Australian Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology Association

Participation through technology

Issue One 2019

Board Report 

Greetings from the ARATA Board and welcome to our fresh news template. We look forward to keeping you updated on ARATA happenings and invite you to contribute items of interest to our community of practice. 

  • It was excellent to see so many at ARATA’s AGM in Melbourne at AATC 2018. While we have new energy on the Board, the positions of President and Treasurer are filled in acting capacities only and we urge ARATEE’s with leadership and governance interests to consider stepping forward into our casual Board vacancies.
  • National and international links and liaison’s continue with Natasha Layton chairing the National Assistive Technology Alliance; representing ARATA to the International Alliance of AT Professional Organisations and the ISO, as well as attending the NDIS Industry Reference Group on behalf of ARATA / NATA. Karthik Pasumarthy represents ARATA to Standards Australia, and Graeme Smith attended the inaugural TGA Low Risk Medical Devices Working Group meeting on ARATA’s behalf. Ad hoc representation is regularly requested due to ARATA’s standing as AT national peak body. Examples include a December meeting with the NDIS Head Economist regarding pricing. ARATA call on members with key areas of expertise in these instances, and we urge all members to identify their skills and expertise through the website membership tab and to keep this updated.
  • ARATA’s Board will meet every second month during 2019 to progress our strategic objectives, focussing on responsiveness to sector changes as well assuring stable governance and operations, and succession planning for ARATA.
  • Grant applications - Hot on the heels of the Conference, the Board made three applications for project funding for the latest round of Community Underwriting Grants, but none were successful unfortunately. These projects (positive AT images; webinar series; ‘Find an AT Practitioner’) could be achieved with volunteer input so do let us know if you can help. Volunteering to support website improvements, communications/ marketing, future conference and event planning, or a few hours for focal project, would enable the hardworking Board to focus on governance at the same time as progressing useful services and developments for members and for the assistive technology sector.
    Do you love the community of practice available through ARATA?
    Do you want to contribute to the ongoing work of the Association and links to our AT stakeholders?
    Would you like to grow your Board experience and add to your CV?

    ARATA has a great opportunity for you to consider - the role of ARATA President is currently held in an acting capacity only (Acting President - Natasha Layton) and we welcome all ARATA members to consider nominating for this great role.
    A multidisciplinary and experienced 2019 ARATA Board is in place and details can be found regarding our new Board members at
    Anyone considering this position can contact for more information. We are able to appoint into Board casual vacancy positions for one year. We encourage you to consider this great role, and the opportunity it brings to work with a strong ARATA team

We welcome contact from members via and look forward to a productive 2019

A Reflection on ARATA’s
25th Conference – Dr Natasha Layton, ARATA President

For 25 years, ARATA have provided Australia and the region with peer reviewed education and networking opportunities through national Assistive Technology (AT) conferences, and we rejoiced particularly in Australian Assistive Technology Conference AATC 2018 as a ‘coming of age’. This maturity was evident in two key areas: intersectionality, and co-production.

Intersectionality is evident in a blurring of the lines between ‘AT practitioner’ or ‘AT supplier’ or ‘AT user’ or ‘AT policy / funder’. Intersectionality recognises that many among us have multiple identities and roles. Also, that impairment may lead to a varied and interesting experience of difference, and may be a valued aspect of identity which brings many skills and insights. In this context AT is a fundamental facilitator which can minimise the disabling effects of impairment, ageing or illness. AT enables us to participate in our chosen tasks by closing the ‘capability gap’ between our physical and cognitive capacities, and the barriers in our environments.
The goal of co-production in AT is to enable AT users to become central to all processes and discourse, and to become directors, informants, collaborators and co-producers on all aspects of assistive technology.
Twenty three percent of the AATC 2018 attendees were Assistive Technology users and many of these were presenters, enriching the program of conference papers, posters and workshops across a wide diversity of AT. Australia’s past and present Disability Discrimination Commissioners gave a keynote address about how Assistive Technology enables them. These are all examples of co-production which have enriched our collective experience as AT stakeholders.
AATC 2018 conference themes were Experience, Opportunities, Innovations, and AATC 2018 left us feeling optimistic about the opportunities that Assistive Technologies offer to live a good life. ARATA will continue to examine ‘what good looks like’ from the perspective of AT stakeholders, and to champion the ingredients of good policy, provision, products and  personnel locally, nationally and internationally.
Our ARATA conference co-convenors are currently finalising work with the AATC 2018 Professional Conference Organiser and ARATA's administration team to upload Conference presentations and video-recorded plenary sessions to the ARATA member portal. ARATA will update members as soon as this content is available online

ARATA submission

Emma Friesen, David Harraway and Valerie Watchorn are working on a submissions to The Australian Human Rights Commission questions in the Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper.
Andrew Congdon, in conjunction with input from the ARATA membership, is working on an ARATA submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

NDIS Pricing

KPMG have contacted ARATA as part of a focal piece of work on assistive technology and home modifications pricing.
The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS Assistive Technology
The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS Assistive Technology inquiry included a written submission from ARATA, and an invitation to ARATA to attend a hearing on Thursday, 22 November 2018. 
Former ARATA board member an secretary, Trina Phuah represented ARATA at the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS: Assistive Technology hearing and the transcript of the session proceedings is available here
ARATA would like to thank those who contributed to ARATA’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee which gave us an opportunity to be represented in person at the public hearing.
The final report references ARATA’s contributions to the inquiry and is now available from the committee’s website and has made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1
2.61    The committee recommends that the Agency revise the AT information on its website to improve clarity around all aspects of the AT process, and ensure training and guidance is provided to NDIA staff to improve consistency in the information provided to participants, providers and AT assessors.
Recommendation 2
2.64    The committee recommends that a line item for trial costs of AT equipment be created and included in the plans of all relevant participants.
Recommendation 3
2.101  The committee recommends that the NDIA prescribe KPIs for the length of time in which staff must consider and process AT applications.
Recommendation 4
3.22    The committee recommends that the Agency publish criteria of the circumstances which will require the Agency to conduct further assessment beyond that provided by a registered therapist.

Recommendation 5
3.34    The committee recommends that the NDIA makes funding decisions based on outcomes rather on whether the item is considered mainstream, or could be used beyond its AT purpose.  

Recommendation 6
3.62    The committee strongly recommends that the NDIA adopt the SWEP credentialing model for prescribing Assistive Technology.        

Recommendation 7
3.82    The committee recommends the NDIA explore entering into agreements with state schemes for the prescription, assessment, and delivery of Assistive Technology to NDIS participants.
Recommendation 8

3.102  The committee recommends that the NDIA undertake an urgent review of all aspects of its AT delivery model, with specific focus on how it can utilise current state and territory equipment schemes, including bulk-purchasing, loan and recycling programs.This is a text block.

Standards Committee Report

ME-067 is the Standards Australia committee that works on drafting, reviewing and updating national and international standards relating to assistive technology products for persons with disability.
ARATA’s current representative is Karthik Pasumarthy, Rehabilitation Engineer, Rehabilitation Technology Unit (RTU), Fiona Stanley Hospital, and reports regular updates to the ARATA community.
Karthik’s most recent report followed the ME-067 Assistive Technology Products for Persons with Disability Meeting Number 52 held in Melbourne on the 12th and 13th of November.

Read More

ARATA response to the ABCB Consultation on Housing Accessibility

ARATA submitted a response to the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Accessible Housing Project on the possible inclusion of a minimum accessibility standard for housing in the National Construction Code. The ABCB’s intention is to seek broader stakeholder input and refine the details of the objectives, options and terminology that will be considered in a formal Regulatory Impact Statement.
Read More

Introducing ARATA New Board Members

Following the AGM in November, ARATA welcomed four new board members and said goodbye to James Dean, Sally Hunter, and Trina Phuah who we thank for their time and dedication, especially holding executive board positions.
The positions of President, Treasurer and Vice President are now filled in acting capacities and we urge ARATA members with leadership and governance interests to consider stepping forward into our casual board vacancies to contribute to our wonderful ARATA community.
We also encourage those interested in volunteering to support ARATA activities such as website improvements, communications/ marketing, conference and event planning, or focal projects, to contact us at
ARATA relies and the generous support of its members volunteering their time, and helps the also voluntary board to focus on governance and progressing useful services and developments for members and for the assistive technology sector.

Please join us in welcoming our new board members.

Libby Callaway is a registered occupational therapist, having worked for the past 25 years in the field of neurological rehabilitation in Australia and the USA. Since 1999, Libby has been the director and principal occupational therapist at Neuroskills, a community based practice providing rehabilitation services to people with neurological disability. In addition to this clinical work, Libby is a senior lecturer and researcher in the Occupational Therapy department at Monash University. Throughout her career, Libby has undertaken a range of government consultations in both clinical and research roles. She is the lead author on a revised measure of community integration, the Community Integration Questionnaire-Revised, which includes measurement of the use of electronic social networking for social integration. At Monash University, Libby leads a national collaborative research program on housing, technology and support design for people with disability. This interdisciplinary team research program is aimed at informing state-based injury insurance scheme and National Disability Insurance Scheme design and implementation, including housing, technology and direct and health professional workforce responses. In addition to her new Board role with ARATA, since 2014 Libby has been a voluntary Board member of the Rundle Foundation, an organisation focused on the issue of age-appropriate housing for people with complex behavioural support needs after acquired brain injury.
Jenni Dabelstein
Jenni is a physiotherapist with over 3 decades of experience in both Australia and the USA, working as clinician, researcher, educator and consultant within the disability sector.  She has special interests in the areas of biomechanics, specialised seating and wheeled mobility, has a keen interest in recreational and sports wheelchairs, and is a Paralympic Boccia Classifier. In addition to her clinical experience, Jenni has significant business experience in sales, management and business development roles within the rehabilitation equipment industry.  For the past decade, Jenni has worked as an independent seating & equipment conultant, with a clientele including both adults and children with a range of conditions including acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other complex presentations.   Jenni also works extensively as an educator and consultant within the industry and provides a range of professional training and mentoring services to allied health professionals and organisations who desire to build their capacity and competence in the area of assistive technology. 
Fraser Clarke is an OT, graduated in 2002, and has worked in AT since then specialising in seating and wheelchairs. He has worked in government, health and not for profit businesses within Western Australia and worked for a year in Guernsey (UK). Fraser completed his MBA through Curtin University in 2015 and has spent the last 5 years managing an Assistive Technology clinic and workshop - CPTech at Ability Centre - in Perth. Fraser is married and has 3 young boys (6, 8, 9) who keep things very busy but fun at home.
Anita Volkert is an experienced occupational therapist, currently working as National Manager – Professional Practice and Development at Occupational Therapy Australia, and as a clinical occupational therapist at DPV Health in North West Melbourne.
Anita has a wide range of prior clinical experience in both mental health and physical settings, across all age groups, in inpatient and community settings with significant experience of using AT to support participation in the occupations of everyday life.
Anita has completed a secondment as Consultant Allied Health Professional in Dementia in Scotland, leading the implementation of Ageing in Place policy in acute services, which included new and innovative AT solutions with this age group.
Anita is also an experienced occupational therapy educator, accustomed to managing multiple demands, and to working with a student-centred focus.  Anita’s education experience includes curriculum design, lecturing, tutoring, pastoral care and both course and practice placement coordination.
Anita is experienced in leading, supervising and supporting staff and services.

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