More than 200 delegates and 50 speakers were part of SSI’s DiverseAbility NDIS Inclusion Conference on April 19.
Speakers from the plenary session at DiverseAbility Conference
The conference was organised by SSI 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.
It was great to see delegates having 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.
It is estimated that, with the Scheme fully operational in 2019-20, 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).
The conference brought together people with disability from CALD backgrounds, their families and carers, CALD service providers, 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.
“It was great to have people with disability and carers from CALD backgrounds sharing their stories on stage,” said Georgia Zogalis, FutureAbility project manager.
“For most of them, this was the first time they have spoken in public and we are very proud of them. Having them sharing their stories is the best way of helping decrease the stigma that is often associated with disability in CALD communities. Thank you V Samuela, Quang Nguyen, Jubran Eesee, Thomas Kuzma and Bala Adhikaris.”
The Hon. Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism and Minister for Disability Services, was also a speaker at the conference. He highlighted DiverseAbility as a great initiative that complemented the work done by Government to ensure people with disability from CALD backgrounds built confidence and knowledge to access the NDIS.
Scott McNaughton, General Manager, Participant Pathway Design at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), mentioned the need to continue getting the message out for people from all communities, especially those from CALD backgrounds, and highlighted how this conference gave the Agency invaluable feedback to keep enhancing the NDIS rollout and keep making it better for all participants.
Ms Zogalis added, “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 contributes with expertise in engaging 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.
“I hope this is just one more milestone in our ongoing conversation. We need to keep the momentum until we achieve our goal of seeing one in five people with an NDIS package have a CALD background.”
The DiverseAbility Conference is an initiative of the SSI FutureAbility project. For more information about FutureAbility, please visit www.ssi.org.au/services/futureability.