Promoting the equal inclusion of Australia’s marginalised Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Associate Prof Clare Townsend

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) represents the most significant disability policy reform in Australian history. For the first time, eligible individuals will be allocated individualised funding to purchase the care and support services of their choice. It is to be an all-inclusive scheme in which ‘every Australian counts’. There are concerns that Australia’s First Peoples will face greater barriers to accessing disability supports through the Scheme than non-Indigenous Australians. First Peoples with complex neurocognitive and/or psychosocial disabilities are especially at risk of missing out on NDIS supports to which they are entitled.

This presentation will outline some of the potential impediments to equal access envisaged in this policy reform. It will describe initiatives developed by the authors to address the identified problems, including: (a) a culturally safe assessment tool and qualitative methodology to accurately identify and understand the prevalence and nature of neurocognitive and/or psychosocial disability amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population; and (b) culturally safe initiatives to increase their participation in the NDIS. The implications of these activities in relation to policy reform, human rights, health and wellbeing, quality of life and community participation of First Peoples with complex disability will be discussed.