Joseph Archibald, Manager of Windaan Aboriginal Services, was given the opportunity to become a host for one week on @IndigenousX during May 2018 as well as share his story on The Guardian.
About IndigeniousX: Aboriginal owned and operated independent media company founded in 2013. @IndigenousX is a rotating Twitter account, meaning each week a new Indigenous host takes over the account, sharing their experiences, stories, perspectives, opinions, facts, insights news and more with an ever-growing following. The Guardian is a partner and brings more Indigenous voices and different types of stories into the mainstream media.
Read the full article here on The Guardian: Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support
Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support
Before I worked in the sector, I didn’t know much about disabilities and felt it had little to no relevance to my personal life. How wrong I was. I have been a carer for immediate and extended family and have grown up around family members with disability, but as in many of our Indigenous communities across the country, care and acceptance were our cultural norm and labels were not required.
The question of how much of difference access to quality formal disability supports could have made to the lives of my family members with disability, as well as our lives as carers, is more relevant now then ever. We need solutions to ensure that all Aboriginal people and their families have access to quality disability services that respect their culture and meet their needs.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) boasts some pretty impressive statistics, including the largest social reform since Medicare, increased funding in the sector from about $8bn per year to $22bn in 2019-20, and providing supports to about 475,000 people.
In 2014 the Australian government commenced rolling out the NDIS. But Aboriginal participation in the new scheme remains unacceptably low. This means that despite increases in the funding available, there is a real danger that without culturally appropriate services, supports and pathways the Aboriginal community will not get access to all of the opportunities that the NDIS represents.
Daily our mob lives with the impacts of disability more than any other section of the Australian population: almost half of our Indigenous population aged 15 years and over live with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition and experience disability at more than twice the rate of the general Australian population which increases further with the inclusion of psychosocial disability (mental health).
‘Every day Indigenous families enter the NDIS system and service marketplace, many with little support and knowledge of what to do and where to go’
Research and statistics demonstrate the overwhelmingly adverse intersectional impact of being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and having disability across a range of wellbeing and social indicators including health, educational attainment, employment participation, personal safety and exposure to the out of home care and criminal justice systems. Indigenous youth in juvenile detention are recorded as having very high rates of significant intellectual disabilities or mental health conditions.
Aboriginal people living with disability, their carers and families need our support. Every day Indigenous families enter the NDIS system and service marketplace, many with little support and knowledge of what to do and where to go. This will continue as the NDIS evolves and adapts its generic approach, after having already acknowledged more culturally appropriate strategies and pathways are needed to create equity.
“There are cohorts of participants for which supply shortages are high-risk due to the increased cost of service provision and limited availability of workforce, including those who: are in outer regional, remote or very remote areas; have complex needs; are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; or have acute care needs such as in crisis situations.”
For those who have knowledge of the NDIS space you don’t have to look hard to identify the significant risks in becoming a participant or service provider within an evolving scheme. Acknowledging NDIS is a tough market and costs are yet to reflect the “high risk” and specialist service delivery required to achieve effective outcomes, so it is essential to identify what you do well.
We need culturally appropriate services with sustainable models that can compete in the NDIS open market and be around for our communities for the long term.
Seek to collaborate with existing culturally appropriate services. Our mob still requires a lot of advocacy in the disability space, and services cannot meaningfully address the needs of Aboriginal communities alone. Adopting models that work closely with Aboriginal families and local partner organisations is important, such as our partnership with Galambila Aboriginal Health Services. It complements existing strengths and services pathways to provide comprehensive care coordination across disability, primary health and allied health services. We know that isolating disabilities from our other services does not work in achieving the positive engagement and outcomes for overall health and wellbeing of our communities.
Historically culture and community supports have been excluded from formal disability service provision, but the right supports and services can empower our families to maintain community and culture in services as much as possible.
At Windaan we have made a commitment to weather the storm of NDIS service delivery and seek out partners where our values and vision align. This allows our Indigenous communities to receive services they’re entitled to and deserve.