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With more than 200 delegates and 50 speakers, the first-of-its-kind conference in NSW put the emphasis on discussing issues and challenges specific to people with disability from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background.

Settlement Services International (SSI) hosted the DiverseAbility NDIS Inclusion Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta on April 19.

DiverseAbility was organised to raise awareness about the changing landscape of the disability sector in Australia, and the opportunities that the National Disability Scheme (NDIS) can offer to CALD communities in NSW.

At full Scheme in 2019/20, it is estimated that 20% of the NDIS packages nationally will be used by people from CALD backgrounds. The national participation rate is currently at 7.2% (9% in NSW).
Throughout the conference, delegates had active conversations about their experiences and the many opportunities to improve NDIS access and utilisation, with great feedback from the Scheme in terms of making those improvements happen.

The conference brought together NDIS-users, including people with disability from CALD backgrounds, their families and carers, CALD service providers and representatives, government agencies and disability experts, to identify and discuss ways to improve the engagement and participation of people with disability from CALD backgrounds into the NDIS. Delegates also showcased projects and initiatives that emphasised CALD access, a person-centred approach, and the improvements needed in the NDIS.

Keynote speakers at the Conference included the Hon Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism and Minister for Disability Services; Scott McNaughton, General Manager, Participant Pathway Design at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA); and V. Samuela and Quang Nguyen, who shared their stories and their own journey through the NDIS.

After the plenary session, 28 concurrent sessions and three solutions hubs provided participants with opportunities to collaborate and discuss solutions to the issues presented.
Mr Williams said the NSW Government understands the importance of supporting people with disability from CALD backgrounds to make full use of the NDIS.

“DiverseAbility is a great initiative that complements the work being done by Government to ensure people with disability from CALD backgrounds build confidence and knowledge to access the NDIS,” he said.

“The NSW Government has provided a range of funding, participated in consultations with CALD communities and is working closely with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to ensure people from CALD backgrounds can smoothly transition to the NDIS.”

Mr McNaughton said, “Today we have 140,000 people benefitting from NDIS and we are expecting that number to be 460,000 when the Scheme is fully rolled out. We don’t want people missing out; we want people to access the services they need.

We need to continue getting the message out for people from all communities, especially those from CALD backgrounds: this is a big focus on our overall rollout strategy. The DiverseAbility NDIS Inclusion conference gives us invaluable feedback to keep enhancing the NDIS rollout and keep making it better for all participants.”

SSI Chair, Elisabeth Shaw said, “Cultural differences in regards to understanding and explaining disability affect the way that CALD communities access disability support. When talking about equal access to the NDIS, targeting the needs and views of different CALD communities will generate more awareness and increase their participation. A one-size-fits-all approach does not help raise awareness nor engage CALD communities with the NDIS.

SSI continuously contributes with its expertise on working with CALD communities through tailored support services and leads the way on how best to inform and support them to understand and access the NDIS.”

Ms Shaw said she hoped the DiverseAbility conference would contribute to a better quality of life and increased economic and social participation of people with disability from CALD backgrounds who accessed the NDIS.

DiverseAbility is an initiative of the SSI FutureAbility project

SSI’s FutureAbility project has designed and used a number of innovative approaches and activities to help CALD communities learn how to access the NDIS, including regional round table discussions, in-language theatre plays, radio campaigns, NDIS sessions for large settled and small and emerging groups, workshops on culturally responsive disability practice and the inaugural state conference.

The project has gone beyond the regular ways of communicating, engaging and delivering information to different CALD groups, and looked at alternative methods and channels that are a better fit for specific CALD communities.

The project’s activities have proven to be successful, with more than 2,000 people from more than 20 different cultural and language groups being informed about the NDIS and how to access the Scheme just in the last year.

For more information about FutureAbility, visit www.ssi.org.au/services/futureability.

About SSI
Settlement Services International (SSI) is a community organisation and social business that draws on its background, expertise and experience working with a wide range of people seeking support, including newcomers, refugees and asylum seekers and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. We work with vulnerable communities to build their capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.

SSI is an advocate for the people and communities it represents and serves. Through the work we do, we empower people to change and improve their lives, and through our advocacy and representation, we influence and shape ideas and policy.

Media enquiries
SSI Communications Officer, Natalia Carozzi: 0421 017 065 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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