New policy paper reveals more culturally diverse disability support required

Posted 6 months ago by Nicole Pope

People with disability from CALD backgrounds have half to one-third of the rate of the usage of mainstream services that people born in Australia have had [Source: Shutterstock]
People with disability from CALD backgrounds have half to one-third of the rate of the usage of mainstream services that people born in Australia have had [Source: Shutterstock]

A new policy paper to be released tomorrow highlights the need for mainstream services to meet the needs of people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Despite having similar rates of disability as other Australians, people born in a non-English speaking country are half as likely to receive formal disability assistance.

The paper Still outside the tent: Cultural diversity and disability in a time of reform released by Settlement Services International (SSI) will be released tomorrow in Sydney and will question the goals and vision of the National Disability Strategy, particularly the barriers and enablers for people with disability from CALD backgrounds.

Co-author and SSI Research and Policy Manager Tadgh McMahon says more needs to be done to help people from CALD backgrounds access disability services.

“Evidence indicates people with disability from CALD backgrounds have half to one-third of the rate of the usage of mainstream services that people born in Australia have had and there is no evidence to suggest that this is a reflection of their preferences or that they need less assistance.”

“What is needed are more ‘soft’ and ‘multiple’ community-based entry points to the disability service system to help these marginalised groups access services such as the NDIS.”

Systemic Advocate and Policy Officer at the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW (MDAA) Alicia Rodriguez says it is critical that sustainable and culturally suited mainstream services become available for CALD people with disability.

“We believe that it is important to acknowledge that different communities have different needs and ways of understanding disability; this could include language needs, social needs etc.”

“At the moment, mainstream support services do not offer this kind of support- as can be seen through the advocacy assistance we provide to people from CALD backgrounds.

“Without support we will see a growing disadvantage for people in the growth, development, inclusion and participation in society.”

Ms Rodriguez says the resources and supports needed include funding for interpreters and staff training on working with interpreters, translated materials, community outreach and training on culturally responsive practice.

“Taking a real person-centred approach to disability supports requires the commitment of the government and services to tailor their services to CALD communities, or have a realistic plan based on community consultation and feedback on the gaps that currently exist for CALD people with disability.”

The paper will be released at the SSI Speaker Series event - “When Disability and Cultural Diversity Meet: The role of community in driving inclusion” held in Sydney tomorrow.

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