers during COVID-19.

Question: Love to learn more about tools for digital upskilling.

[Ian Jones] Increased digitisation – mobile phone saturation for example – is not sufficient on its own; the success of using the internet and ICT for the inclusion of people with disabilities is also heavily impacted by their knowledge and awareness of the broader ICT solutions available to them. For our women entrepreneurs with disabilities, we actively targeted with training that is designed to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to use digital tools.

This began with starting from understanding the existing tool (type of smartphone etc) they were comfortable using and working upwards from there. So it started with setting up an email account on the phone, how to use Facebook and privacy settings (for more control over profiles etc). This was followed by training on photography and videography that was practiced and shared within a closed private Facebook group so that participants could get comfortable with the tech and formats. From there we progressed to training on Zoom, Skype by using a mix of Facebook Messenger and calls if needed. During this process, groups were set to practice calling each other etc.

The next stage we are currently writing is using free tools such as GSuite that can be utilized for their businesses such as Google docs, sheets etc. for business development, progressing further on Zoom and also introducing Facebook for business. The final level which is pitched for disability social enterprise employees or women who would like to improve their own business management efficiency is using communication and project management tools such as Slack and Asana. However, all of the above depends on a lot of variables such as access to equipment, Khmer/English levels (training is in Khmer, tools are not), and self-confidence. At each stage there are supportive soft skills training.

Question: The conversations about measuring inclusion are also relevant for humanitarian response. Do the panel have any thoughts about how we can support local organisations and national frameworks outside of disaster that can contribute to more inclusive response in times of crisis? Particularly in a rapid onset disaster, how do we move people away from the ‘it’s too hard, we don’t know enough’ etc to real strategies to ensure that persons with disabilities are part of every stage of the process?

[Ian Jones] The first case is to ensure that inclusion is focussed on first. For example, if strategies are developed for an early warning system for floods, then PwDs will be the hardest to move of they have not been included in the process or considered. Identifying how families of PwDs and people with disabilities themselves receive, use and share information is critical and should be a first step, and quite often tackling the inclusion barrier generally overcomes most of the obstacles you would be facing with the rest of the community in a disaster response situation.

Question: Ian, any experience including credit for ppl into budgets??

[Ian Jones] Yes, for each proposal we have to be hyper-aware of the barriers to participation and costs of transport, and costs of phone data are major barriers. For the digital upskilling we provide phone credit to participants, as whilst Cambodia is cheap comparatively for mobile data fees, it is still a significant barrier, and credit is included in all of the proposals we write.

Question: I work at the local community service level, I’d be interested in any resources/examples of building in the local level “research” you can share beyond this webinar?? (I call it research with a little ‘r’)

[Peter Persson] For example at our organisation which is tiny in terms of resources, we have used Survey Monkey to seek the views of our members (people with an ABI) on a range of issues (eg. the needs of people with an ABI, the most significant barriers for people with an ABI). We used both the collective experience of our leaders supplemented by a quick desk top lit review of strategic documents from like organizations as well as some academic research to formulate our questions. In other environments I have used existing information collected for the operations of an organisation, to gather a dataset, that can be interrogated. It can be quite a powerful tool for internal purposes as well as adding to a broader knowledge base. 

Comment: Ian, keen to hear if choosing accessible venues comes up with a document to share:-)

[Ian Jones] Yes, we’ll have one available shortly that can be shared. We have an older one we developed with EWB in Cambodia, but are currently updating it.

Question: One of my participants has no more internet data left and has to wait till the 25th of April for the next lot. Given that Telehealth sessions (psychology) are using up much of her data can we request that the NDIA fund data using core supports – consumables funding. If so what item numbers would we be able to use? Thank you.

[David Moody] Thanks for your question. No the NDIS will not pay for internet/data or phone. 

The NDIS website states the following:

FAQ – 30 March: My providers will be delivering services using videoconferencing. Can I use my NDIS funding to pay for my internet connection? 

Daily living expenses like groceries, rent, bills (including internet charges) are a personal expense. You cannot use your NDIS funding to pay for day-to-day items. The Government has announced a range of support measures for eligible people affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. More information is available at Services Australia. https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/&nbsp

https://www.ndis.gov.au/coronavirus/participants-coronavirus-covid-19/using-your budget 

Most internet providers are offering free or reduced rate data packages, participants should connect with their relevant internet/phone provider to explore their options. 

For example: 


Boosting mobile data allowances: We wanted to remind customers about the extra data we are providing to our mobile customers in April. We are providing all eligible mobile subscribers 20GB of free extra data which can be activated within My Optus app anytime during the month of April and valid for 30 days from activation. For our eligible Prepaid customers, we will also be offering 10GB of additional data when you recharge $40 or more during the month of April 2020. Click here for more details about these extra data offers.



Additional data for our customers: We’re giving post-paid personal and small business customers additional data, and offering unlimited standard home phone calls for pensioners, as part of our response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to help our customers stay connected. 

Mobiles and mobile broadband – Register for 25GB of extra data 

All our personal and small business post-paid mobile and mobile broadband customers can register for an extra 25GB of data at no extra charge – to use in Australia within 30 days if they register by 19 April 2020. You can register via the Telstra 24×7 and My Telstra apps until 19 April 2020 and the data will be available within 48 hours. We’ll send you an SMS when it’s been applied. Please note mobile broadband customers will not receive an SMS. You won’t see the extra data on your bill, but it will appear in your app usage information.

Internet – Enjoy unlimited data at home 

From Thursday 19 March until 30 April 2020, we’re providing unlimited data for our personal and small business customers with home broadband plans (ADSL, nbn and cable). You don’t need to do anything. The data will be provided automatically, at no extra charge. Your data usage won’t be counted during this time, but keep in mind you won’t see the extra data on your bill. Our FairPlay policy applies.



We’ll be giving Vodafone postpaid customers who are not on an endless data plan an additional 5 GB of maximum speed data to use in the next month. That data will be added to all plans by Friday 27 March. Customers won’t need to do anything to activate this bonus data. To ensure customers always have enough data to meet their needs, we encourage them to consider endless data plans. 

Active prepaid customers will receive a one-off bonus of 3 GB with their next recharge. 

All Vodafone nbn services already include unlimited data.


Further information from David Moody regarding the impact of tech/telehealth in the lives of people with disability in Australia.

Monaro Early Intervention Services
– Moved quickly to online/telehealth delivery of therapy and programs. Staff coped and adapted well to this but it did require significant IT spend – laptops and phones etc
– Many clients readily switched to online delivery, some went on hold and have yet to return (stayed in regular contact with them). For some families, where children were mostly seen at school, telehealth sessions provided regular contact with parents and more engagement – which is great.

Fairfield City Council, Children and Family Services
– There were a lot of cancellations initially but about 50% of those lost re-engaged via Telehealth. 90% of clients are from a CALD background. NOTE: They have a very linguistically diverse staff which was crucial for remote delivery.

Independent Rehab
– Quite a lot of clinician time was required to work through COVID-19 training and adhering to the Government Directives, along with the training and implementation of Telehealth. Required solid planning time. Estimated approx. 20+ hours per week x 40 employees for at least a ten week period.


Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector – Live video

View the panel discussion from our recent Melbourne event – Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector, featuring:

  • Ellie Rennie – Associate Professor/ Principal Research Fellow, School of Media and Communication, RMIT (Facilitator)
  • Jason Potts – Professor of Economics, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT
  • Amanda Robinson – Head of Social Innovation at the Australian Red Cross
  • Nick Byrne – CEO, TypeHuman

Blockchain basics – a visual guide

In the lead up to our event on Tuesday July 10th 2018 – Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector –  we have put together a visual guide of blockchain basics for attendees and those interested in learning more about the basics of blockchain. Follow the image links to find out more! 

So, what is it?

Blockchain is a technology that facilitates secure online transactions such as exchanging money or updating a digital record without the need of an intermediary body. It is an uneditable and therefore incorruptible digital audit trail. Blockchain is a type of ‘distributed ledger technology’ which is explained in a little more detail below.

Blockchain 101 (Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

Continue reading

Red Cross Blockchain Case Study – enabling transparency of Islamic social financing

Islamic Finance Global (source: IFRC.org)

In the lead up to Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector (July 10,Melbourne), Melbourne Development Circle is talking to companies and organisations about what is going on in the blockchain space here in Melbourne.

Amanda Robinson shared an example from International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC).

Case study: Red Cross Blockchain

The value of global Islamic Social Finance is projected to grow from $1.9 trillion currently to $3.5 trillion by 2021. There is increasing awareness that through more effective management and distribution, Islamic Social Finance can play a major role in bridging the gap between available funding and growing humanitarian and development needs. For example, Zakat, an obligation for Muslims to give alms, is already one of the largest existing forms of wealth transfer whereby eligible Muslims are required to donate at least 2.5 per cent of their wealth to improve the welfare of those in need of assistance. But collection of zakat and other types of Islamic Social Finance is largely unregulated and disjointed, which presents a strategic opportunity to engage and direct funding to sustainable and impactful social and humanitarian initiatives.

In early 2018, a blockchain application developed by the International Federation of the Red Cross and AidTech won a global finance competition (FinTech Islamic Finance Challenge). The application promotes traceability and transparency of Islamic Social Finance, and offers individuals and organisations the ability to track their contributions in highly complex humanitarian settings.

Read more about it here: http://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/press-release/ifrc-blockchain-application-wins-global-islamic-finance-competition/.


dutyof.care Case Study – how blockchain tech can help protect the vulnerable

DoC logoIn the lead up to Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector (July 10,Melbourne), Melbourne Development Circle is talking to companies and organisations about what is going on in the blockchain space here in Melbourne.

Lexi Randall-L’Estrange spoke with Peter Baynard-Smith about dutyof.care.

What problem is dutyof.care trying to solve?

Organisations working with vulnerable people are required to undertake verification checks on their staff, volunteers, consultants, and contractors. 1 in 5 workers in Australia are now required to carry some form of accreditation. This applies across multiple sectors: aged care, education, health, disability services, humanitarian aid, sports, and many more. More than 5000 such accreditations have been revoked in the past few years.

In the event of an individual’s accreditation being revoked, the integrity of the verification data relies on regularity of checking. The current systems for organisations to ensure their compliance involves costly manual checking, inadequate frequency of checks, unreliable record keeping, and inability to detect errors/tampering or inconsistencies. Essentially, organisations are simply not checking that cards remain valid.

Public enquiries (eg Royal Commission) and catastrophic disclosures (eg Oxfam) have uncovered systemic failures. Vulnerable people have been the ones to suffer, and organisations have also borne huge cost in reputation, funding, and redress costs.

What’s your solution to the issue?

dutyof.care is a secure online platform for managing and continuously verifying staff certifications for safeguarding and compliance. The solution was designed in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia as a secure one-stop-shop, allowing organisations to automatically verify individual staff certification requirements such as working with children checks, medical registrations, teachers’ accreditations and other professional licenses and registrations.

Over 10 organisations are already using the platform in the private beta stage, including companies from across disability services, sports clubs, churches and performing arts. A public beta will be announced shortly.

The potential for this technology in the humanitarian aid and development sector lies in its ability to transform the sector’s verification and safeguarding integrity, dramatically improve cost efficiency, provide CEO’s and boards with peace of mind that they are doing all they can to ensure the safety of vulnerable people, provide real-time response and data feedback, and operate across multiple jurisdictions globally.

How does blockchain technology help solve this problem?

dutyof.care uses blockchain technology to create a continuum of ‘verification events’ by storing encrypted data in a permanent, public and auditable ledger. Smart Contracts ensure the integrity of the data, forever. Alerts are sent out immediately when an issue is encountered and organisations can earn free platform credits (“VDOC Tokens”) for taking an active role in the dutyof.care ecosystem.

How would you summarise what’s unique about dutyof.care for the MDC community?

  • a permanent, auditable ledger: organisations will have an auditable record to prove their compliance and that they did everything they could and should have done to ensure the safety of vulnerable people in their care
  • care is distributed on a blockchain: the integrity of the verification data will be tamper-proof. No personal identifiers are made available. The blockchain holds a log of ‘verification events’ and metadata.
  • continuous screening: organisations can re-verify people as often as they need to, and when dutyof.care detects a compliance accreditation has been revoked, lapsed or expired an organisation will be immediately notified through multiple channels

Read more about dutyof.care on their website.

Sign up for the July event here: http://mdc-blockchain.eventbrite.com.au/.

If you have a case study you want to share, send an email to Lexi.

Stealing from the Poor: Corruption in the NFP Sector

On 6 March, the Ethics Centre kindly co-hosted SDC’s first event for 2017.  

Over two hours, SDC Convenor Jeremy Sandbrook shared his wisdom on the topic of corruption within the international development sector. The presentation included unpacking a real-life case study of a complex fraud scheme that took place in an INGO based in Malawi. This case study not only highlighted the complexity of the topic, but raised a number of associated ethical dilemmas, proving that corruption is not as black or white as we like to think.

The presentation started with an overview of what corruption is. Costing around five percent of the world’s economy (around US$2.6 trillion a year), corruption is now the third largest industry in the world. In development terms, the current estimate is that between 20% and 40% of total Overseas Development Assistance is “stolen” each year through high-level corruption from public budgets in developing countries. For every dollar of aid received by developing countries, $7 (or US$2.6 billion per day) is lost in illicit capital outflows.

Jeremy Sandbrook - Ethics CentreCorruption is now so pervasive that it is increasingly interwoven into a growing number of societies, and is a systematic feature of many economies. It is now acknowledged (by the UN and the World Bank) as the greatest obstacle to reducing poverty and the most pressing global and ethical problem currently facing the development sector. Despite this, it is rarely spoken about by NGOs!

Jeremy then discussed corruption within the NGO sector in Australia, highlighting several eye-opening facts:

  • A governance deficit: 61% of concerns raised with the ACNC relate to governance breaches, fraud, and private benefit.
  • “Out of sight, out of mind”: less than half of NGOs report corruption to the authorities.
  • Corruption is not seen as a key issue for most NGOs: Whilst 90% agree corruption is a problem for the sector, 72% say it is not a problem for their organisation!? Where is the disconnect here?
  • Over half of fraud allegations received by the ACNC relate to the conduct and activities of senior managers, including the CEO, board directors, and financial officers/CFO.

The additional complexities in the international NGO sector were then discussed, particularly the role culture plays. Research undertaken in Malawi found the three top drivers for corruption to be ‘greed’, ‘poor management’ and ‘staff dissatisfaction’. We were then taken through a fascinating real-life case study of an actual fraud in an INGO in Malawi. The key lessons to learn from the case study and corruption generally are:

  1. To recognise that corruption is an issue for every organisation operating in the international development sector; and
  2. To be aware of the role culture plays in initiating and perpetuating it.

The key pieces of advice given by Jeremy for reducing and eliminating corruption was:

  • Know your corruption-risk profile;
  • Know the main forms of corruption within the sector; and
  • Know how corruption is detected.

About the Presenter:  Jeremy Sandbrook (founder of Integritas360), is a global anti-corruption expert who has conducted corruption prevention work throughout the world, and lectures on the topic at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education. He was previously head of anti-corruption and integrity for SOS Children’s Villages International, and led the INGO’s efforts to tackle fraud and corruption across its 131 operating countries, 35,000 staff, and $1.7  billion annual budget. Jeremy was also the inaugural co-chair of the INGO Accountability Charter’s Peer Advisory Group on Corruption.

Malawi Cricket

malawi cricketThe Cricket Academy is empowering local communities in Malawi through sport and education.

Within 5 – 10 years you will see Malawi competing on the world stage against other associate cricket nations in both Men’s and Women’s competitions.

Malawi has some of the most talented cricketers and some of the most intelligent young thinkers. They just haven’t been given the chance to thrive.

Established in 2011, The Cricket Academy aims to develop talented cricketers as well as educated young men and women. We do this through our grassroots cricket programs in Malawi. These grassroots programs are focused mainly in schools and low-income areas.

Through these grass roots programs we have identified a number of talented cricketers who have gone on to represent Malawi. Many of these young people have also been awarded scholarships to complete their high school diplomas and continue with tertiary studies. They have also been absorbed into our management structure and are now responsible for many of the programs we run.

This campaign is primarily to raise funds for our education scholarships. We are looking to expand our scholarship program to involve more women and girls.

We also need funds to purchase basic cricket equipment for the clinics we run in schools and proper equipment for our high performance programs.

$10 – buys a basic locally made cricket set for a primary school program

$50 – pays school fees for 1 term for one of our talented women’s or men’s cricketers

$800 – funds our primary school development program for 1 term

$1000 – funds new equipment for our high performance program

The secondary aim is publicity. There is so much potential for what we can achieve. We just haven’t made the right connections yet. We want to reach as many cricket clubs, fellow cricket tragics, possible supporters and community development projects as we can.  So please share this among your networks and like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest updates.

We need as many people as possible to know about the social changes we are making in Malawi through cricket and the opportunities we are giving young Malawian men and women to realise both their academic and sporting potential. + Read More

Help spread the word!

Free to Shine

Free To Shine was established to empower through education to prevent sex trafficking. We keep girls most at risk in school by helping them achieve their five essential human rights. These are; freedom from slavery; access to education; access to safe drinking water; enough food to not be hungry; and adequate shelter. Equipped with their human rights, our girls have the opportunity to become leaders who create communities and ultimately countries free from sex-trafficking.
Sex trafficking is a 32 billion dollar (US$) industry that relies on the degradation and torture of human beings to generate profit. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 56% of the global total of trafficked persons. This is 3x higher than Africa (3.7 million persons) and 6x higher than Latin America (1.8 million persons).

With Free To Shine’s presence in Cambodia, Children are prevented from entering the sex trafficking industry. They are freed from the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and remain protected in school. With your help, Free To Shine can enrol more girls onto our sponsorship program. From as little as $35 a month you can ensure a girl remains in school, and not in the sex-trafficking industry.


Celebrating Gender Equality Every Day


Event 1 2016 – Melbourne Development Circle: Women in Development

This is a recap of Melbourne Development Circle’s first event for 2016: Women in Development which was held on April 15, 2016.

We had the pleasure of hearing from 3 brilliant panel speakers;

Read on for some take away messages from the evening.

Susanne Newton spoke on a variety of topics from UN Women in Uganda to fighting the good gender fight back on her home turf. There’s much to be learned from Susanne’s time in Uganda, such as challenging the efficiencies of the UN as a tool for development.

  • Uganda has more women politicians than Australia – because of quotas. Are quotas the best way to gender equality?
  • Men and boys have a role to play in championing for gender equality– they must be part of the solution.
  • Realisation – if we as Australians in a Western society don’t have gender equality ourselves, how can we instruct others in it?
  • Key to gender equality – livelihood streams owned & managed by women.
  • “Be the change” … we all can & should contribute to gender equality.

Eleanor Meyer spoke about combatting adversity as a young woman in tech start-up. Following an environmental sustainability passion, Eleanor has looked for market-based solutions to climate change. As a young woman, in start-up, in tech, it’s not been without challenges.

  • Questioning the power of our job titles.
  • Is small business supportive of gender equality? Is it an economic decision?
  • That point of view is outdated & conservative. Disruption & technology is helping to change this.

Kate Halstead shared her stories & personal learnings from women’s education programs in Nepal. A moment that stood out was a drawing that Kate shared with us. The drawing was by Ganga, one of the women from the women’s empowerment classes that Kate was running during her time in Nepal. It was a picture of a women with many arms and each arm was holding a different object. It represented the many hats that women in their society wore and the responsibilities they were expected to carry.

  • Nepal can by synonymous with the caste system – but what about Australia’s caste system? Our upper, middle & lower classes.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of “poor women” – you run the risk of missing the individual triumph of women when discussing “development”
  • These women are not victims and don’t see themselves as victims of their situation. They’re empowered already & just need opportunity.
  • In short – they’re gutsy.

You can champion gender equality through social capital. Support each other. Like & share if you see someone going out of their way to lead or make positive change happen.

Making an Impact Summit

2015 Link FestivalEngineers Without Borders Australia’s upcoming event Making an Impact Summit will held on 14 December 2015 in Melbourne.

The Making an Impact Summit is a showcase of the role that industry, academics and students can play in creating positive social outcomes.  Meet EWB Challenge’s National Finalists, hear about cutting edge EWB university research, and learn more about innovative corporate approaches to social impact. Continue reading