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Ethnic Australians Miss Out in NDIS

21 February 2013 at 9:42 am
Staff Reporter
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.

Staff Reporter | 21 February 2013 at 9:42 am


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.”

The submission can be downloaded here

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  • Anonymous says:

    I do not understand the complaints from divers ethnic groups. If someone comes to Australia and wants to make it their home then they should learn English and merge into the culture that already exists, while enriching it with theirs, but not trying to keep theirs publicly.
    australia already had a culture when they came. Welcome to it, but do not try to change it!
    Good luck!

  • Anonymous says:

    What FECCA is forgetting about the people they represent is that most of our CALD people are assimilated very broadly across our communities in both rural and city communities and will be part of the receivers of services.

    These people consider themselves Australians with other rich heritages, rather than CALD.

    It is not significant to NDIS that the majority of CALD communities are in cities – so are Australians born of more than a few generations (not sure when people lose CALD status).

    The reality is that NDIS trials needed a broader base than just city dwellers no matter their bloodline, it needed to capture the difficulties or rural/regional with higher density as well. It needed to capture employment issues and service issues, rather than just provide services. Hence the Hunter – small city with rural offshoots.

    FECCA, perhaps should stop chasing shadows. It is not about them and us and FECCA should stop whinging for whinging sake – its a bad look.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why does FECCA think that Australian taxpayers should cover foreign students and the diplomatic corps? If you are a foreign national why should the taxpayer pick up the tab? If you are in the diplomatic corps the government who sent you here should pick up the tab, not us. NDIS is for Australians, not anyone who gets off a plane. It should be residency based in the least or even citizenship based, unless you are a child who needs assistance. We apparently believe in a fair go and NDIS is finally just that – for us – after decades of battle – it is not for the entire bloody world – FECCA would seemingly have it that if put your foot on our soil your in!

    Come on FECCA stop try to kill it by making the cost prohibitive before it starts!

  • Licia Kokocinki says:

    One of the issues facing all disability service providers is that only a very tiny percentage (less than 10% of users) come from culturally diverse backgrounds. The reasons for this fact is as follows: most services just do not know how to relate to people with disability and their families from culturally diverse backgrounds – they are treated as a “too hard” demographic group to reach; secondly, the personal attitudes to disability in these families are just as varied as the attitudes to disability amongst families from white, Anglo-based families, but the “normalisation” campaigns that occurred many decades ago just did not reach nor were targetted to CALD-background families, so the efforts were meaningless; thirdly, one of the problems of public policy implementation in this present climate is that we want to portray solutions as simple and singular in content and application. The most simplest solutions are usually the worst solutions and at many times, only exacerbates disadvantage. We cannot avert our eyes to diversity in our community, regardless of whether it is based on ethnicity, or where one lives, or education levels, or job status. So, my advice is stop pretending. Re the cost of NDIS blowing out if service providers acknowledged and worked with diversity, what nonense. We don’t say that taking care of diversity and difference in white, middleclass society blows costs. Congratulations on FECCA for trying to get some common sense in the discussion. The issues they speak of are just as relevant to our indigenous communities – how will their issues be dealt with under NDIS?

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m very surprised by some of the comments on this page. Regardless of your perspective on the legitimacy of CALD-specific services/engagement strategies, the fact is we need these strategies for effective service provision. This, in turn, also supports proper spending of public money, something I think we can all agree is important.

    Aside from shortcomings in the NDIS CALD strategy, attention should also be paid to the absence of a CALD strategy for the NSW Ability Links program. The pilot will commence in July 2013 in the Hunter with rollout planned for July 2014. At a community consultation on the program, we were informed that the CALD strategy is ‘under development’. FECCA should keep an eye on this too.

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