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VicTas Website > In The Community > Disability Inclusion

​Disability Inclusion ​​​

Rev (Deacon) Andy Calder is responsible for oversight of Disability Inclusion for the VicTas Synod. Andy has be​​en an ordain​ed Uniting Church minister for 22 years. He is located within the Culture and Context Unit of the Commission for Mission. His role is broadly to encourage and promote inclusion of people with disabilities within the life of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

Contact him at or (03)​​ 9251 5489.

Disability Action Plan

Following the Launch of the Synod’s 2015-18 Disability Action Plan​ ​by the Victorian Public Advocate, Ms Colleen Pearce, steady progress has been made. Plans for 2017/18 include review of the Synod's Mental Health Kit for congregations and focus on the Circles of Support concept.

Below is one of a series of videos presented at the launch, demonstrating Synod's commitment to the participation of people with disabilities in all dimensions of Uniting Church life. 

What's Happening in Hobart from Commission for Mission on Vimeo.

See also - 

What's happening in Footscray
What's happening in Billanook​
What's happening in Kew​



 The 2015-18 Disability Action Plan of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania was launched on September 25, 2015. The Plan was then submitted to the Australian Human Rights Commission as a tangible statement of the church’s commitment to eliminating discrimination in all arenas of activity: congregations, agencies, schools and the wider synod. The Plan includes extensive detail of how to initiate responses in local contexts, and offers a range of resources and support organisations. There is a matrix of expected responses and responsibilities over the 2015-18 period. Supplementary sections to the Plan can be found in the column to the right. An Easy English component outlines the needs expressed by people with disabilities: (i) to enter the place (ii) to feel welcome, and (iii) to have a say. The Plan was launched by Victoria’s Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce. 

Community Advocacy/Spirituality

Victorian State Disability Plan 2017 - 2020 /NDIS

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has been leading the move to have the dimension of spirituality recognised in disability services planning. The current Plan has overlooked this important part of people's lives, flying in the face of international literature and people's expressed desire for it to be recognised. Spirituality and its associated connectedness with religious faith communities needs to be seen as integral to government social inclusion policy. At present there is 'no box to tick' ​in people's annual care plans when it comes to the area of spiritual or religious participation/interest.

To this end, a cross section of concerned people provided feedback about their concerns to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing. In conjunction with Spiritual Health Victoria, discussions are ongoing with Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Victorian Skills Commissioner and NDIS personnel as responsibility for planning services shifts to this new system.

Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV)

Over a period of some time work has been quietly progressing towards the FCCV adopting a Statement that affirms and encourages participation of people with disabilities in all faith communities across Victoria. This was finally achieved last month when the Council of FCCV endorsed the Statement and it was officially launched on 13 November 2016 at the annual Conference of FCCV, held at the Darebin Arts Centre. (see attached Statement) It is to be hoped that this Statement will continue to receive promotion amongst all faith communities.

Susan Stork-Finlay presenting the Statement

VALID Statement on Spirituality

The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID), a major self-advocacy network in Victoria, recently endorsed a Statement on Spirituality, which reinforces the importance and value of people's expression of their particular spirituality, which includes participation in religious communities. This is the first known time a non-faith based disability organisation has proclaimed such a public statement. It can be viewed at

This Statement has come about as a result of PhD studies with the University of Divinity:  social action research being undertaken by Andy Calder titled: 'An investigation of the spirituality of adults with intellectual disabilities. Finding a voice in public policy in Victoria, Australia'.

Nathan Photiadis Christmas reduced.jpg

Exclusion and Embrace: Disability, Justice and Spirituality

was an Australasian Interfaith Conference held at the Jasper Hotel, Melbourne on August 21-23, 2016. It was a significant opportunity to bring people together who are interested in the intersection of disability and spirituality: people with disabilities, families, support personnel, agencies and academics.

International keynote speakers included Prof Hans Reinders and Rev Bill Gaventa and Australian speakers Dr Lorna Hallahan and Prof David Tacey. There was a diversity of sponsors and endorsements, including the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) Jewish, Christian Muslim Association (JCMA), Spiritual Care Australia and Spiritual Health Victoria, as well as the Australian Catholic University and the University of Divinity. The Uniting Church provided the Conference Secretariat. A highlight of the Conference was a wonderful Art Exhibition; the design above was used in Conference promotions. A USB of the conference activities is available: keynotes/electives/video and photo content/art exhibition and much more. Contact Ann on for further details.

In partnership with the Victorian Government’s Office for Disability, a 12-month project was undertaken in 2010, and still relevant today, to research barriers people with disabilities experience within the four major faith traditions of Victoria: Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. The complete report, "To belong I need to be missed​", and an Easy English version​, can be found on the right of this page. A 24-minute video by the same name highlighting perspectives from people with disabilities and leaders of these faith communities, is also available here​.

Uniting CPE - The John Paver Centre​

The John Paver Centre​, established in 2010 under the auspices of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania honours the significant contribution of Rev Prof John Paver to the practice of supervised ministry reflection. Supervision is provided by people accredited within the Standards of the Association for Supervised and Clinical Pastoral Education in Victoria Inc (ASACPEV Inc). ASACPEV Inc. is a member body of the Australia and New Zealand Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ANZACPE).

The program is offered particularly to people involved across the spectrum of community-based pastoral care. To date, participants in the programs have come from prison, forensic psychiatry, schools, parish, aged care and hospital contexts.

The Centre welcomes inquiries and applications. Contact the Centre Director Andy Calder at or 03 9251 5489.

Read more about Uniting CPE at the John Paver Centre.

‘Out of the Whirlwind: CPE and Climate Change’ is the name of an article written by Dr Jan Morgan and Rev Andy Calder, about the 2013 ecoministry program run under the auspices of this Centre. Probably the first such program conducted internationally, the article was published in the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling, Winter/Spring 2016.


Road Trauma

The Uniting Church has had a long-term association with the TAC-funded organisation Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), which provides free counselling services for all people affected by road trauma. In 2001 the Uniting Church initiated an annual inter-faith Time for Remembering ceremony has been organised for a range of people: including those bereaved, injured, carers, emergency services personnel, witnesses. The event is held on the third Sunday of November, coinciding with many other similar events globally, in recognition of World Remembrance Day for Victims of Road Crashes. The 2018 ceremony will be held on Sunday 18​ November in Queen's Hall, Parliament House. 

Arising from this association, many people have wondered why there is no permanent memorial in Victoria for the approximately 40,000 people killed since 1951 when official record-keeping commenced – multiply that figure by up to 20 for people injured, and it's easy to see that hardly anyone in Victoria is untouched by road trauma. To that end, TAC provided funds to the Uniting Church for a project to develop a memorial. Andy Calder is the Project Manager, and attached to the right is the Design Brief. Negotiations are ongoing with government to realise this vision.

Andy was recently a member of VicRoads' Steering Committee set up to review VicRoads' 1998 Roadside Memorial Policy.