eDIN 45th edition October 2017 – now available

Access here – http://www.ndcovictoria.net.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=178920

Welcome to  the 45th edition of eDIN, electronic Disability Information Network  monthly newsletter. Designed for the Disability Education and Employment Community of Northern Victoria.

This months edition is dedicated to the all NDCO’s  spread far and wide across the nation. Who, most of which, I had a chance to meet up with in Canberra for our national forum during October.  Great to catch-up with old friends and just as special, make some new ones.

First key takeaway for October would be the key takeaways from the conference highlighted in the ‘NDCO out and about’ section. Please note the link in this section taking you to the full article.

Second key feature for October is the usual focus on mental health and well being. Make sure you check out the mental health happenings section.

One other key takeaway for this month was the number of very relevant reports that just happened to come my way during the month. Some of the ones I have managed to get through I have reviewed whilst some others I am still wading through I have mentioned only in brief.

Another very busy month coming up and I look forward to bringing you all the updates. Talk soon and be well….



NDCO National Conference. Novotel Canberra 16-17th October 2017

Welcome to this year’s summary of the 2017 Annual Forum for the NDCO program. This is my fifth year with the program and it was great to once again catch up with colleagues from all over the country side, many of which are new to the program. When you add in some of the program managers and special guests the room was full to capacity for two days of learning and sharing, some of which I have highlighted below.

Morning session day one:

Update from the department of education:

Special mention here regarding the upcoming re-introduction of the higher education reform package due for tabling in Parliament this week. (Higher Education Reform Package). A lot of the NDCO program and its future direction may be governed by the direction of this Bill. One thing to note here is the personnel change that has occurred within the management of the NDCO program with all but one of the staff fresh to this department. All in all a positive message regarding the program and its likely continuance into the future.

The second part of this session was an address from ACIL Allen who recently undertook an extensive review of the program. The message in this instance captured the following points:

  • It is naturally aligned with the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020
  • It is unique in its objectives and method of delivery.
  • There is a recommendation for the program to become more strategically focused.
  • More recently there has been an overlap of NDCO and NDIS ILC objectives. Although it is very hard to clarify where the intersecting points exist moving forward due to the early rollout phase of the NDIS.
  • The program has been deemed overall, effective. This included how the program sits as a contracted program to various different hosts around the countryside.
  • One observation form me was the tendency of the discussion to focus on targeting more educational transition as opposed employment transition. This has importance around a number of factors including, differentiation of the program, who and how the program is hosted internally/externally and more importantly what does this mean when we talk about the program having a more strategic based approach.
  • Value for money could be the lead headline for this report.
  • There is an expectation that the full report will be published sooner rather than later.


Morning Session Day One continued…

Julie Anne

Julie Anne Lambourne

Julie Anne Lambourne from enVizion Group Inc. First thing to note here was Julie’s acknowledgement of country where she used the phrase when referring to ‘Elders past present and emerging’. I thought this was a really great addition to the acknowledgement that I will use in the future.  This was a fantastic overview of some exceptionally engaging digital programs that envision are delivering across the top end of Australia. What I really appreciated about her message was although intending to reach the Aboriginal communities the programs and activities, in practice, reach across all cultural boundaries and are not restrictive. Some of the key takeaways for me in t his session was;

  • Environmental healing, and healing through culture.
  • Learning literacy and numeracy through culture and the country.
  • Capturing stories through technology.
  • The technology device allows engagement.
  • Healing through expression of their story, and the opportunity to share their story, in a safe and authentic environment.

Julie went onto discuss the specific use of virtual reality devices for engagement with the younger cohort.

  • Immersive environments create aspirational triggers, imprinting change. Think about the illustration impact versus an auditory talk as this is or versus the impact of virtual reality.
  • In regards career advice options the devices provide real time data streams which can indicate the engagement level of the each message to compare each category as a driver of the conversation that comes next.

What’s new and what’s old is a regular feature of the annual forum with representatives from key departments presenting updates from those relevant departments.

Department of Employment, Labour market overview. Nothing particularly new here. Please refer to my previous labour data articles around demographics and industry data. (Click here) I also note that there was a direct reference to the ‘Willing to Work’ inquiry findings which I have also posted previously. (Click here)

Key takeaways re what’s new or emerging include:

  • Stronger participation requirements
  • New compliance framework
  • National work experience expansion
  • One final note here is the division of job active as an employment portfolio versus DES as a social services department. I mention this in direct response to graph showing that Job Active actually has a greater percentage of people with disability using that service compared to the DES service.

Speaking of the Department of social services they were next to present. Please note a lot of background information supplied here can be best accessed via their dedicated webpage – in particular I note the Annual report now available for reading. Click here.

DSP fast facts as of March 2017:

  • No significant changes over the past 5 years.
  • The most recent significant change is the removal of table 6, alcohol and other drug substance use) from the impairment table.
  • Mention of the carer field test – The field test form will be used to check how well the field test questions work for people click here
  • Disability services employment Commencing 1 July 2018.
  • Question of eligibility and those not in the program. Large number of those not in the program but could be accessing the program.


Department of Education, schools division, gave a quick explanation of Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD).

From 2018 NCCD will guide funding for SwD. Please note the link to quality schools reform web information. Key points regarding the NCCD:

  • Consistency of disability definitions including a broader definition. In short means more students should attract additional funding.
  • Challenge faced around the teacher based submission of data. These are evidence based judgements.
  • Focus on level of adjustment required rather than disability type.
  • Captures all students receiving an adjustment due to a disability just not those under previous medical definition driven.
  • Quality assurance process are a focus. National approach given the differing state and territory regimes.
  • Potentials, NDIS and school sector interface, chance for cultural change for learning and support needs within schools, including enhanced links re transition from school to further education or work.

Message is that it is still early days for the potentials of the NCCD and how this data is applied in a practical sense.

Employment and the NDIS. A presentation from the NDIA regarding some of the impacts of NDIS in the schooling sector. Nothing of particular note from this presentation. Note NDIS updates via eDIN news.

Day one Afternoon session:

Manisha Amin and Jack TyrellMedia Access Australia— (see above) also noting new name: Centre for Inclusive Design. Well delivered session around the importance of accessible media and content.

Accessibility and inclusion. Tips and tricks. There was several references to videos during this presentation which I have endeavoured to include via links.

This session started with a roll call exercise of everyone present. Establishing the mindset of change and incorporating simple acts to cater for all possible disabilities.

Four key areas,

  • Mindset – the value of inclusion. K9 on line video.
  • Method – the end of average. Todd rose, Ted talk.
  • Inclusive design dimensions: recognise diversity and uniqueness / inclusive processes and tools / wider benefits to all. Multiple ways or options to access.
  • Toolkit – what do you need to succeed? Content needs to be -robust / perceivable / operable / understandable. Affordable access for free.

Day one afternoon continued: The day finished with a couple of NDCO specific engagement sessions. The first was our more experienced NDCO’s making themselves available for a series of questions from our more recently appointed officers.

NDCO q a

Experienced NDCO’s Q and A panel

The last session of the day involved splitting the NDCO’s and managers in to two distinct groups based on regional or rural and our metro based guys. Interesting to see where some of these guys landed considering some areas encompass city centres and regional/rural.

Dinner – networking and guest speaker.


From left to right: Alex WA, me in the middle, Kris western NSW

Jason Clarke—Mindworker, Minds at Work. Jason joined us for dinner and gave a very well received presentation around the process and implementation of ideas. I highly recommend his content and delivery for any individual or organisation looking for inspiration in this area. I don’t have a lot of notes re this session due to who wants to take notes when you’re having such a great time.

Day 2 Morning Session

Jeder institute, Dee Brooks delivered a session on collective impact/community engagement.


Dee Brooks presents

Key notes:

  • Inform, consult, involve, collaboration, empower. The spectrum of community development.
  • Appreciative inquiry – appreciating what we have but how can we have more of the good stuff.
  • When and what is an example of the community at its best.
  • ABCD: Asset / Based / Community / Driven.
  • Six types of assets to connect: Individual / associations / institutions / physical / economic / stories and heritage.
  • Gifts I can give my community are prefaced by the headings of; head, hand, heart, heel, human connection.

The afternoon featured a series of presentations by NDCO’s around some of the great initiatives and innovations taking place across all regions. I look forward to highlighting as many of these as possible through upcoming versions of the eDIN newsletter.

Big thanks to everyone involved in the organising, running and the post forum follow up activities. If you would like some more direct information around any of the sessions mentioned above please contact me directly.

Open Education Matters – FEEDBACK is the new currency

Feedback currency

When I left school more than thirty years ago, there was no internet. There was no smart phone. There was no digital camera and video recorders were expensive and bulky. Everything about school was about how well you could play the game of information retention and regurgitation. Yes, I managed to get good grades based on my learnt skills of information recall. But in reality the things that I remember from those school days regarding facts, figures, dates, formulas and names are only those ones that I have often had to recall via a daily crossword or two.

So what do I value the most about that schooling experience? Well, just knowing how to articulate an argument was a short cut to exam success for most of process and this skill has been invaluable for my whole life. But this is something that only realised in hindsight. The real engagement when mastering a new subject or topic came from timely and well directed feedback. A recognition that my efforts are valued regardless of the subject, skill or topic. And yet there is also something more that lies underneath this. Many of us are driven to know why things are the way they are. To find a reason to do the things we do every day. I guess in short, an addiction to learning is born out of need to find context for existence and I can see this daily in the friends, family, colleagues and clients around me. Whether it be a new language, learning an instrument, how to create animation videos I seek new skills but I note that the persistence and practise only sticks when I get the feedback payoff similar to those days in school.

So I look at where education in our schools are now, mostly through the experience and eyes of my children. I am often challenged by the idea that a lot of schooling today is still based on teaching them ‘what to learn’ rather ‘then how to learn’. Having said that, I cannot dismiss the fact that I survived the system of the seventies and eighties and in fact may have even thrived as a result of it. Maybe this is something every generation considers and is possibly why schooling has changed so little over the last century in terms of delivery style. But just as the pen changed the relevance of the chalk and slate, surely the internet will change the relevance of the text book. My children have full access to any content they can imagine, and if the content isn’t there, they can make it. But they don’t need to focus on content. If they need to know an answer to a question they can ask Siri or Cortana. Even if it was a rather complex question they can reach out via community forums or platforms such as fluther.  What is it that drives them to learn new skills? What is it that will keep them engaged?

Most likely it is the same things; feedback based on having their position or argument valued. In simple terms that might be the dopamine hit they get from posting on Instagram and receiving likes. The thumbs up from their friends and families from a Facebook post that keeps them engaged to want to do more, learn more but more importantly share more. I mean we all do it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is all about the quantity of the post but they soon learn that the quality of the post is what matters. This is about still striving in those areas of off line activities, think sports or hobbies where the posting is the validation part of the process where the feedback comes into it. ‘I get awarded a trophy at a football presentation. It’s in a room full of people and I feel good. People take photos which are subsequently posted on line. People I don’t even really know give me an on-line thumbs up. This actually feels better than the room full of people. It has a permanency of record as it becomes achieved for all of history.’

And like my own experience it is more than just the feedback, it is feedback from their tribe. The need for belonging is intrinsic in all of us and has been iterated as one of the greatest underlying issues when it comes to social health issues such as mental health well-being and addiction. Regardless of how small your interest, the specialty of your niche, there is now a digital tribe (often in the first instance) that can bring that individual into not only an on-line community but an off-line community as a result.

So I write the above in response to a question posed to me via an on line learning session, “Why the importance of open education?” I didn’t really have a clear way to articulate all the pent up learnings that I have on this subject so I stripped it back to the argument as above. I mean I could have just stated, ‘It is inevitable that open education will continue to thrive and proliferate. It is in our DNA, and it is in our best interest to do away with the tethers of copyright.’

Over the past few months I have ‘read’ (listened via audiobook) the following narrations that do a much better job at arguing this reality than I could ever do in this short post; “Tribes. We need you to lead us” Seth Godin / “Sapiens”, & “Homo Dues. A brief history of tomorrow” Yuval Noah Harari / “The selfish gene”, Richard Dawkins / “The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 technological forces…” Kevin Kelly / “The rational optimist” Matt Ridley. This is the deep learning that gives me the context to know that this is the future of learning. That open learning is underpinned by human nature to ‘seek, sense and share’. Note, I am reminded of something I read in a blog recently – ‘collaborate to validate’. I mention this for one particular reason and that is a reminder that, just because it is written or said  doesn’t necessarily make it true. So the importance of life experience can not be understated. (Subject for another time).

One final point, just as audio books have changed the way I engage with my self-education practices and underpins where my deep learning comes from, what will that look like for my children. It is quite possible that it won’t be from reading (or listening) as in my preference, but will more likely come from computer simulations (think virtual reality and gaming). The copyright is not the content, or the concept or the idea but how the idea or concept is applied, interpreted or presented. People are doing it every second of the day via Facebook and Instagram with video, photos and memes. How many are being chased down and held to task re copyright?

Can we really own an idea? If an idea falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it really exist? I look forward to your feedback…

44th edition of NDCO eDIN news now available

44th edition of NDCO eDIN news now available –http://www.ndcovictoria.net.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=177725

This months edition comes to you in the middle of the school holidays
and I hope everyone had a little bit of time off. I managed to slip
in a small but rewarding break with my kids, and with the football
season all done and ‘dusty’ed’ (congratulations to the Richmond Tigers
and Melbourne Storm), its back to normal programing.
With the usual range of topics covered in this edition, my main conversation
here is about what is that normal programing. The main
one for me is the upcoming NDCO national conference happening in
Canberra. As per previous years I will be focused on brining a special
edition of the eDIN news in October featuring all the latest news
from the gathering. This years conference will likely be one of regeneration
as many of the previous NDCO’s have moved out of the
program with a new cohort commencing.
Also for the month of October is the usual focus on mental health and
wellbeing activities. (Mental Health Week—8th—14th October).
‘From its beginnings in 1985, the week has grown to encompass
hundreds of events, organised by a multitude of individuals, community
groups and service providers throughout the state.’ I hope you
take the chance to join in, reflect and participate where and when
any opportunities present themselves.

NDCO eDIN newsletter 43rd edition now available

August 2017 edition of eDIN news now available: http://www.ndcovictoria.net.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=176548

Spring has sprung, the buds are busting, jack frost is packing his bag and the magpies are sharpening their beaks. Must admit that spring is my favourite season of the year. As for the last month of winter, things have been busy despite the cold.
My key takeaways for the month; firstly, the opportunity to deliver more workshops in regards ‘Pathway Options’ and ‘Assistive Technology’ is allowing refinement of delivery re style and content. I look forward to presenting more of these in the future. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need me to deliver a session to your group.
Second mention goes to the NDIS and the fact that the world still spins as the rollout continues. It was good to catch-up with Merri Health this month to learn more about the Early Childhood component of the Scheme. I look forward to their participation in the local networks.
Lastly, a big welcome to all the new NDCO’s across the country-side. Seems to have been a big change in personnel across many regions lately. (Which also means a big farewell to all those that have left). I very much look forward to the re-invigorated team at the next national conference in October.


42nd eDIN newsletter now available July 2017

42nd eDIN newsletter now available July 2017http://www.ndcovictoria.net.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=175107

I actually managed a little time off over the school holidays but when I look back at this month it doesn’t feel like it. So much I haven’t included in this months newsletter with some articles being held over to next time.
Key takeaways for the NDCO program this month include the finalization and submission of reports to head office in Canberra and the inaugural meeting of the new NDCO advisory committee in Melbourne. (see page 2).
In Ovens and Murray this month we saw the roll out of the NDIS information roadshow featuring the key players as they got to most major centres in that region. Anecdotally I am receiving a lot of feed-back from potential NDIS participants indicating that they are still very much unaware of the ins and outs of the new systems. This would indicate that information sessions will need to continue during the implementation phase.
We also had NAIDOC come and go although I know a lot of events were postponed due to the weather, with these to occur later in the year when it warms up.
Good luck to all the nominees in the Victorian 2017 Disability Sport and Recreation Awards which closed recently, I look forward to highlighting the winners once announced.

Yours Sincerely,
Mark Cottee

Assistive technology and the age of the ‘device’

NDCO—Assistive Technology Session 20th July 2017

Big thanks to the Albury Wodonga Dyslexia Support Group for inviting me along to one of their monthly session this July. It was great to pass on my knowledge re the importance of the new technology advances (the role of the device) when it comes to people who experience communication hardships – often labelled ‘Learning Difficulties’.

With around 50 people in attendance it was fantastic to reach such an enthusiastic audience. I look forward to hearing back from the group about any advances they make on behalf their students and/or children as a result of the information provided. For those that couldn’t make the session, or if you have an interest into this subject I created a short video capturing the first part of the session and I also  posted a copy of the resource sheet featured on the night. Click here to view it on the NDCO region 15 webpage. (“Dyslexia Assistive Tech overview”).

If you would like to connect with a fantastic support group I would also highly suggest linking into the AWDSG via Facebook: Albury Wodonga Dyslexia Support – http://www.awdsg.weebly.com or  click here.

Don’t forget that if you would like me to come and do some hands-on sessions with your group, school or other, just let me know.