About Talkin' Together

What is Talkin’ Together?

Watch this short video for an introduction to the project.

The transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has brought more consumers with disabilities into the marketplace. Many of these consumers do not have experience purchasing services or entering contracts, because the government previously managed many of the services and purchases on their behalf.

Consumer Awareness Protection Initiative

In 2017 and 2018, NSW Fair Trading’s Consumer Awareness Protection Initiative (CAPI) project engaged with nearly 12,500 people across NSW to increase awareness of Australian Consumer Law. The project identified that some groups of people with disabilities are less familiar or confident with making a complaint.

Consumer protection agencies are concerned that, without complaints, the true nature of issues is not being identified and addressed early as there is insufficient data.

The CAPI project identified a range of barriers to people with disabilities understanding their rights and using those rights to make a complaint. This created an opportunity to engage with priority communities in targeted ways to increase awareness and confidence.

It is important to have trusted information sources and support in order to build people’s capacity to exercise their rights in the marketplace.

Feedback received from communities said that they would like to:

  • hear the voices of people with lived experience of disability talk about their experience purchasing from the market
  • engage with Fair Trading staff and talk about complaints from their perspective.

Consumer Awareness Peer to Peer project

The Consumer Awareness Peer to Peer (CAPP) project was developed from our learnings from the CAPI project including:

  • people with disabilities want to hear about the experiences of people with disabilities when exercising their rights
  • their experience is really valuable to enable others with similar disabilities to learn and engage with their rights
  • culture has significant impact on the way we engage. We want to explore better ways of building trust and engagement with our Aboriginal and multicultural communities
  • people with mental illness are hard to reach and hard to engage with because we don’t have the necessary relationships of trust
  • Aboriginal people with disability want to engage with other Aboriginal people with disability, not just other people with disability. Culture is more important than disability
  • if we want to build the capacity of people with disabilities to exercise their consumer rights, we need to work with partner organisations who have relationships of trust.

From CAPP to Talkin' Together

The CAPP project took on the name ‘Talkin Together’ and addressed these objectives by developing opportunities to co-facilitate community engagement with people with disabilities.

Partnerships were developed with key organisations already supporting people with disabilities to exercise their rights. These organisations include:

Co-facilitation and shared expertise

Using a co-facilitator model creates a source of trust and shared expertise. It also means the project is deliverable in a variety of communities and is able to be rolled-out reasonably quickly in a decentralised way.

This means individual and support organisation capacity around Australian Consumer Law will build gradually, alongside a transferrable framework of resources and supports for other organisations to use after the project ceases.

Research and experience from organisations such as CDAH has shown that support from peers is highly effective.

People who have lived experience of disability can offer invaluable support to others who are on a similar journey.

For people with a disability and their families, peer support can be a powerful and effective way to get information and assistance. People are often more comfortable sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences with their peers through natural, informal conversations, rather than engaging formally with service providers and government.

Creating behavioural change in communities is time-consuming and labour-intensive. It also requires a high level of trust to be established between the parties. This is a sector significantly impacted by reforms to the disability sector. It is experiencing conflicting norms of behaviour as the sector moves from welfare to the marketplace.

The Talkin’ Together project:

  • utilised the expertise of people with disabilities to talk about their experiences of NDIS (or the market) when entering contracts, hiring services or using complaints processes
  • used the expertise of Fair Trading staff to talk about Australian Consumer Law
  • using the shared expertise of people with disabilities and Fair Trading staff, adopted a model of co-delivered, facilitated conversations in local communities at the proposed trial sites
  • worked with the key partner organisations to deliver a co-facilitated community engagement strategy in identified areas.

Did it work?

Yes. An independent project evaluation was conducted by ARTD.

Key findings

Talkin’ Together took a new approach to developing and delivering consumer rights education in partnership with four diverse communities, with different experiences and needs, in four very different locations over a shorter time-frame than initially planned.

  • The value of co-design: Designing workshops with people with disability meant the content was tailored to the needs of each target group. Participants could better engage with the messages and understand their rights.
  • The value of co-delivery: Having peer facilitators meant participants felt comfortable. They could engage, relate to and understand the content. There were also transformational benefits that can only come from peer interactions – people realised “If you can do this, so can I.”
  • There were some challenges in the co-production and co-delivery that were compounded by the short time-frame,  including the different ways of working between government and non-government organisations.

There were positive outcomes across the stakeholder groups:

  • Participants:
    • increased their understanding of their rights
    • increased their confidence in speaking up for their rights
    • felt empowered by hearing how their peers have managed issues, and by seeing their peers lead workshops.
  • Peer facilitators:
    • increased their knowledge, skills and confidence
    • felt valued for their expertise, and
    • gained employment experience and opportunities for further employment.
  • Fair Trading staff:
    • gained experience in co-design, and the knowledge to effectively engage with people with disability
    • identified opportunities to increase the accessibility of Fair Trading information and processes to enhance consumer protection.

Download the full evaluation presentation (PDF, 5114.36 KB)