Ethnic Australians Miss Out in NDIS
21 February 2013 at 9:42 am
The Federal Government has so far failed to adequately consult and represent Australia’s ethnic communities in its plans for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to the country’s peak ethnic body.
The Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) has made a submission to the Government's inquiry into the NDIS legislation saying it dissatisfied with the extent of such consultation to date.
As well the submission outlines concerns about the potential lack of ethnic diversity in the sites chosen to launch the Scheme.
“Given the proportion of Australians from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, FECCA considers that the efforts of the Australian Government—both at a Ministerial level and via the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)—to consult in relation to the NDIS has not been sufficient to date,” the submission says.
The submission delivered by the FECCA CEO Dr Loucas Nicolaou says that
in the first instance, the Australian Government has not appointed any person representing CALD Australians to the NDIS Advisory Group, or any of the NDIS Expert Groups.
As well, FECCA says it does not consider that FaHCSIA is adequately engaging with CALD Australians about the NDIS generally.
FECCA says it is also concerned that the lack of consultation with CALD Australians has led to the earmarked NDIS launch sites being skewed towards less culturally diverse parts of Australia.
“This will have an effect not only on the right of CALD Australians to access the scheme during its early stages, but also the successful implementation of the scheme in wider Australian society when it is expanded beyond the launch sites.”
FECCA says the five launch sites do not reflect Australia’s diversity.
“People living in the Local Government Areas selected as NDIS launch sites are, when compared with the Australian average, more likely than to be born in Australia, more likely to have two parents born in Australia, more likely to speak only English at home and less likely to speak two or more languages at home.
“The NDIS launch sites most closely resembling the Australian average for cultural and linguistic diversity are the ACT and SA. However, there are many CALD people in the ACT who will be ineligible to participate in the scheme’s launch, such as members of the diplomatic corps and international students.
“Even setting aside arguments about whether or not the ACT or SA can be taken as representative of the diversity of Australia as a whole, FECCA considers that the NDIS launch sites will collectively fail to adequately test the scheme in the reality of multicultural Australia.
“FECCA does not consider that CALD Australians comprise a niche ‘sector’ as they number almost half the population. Rather, FECCA contends that Australia is a multicultural nation and that Australian Government decision-making and advisory bodies need to reflect this reality.
“As such, FECCA contends that the types of diversity present in the general group of ‘people with disability’ need to be enshrined in legislation in order to ensure that CALD people are adequately represented.”