Bringing the Good Life to Life
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Change, leadership and making it happen


For the majority of people, the good life unfolds in a fairly straightforward manner and it is rare that we stop and analyse what it is and how it happens.

However, for those people we care about who have been cut out of this or who are at risk of being cut out of the good things of life, there are a number of things that can be done to intentionally ‘bring the good life to life’.

In this page we will…

  • Highlight strategies to help get started on your journey towards the good life

  • Look at important ideas to help guide your thinking,

  • Explore the importance of being clear about what is important to you and your family

  • Share examples from people who have made this a reality in their own lives.

  • Look at potent and practical strategies to help make the good life a reality

Thinking about what is possible

Lorna Sullivan

quotesWhenever we hold a powerful vision for a life that is better, we embrace hope, we look beyond the moment, to the promise of what life might yet offer. We begin to embrace a true realism, a realism that is life enhancing rather than life denying.

This in no way requires us to wear rose-coloured glasses or to ignore the many hardships and difficulties of life. It simply asks that we not become so preoccupied with the barriers in life that we are no longer able to dream.

Image of George Durner quote on blue background with image of snow.


Taking charge of change


“If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.” (Saul Alinsky)

Will there be Special Schools on Mars?

Cátia Malaquias

quotesWho would object to the principle that “the parents should decide which school is best for their child”?

However, the merit in the principle is based on one key assumption – that parents have the information and knowledge to make a decision that is in the best interests of their child.

Like much of society, many parents view the experience of disability through historical, subjective and preconceived notions and stereotypes. The implication that a “special” segregated environment, with “special” resources trained and designed to cater for the “special” needs of their child, will lead to better academic outcomes seems logical and is therefore powerful. Without objective information to challenge and dislodge that assumption, segregation will remain the “default” position for many parents.

Possibility, peers and the spark of change

Libby Ellis

quotesOnce people are ignited then a fire is built. That’s when we see this idea of a fire burning in people’s lives so this is then about creating and tending to what you imagine. Moving from possibility to imagination to then creating that thing that you want. These are really the conditions for personal autonomy, for being in charge…

It is important to continue to add fuel to your own fire by keeping in touch with peers and possibilities. The point is not to light the fire once, but to keep it burning and the more people attend to a fire the longer it is going to burn. We are thinking about this idea of sustainability, of keeping something going, of keeping something alive. For this you must do another potentially challenging thing. You must be with others, especially those that can lovingly challenge you, and you must nurture those relationships. If you do this work on your own you will have a harder job keeping that fire burning.

Further Reading

  • The Campaigner's Toolkit: Strategy

    The Change Agency

    A map that charts the territory between our current position and the achievement of our intended change objectives can help us achieve our purpose and avoid the sense of being overwhelmed that often accompanies social and environmental activism.

  • Organising: People, power, change

    Dr. Marshall Ganz, Harvard University

    The following guide aims to support you in developing your capacity for effective community organizing. Our goal is to provide you with an introduction to organizing and encourage you to explore answers regarding what is leadership and how to effectively lead and organise others in a movement for change.

Change theories

Change Ways, Warnings, and the beginnings of Wisdom

(incomplete – needs approval)

Bev Funnell, Community Resource Unit Ltd.


Change occurs best when all levels of the organisation want it and share the ownership of the ideas and hopes for the future. Effective participation of key stakeholders leads to shared ownership of the agenda for change.

The transition message needs to be legitimated through shared ownership of the ideas and philosophy underpinning the proposed change.

If the thrust for change is only coming from one or two staff members who are accountable to a more senior officer then the potential for change is not high. Likewise if it is consumers or parents wanting change but do not have the support of other levels in the organisation it is very difficult for them to make any significant impact.

Kotter’s 8-step process for leading organisational change

Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does

Ozan Varol


The mind doesn’t follow the facts. Facts, as John Adams put it, are stubborn things, but our minds are even more stubborn. Doubt isn’t always resolved in the face of facts for even the most enlightened among us, however credible and convincing those facts might be.

As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.

…We’re reluctant to acknowledge mistakes. To avoid admitting we were wrong, we’ll twist ourselves into positions that even seasoned yogis can’t hold.

The key is to trick the mind by giving it an excuse. Convince your own mind (or your friend) that your prior decision or prior belief was the right one given what you knew, but now that the underlying facts have changed, so should the mind.

The neuroscience of change: Why it’s difficult and what makes it easier

Sue Langley


Willpower, focussed attention and mindful action can be used to push through resistance and rewire habitual patterns. This process of intentionally changing our brain circuits is called ‘self-directed neuroplasticity’. It is not enough to practice every so often. We need to pay attention repeatedly to new actions and insights over a period of time until they become part of how we operate and see ourselves. Creating rituals to embed new behaviours into daily life can be key. Reinforcing positive change with support and immediate feedback from others—a buddy, leader or coach—will help tap our reward systems and associate new behaviours with positive emotions and learning. It also helps if we find ways to make changing our new habits interesting and fun.

Each of these principles, and others, impact the way our brain fires and feels. This in turn affects our behaviour, decisions and performance. The more we practice these skills the more we will allow those neurons to connect and through neuroplasticity create the new connections we need to regulate our emotional and instinctual reactions more effectively.

Navigating Change

Inclusion: It’s about change

Jack Pearpoint & Marsha Forest


Change upsets us. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. But since the issue is one of survival – about the Human Rights of individuals, we must do it anyway.

…The key ingredient in effective support of change is supportive relationships. What we need is to ‘practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty’ – a kind word – a thoughtful gesture. It is knowing someone will be there when you need them.


The Transtheoretical Model

Janice Prochaska


Studies of change have found that people move through a series of stages when modifying behavior. While the time a person can stay in each stage is variable, the tasks required to move to the next stage are not. Certain principles and processes of change work best at each stage to reduce resistance, facilitate progress, and prevent relapse.

Some key leadership skills and strategies

  • Effective Facilitation

    The Change Agency

    As facilitator, you’ve accepted the job of making the meeting run well for everyone. The chair is not the place to air your own opinions and grudges. Like the director of a play, your job is to work out the best way to do things, not to speak all the parts, do the acting, or write the script.

  • Working in Groups

    The Change Agency

    To bring about social and environmental change, organisers and activists need to build skills in organisational development and maintenance. Working in groups, networks or organisations can be a real challenge in social movements. Successful social change work necessitates establishing and maintaining strong, resilient and learning organisations.

  • Stages in a group’s development

    The Change Agency

    This is an activity relating to Bruce Tuckman’s ‘stages in group development’.

Networking through Life’s Transitions: Looking to Relationships First, and Systems Second

Susan Stanfield

quotesAs community living moves away from congregated to more individualized models of support, from integration to citizenship, networking becomes an important consideration. Not just in the usual sense of agencies networking with other agencies, but individuals building their own personal support networks.

In a person-centred service, planning doesn’t follow a formulaic process as it does in some of our traditional program models. It becomes more fluid and relational, more about tapping opportunities and deciding who to enlist to help us move from here to there, than about securing the next “placement.” These kinds of decisions are best made by individuals and those closest to them, not by service providers.

More information on Finding My Place     

Active Hope

Active Hope is not wishful thinking.
Active Hope is not waiting to be rescued
by the Lone Ranger or by some savior.
Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life
on whose behalf we can act.
We belong to this world.
The web of life is calling us forth at this time.
We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part.
With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store,
strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with.
Active Hope is a readiness to engage.
Active Hope is a readiness to discover the strengths
in ourselves and in others;
a readiness to discover the reasons for hope
and the occasions for love.
A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts,
our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose,
our own authority, our love for life,
the liveliness of our curiosity,
the unsuspected deep well of patience and diligence,
the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead.
None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.

Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone (2012)


Understanding leadership

How Change Happens: The Real Story of Mrs. Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Paul Schmitz

quotesSocial change comes from the leadership of the many!

In our culture, we love stories about lone heroes, the single protagonist who overcomes obstacles to achieve his or her goal makes a better movie. The true story of change, however, is always far more complex…. It does not diminish the courage of Mrs. Parks or the prophetic vision of Dr. King to acknowledge that their leadership was part of a larger leadership narrative.

… Leadership is a muscle that everyone has, and it only gets stronger with exercise and practice. Everyone has different gifts and can play different roles, but we need to build collective leadership muscle if we want to create change. It requires more inclusive, collaborative, and authentic approaches to leadership.


Leadership for social inclusion in the lives of people with disabilities

Jane Sherwin

quotesConcerted efforts by leaders are necessary to face the challenges in a real way, alongside people with disabilities and even in the absence of positive policy or enabling systems. It is not sufficient to simply have more services involved in the lives of people with disabilities; what is important is what those services do, and what the leaders in our communities and services do.

Leaders could be found in the disability human service system, in people with disabilities themselves, in families and in communities.

Leading Change

Leigh Tabrett

quotesOf course, not all of us lead teams or organisations but we are nearly all called upon to lead, sometimes. We may need to help our family deal with an unexpected challenge; sometimes, we need to get someone on the other side of a counter or at the end of a phone, to change their response or thinking. These life tasks can require some of our best leadership skills. It is our capacity to be aware of how we are interacting with people, to engage their hearts and minds, and to speak to their strengths which will help us to inspire others… to be successful leaders.


Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Leadership and Change

Lesley Chenoweth

quotesOne of the leadership challenges is to recognise the different forms that leadership may take. Change efforts need different kinds of leadership that can address the complexities of systems and community. For example, large-scale change occurs over a range of different situations, systems and contexts.

In contrast, some leaders never work in the public arena; they work invisibly, quietly making a difference in the lives of families and vulnerable people. Other leaders make incremental changes over long periods of time. Some leaders work to develop new knowledge or theory that will make a difference, and others work to make opportunities available for innovators.


Leadership will not appear just because it is needed. It will require a proactive effort to keep
our current leaders renewed, relevant and challenged.”

Michael Kendrick

Leadership will not appear just because it is needed. It will require a proactive effort to keep our current leaders renewed, relevant and challenged. Michael Kendrick

What is Leadership?

On Being Bold and Brave when Neither Come Easily

Beverley Funnell

quotesIn many quarters there is a deafening silence about the conditions in which some marginalised people are living. When these are pointed out it is usually viewed as someone else’s responsibility. Leadership informed by values, ideas and hopes is scant. Being brave and bold is required as much now as it ever was, perhaps even more so.

A note of caution is also required. Being brave and bold for its own sake is as dangerous as promoting change for change’s sake. Some people act as though speaking out aggressively is the test of being bold and brave. It may be, but it can also be singularly unhelpful. It may make the spokesperson feel better but will it advance the interests of
vulnerable people?


And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. – Nietzsche


“The essential characteristic of values based leadership is the belief that the welfare of people is the end of leadership and not that people are the means to the leader’s goals.”

Frederic Labarthe

Quote from Frederic Labarthe in white text over image of sunset

Become a leader online

My Choice Matters

quotesMy Choice Matters works with people with disability and their families to live their life their way and get the most out of the changing disability system. Our goal is to help you learn and practice new ways of doing things and develop and grow your skills in Choice, Voice and Control. We believe it is important that you have these 3 qualities in your life!

What can leadership look like

Leadership Challenges for Transformational Change

Lorna Sullivan

quotesIn the Western world there is an increasing trend towards the notion that “the market” or a business approach can adequately address the needs of people who are susceptible to discrimination, stigma and mistreatment due to living with a disability. The move towards a market approach to the provision of services also brings with it an emphasis on management principles, often resulting in management roles and structures lacking in both the necessary content knowledge and leadership capacity required for ensuring that such services have the ability to deliver on their promise to add value to the lives of people with disabilities.This document  highlights:

  • The Leadership Challenges facing the Disability Sector
  • The role of Government initiatives in shaping the leadership agenda
  • The Importance of leadership from people with disabilities
  • The need for leadership renewal through youth and emergent leadership
  • Ethical leadership as a mechanism for social change


Leadership is not management, entrepreneurialism or dictatorship.  It is the responsible use of power to make progress.”

Geoff Aigner

Leadership is not management, entrepreneurialism or dictatorship. It is the responsible use of power to make progress. Geoff Aigner

Supported Living Campaign: Autonomy and control by people with disability and their families

Belinda Epstein-Frisch

quotesIn NSW in October 2010 the Minister, Shadow Minister and the Greens provided political endorsement for a Supported Living Fund…

This paper describes the campaign run by Family Advocacy that led to this commitment. Insights are described from the early days in which we needed to reframe the demand from ‘supported accommodation’ where people were allocated a bed in a group facility to ‘supported living’ where people had the right to determine how they live, with whom they live, who provides them with help and support and how they live their lives. Through information sessions, teleconferences and workshops Family Advocacy built demand for something different and then built a coalition of families and services to argue for change

Leadership Strategies

Leading Learning 4 All

quotesThe content of Leading Learning 4 All is intended to initiate changes in your thinking and practice regarding students with disability and additional learning needs by promoting a ‘community of inclusive learning practice’ – a place where all learners have equal opportunities to achieve, and where there is school-wide understanding of what is involved in enabling this to happen.

The term ‘school leader’ is used in a broad sense. It recognises both your key leadership role as a Principal whilst acknowledging that the responsibility for leading certain aspects of practice is widely distributed within Australian schools, according to the skills and talents of teachers and others working alongside.


Inclusion!  The Bigger Picture

Marsha Forest & Jack Pearpoint

quotesInclusion means inclusion! It means affiliation, combination, comprisal, enclosure, involvement, surrounding. It means WITH… Inclusion means BEING WITH one another and caring for one another. It means inviting parents, students and community members to be part of a new culture, a new reality. Inclusion means joining with new and exciting educational concepts…

Inclusion means inviting those who have been left out (in any way) to come in, and asking them to help design new systems that encourage every person to participate to the fullness of their capacity – as partners and as members.

Conversations… How the state of your nation begins in your street

Hugh Mackay with Sarah Kanofski

Hugh Mackay has spent his long career studying what Australian’s think, do, and say.  His latest project examines why so many of us feel anxious and alone.

Hugh believes the solution to this emptiness is just outside our front door – in the neighbourhoods where we live.

Improving mainstream education for children with a disability

Life Matters, Radio National


Amanda Smith from Radio National explores how children with disability can be genuinely included in mainstream classrooms.

Dr Shiralee Poed is a senior lecturer at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education who is an expert in special education and whose recent research has been examining the reasons why some families resort to court action.

Loren Swancutt is head of special education at Thuringowa High School in Townsville and she shares her experiences of integrating children into the mainstream.

Gina Wilson-Burns describes what it has been like for her son Mac, who has cerebral palsy and vision impairment, to move through primary and now high school.

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Reclaiming Family Business

Margaret Ward

quotesIf you are spending all your energy trying to get services to do the right thing, being pleasant to service workers who disregard you, or generally trying to find out what-the-hell is going on, you have lost control of what should be yours – Family Business.
Getting it back is tough. Keeping it once you have it back is also tough. However, families are doing it all the time and services, once they let go, realise that it works better when families have a say in what services do. Services also discover that when families signpost the way, there is a sense of continuity, fewer situations that turn into crisis, and less waste of time and money.

Inclusion means inviting those who have been left out (in any way) to come in, and asking them to help design new systems that encourage every person to participate to the fullness of their capacity – as partners and as members.

The Trouble with Person-Centered Planning

John O’Brien

quotesThe trouble with person-centred planning is its potential to reveal the typical contradiction between most current service structures and the publicly stated goals that system rationality says it seeks:  self-direction, inclusion, individualisation, work first, upholding rights.

The confections that sell the notion that the system already delivers on these goals melt when the wonder of a person’s ordinary desire for a real home or a real job meets the reality that slots in group homes and community experience programs exhaust the available options.


Improvements in laws and policies may be needed, but those can only establish a framework. Real human connections—infused with positive values—are what will make all the difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  Ed Burke,


The question at the base of model coherency is quite simple…

Are the right people (i.e. staff/supports)

Working with the right people (clients)

Who are grouped in the right way

Using the right materials, methods and language

In order to do the right thing?

Why group homes are no longer optimal

Michael Kendrick

quotesGroup homes have been repeatedly evaluated as being essentially “mini-institutions”, particularly by service users themselves… Strikingly, when only this option is presented to people with disabilities, it means that the wide range of community options they might otherwise have been conceivably offered is entirely jettisoned by pre-emptive and arbitrary administrative fiat.

This is in contrast to taking into account what the potentially diverse housing and support options of people with disabilities might be if they were enabled to make their own decisions on the subject “one person at a time”.

Leadership to counter congregation

Bob Jackson

quotesSo the argument about institutions is not an idle academic one. It is a call to leadership. If the best that system planners and service designers can come up with is a life without hope in an institution, they should stand aside for those who can see a better way.

We have decades of research showing that forced congregation of people with an impairment does considerable harm physically, emotionally, developmentally, and in reputation. What marvellous new development is now discovered that will stop this damage occurring and a positive result occurring? In searching the literature I can find no evidence of such remarkable developments. What I can find however are stories of people who are trying a different way and succeeding.

Navigating Agency Transformation

Keeping Uncomfortable

Elizabeth Neuville

quotesOne of the roles that some of us must take on is to provoke and incite passion and even a bit of outrage at the segregation, congregation, and continued struggle that people with disabilities face at the hands of a society which, truth be told, has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that it might prefer if they simply were not around, or at least remained unseen. Funny, but in these tame days, this feels a little dangerous to talk about. Discomfort is not valued in comfortable places.

Changing Lives.  Yes We Can!

Mary Kealy

quotesThe opportunities now being afforded to people to develop lifestyles that are immensely more satisfying than what had come before are a credit to the many people I have encountered and worked with in my career. These include families, staff, community, statutory and voluntary agencies and exemplary leaders and service providers both in Ireland and internationally. This has shown me that dramatic change is often possible and that supporting each individual in a valued personal way will pay dividends.

Remember, the ordinary is the most precious thing in life. It is challenging to hold on to this. We must take a paradigm step from providing “services” to people to become “of service” to each person. That is the meaning of true leadership.

Series:  The Challenge and Empowerment and Leadership
with Aoife O’Toole

Creating a new way: working together for change

Standards and Mentoring Service (SAMS) NZ

quotesAn exciting challenge many organisations are facing is how to make change so they operate in ways that result in increasing an individual’s and families’ ability to be valued contributors in our community.

The material, contained in this resource, will be of particular value to organisations wishing to go through a change process to be more fully aligned with an Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach.

This resource describes how organisations have made positive change that has transformed their way of operating from segregation and group based activities to a personalised approach that enables people to participate in “everyday things in
ordinary places”.


Deliberate–Fire.  An Account of Organizational Transformation in Onondaga Community Living

John O’Brien et al

quotesThis report’s title, Deliberate–Fire, came up as the visitors talked about the challenges arising from OCL’s succeeding more rapidly than its leaders had planned. OCL has created effective individualized supports for people by carefully considering opportunities to realize its values for one person at a time.

This deliberate process has generated growing commitment to a new mission, new capacities, new skills, and new expectations.

Implementing Social Role Valorization Across a Large Human Service Organization: Lessons & Learning

Darcy Elks & Elizabeth Neuville

quotesOver the next 30 years, rapid growth and development in the size of the organization, the variety of services provided, and the many geographical
locations have caused KHS to look quite different from that early organization. As the organization grew, the leadership was concerned about slippage in the original vision and values that had shaped KHS…

[the aim of our program was] preserving the enduring values and vision of the organization, strengthening the commitment of the work force to the people served, and communicating and teaching the core organizational principles and values to those who join the organization.


Further Reading

Innovation is not new

Even when it hurts

Elizabeth Nueville

quotesThe question must be asked…is this project about the people served? Or is it about the servers? That is a hard question to ask people who are genuinely trying to do something good, to be of service to others. People who are filled with joy at the thought of offering something to others. Speaking out to simply get the hard questions on the table can be an alienating experience…

We need to be careful that we look hard, though, and truly know what we are sacrificing. Even when it hurts.

It will be life Jim, but not as we know it

Ann Greer

quotesInnovation is a way of focusing on a problem or an issue and looking for the most up-to-date, potent and meaningful strategy to respond. The image generated by concepts of innovation are typified by words like ‘excitement’ and ‘newness’ – although it is also true that innovation may be the application of an old idea in a new and exciting way. Innovation in any field cannot exist in a vacuum and it needs other key elements to be ‘in place’ before it can flourish.

Proposed “Markers” of Serious Agency Work in Achieving Person-Centred Outcomes

Michael Kendrick

quotesIn recent years, there appears — at least superficially — to be a virtual tidal wave of agencies and systems claiming to be in one manner or another something they call “person-centred”.  Given that the term is so vaguely defined, it is no wonder that it is hard to know whether such claims are merely posturing or whether there is any real substance behind them…

For this reason, it is prudent to develop indicators, “markers” or other signs that are generally associated with a degree of serious or credible work on person-centred options for people that goes to matters of performance and substance rather than the kinds of unreliable signs that are too often taken to be reliable when they may be undependable.


Discovering consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


Better access for all

The Politics of Exclusion

Stella Young


Women with disabilities are largely invisible in Australian society, but it’s not because there just aren’t that many of us. People with disabilities make up roughly 20% of the Australian population, and disability is slightly more prevalent among women. So why is it that when asked to think of a high-profile disabled woman, we struggle?

John McKnight:  Community Building

A series of 8 clips from a John McKnight workshop on what builds strong communities.


We’ve got to start doing it. It’s not enough to wait for anybody else, for policy makers, for government, for state agencies, for service providers to do it. And they won’t do it unless we demand it, and show that it can be done.

Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Centre for Disability Law and Policy


Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr Seuss

Actions for Change

Brian Martin


It’s not possible to manufacture a social movement out of nothing, but nonetheless the movement model has much to offer. The first element is a vision of a desirable future – something that will inspire participants. Next is the willingness of a small core of individuals to put in significant amounts of energy promoting the ideal behind the movement. Finally, it is vital to develop a strategy, namely a plausible road between the current reality and the desired future. It might involve  reaching out to new potential allies, taking direct action, or producing educational materials. Astute activists will learn from trial and error, all the while keeping an ear to the ground for social trends.

Empowering Ability Podcast #022: Lessons in Building Community, Housing, and a Good Life, with Janet Klees and Members of the Deohaeko Support Network

“Hear the story of the Rougemount Housing Co-operative & the Deohaeko Support Network, learn what intentional community is and how to build it, learn the key factors that made Rougemount a success for people with a disability, and get a different perspective on creating a home for people with a disability.

“Wishing on a Star”: The Problems & Solutions of Relying on an ‘Inclusive Society’ to Foster & Provide a Better Life for People

John Armstrong


The expectation of creating an ‘Inclusive Society’ allows us to focus on the dismissive actions of other parties while painting a utopian picture of the world as we might wish it. We can assume the noble high ground (as most groups do) railing against the recalcitrant actions of others. When will they get it right? What an attractive and persuasive line of reasoning!

The ‘Good Life’ is an idealistic yet realistic construct that utilises the role implications for mediating people’s perceptions and resultant actions, for better or worse. Using it well increases the chances that as people occupy valued roles relevant to the context they are in, they will be well received and treated in a manner consistent with the positiveness of the role(s) they are seen in. 

Wishing that other people were better than what they are will not change that.

Protecting the rights of people with a disability – whose job?

Lorna Hallahan

quotesWe need to develop and refine unified approaches so that disabled people can be freed from lives of isolated despair in their homes, services and communities, made mendicant in an overwhelmed welfare system, and marginalised and exploited in a market shaped by high achievers.

Further Reading

The importance of inclusion

It is so close that you can touch it and smell it so why aren’t people with disability able to pierce the membrane into community?

Ann Greer


When I think of the people I know for whom inclusion has been a living reality it is clear that the criteria for success is not obvious competence. These opportunities happened because an individual saw an opportunity and did what is called ‘not waiting – creating’.

They looked at the person’s strengths, passions and interests and used those as the platform to ask on behalf of the person with disability. This does not rely on funding. The person who asked, believed in the attractiveness and competence of the person they were asking on behalf of and they took the action necessary to move an opportunity into reality. This is the kind of platform of support that is necessary to move people with disability from a life of isolation and ‘activities’ to a life that ensures that he or she is a valued, loved and recognised member of our community.

Why Communities Need People with Disabilities

Roz Cooper


The pervasive unawareness of the social worth of people who have disabilities can be shifted; new ways forward will become apparent when communities experience their capacity to consider and respond to the needs of all its members. The impetus and skills for making this shift are already present within the community and within people who have disabilities, their families and allies… Real communities will eventuate when such skills and resources can be diverted away from the bureaucracy and into a redefinition and renewal of communities.

Better access for all - all means ALL

Homelessness and People with Intellectual Disability

Morrie O’Connor and Sarah MacDonald

quotesResponding to homelessness and vulnerability means much more than providing people with a roof and 4 walls. It is our experience that people living alone are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation that may remain hidden. On the other hand, there are many risks facing young people when they live in inappropriate settings with other people, who may exploit or abuse them, such as in boarding houses, hostels, and even with friends and family.

Appropriate living situations must be tailored to the individual, but a key feature will be the active and regular presence of a supportive adult or adults. This may be someone that the person lives with, for example an ex-foster carer, or a supportive co-tenant or landlord. Another model is where supportive people come into the person’s home on a regular basis to assist them with maintaining their accommodation, building social connections, and having a role and structure in their life.

Courage in a brave new world: A disability perspective

Erik Leipoldt

quotesTragedy, therefore, is not so much contained in the lives of people who struggle with undeniably and tremendously difficult issues in their lives, such as pain, dependency and vulnerability. Real tragedy occurs when we deny our human nature by offering a ‘choice’ between inadequate social support and nothing less than cure or death. It is a tragedy when we applaud the ultimate celebration of one side of the coin only, leading to the ending of a human life because assistance from others is felt to be degrading.


At the end of the day, it all boils down to a decision as to how we wish to view the issue of disability and life. Do we see people with disabilities, including all people with the most significant disabilities, as co-workers, neighbors, friends, citizens and contributors in the regular sense, with support and accommodation as necessary, or do we see them in a special sense as individuals who are not expected to join society fully, living lives apart and different from the rest of us.

Marc Gold

Don’t segregate children because of special needs

Alison Ouellette


After a number of years being segregated, we enrolled him in a regular preschool with his sister when he became eligible in the 1980s. He met many children, made friends and loved laughing and playing with the other children. Our family learned a huge lesson — that David was perfect just the way he was. He didn’t need fixing. He needed relationships that would prepare him for life.

He learned by being with other children as early childhood education dictates, by learning through play and he was motivated by his peers to achieve skills. His teachers focused on individual skill development and looked to the resource teachers for support to develop ideas to achieve those skills. My mother always said, “A good teacher is a good teacher, is a good teacher.”


Further Reading

  • All Means ALL

    Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education

    This website includes Inclusion Toolkits for Parents and Educators.   They have been written with leading inclusive education experts to assist parents to support their child’s inclusion education journey, and for educators to welcome and support diverse learners in their classrooms and schools.

  • Diversitat Disability Findings Report

    Diversitat Settlement and Community Services

    This resource outlines the barriers faced by people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds as they enter disability service systems.  This includes recommendations for Service Providers, the NDIS and community groups as they engage with people with disability from CALD backgrounds.

  • The NDIS and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities: Aiming high for equitable access in Queensland

    Amparo Advocacy Qld.

    This report speaks to the underlying causes of disparity, and the need to build a culturally
    competent and responsive NDIS system that will also work to strengthen the capacity of
    individuals, families and communities from CALD backgrounds to understand their rights, to
    know what a ‘good life’ looks like and to be able to fully participate in the NDIS.


Evaluation, Renewal and Succession

Self Care and Achieving Goals

Michelle Sutton

quotesThere are some things I have to do for myself, yes, but for me finding an activity and a community to be in, and having good friends, have been a big part of it. The idea of independence I think is a bit misleading. We all need support to be our best. So while I have learned about myself and changed my own habits and behaviour I have done that within the context of community and friendships.

Seeking Authentic Indicators of Quality in Human Services

Jane Sherwin

quotesWhat, then, does it take for a service to respond to the circumstances of a person with a disability in ways that demonstrate quality? Most importantly, the service would have a sound knowledge of the history and identity of each person, understand both the human and specific needs flowing from that person’s identity and particular vulnerabilities, and work in intense and relevant ways to make a positive difference in the life of that person.

By responding in such ways, it is likely that the service has made a long-term commitment to the person, and that those who are employed by the organisation are committed, inspired and competent.

Quality: A fine drop of red versus entry and exit procedures

Karin Swift

quotesFor me a good quality human service is one that knows what their service business is and what is clearly my business or my family’s. The service is able to offer support when needed in the least obtrusive way. The menu of support is not limited to, or defined by the needs of twenty other people living in the same geographical area or by occupational health and safety regulations or by other industrial relations regulations.

Quality Strengthening, Monitoring and Evaluation and their Role In A Broader, Multi-Component Quality Enhancement Strategy

Michael Kendrick

quotesThe well-being of the service user is of crucial and fundamental importance in terms of service quality and the system must be able to know what precisely is happening to people (monitoring), and must be able to assess why this is so (evaluation). These are naturally linked, since monitoring allows a system to generate the information that would alert it to quality issues that may be present.

The evaluation of these indicators is a genuine analytical problem. Since, ‘the data do not interpret themselves’, information is not always self-evident in terms of how it should be interpreted. Consequently, evaluation is always a weighing of the facts as to what they mean.

Evaluation: The importance of knowing what you have

Evaluation.  What it is and why do it?


quotesIt is important to periodically assess and adapt your activities to ensure they are as effective as they can be. Evaluation can help you identify areas for improvement and ultimately help you realize your goals more efficiently. Additionally, when you share your results about what was more and less effective, you help advance environmental education.

Learning the Lessons of History in the Pursuit of Quality

Lorna Hallahan

quotesWe know that the idea and pursuit of quality will not bear rich fruit in the lives of people reliant on human services when it is held captive by unjust social policies or slick, risk-aversive people processing. Until quality is freed from these traps and allowed to operate as a guide to excellence, we, like the Parish Guardians in Tooting, could find ourselves completing wonderful paper work while failing to investigate the ‘true mental and physical state’ of those with whom we work – and thus, failing to learn the lessons of history.

Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices

The Center for Effective Philanthropy.


For foundations, there are lots of questions to reflect on when thinking about which evaluation practices best align with their strategy, culture, and mission. How much should a foundation invest in evaluation? What can they do to ensure that the information they receive from evaluation is useful to them? With whom should they share what they have learned?

Considering these numerous questions in light of benchmarking data about what other foundations are doing can be informative and important.


Advocacy Evaluation: Review and Opportunities

Justin Whelan

quotesBoth funders and NGOs have found there are many good reasons to evaluate their efforts. Both are keen to know if their investment of time and money is making any difference, for example. Evaluation research techniques can potentially offer reliable tools and processes to answer this question, and provide the basis for re-thinking strategies and tactics if things are not going as well as hoped.

Renewal: Revitalising and reinvigorating

The Role Of Love In A Sustainable World

Erik Leipoldt

quotesA sustainable world requires the sort of thinking and values that my mother lived, that many people with disabilities and others live… Love is the only truly renewable energy source and the essential basis for a sustainable world. Such a world is not possible without engaging with dependence and vulnerability. A full and rewarding human life – as must a truly sustainable world – includes those who are most vulnerable.

Resisting Arrest:  A tactical guide to continual organisational improvement.

Cary Griffin.  Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC.

quotesThis guide is offered as reinforcement for those who have learned that leadership is a constant process of invention and discovery; that life is pretty messy sometimes and that solutions are seldom permanent; that we are given far more opportunities than time; that change is never isolated or without consequence; that planning can have the effect of leading us towards what we already know instead of what we need to know; that there is no one right answer or way of getting things done; that our accomplishments are the results of interdependent relationships that must change as circumstances change; and that stability is not the goal of management, improvement is.

Board Development & Recruitment Strategy

Cary Griffin.  Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC.

quotesMost not-for-profit organizations struggle with maintaining an active, engaged, and Intelligent Board of Directors. While there are no shortcuts to the “perfect” non-profit board, there are tried and true strategies that work. These take time and effort, but in the long run the effort pays for itself.

Great Boards do not just happen. There is strategy and work behind every high performance board.

Succession: Transferring effectively

Recruitment, induction and succession planning for boards and management committees

Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) & Department of Communities.  Queensland Government.

quotesThe aim of this governance development session is to assist a board or management committee to develop comprehensive recruitment, induction, and succession planning processes for new board or management committee members.  The activities will guide the board or management committee in:

  • reviewing the types of skills and experience that the organisation needs on its board or management committee, and assessing the extent to which the board or management committee currently has these skills and experience
  • identifying the types of skills and experience the board or management committee would like to recruit in the future
  • developing a recruitment strategy
  • developing an orientation or induction program for new board or management committee members
  • designing a succession plan for the board or management committee.

Planning for Now Tomorrow and the Future

Jeremy Ward, Pave the Way

quotesWhen we think about the future we can do a number of things. We can ignore it; we can remain paralysed with fear; we can wait for the elusive funding package; we can hope and believe that someone or some service will step forward; we can expect that other family members will step in; we can trust that the government will provide.

When we do these things we will often also be ignoring the present. Alternatively, we can plan for the future that we and our family members want. The future is going to happen. Rather than simply let it happen we can plan for the future that we want.


More information on Succession Planning