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NDIS Guide for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) People with Disability

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) aims to create a better future for participants by removing or reducing the barriers that come between them and the services they need. Despite Australia being among the most ethnically diverse nations globally, many people from multicultural backgrounds struggle to access the NDIS.

Although many organisations have made amazing efforts to support individuals from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds, more needs to be done. One of the biggest challenges is access to information in an understandable language, which has prevented people with disabilities from receiving support for many years.

Here is a guide for people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds to help navigate the NDIS and disability support services.

Multicultural Diversity in the NDIS

To understand the scope of the NDIS disability support guide and disability care for multicultural individuals, consider the following figures:

Roughly 26% of the Australian population was born overseas.

Nearly 20% of Australians speak a language other than English at home.

Only 9% of NDIS participants are from CALD backgrounds. However, the number is likely higher, considering some people may not disclose information about their cultural backgrounds.

Many people who speak English as a second or third language are unfamiliar with the NDIS.

Disability Support for People from Multicultural Backgrounds

Various multicultural organisations advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities. They offer various services to support participants’ long-term goals and help people feel part of the community. The services provided to people with disabilities include advocacy, organising bilingual services, and offering culturally specific resources.

You can access several multicultural services depending on your Territory or State. People with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds often report experiences of isolation, challenges in connecting with support services, and a lack of information. Therefore, if you are Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), it is crucial to find an organisation that offers disability support and advocacy to facilitate access to support.

The assistance services include connecting you to NDIS disability care and providing CALD-appropriate resources.

National Organisations for CALD Individuals

The following organisations help people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds to be included in communities and support them in achieving their goals.

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)

NEDA is a national organisation that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds and their families. The Department of Social Services funds this organisation, which is also among the founders of Disabled People’s Organizations Australia (DPOA).

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) website provides a disability support guide that informs migrants and refugees about their rights. Additionally, it has a community connector program in NSW, ACT, and Western Australia to help people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds apply for and access the NDIS.

Community Connector services will include:

  • providing Assertive Outreach to CALD communities
  • providing education and awareness about disability to CALD communities
  • linking potential Participants to existing NDIS offices, including using online platforms and resources
  • supporting potential Participants and their representatives to attend relevant appointments
  • building connections between potential Participants and Partners in the Community (PITC) or NDIS
  • providing information and support to help potential Participants understand, access, and utilisethe NDIS services
  • providing advice to the NDIA staff and PITC regarding culturally sensitive approaches and culturally specific barriers

Diversity and Disability Alliance NSW

The Diversity and Disability Alliance is an independent collective of people from CALD backgrounds in New South Wales. This organisation offers mentorship services, disability care support, and resources to create a wider peer-to-peer network across NSW. The DDAlliance Powerful Peer Project has trained mentors who provide one-on-one support to people with disabilities. Some of these mentors have experience working with the NDIS and will assist in building confidence, skills, and knowledge to pursue personal goals.

DDAlliance has been funded to develop peer-to-peer supports.

This means that we, people from CALD communities with disability, our families and friends are doing it for ourselves.

  • Peer support is all about
  • Supporting each other
  • Sharing what we know and what we learned
  • Motivating each other
  • Building our confidence together
  • Working together so each one of us gets the most out of the NDIS funding
  • Bring us together and build our communities so that are we are welcomed.

Multicultural Disability Services Program (MDSP) WA

The Multicultural Disability Services Program (MDSP) is based in Western Australia and provides personal assistance for home-based NDIS participants. The participants also receive mentoring support to help them maintain family relationships and participate in community activities. People with disabilities from CALD backgrounds will benefit from this service since it has staff that speaks over 75 languages.

Our vision is an inclusive community that values diversity, guarantees the human rights of people with a disability and ensures that they:

  • Have equal opportunity and access to social and cultural events and activities in the community;
  • Develop their capacity, skills and knowledge to make positive contributions to the
  • Community and thereby establish valued roles in the community;
  • Enjoy healthy, enriching and meaningful relationships that embrace their own lifestyle choices; and are empowered to plan and make their own choices to improve their quality of life.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA)

This organisation supports Australians from CALD backgrounds throughout the country. It also ensures that people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds have access to facilities and learning opportunities with a disability support guide. To sustain its operations, FECCA relies on its Disability Advisory Committee, which brings together disability advocates from all states and territories.

The Chairperson of FECCA, Ms. Mary Patetsos, said that the long-awaited release of the strategy was an important step forward in ensuring that people of CALD background had full and equal access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“FECCA has been working closely with the NDIA on developing this strategy, given that people with disability from a CALD background face particular challenges in accessing the NDIS,” Ms. Patetsos said.

“More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas. Yet CALD Australians remain under-represented in those accessing disability services under the NDIS.”

Ms. Patetsos said that the strategy released today needed to be backed up by adequate and appropriate resources.

“The NDIS should be made more accessible to people of CALD background, who should be aware of what it offers and have confidence that it can meet their needs.

“The strategy recognizes that the NDIS needs to develop sophisticated, targeted data collection as well as skills in cultural competency in order to engage with people of culturally and diverse backgrounds.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS helps participants from CALD backgrounds access translation and interpretation services to assist with their NDIS plans. Families and caregivers of participants who speak English as their second or third language can access these services to support their goals.

The Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) offers NDIS interpretation services, serving over 160 languages. Your ndis support coordinator will guide you in accessing the National Translation and Interpreter Services. They also help you prepare for your plan meeting, organise language support, and connect you to community services where you can learn English. Translation services include:

  • Immediate interpretation on the phone.
  • Pre-booked interpretation on the phone.
  • On-site interpreting when meeting providers or in a planning meeting.

Strategies for NDIS Support Coordinators and Service Providers

Every situation is unique for people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds. However, some strategies support coordinators ndis and service providers can implement when delivering services to these individuals include:

  • Establishing policies, structures, processes, and values for an efficient framework that delivers culturally responsive services and programs.
  • Partnering with CALD NDIS participants, organisations, and communities to establish a CALD service policy.
  • Leveraging opportunities to work with CALD organisationsto provide people with disability, families, and caregivers with community education to raise awareness about NDIS disability care options.
  • Building communication channels and formats for providing information to CALD clients based on literacy and ability levels.
  • Building websites with sections for prospective and existing CALD clients, with available translation services and contact information for CALD organisations.
  • Translating information into the participant’s preferred language and providing access to interpreters to understand disability support guides.
  • Building a culturally aware staff to serve NDIS participants with cultural competence, inclusivity, and responsiveness for better access to support services. This involves improving workforce diversity and cultural capability for clients to access culturally sensitive support from a staff that reflects their community values.

Support coordinators are working with people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds to help them access interpretation services. As a result, it has been easier for these individuals to access plan management and maximise their NDIS plan funding. Moreover, the NDIS is developing a Cultural and Linguistic Diversity strategy that will help address various issues. Currently, the strategy is open for consultation to ensure the NDIS is inclusive for people with disabilities from all communities and cultures.

If you have any questions about NDIS plan management, please contact us at 1800 63 63 77 or email us at info@ndsp.com.au.


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