Access to DisabilityCare critical for Aboriginal people Measures to increase awareness of the benefits of DisabilityCare Australia within Aboriginal communities and establish targets to improve access to disability services are both welcome given thehigh numbers of Aboriginal people living with disabilities.
- 50% of Aboriginal people have some form of disability or long term health condition (ABS 2011 Disability and Carers Survey)
- This prevalence of disability is more than twice that of the non-indigenous Australians.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair Justin Mohamed (pictured below) today praised the 10 point plan developed by the First People’s Disability Network (FPDN pictured above) ) which would use peer to peer methods to get the message to communities about how DisabilityCare can improve their lives.
Mr Mohamed also welcomed the announcement by Minister Jenny Macklin that NACCHO will form part of the working group to help the Federal Government set new targets aimed specifically at increasing access to services for Aboriginal people with a disability.
“The fact is that around twice as many Aboriginal people have a disability than non-Aboriginal people,” Mr Mohamed said.
“The introduction of DisabilityCare Australia has the potential to turn around the lives of these people by providing them with quality care and support to help them reach their full potential.
“However it is often the case that as Aboriginal people we don’t always recognise disability or seek the appropriate levels of help.
“This is often highlighted in remote communities where service provision is low and there is less acceptance of help from outside.”
Mr Mohamed said Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services can play a key role in helping to spread the word about DisabilityCare Australia.
“For DisabilityCare to have the impact it needs in Aboriginal communities, it’s critical Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services play a central role
“We are already a trusted source of comprehensive primary health care within our Communities in urban, regional and remote areas and we can help in educating and bringing awareness to our communities about the changes to the system and ensure they are not left out.
“We look forward to being key players in developing targets and mapping out the means through which to deliver quality access to disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Ten Point Plan
- Recognise that the starting point is the vast majority of Aboriginal people with disability do not self-identify as people with disability. This occurs for a range of reasons including the fact that in traditional language there was no comparable word for disability. Also that many Aboriginal people with disability are reluctant to take on the label of disability particularly if they may already experience discrimination based on their Aboriginality. In many ways disability is a new conversation in many communities therefore with regard the NDIS we are starting from an absolute baseline position. And as a consequence change in this area may evolve on a different timeline to that of the main part of the NDIS.
- Awareness raising via a concerted outreach approach informing Aboriginal people with disabilities, their families and communities about their rights and entitlements. And as well informing Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities about the NDIS itself and how to work this new system effectively. There is simply no other way to raise awareness then by direct face-to-face consultation. Brochures and pamphlets will not do the job in this instance as this will be as stated earlier a new conversation in many communities.
- Establish NDIS Expert Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with disability and the NDIS. In recognition of the fact that there is a stand alone building block for the NDIS focused upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities the FPDN views it not only as critical but logical that a new Expert Working Group be established focused upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities. The new working group would operate in the same way the 4 current working groups do, that is it would be chaired by 2 members of the National People with Disability and Carers Council. To ensure its effectiveness but also critically to influence prominent Aboriginal leaders as well as the disability sector, members would be drawn from Aboriginal leadership as well as involving prominent disability leaders. The FPDN believes such an approach is warranted not only because of the degree of unmet need that is well established but also because this has the potential to be a very practical and meaningful partnership between government, the non-government sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Build the capacity of the Non-Indigenous disability service system to meet the needs of Aboriginal people with disability in a culturally appropriate way. Legislate an additional standard into the Disability Services Act focused upon culturally appropriate service delivery and require disability services to demonstrate their cultural competencies.
- Research including into the prevalence of disability and into a range other relevant matters. Critically this work must be undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities to ensure a culturally appropriate methodology. There remains very little reference material about disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities this needs to rectified to ensure that we are getting a true picture of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities.
- Recognise that there already exists a workforce in many Aboriginal communities that continues to do important work often informally. This work needs to valued and recognized with the potential being the creation of employment opportunities in some communities.
- Recognise that it’s not always about services. Many communities just need more resources so that they can continue to meet the needs of their own people with disabilities. There may be perfectly appropriate ways of supporting people already in place, however what is often lacking is access to current technologies or appropriate technical aids or sufficient training for family and community members to provide the optimum level of support.
- Recruitment of more Aboriginal people into the disability service sector.
- Build the capacity of the social movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disabilities by supporting existing networks and building new ones in addition to fostering Aboriginal leaders with disabilities. These networks play a critical role in breaking down stigma that may exist in some communities but are also the conduits for change and will be integral to the successful implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Aboriginal ‘Launch’ sites focused upon remote, very remote, regional and urban settings. It is critical that this major reform be done right. Therefore it is appropriate to effectively trial its implementation. To this end the FPDN can readily identify key communities that would be appropriate as trial sites.