” The 2011 Census indicated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience profound or severe disability at higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians at all ages, with 6.1% of Indigenous males and 5.4% of Indigenous females reporting a profound or severe disability.1
The Australian Bureau of Statistics found in 2015 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to be living with a disability.2
The First People Disability Network (FPDN) estimates that the current number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally eligible for participation in the NDIS is around 60,000.3 “
From project background see part 2 below
Part 1 Download 13 recommendations report
Representing a major change in the way supports for people living with disability are funded, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) presents both opportunities and significant challenges.
This project, Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – challenges and opportunities, was developed to examine the:
- Implementation of the NDIS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Strategy1
- Interaction between National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) staff, local area co-ordinators (LACs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
- Experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in accessing the NDIS, planning, and receiving disability supports through the scheme
The research was conducted in collaboration with the MJD Foundation (MJDF) and Synapse, organisations which have longstanding connections with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland respectively
Part 2 Background to project
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) represents a major change in the way the services and supports for people with disability are funded.
It presents both tremendous opportunity yet significant challenges.
Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive the same care as other Australians is an important human rights obligation. This project will improve the ability of the NDIS to achieve this.
At this stage, with the exception of an evaluation conducted in Barkly, very little is known about the roll-out of the NDIS to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This project will examine:
- the implementation of the NDIS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement strategy
- the interaction between the National Disability Agency (NDIA) staff, local area co-ordinators and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and NGOs
- the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in accessing the NDIS program, planning and receiving the supports/services through the program.
Recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities are not well served by mainstream services has led to strong advocacy and the development of culturally competent service models by the community controlled and NGO sector.
This project is a collaboration of 3 such organisations; Machado Joseph Disease Foundation (MJDF), Synapse and First Peoples Disability Network and the University of Melbourne.
The project will take a co-design approach to developing a study of the roll out of the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Co-design, or experience-based co-design, is not only a way to actively involve consumers in the design, delivery and/or evaluation of services but also enables the design of systems where consumer and carer experiences are central.4
Our approach to the project will bring together expertise from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations working to provide services to people with disabilities, with researchers and policy makers.
The approach to design and data collection will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, optimise existing data and knowledge, and develop local research capacity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It will bring together community, researchers, providers, policy makers and NDIA staff and develop an evidence informed approach to improving the NDIS and developing a workforce to support it.
The project will involve four phases:
- Establishment of a project reference group
- Reporting and review.
It is expected that the project will identify strengths and weaknesses of the NDIS implementation. It will identify promising strategies to improve the ways the NDIA works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations.
- Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – challenges and opportunities, A. Ferdinand et al 2019, The University of Melbourne
- Policy Brief: Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – challenges and opportunities
- B. Nicholas, Y. Mandy & G. Matthew 2013, Paper 6: Disability, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Canberra
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017, 4430.0 – Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, ABS, Canberra.
- V. Aimee & G. Declan 2017, Concern over speed of NDIS rollout in Indigenous communities as NSW launches approach, ABC News, available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/concern-over-speed-of-ndis-rollout-in-indigenous-communities/8458076
- Palmer, V. et al. (2013). BMJ open 5(3).