The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing First People with disability living in remote communities, advocates have told the Disability Royal Commission in Alice Springs (Mparntwe) today.
“Whilst the NDIS has promised choice and control, First People with disability have been left behind, with those living in remote communities still regularly being prevented from accessing the disability supports they’re entitled to under the scheme,” said Damian Griffis, CEO, First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).
Appearing at the Disability Royal Commission’s latest public hearing into the experiences of First Nations people with disability living in remote and very remote communities with the NDIS, FPDN highlighted the barriers First People with disability in remote communities continue to face.
“Today we told the Disability Royal Commission about many of the challenges involved in becoming an NDIS participant if you’re a First Nations person with disability living remotely,” said Mr Griffis.
“The NDIA is failing to provide basic information and knowledge about the scheme in remote and very remote First Nations communities, let alone information that is accessible, relevant and culturally appropriate, especially for people with English as a second language. What this tells mob in remote communities is very clear: the system was not designed for you.”
“Despite FPDN’s ongoing calls, there hasn’t been enough investment in culturally appropriate education and outreach on the ground, with many First People with disability not having been informed the disability service system has changed and that you now need an NDIS plan to access the majority of supports.”
“It is unacceptable that the NDIS – Australia’s biggest social reform since Medicare – has failed to account for the needs of First People with disability in remote and very remote communities, and that as a result, people are going without basic supports,” said Mr Griffis.
“We need an urgent roll out of specific outreach and advocacy for First People with disability, who can go out on country and talk with the whole community about how to fix barriers to the NDIS.”
“From accessing the NDIS to navigating the planning process, it is clear that First People with disability living in remote and very remote communities have not been considered in the scheme’s design,” said June Riemer, Deputy CEO, First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).
“The expectation that every Aboriginal person with disability living in a remote or very remote community will have access to a phone or the internet, will have the required diagnostic assessments to demonstrate their impairment, or will be willing to put themselves in a deficit position to access supports is unrealistic, demonstrating the scheme’s failure to engage with the cultural model of disability,” said Ms Riemer.
“What is needed is genuine investment in a safe cultural NDIA framework led by community Elders, cultural navigators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.”
“The NDIS has the potential to transform the lives of our mob for the better. If the NDIA is genuine in wanting to achieve this, then the scheme must look to the leadership and knowledge of First Nations People, so that First People with disability in remote and very remote communities can be empowered to understand, access and navigate suitable supports,” said Ms Riemer
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