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Bridging the disability information gap for remote Indigenous communities

30 June 2020 at 4:23 pm
Luke Michael
A new app hopes to support Indigenous people struggling to access disability services 

Luke Michael | 30 June 2020 at 4:23 pm


Bridging the disability information gap for remote Indigenous communities
30 June 2020 at 4:23 pm

A new app hopes to support Indigenous people struggling to access disability services 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be given help engaging with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, thanks to a new app being rolled out in remote communities.

Even though Indigenous Australians experience disability at twice the rate of those who are non-Indigenous, many Aboriginal people in remote communities are unaware of the NDIS’s existence. 

The Disability in the Bush app offers plain language, culturally-relevant information and video stories to bridge the knowledge gap making it hard for Indigenous people to connect with the scheme.

The free app – which was created by Ninti One and Interplay, and funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency – includes translations in central Indigenous languages Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara.

Tammy Abbott, community engagement officer and Indigenous lead for the project, said the app was developed by Indigenous communities.

“By bringing government, science and community together in a shared space, we have created a tool to get vital information to people in remote communities. This app combines knowledge translation principles and technology and is designed by, and for, Aboriginal people,” Abbott said.

The app’s development followed extensive research across five Indigenous communities around Indigenous people’s understanding of disability and the NDIS. 

Researchers found that official information was too often delivered using unfamiliar language and concepts, or through unfamiliar channels.

They noted that many community members knew of “the purple shirt mob” – worn by NDIS staff – but few knew what supports were available and if they were eligible.

Professor Sheree Cairney, the director of Interplay, told Pro Bono News the app would have far reaching benefits. 

“The optimal outcome is that the app will not just help Aboriginal people living in the community, but also the service providers who can link them with support, so they can get people on the NDIS,” Cairney said. 

Cairney noted that there were plans for a further three top end languages to be added to the app in the coming months. 

She said the app was fully scalable, allowing it to be used by a much broader segment of the Indigenous community.

“It’s designed primarily with an English translation of the complexity of the NDIS for remote communities,” she said. 

“But the content is easily translatable into different languages as well, so it’s highly useful for any Aboriginal groups across Australia.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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