Culture is Inclusion for Indigenous People with Disability
26 July 2018 at 7:00 am
Participation in cultural and community events can combat the adverse effects of discrimination and exclusion for Indigenous people with disability, a landmark report says.
First Peoples Disability Network’s report, released on Thursday, combined statistical data with personal testimony to examine the “hidden” narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait IsIander people with disability.
Network chairperson Aunty Gayle Rankine said the organisation was “proud to lead this important work”.
“For too long, our people with disability have been the subject of research and analysis of others. The publication of this research marks a new way forward with First People with disability the active participants and contributors,” Rankine said.
“Ownership of the research, the narrative, stays with our community.”
Compared to non-Indigenous Australians, disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was found to be twice as prevalent, more complex in terms of co-occurring disabilities, and compressed within a shorter life expectancy.
Statistical data and testimony of report participants also showed intersectional inequality was pervasive across all supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability; including disability services, health, education and employment.
The sole exception to these inequalities was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities’ social participation within their own communities.
The report found rates of participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in cultural and community activities was on par with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, creating a positive impact.
“Inclusive participation in cultural and community events has a positive impact on social health and wellbeing and moderates the harm of inequalities experienced in daily life,” the report said.
The network’s research and policy director Scott Avery said the research brought people together as a community and allowed Indigenous people with disability to be asked questions they had never before been asked.
“There is a bigger message that comes from the research, beyond what to do next. It is about the power of research to build communities,” Avery said.
“So, with a culture of inclusion comes a message that connects the people that make up the First Peoples’ disability community, and reaches out to others.”
The research has culminated in a book published by the network, Culture is Inclusion, which is written from the personal accounts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.