Understanding the unique challenges that First Nations communities face when accessing disability supports
Indigenous Australians living with disability are entitled to receive the same levels of care as other Australians living with a disability. Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access quality disability services all over Australia.
The NDIS can cover a range of common primary disability groups, including those with:
- Intellectual disability such as an acquired brain injury, developmental delay, or Down syndrome
- Physical disability, including muscular dystrophy, paraplegia, and cerebral palsy
- Severe or profound disability, or difficulties seeing, hearing, speaking and moving
- Sensory and speech disability, including autism, blindness, and deafness
Considering the various socio-cultural challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, support services need to be readily available all over the country. Regardless of disability status or Indigenous status, Indigenous Australians have the right to access the best care available where they live.
In this article, we will take a look at how disability affects the First Nations community around the country, and deliver information about what services are available.
About disability in the Indigenous community
First Nations people are not necessarily overrepresented in terms of disability prevalence. However, they face considerable hardships when accessing disability support services. Many Indigenous communities are located outside of major cities in rural and remote areas, making it difficult to access services without help from family members.
The delivery of disability and health services also requires respect and sensitivity. Culturally appropriate services are even more difficult to find than standard disability services in very remote areas.
Acknowledgment of culture is very important to the Indigenous Australian community. It goes beyond making people feel welcome. It’s about making people feel understood and comfortable with who they are as a person in every aspect. This can come in the form of:
- Acknowledgement and support of individual languages
- Respect of local on-country protocols
- Understanding of the different ways that First Nations peoples participate in their community
The single most important thing to keep in mind when delivering services to Indigenous Australians is that every single person wants to be treated as an individual. Just as no two disabilities are exactly the same, no person is the same. Each individual person makes up a unique part of their local community.
HealSoul understands the challenges and limitations that Indigenous NDIS participants face. We work directly with Indigenous participants to create care plans that meet their needs, while acknowledging cultural sensitivities. For this reason, we employ a diverse group of carers from all backgrounds and walks of life.
Disability support for Indigenous Australians
As stated previously, all First Nations people should be able to access the disability supports they require, regardless of where they live. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is available nationwide, but not all services are.
NDIS supports services include, but are not limited to the following:
- Short-term respite care
- Home care and daily living assistance
- Independent living arrangements and transitional assistance
- Assistance accessing work and education
- Personal care and safety assistive products
- Group and centre-based activities in the community
- Assistance for children, including early intervention
- Travel and transport assistance
Depending on your situation, location, and disability status, you may be able to access all or several of the above supports. What’s important is that you are receiving the right supports for your condition. A disability support plan allows a dedicated care provider to understand your situation and goals, and create a plan to achieve those goals using the supports covered by the NDIS.
How to seek support for First Nations people living with a disability
If you’re ready to get started finding a new sense of independence when living with a disability, we can point you in the right direction.
If you live in a remote community, you should get in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO). There are over 300 ACCHOs around the country offering culturally appropriate services.
Secondly, you can get in touch with your State (or Territory) Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Services Officer who provide support to people living in Supported Living Environments.
You can also contact HealSoul. Our carers are experienced in delivering disability support for Indigenous Australians. We specialise in working with NDIS participants to create care plans and support systems that help them find more independence as members of their community.
Other avenues of information
Fortunately, there are many additional avenues of information for people wanting to learn more about the disability support available to Indigenous Australians. From not-for-profit advocacy groups, to government-funded portals, we’ve compiled some of the best places to look for further support for your disability.
First Peoples Disability Network Australia
The First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDNA) is a national advocacy organisation for Indigenous people living with disabilities. Started as a community movement in 2010, the Network has grown to encompass First Nations disability communities all over the country. They have a range of handy resources for people looking to learn more.
National Disability Insurance Agency
The NDIA delivers the NDIS, and is an independent statutory agency for the Scheme. On their website, you will find well-explained content about the Scheme and its services. There’s information for participants and providers that provides invaluable context as to how the Scheme works.
National Indigenous Australians Agency
A full service agency for the affairs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the NIAA was founded to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians. The agency works directly for the Minister for Indigenous Australians, and their area of focus on Health And Wellbeing is particularly useful.
With locations in Perth and Melbourne, HealSoul is well positioned to help Indigenous Australians find support services where they live. We help participants of the NDIS create support plans that work for them, while delivering services with respect. We aim to assist Indigenous Australians in finding their own sense of independence, regardless of their disability.
If you’re looking for culturally sensitive disability services with an emphasis on self-reliance and independence, then get in touch with our team. You can get started with a consultation to assess your needs and talk about what services will best help you.
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