Need for better support to people of non-English speaking backgrounds - Disability Royal Commission

02 Nov 2022


Challenges faced by non-English speaking communities - Disability Royal Commission

People from migrant and non-English backgrounds have shared their experiences and challenges in accessing disability care when the disability royal commission met for hearings over the past week. Those giving evidence outlined how cultural and language barriers have added an additional layer of difficulty for them when accessing services and care.

At Pathways to Care, we’re acutely aware of those challenges and have developed several initiatives to make it easier for those from non-English backgrounds to access the care and services they need through the NDIS.

Pathways to Care’s Executive Director, Ros Winzar said improving access to the NDIS for migrants and those from non-English backgrounds was fundamentally important.

“We know that better access to supports equates to healthier and happier people and communities,” Ros said.

“We believe that everyone who can benefit from the NDIS is entitled to have the same opportunities to access the scheme.

“It is why we continue to offer free support to people in diverse communities to prepare their NDIS applications, so they are not further disadvantaged.”

Several of our participants are from families or cultures where a language other than English is spoken, so to ensure these meetings and interactions are accessible for everyone, we use a translator. “From our work with migrant communities in regional Victoria, we acknowledge that there are sometimes cultural barriers such as stigma or shame for people wanting to access the scheme,” Ros said.

“We regularly meet with primary schools and leaders of various communities - such as the Karen community in Bendigo, Indigenous co-ops across Victoria and African communities in Shepparton - to raise awareness and assist with access to the NDIS.

“This outreach helps us to inform community leaders of the benefits that access to the NDIS can provide for those with disability within communities. Ros said increasing the amount of information that was available in-language to CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities would help to increase trust in the service and make it more accessible to more people.

Sarah Johnson, the representative of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) at the royal commission hearings, agreed that there was a lack of clear information about the NDIS in different languages. She said the NDIA was reviewing its CALD strategy and the findings would be published in April next year.

To read more about the evidence provided by those with lived experience of disability, read the ABC story here.