Approximately 21.9% of people with a disability come from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background in Australia. From that number, only a small proportion, around 2.5% are current disability services recipients.
Is it a lack of awareness, lack of engagement with CALD communities, overly complex processes or an information access problem?
The issue of equitable access is again front and centre as the NDIS in its third year, continues to roll out.
There is a fair amount of information available for both providers and participants regarding the NDIS. The NDIA, NDS and government departments provide a mountain of guides, toolkits and media materials. Some of these resources are available in other languages to aid CALD participants overcome the language barriers.
No one really disputes the good intentions behind these resources, rather as Diana Qian, President of the Diversity and Disability Alliance, highlighted in her article ‘A view from the back of the bus: a reflection on the need for a culturally responsive NDIS‘, that these passive modes of information sharing is not going to be enough to get people from CALD backgrounds to embrace the NDIS.
Great efforts have been made recently to address the small percentage of CALD NDIS participants. This includes the recent funding given to AMPARO Advocacy by the Targeted Strategies Participant Readiness Initiative from the QLD Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability to increase NDIS awareness activities within CALD communities.
The work and services by organisations such as AMPARO Advocacy, EOSCC and state counterparts such as QOSCC cannot be overstated. Their individual advocacy services, community workshops and events are key to bridging the gap between participants, providers and NDIS system.
At a service level, providers will be key in improving people with disability from CALD backgrounds to embrace the NDIS. Technology has certainly made it easier to share information, connect and delivery services. The implementation of technology systems will however, have little impact if the information and processes are not tailored for participants. So, what can be done to improve NDIS communications and uptake at a service level?
On a more general level:
Evaluating your digital and information assets, systems and processes may be a challenge, but it is a necessary step to ensure that all people with a disability, not just from CALD backgrounds have access to quality and efficient services, so they can exercise greater ‘choice and control’ on what services will best support their lifestyle and goals.