SSI News Blog

SSI has a rich history of providing support to and advocating for the rights of people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

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Our Voice harnessed lived experience to overcome the gap in CALD access to support services

In 2018, the SSI research paper Still Outside the Tent found that people who are 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. It called for a more comprehensive and culturally responsive approach to service delivery from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to meet the diverse needs of people with disability.

Co-author of the paper and SSI Research and Policy Manager Tadgh McMahon said, “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.”

Since 2014, SSI has been helping people from CALD backgrounds overcome language and cultural barriers through those “soft” entry points. With a community-minded approach to service delivery, SSI has successfully run a number of capacity building programs to help those people live the lives they want to live and achieve greater social and economic inclusion.

One of those programs, Ability Links, ran from 2014 until June 2020 and supported people with disability aged 9 to 64, and their families and carers, to plan for their future by building on their strengths and skills to lead the life they want as valued members of their community.

During its six-year course, SSI Ability Links provided information to over 18,000 people across NSW and facilitated support to 4,500 people, including people with disability, their families and carers.

To assist people from CALD backgrounds access the NDIS and other mainstream support services, SSI’s Future Ability initiative provided people with disability and their supports information on disability and access in 14 different languages.

The Multilingual Disability Hub, a nation-wide multilingual hotline and website provided relevant and easily accessible information on disability and the NDIS, while the Community Information Sessions provided in-language support where individuals were able to continue to ask questions in a person-centred environment.

In addition, SSI has also taken an innovative approach to disability services education through its Our Voice program. The program used lived experience educators to help mainstream disability service providers to better understand the challenges facing people with disability from migrant and refugee backgrounds. 

And now in 2020, SSI has begun an exciting new chapter in disability support services as the organisation was named a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) for the NDIS. As an LAC, SSI supports people aged 7 and over to access the NDIS and other mainstream services in the community.

Find out more about SSI’s Local Area Coordinator services.

Success stories

Four Brave Women: Summer Hill café empowers refugee entrepreneurs

Courtesy The Australian: Ethiopian refugee Adi Tefera, left, with volunteer chef Kate Spina at Four Brave WomenFour Brave Women is open for business!

Developed as a joint initiative between The Trading Circle, a division of the charity Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, and SSI, Four Brave Women is a café and community space where refugees have the opportunity to create a sustainable income for themselves using their culinary skills. It is a creative and inclusive space that celebrates different cultures through food and art.

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