NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Disability and #NDIS : Understanding the “purple shirt mob”: New web based app aims to bridge gap between NDIA and Indigenous people with disability

A new web-based app targeting Aboriginal Australians has been developed to help connect people with disability in remote Indigenous communities, and their carers, with the NDIS.

The app was informed by research examining people’s understanding of disability and the NDIS in remote communities and the need for tools that help them understand the supports available. Indigenous Australians experiencing disability at twice the rate of those who are non-Indigenous.

The Disability in the Bush app delivers plain language, culturally relevant information and video stories via mobile phones and other devices to bridge the knowledge gap about disability, and help Indigenous Australians connect with the NDIS.

The free app was created by and Ninti One and Interplay, and funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency, and includes translations in two central Indigenous languages – Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara – with plans for a further three Top End languages in the coming months.

The Disability in the Bush app was developed following research across five Indigenous communities which examined people’s understanding of disability and their awareness of the NDIS. The interviews found that official information is delivered using unfamiliar language and concepts, or via channels that communities don’t use.

Ninti One Aboriginal Community Researchers found that many community members knew of ‘the purple shirt mob’– a reference to the purple shirts worn by NDIS staff – but few people knew what supports were available, and in some cases didn’t know they were eligible.

“Aboriginal Australians are twice as likely to have a disability as non-Aboriginal Australians, but too many don’t understand the NDIS. We need to shape the system around the end users, not the other way around,” said Professor Sheree Cairney, Director of Interplay.

“By bringing government, science and community together in a shared space, we have created a tool to get vital information to people in remote communities. This app combines knowledge translation principles and technology and is designed by, and for, Aboriginal people,” said Tammy Abbott, Community Engagement Officer and Indigenous lead for the project.

Indigenous people led the development of the app from the research stage, identifying challenges for people trying to access the NDIS, right through to the language used on the site and the look and feel.

“People in remote Indigenous communities have particular information needs due to their culture, environment and isolation, and for people with disability these needs are even more specific,” said Rod Reeve, Managing Director of Ninti One

“The Disability in the Bush app brings together culturally relevant ideas, video stories of more than 20 Aboriginal people and translations to create a one-stop-shop for Aboriginal people, their carers and family, and support workers,” he said.

Disability in the Bush : https://disabilityinthebush.com

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