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OPA and Reinforce launch new resource: The right of people to make their own medical decisions

Everyone has the right to play an active role in making decisions about their own health and to receive the support they need to do so.

Reinforce, is a self-advocacy organisation run for, and by, people with an intellectual disability, and the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), an independent statutory body that safeguards the rights and interests of people with disability in Victoria, have produced two brochures to promote the role of supported decision making and importance of communication in medical decision making, funded by a grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.

The brochure aimed at health practitioners includes three stories from people with cognitive impairment about their experiences – both good and bad. A common theme was the need for health practitioners to avoid or explain jargon.

An easy read brochure helps consumers understand their rights and explain them to health practitioners.

The importance of being free to make one’s own decisions was emphasised by Reinforce President Colin Hiscoe at the launch of the brochures in Melbourne on Wednesday 30 August 2019. The project was very much driven by Colin, with support from the Reinforce Board of Management.

Lynne Haultain, Executive Director, Victoria Law Foundation, spoke about how the project met two key criteria of the organisation’s grant criteria: evidence of legal need and a good case that this response is likely to have an impact and make a difference to a significant audiences.

Colleen Pearce, Victoria’s Public Advocate, spoke about OPA’s long history working with Reinforce and how the project came about. When OPA staff attended a Reinforce meeting to discuss new medical treatment legislation, they heard stories of people’s previous experiences with doctors and hospitals and their ideas for how it could be better.

The right of people to make their own medical decsions_web (pdf)

Your right to make your own medical decisions – Easy Read (pdf)

Positive Powerful Parents (PPP)

A self advocacy group for parents with intellectual disability.    We are a group of parents with an intellectual disability who strongly believe that most parents should be supported to have their children at home with them.

We meet up to support each other and think of ways to make the system fairer for parents with intellectual disability.  If you are a parent with a disability we would love to hear from you and how it has affected you being a parent.

We also provide respect, meetings, shared experiences and a safe place to talk about our stories.

PPP Mission Statement

The Positive Powerful Parents Self Advocacy Group is run by and for parents with an intellectual disability. We strongly believe that every parent has their own unique way of parenting, and the voice of parents with a disability needs to be heard and actioned.

How and why we started

We started because of the numbers of parents with an intellectual disability who do not get the support they need to keep their children.

What we do

We connect with other groups of parent’s from around the state. We run events and meetings.  Our meetings are usually at Ross House 247 Flinders Lane Melbourne and are every fortnight.

We work to try and change the child protection system to make it fairer for parents with intellectual disability.

Contact us

Positive Powerful Parents, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000

Ph: (03) 9650 7855  our brochure here PPPbrochure

In September 2018 PPP hosted the Hand in Hand parent meeting.  Parents from around Victoria came together to talk about the strengths and challenges of being a parent with an intellectual disability, including discrimination parents have faced when in contact with child protection.

PPP worked with the Parenting Research Centre to make a report of the day.  Positive Powerful Parents hosted a parent meeting.  17 parents with intellectual disability from all over Victoria were in attendance, here is a report from the day. HandinHandReport

We meet every month, please contact Susan at Reinforce on 9650 7855 or if you would like more information about the group


Melbourne through the eyes of a friend

No Strangers Here Project 2015

Reinforce collaborated with some local musicians who volunteered a lot of their time and expertise. This project is a huge success and these self-advocates should be congratulated for the adversity they have had to overcome just to be seen & heard.

The title of the Cd was taken from “No Strangers Here- Only Friends You Haven’t Met Before”

The Happy Song has been put together with photos to make this

Drummond Street Ballad A true history of Reinforce – Sung by The Rights Tough


We would like to thank The City of Melbourne, and the musicians who helped support us with this venture.

Shut In Campaign

Reinforce and VALID have a joint campaign called the ‘Shut I’ campaign, the ‘Shut In’ campaign, represents the 4,813 Australia Citizens with disabilities who are not only Shut Out of the community but remain ‘Shut In’ large scale institutions, that continue to be segregated from the community where people are housed in substandard conditions.

We would ask you to download the petition on this page and sign it and get like minded friends and family to sign it and send it in to the Reinforce office.

For more information please go to

Reinforce Inc
2nd floor, Ross House
247 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000


Yarning group for First Peoples with Intellectual Disabilities

 What we do?

The group is a safe and fun place to meet for coffee and do things like share our stories and culture by chatting, yarning, artwork, crafts, music and finding ways to have our voices heard.

If you are interested please contact Jane or Chris on 9650 2730 or

History Project

The Reinforce History Group started in 2006.  It’s in partnership between Reinforce, Latrobe University and RMIT.  Since we started we have been having fortnightly meeting’s. In 2008 we organized a reunion at Story Hall, the reunion was a big success.  We have interviewed 25 people on what they can rember about their time at Reinforce in the 80’s. We have been to conferences such as disability inclusive research collaboration conference Sydney, Assid Adelaide and Having a Say conference and also New Zealand.

We are now working on a coffee table book.

To see the History Project presentations –

  • History Project click here
  • Workshop click here
  • Empowerment through Research AFDO conference 2009 click here
  • Inclusion Round Table poster click here
  • Insider perspectives click here
  • Inclusive workshop in Sydney 2012 click here
  • Having a Say Conference in 2012 click here
  • Having a Say Conference in 2013 click here
  • Coffee Table book Reinforce-final-23-10-13-JF

For more information about the history you can contact Janice Slattery, Jane Hauser, Norrie Blythman.

For more information please contact Janice, Amanda, Norrie or Jane at Reinforce on 9650 7855 or Patsie Frawley at LaTrobe University
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Chris Bigby at LaTrobe University
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or Paul Ramcharan at RMIT
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Doug Pentland & David Banfield Award

The Doug Pentland & David Banfield Award is an annual award given in conjunction with VALID presented to an outstanding self advocate who has spoken out about closing institutions and the importance of living independently in the community.

The award is named in honor of the late Doug Pentland & David Banfield  who were remarkable self advocates who fought tirelessly for the closure of all institutions. Doug & David were much loved members of Reinforce and  truly dedicated friends who believed in upholding the rights of all people with an intellectual disability. We present this award to honor everything they taught us and as a promise to carry on their life’s work.

My House My Home My Rights in a CRU

Reinforce has developed a DVD and training for staff and residents of CRUs in Victoria.  If you are interested in this training please contact us at the office

Colin Hiscoe – Training Officer 03 9650 7855 or
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