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Supported Decision Making in Healthcare for Young People

18 October 2019

This forum will explore the implications for supported decision making in health care for young people. We will be focusing on the opportunities and challenges for young people aged 14-19 as they build their identity and skills as decision makers.

All are welcome to participate and attend, and refreshments will be provided.

Join us for a small group and panel style discussion focusing on supported decision making in the health care sector for young people. What opportunities are their for young people to actively participate in decisions about their health ? What support is available to help them to make decisions and build their identity as decision makers?

Please let us know if you have any support requirements to facilitate your attendance.

Tickets are available, free, at:

If you have any questions please contact the Supported Decision Making Team at or (02) 6242 5060.

Sonia Di Mezza speaking at the ACT Law Society 2019 annual Wills and Estates Conference

1st October 2019

Sonia Di Mezza, deputy CEO of ADACAS, spoke at the annual ACT Law Society 2019 annual Wills and Estates Conference, contributing to Elder Abuse awareness in the legal profession.

Disability royal commission begins today

16th September 2019

Today is the first public sitting of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference cover what should be done to: 

  • prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieve best practice in reporting and investigating of, and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The inquiry will cover all forms of violence against, and abuse, neglect and exploitation of, people with disability, in all settings and contexts. What is learnt from the Royal Commission will help to inform Australian governments, institutions and the wider community on how to prevent, and better protect, people with disability in the future.

You can view the operations of the Royal Commission in its website:

ADACAS will be very much involved in the Royal Commission over the course of the next three years, and has been contracted to assist people with disability to engage with it.

We have today expanded our team of Advocates to enable us to provide the support needed to help people with disability make submissions to the Royal Commission, and have their voices and stories heard.

Submissions can be accepted in written format or via video recording. If you or someone you know would like to make a submission and need some support please contact ADACAS on (02) 6242 5060 or email to

If you, or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Mens Line 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732

National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1800 880 052

Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 019 123



Australia’s largest Assistive Technology expo to open in Canberra for very first time!

26th July 2019

For the very first time in its 20-year history, Australia’s largest assistive technology and disability event, the ATSA Independent Living Expo, will take place in Canberra next month.

Taking place alongside iCREATe Conference on Tuesday 27 August and Wednesday 28 August at the National Convention Centre Canberra, the ATSA Independent Living Expo (AILE) has become the most influential event on the disability calendar when it comes to Assistive Technology (AT).

The free to attend expo provides an opportunity for visitors to see the largest display of AT in Australia coupled with a broad range of equipment and services. The show has grown to be a focal point for the industry, attracting not only allied health professionals, occupational therapists and consumers, but also distributors and suppliers.

With 50 exhibitors already confirmed for this year’s inaugural Canberra show from global brands to local innovations, the show is sure to deliver when it comes to helping people with disability stay connected.

Families, carers and healthcare professionals are making decisions every day. So when it comes to choosing innovative solutions that will impact on the wellbeing and independence for people wanting to stay in their homes, assistive technologies is where it begins.

The role of AT is growing. Initially it started off with mobility and lifting devices but now includes anything that offers greater independence to the individual, keeps them safer and also contributes to making the carer’s role easier. Fundamentally, AT help to reduce people’s dependence on others.

The ATSA Independent Living Expo provides many opportunities for people to check out the latest in assistive technology from over 50 exhibitors. The show also includes plenty of educational opportunities in its free seminar program, where attendees can hear from over 20 professionals talking all things assistive technology.

To find out more about this event, visit

Photos from Rock the Boat 2019

25th July 2019

CEO of ADACAS, Michael Bleasdale, talking at Rock The Boat 2019

Launch of the Decision Support Toolkit app at Rock The Boat 2019

The app is available free for download for android here:

A message from our CEO

23rd July 2019

The Rock the Boat 2019 National Elder Abuse Conference kicked off in Brisbane with a stunning dance and smoking ceremony that crowned Steven Coghill Senior’s Welcome to Country.

The event is being hosted by ADA Advocacy, OPAN’s provider in Queensland, and their CEO Geoff Rowe issued a challenge to delegates to use these two days as a launch pad for real and effective action against older person’s abuse in Australia, action that may need to “rock the boat”.

The conference aims to place real stories of abuse at the centre of discussion, and the audience were moved by the brave account of a 97 year-old woman who experienced a brutal sexual assault at the hands of a care manager three years ago, and who now is leading the movement in Australia to make the public aware that this occurs, and that action is needed to prevent it from happening.

Keynote speaker, Bethany Brown from Human Rights Watch USA in New York, set the scene for the conference by establishing the human rights framework in which we understand both what older people should expect and how their rights are breached regularly because of community attitudes to ageing and the types of institutional responses we have to people who are frail in their older age.

The speech was followed by an expert panel, facilitated by the conference MC Virginia Trioli from the ABC, discussing the hot topic of human rights in aged care, health and dementia services. Here the current scandal about chemical restraint was discussed. And principles such as the “dignity of risk” were presented as a challenge to the way that currently duty of care is interpreted to justify practices within residential facilities that limit and restrict the movements of people living there.

The afternoon provided two specialist streams, and ADACAS’ Helen Connolly took part in a panel discussion on Practical Models: Decision Making and Choice. This was an excellent session that focused on supported decision making, arguing for much greater focus on methods that encouraged the continued decision making of older people, particularly those who have been diagnosed with dementia, and a lessening of a reliance upon substitute decision making. Helen and the other members of the panel explained to the audience in some detail what supported decision making was and how it could be utilised, and indicated that Australia was to some extent leading the way globally in innovative practice.

ADACAS’ Deputy CEO, Sonia Di Mezza, participated in a panel session Conceptualising the nature of abuse: Exploring influence and shame in diverse family and support systems. This session delved into the difficult area of family and cultural influences which can both instigate and sustain abusive relationships, and also lead to them being covered up. Sonia used her extensive knowledge and experience working with people in the CALD community to cast a light on the complex cultural and linguistic factors that can serve to obscure abuse, but also which can be used to prevent it in the first place.

At the reception at the end of the day ADACAS CEO, Michael Bleasdale, and Helen Connolly launched the Decision Support Toolkit app, in front of the conference delegates, which by then also included the Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, and Queensland’s Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors, the Hon Coralee O’Rourke. The app is available now on the Google Play Store and is coming soon to the App Store.

The day ended with a double session, one which involved Virginia interviewing her colleague from the ABC, Anne Connolly, about her reports on older persons abuse in residential aged care facilities, which sparked the current Royal Commission, in a session entitled Up close and personal: The role of media in exposing elder abuse. The final plenary of the day was a refreshing interview with two performance artists, the Motel Sisters, who had “installed” themselves for a month at a facility in Sydney’s West, and who had been successful in engaging the residents in a range of activities.

The conference will continue tomorrow with further explorations of the importance of language, safeguarding and the role of families and support networks in effecting real change.

Decision Support Toolkit App now available for Android

11th July 2019

This free app is designed for you as someone who supports others to make decisions.

By supporting someone to make decisions about their life you are upholding their human rights.

Throughout this app there are questions and information that may help you to support the decision maker. Use the menu button on your top right to navigate through the app and learn more about supported decision making.

The app is only available for Android devices at the moment. Link to Google Play below.

New, simpler, Charter of Aged Care Rights

7th June 2019

The Australian Government is introducing a new and simpler Charter of Aged Care Rights for aged care consumers (older people receiving Commonwealth supported aged care services) taking effect as of the 1st of July, 2019

The Charter will make it easier for aged care consumers, their families and carers to understand what they can expect from an aged care service provider. The Charter places the consumer at the centre of their care by giving them choice and recognising their right to be treated with respect.

To help aged care consumers in ACT, their families, and carers understand the new Charter of Aged Care Rights and how it will empower and protect them, Older Persons Advocacy Network will be delivering a FREE event in conjunction with A.C.T. Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS). A complimentary afternoon tea and refreshments will be included.

Friday 14 June 2:00pm – 3:30pm (AEST) COTA ACT, Hughes Community Centre, Wisdom Street, Hughes

For further information and to register for this event please visit

ADACAS chosen to support Redress Scheme

4th March 2019

ADACAS had been chosen as one of five agencies across Australia to deliver support and assistance to people with disability who were victims of sexual abuse within institutions and who wish to make application for the National Redress Scheme.

The Honourable Paul Fletcher MP made the following media release earlier today:

The Liberal National Government has boosted support services for Australians engaging with the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse by $52.1 million.

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, said 39 Redress Support Services would be funded until June 2021 to provide survivors with vital support before, during and after the application process.

“Many of these service providers are already supporting survivors and the additional funding will help them continue their important work,” Mr Fletcher said.

Some 35 existing services are receiving funding until June 2021 and five additional grants are being offered to establish Redress Support Services in areas of specific need.

“Extending the reach of this network of services is an important further step to make sure survivors receive the assistance they need,” Mr Fletcher said.

“This includes remote and regional areas, services that support male survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, survivors with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new service providers being offered a grant are:

  • ACT Disability and Carer Advocacy Service
  • Cape York Remote Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care Advisory Association
  • Pilbara Community Legal Service
  • Survivors and Mates Support Network (SAMSN)
  • The Blue Knot Foundation

Last week, the Government posted its list of institutions that have not yet joined the National Redress Scheme, along with the names of institutions that have joined.

“My message to survivors is that we are with you; we understand coming forward was a brave step and we are committed to a National Redress Scheme that delivers support, an apology if desired, and a redress payment,” Mr Fletcher said.

Disability Royal Commission a step closer, but certainty is needed

19 February 2019

The ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS) has welcomed the decision of the Australian Parliament to establish a Royal Commission into abuse suffered by people with disability in the services run to support them, and beyond in the services and institutions which are provided to the community.    Samantha Connor: Disability Abuse Royal Commission Motion Debate Samantha Connor: Disability Abuse Royal Commission Motion Debate

Senator Jordon Steele-John led a delegation of people with disability, representatives of Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) and advocacy groups to Parliament to witness the passing in the lower house of his Senate-sponsored motion to hold a Royal Commission. Despite being passed with no opposition, and with significant support from the Greens and Labor, there is still doubt about the timing and detail of the Royal Commission, and whether it will occur at all in the form that was promised in yesterday’s debate.

“What is needed is a firm commitment from the Government to a timetable of establishing the terms of reference, driven by engagement with people with disability, and an understanding that the Royal Commission will look at abuse as it occurs now and has in the past, its causes and what mechanisms we can put in place across the community to prevent it in the future,” said Michael Bleasdale, CEO of ADACAS, who was in the gallery with other supporters at yesterday’s announcement in Parliament

“The Aged Care Royal Commission was called in the same week as the ABC exposed abuse in aged care settings, its terms of reference were set soon after, and four months later it is now underway. The equivalent scrutiny of abuse of people with disability has finally hit the floor of Parliament five years after it was called for, and after decades of evidence of abuse that occurs daily, with no commitment to a time line for getting it underway”.

ADACAS has provided advocacy support to people with disability for over 27 years, and the thousands of people who have been assisted have routinely experienced abuse, discrimination and disadvantage based on their disability. “Abuse occurs in a number of forms in a variety of settings. Physical and sexual violence have been reported for decades as occurring with shocking regularity in disability services. But bullying and discrimination occur in educational and workplace settings, forced sterilisations and denial of treatment are still reported in the primary health system, and in the community generally people with disability are still confronted by hostility and questions about their entitlement to participate”, said Mr Bleasdale.

ADACAS is calling for the Royal Commission to have broad terms of reference that will make explicit the extent of abuse suffered by people with disability at all levels of the community, that will consider its causes, and will make strong recommendations about how all services and institutions must change to ensure that our community is inclusive and welcoming of people with disability.

“The Aged Care Royal Commission is committed to looking at how the aged care system can be set up to meet the needs of older Australians, and how the community can change to treat its older citizens with the dignity and respect they deserve. The equivalent commission into the abuse of people with disability needs to have even bolder ambitions to address and eradicate the third-class treatment of our disabled citizens.”

ADACAS supports older people in the ACT to access the Royal Commission

22nd January 2019

The ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS) is a member of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and will be at the forefront in bringing their expertise to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which commenced last week.

The Commission will be taking submissions until the end of June 2019, with an interim report due by 31 October this year, and Commissioners Tracey and Briggs will be expected to hand down their final report by the end of April 2020. The voices and testimonies of older people and their families who have been affected by abuse within the aged care system will be key to the success of the Commission, which aims to not only expose these practices but to make concrete recommendations on how Australia can deliver the services its older citizens expect into the future.

“ADACAS has over 25 years’ experience assisting older people who are experiencing abuse and neglect, as well as a range of issues regarding service quality,” Michael Bleasdale, CEO of ADACAS, said. “We are ready to support people who have been affected by abuse across the aged care system, in residential and home care, and who are considering making a statement to the Royal Commission or making an appearance at hearings.”

Submissions are required to be made via a specific form which is on the Commission’s website, and there is a telephone number people can call if they have difficulty making a submission.

“For some people making a submission can be very difficult, and not only because of the technology they are required to use to tell their story and get their point across,” Mr Bleasdale said. “It can also be very confronting, so the Advocates at ADACAS can provide help on how to make these submissions, and support people who may experience distress.”

The Commission website advises people who are considering making submissions to seek legal advice if they are concerned that the information they provide may be defamatory. The Commission has also made provision for financial assistance for legal representation and associated disbursement costs for people who are called or granted leave to appear as a witness at the Commission and other related activities.

“It is vital that people who feel compelled to give testimony at the Commission have their rights protected, and are encouraged to give their version of events without fear of retribution,” said Ms Sonia Di Mezza, Deputy CEO, who leads ADACAS Aged Care Advocacy and Elder Abuse teams. “ADACAS will assist people in the ACT to access whatever legal and other supports they need to make their contribution to the Commission.”

People seeking assistance from ADACAS should call 02 6242 5060, or email More details regarding Older Persons Advocacy Network, can be found at:

ADACAS people nominated - Impact 25 Awards

17th January 2019

Voting for the Impact 25 2018 Awards have now opened, and we are happy to say that 3 of our amazing people have been nominated. Pro Bono Australia's Impact 25 awards honor leaders in the Australian social sector, as nominated and voted for by their peers. Congratulations for being nominated to Helen Connelly, manager of Supported Decision Making at Adacas, Caitlin Yazidjoglou and Sara Stanley, Advocates. Please follow the link below for more information and to vote. Voting closes Thursday 31 January at 5pm.

Winner of 2018 ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Award

7th December 2018

We are very pleased to announce our very own Helen, Manager of SDM Projects, won the 2018 ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Award for Excellence in Support Work. We are very proud of you Helen! Congratulations to Helen as well as to the SDM staff, and all ADACAS staff members who have supported Helen to take a lead in supported decision making activities.

Helen's speech: “It’s an extraordinary privilege to have the generosity of learnings that the people I work with share with me and everyone in the community. I feel incredibly lucky to have been included in the community all my life and am really passionate about making sure that this is the experience for everyone. Thank you very much”

More Advocacy Support for Canberrans Navigating the NDIS

ACT Law Society Donates $7,870 to ADACAS

On 27 September 2018 the ACT Law Society donated $7,870 to ADACAS. Our CEO, Michael Bleasdale, thanked the President, Chris Donohue, for this generous donation, announcing to the members’ present that the funds will go towards supporting our older clients to have a voice in the upcoming Royal Commission into Aged Care. We acknowledge the outgoing President Sarah Avery in nominating ADACAS to receive these funds.”

New funding for individual advocacy

Great news: the ACT Government has provided ADACAS and Advocacy for Inclusion with some funding for independent advocacy. Thanks to the incredible advocacy of our amazing advocates, this important, human-rights focused work will continue

Welcome to the new CEO

Michael Bleasdale starts today as the new CEO of ADACAS! We are very excited to get to know him and what he will bring to our service.

Farewell to our CEO

We have recently said farewell to longstanding CEO of ADACAS, Fiona May who we wish well at her new role as CEO for Playgroups Australia. The team at ADACAS is ably led during this transition by Sonia Di Mezza, Deputy CEO since 2012. We thank you all for your continuing support of ADACAS.

Respect Know Act Received New ILC Grant

The outcomes from the most recent Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant rounds were announced last week. ADACAS and RKA are pleased to announce that the Respect Know Act project has received continued funding for another year. We look forward to working with decision makers, supporters and health professionals to enable more people to participate actively in their healthcare decision making.

Submission to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services

The Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services is currently conducting an inquiry and will report on the implementation, performance and governance of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the ACT. ADACAS had the opportunity to provide a submission to this inquiry and convey some of the issues with the implementation of the NDIS in the ACT and some of the concerns raised by our clients about it's implementation.

To read this submission click on the PDF below.
To read submissions from other ACT services and disability groups click on the link below.

The Power of Choice

Understanding Rights, Roles and Advocacy in the NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has created some great opportunities to increase your power and choice - but how do you make the most of it? Come listen to speakers from Clickability, Hireup, People with Disabilities ACT and ADACAS discuss giving feedback on services, how to negotiate with providers and what options there are in case you require support to make decisions or have your voice heard.

The event is on the 20th of April from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm.
Please register your interest using the link below:

Find Out More

Adacas provides help and support to people with disabilities, the elderly and their carers.

Advocacy is about helping a person to be heard in the decisions that affect their life. Advocacy aims to increase a person’s control over goods, services and quality of life

Find out where we are or send an enquiry online so one of our staff can contact you directly.