Indigenous Australians with Disability

Creating Lasting Change For Indigenous Australians with Disability

Before we dive into details around the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN), we first want to introduce you to their deputy CEO and Gumbaynggirr Dunghutti woman, June Riemer. She has been a big part of the national campaigns for better, culturally appropriate access to the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and she believes that taking a holistic approach to health by listening to the needs of First Nations people and prioritising connection to country is the way forward. Statistics help show us just how much impact this work can have:

  • Indigenous Australians are 2.1 times more likely to be living with disability than other Australians.
  • Around 45% of Indigenous Australians live with a disability or long-term health condition.

Ms Riemer’s journey with the FPDN began under her mentor Uncle Lester Bostock, a Bundjalung man and founding member. He was one of the first people to talk about “double disadvantage” in Australia:

“If you’re an Aboriginal in Australia, it’s a disadvantage, but if you’re an Aboriginal person with a disability, it’s a double disadvantage.”

June and the FPDN brought these words into their operations, which have become the essence of what the First Peoples Disability Network do – removing disadvantages for people from the community and making positive change to the systems Indigenous Australians rely on for support. Their website articulates it very well:

“First Peoples with disability and their families are amongst the most seriously disadvantaged and disempowered members of the Australian community. We give voice to their needs and concerns and share their narratives of lived experience.”

To attack the problems at hand, the FPDN provides a plethora of services, resources, and community access opportunities and much of what they do now centres around the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities.

There is so much depth to their offerings that we won’t dive into everything they do (or you’d be reading for days). So, with that in mind, let’s have a brief look at some of what the First Peoples Disability Network offers.


There are a number of training types offered by the FPDN, but one we love is their Disability Business Training. It is built in modules that provide businesses the means to engage with Aboriginal and Torress Strait Islander people with a disability in a culturally safe, respectful and meaningful way. The modules take you on an interactive journey through the Indigenous disability perspective using the traditional method of Aboriginal art, storytelling and yarning. The training is conducted online via Zoom and is by appointment.

If you’re interested to learn more, take a look at Disability Business Training on their website: https://fpdn.org.au/disabilitybusinesstraining/


Under their community banner also falls multiple great resources, but because we love artistic pursuits, let’s take a look at the Nuunaron Art Group. The name NuunaRon was created in memory of two artistic elders, Aunty Nuuna and Uncle Ron, who before their passing also made valuable contributions to others living with disability.

The NuunaRon Art Group provides a culturally safe space for people to share stories, gain skills and create art of all kinds. The web gallery is a beautiful example of some of the work they produce, but you can also see more in video form over on their Facebook page.

Royal Commission information

This vital piece of work that the FPDN are involved in is designed to gather stories and evidence from people with disability who are experiencing or have experienced violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The Royal Commission runs for three years, and through it, the FPDN is looking to make lasting changes.

To help explain the purpose of the Royal Commission, they created an animated story called “Respectful Listening.” It was made in a traditional style, incorporating symbols and art that many of Australia’s First Peoples have used to share information and stories for thousands of years. Take a look:

The FPDN website gives you much of the information you need about the Royal Commission (which is for all people with disability, not just Indigenous Australians), and offers a channel for telling your story if you find yourself in a position where you need to. Head to the website for more.

Whether you’re an Indigenous Australian or not, we at NDSP Plan Managers encourage you to spend time getting to know the First Peoples Disability Network. Expand your understanding of our cultural history and be aware of the many disadvantages that people in our Indigenous community face, there might be something you can do to help improve the statistics.

NDSP Plan Managers is a NDIS registered provider specialising in NDIS Plan Management. If you are a NDIS Participant looking for the right Plan Manager, CLICK HERE to get in touch with our friendly team today.


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