Politicians listening to us

12 December 2018

Anthony Mulholland recently gave evidence to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the NDIS. Anthony says good planning and support kept him calm and helped him get his message across. He also has some great tips for speaking to politicians. Read his thoughts below.

The inquiry hearing was on my mind the whole time since I found out about it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. There was a lot to think about.

We just didn’t know what questions the MPs would ask us.

Preparing for the unexpected

I was worried about the types of questions we might get asked, and if we couldn’t answer them at all.

But it is important to prepare. The Advocacy Group did lots of preparing together. That was interesting. We learnt how to say the answers precisely and clearly.

We did a role play. It was fun. We had a pretend committee where members of the group pretended to be the politicians and ask me tricky questions.

I think we got a lot out of doing the role play. It helped me understand what was going to happen. It gave us all the confidence to know we can do it.

It is important for people with intellectual disability to talk to MPs

I think it is important to talk to politicians because they will then listen because we have such a powerful voice.

We know what the truth is, the truth for people like me, what the NDIS is like in our lives. We have lived experience of the NDIS. That’s why it’s important that we speak to politicians who will make decisions about our lives.

Working together as a team

It was a team effort, me Jim and David. We got the information about what we wanted to say at the inquiry from the other members of the Advocacy Group. It was an effort from everybody.

Jim and I answered the politicians’ questions. I was impressed that Jim and me were able to work together so well to answer the questions. We didn’t work against each other, we let each other talk. We respected each other’s contribution and we were able to each say our part and work as a team.

Like I spoke about the group homes and how people don’t understand what contracts are, and Jim was able to talk about the privatisation of the group homes.

Getting the right support

Having David there to support me that day meant that there were no dramas. I was able to stay on track and not think about things and to keep my answers on track rather than going around the world. Straight to the point – what was the issue and why it was an issue, just like we had practised.

I felt confident after getting the right support and preparing. It was also exhausting because our session was 45 minutes long.

I was stressed leading up to it, but during the inquiry, I felt relaxed. I was also happy that they made me feel relaxed by asking me about the football match I was playing that night. We sent them an email the next morning about how my team won the game.

They listened!

I’m really glad with the recommendations in the report from the inquiry. I’m really happy that they said that advocacy organisations should be funded into the future.

One of the Liberal MPs Shayne Mallard said that he really liked our Easy Read submission to the inquiry and wished other submissions were in Easy Read. I also really enjoyed Courtney Houssos’ questions. She had really good questions.

I have positive memories of going to the inquiry and I will remember it forever.

My tips for talking to politicians

  • Prepare. Practise what you will say. Think about what questions you may be asked. Do a role play with others.
  • Stay positive and focused.
  • Don’t get too emotionally attached to the issue you are talking about.
  • Don’t get personally involved – if they don’t take it on or listen, don’t lose sleep over it.
  • Think about your answers.
  • Get to the point straight away.
  • Explain it in your own words.
  • Say what you know, not what you think they want to hear.
  • Don’t panic. Politicians are humans too!

About Anthony and the inquiry

Anthony is a member of our Advocacy Group. In December Anthony received a Disability Leadership Institute Change Makers Award in recognition of his work as an advocate for people with disability. Watch the announcement of Anthony’s Award and his acceptance speech.

Anthony gave evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry into the NDIS on 2 October 2018. He was joined by our Senior Advocate Jim Simpson and was supported by David Briggs, our Advocacy and Policy Officer.

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