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People born in a non-English speaking country have similar rates of disability as other Australians but are about half as likely to receive formal assistance.

A new Settlement Services International (SSI) policy paper, to be released in Sydney on February 13, argues that a more comprehensive and culturally competent response is needed from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to meet the diverse needs of people with disability.

The paper, Still outside the tent: Cultural diversity and disability in a time of reform, questions the goals and vision of the National Disability Strategy with a particular focus on barriers and enablers for people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

It suggests ways forward for that demographic to achieve greater social and economic inclusion.

Co-author of the paper, SSI Research and Policy Manager Tadgh McMahon, said, “Evidence indicates that people with disability from CALD backgrounds have half to one-third of the rate of 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.”

Still outside the tent: Cultural diversity and disability in a time of reform will be launched at an SSI Speaker Series event — “When Disability and Cultural Diversity Meet: The role of community in driving inclusion” — at TripAdvisor HQ in Redfern, Sydney, on Wednesday, February 13.

To obtain a copy of the policy paper or for more information about the Speakers Series, contact Greg Clennar, 0417 687 064 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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