I have been a member of the Commission's Disability Reference Group (DRG) for six years and have participated in three successful selection processes to become a member.
I must say that membership of the DRG is both an honour and a privilege because it provides an opportunity for self advocacy at the systemic level and also a chance to keep up to date with a whole range of issues that affect people with disabilities. I have been especially pleased with the outcome of my self advocacy on relinquishment of children with disabilities into state care and the project on people with disabilities as victims of crime.
I enjoy the role because the group helps to identify priority human rights and discrimination issues affecting people with a disability and provides advice to the Commission on a range of issues including policies and procedures, the Commission's Strategic Plan and the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.
It is a wonderful experience to meet four times a year and share with people who all have an interest in disability issues, whether they are parents, have a disability themselves or work in the sector. The possibilities for networking and friendship are fantastic.
The selection process is not very difficult and the Commission staff are very supportive. It involves the following steps:
- Self nomination to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. This involves a written or telephone Expression of Interest, which this year is due by the 30 April 2014.
- Short listing of applicants. This is done jointly by the Commissioner and the current elected Co-chair of the DRG. Applicants are then notified.
- Interviews. New applicants for the DRG are interviewed either face to face or over the telephone.
- Announcement of new DRG for the next two years.
At the first meeting after the new DRG is announced members elect a Co-chair for the next two years to host each meeting jointly with the Commissioner. Support to attend and participate in each DRG meeting is funded by the Commission.
I thoroughly recommend anyone who is eligible to apply to do so; it is an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience to be a member of the DRG.