The National Insurance Disability Scheme (NDIS) will be called on to support the rights of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds with disability as part of thefocus forthe ninth NDIS Symposium.

To be held this Tuesday 11 October at the Multi-Faith Centre at Griffith’s Nathan Campus, the Griffith University-led Symposium has the theme ‘NDIS and CALD communities: Aiming high for equitable access’ and will seek the ideas of people with disability, the public service and community leaders.

The event is a joint effort between the university and AMPARO Advocacy which have combined efforts to defend, protect and promote the rights and interests of vulnerable people from a non-English speaking background who have a disability.

“The implementation of the NDIS across Australia has enormous potential to improve the lives of people from CALD backgrounds with a disability. This is a particularly vulnerable group with many competing issues to deal with and the NDIS has a responsibility to ensure they receive equitable assistance,” says Dr Marg Ward from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

The NDIS has been rolling out in Queensland since July this year and the vast percentage of the CALD community that has a disability is based in South East Queensland, she says.

“The big advantage to people from this group, now that we have the NDIS, is that they have the right to employ care staff from a cultural background which is appropriate for them. It effectively allows them to design their own service in response to their own cultural sensitivities.

NDIS needs to be proactive

“However given that organising disability support may not be front of mind for many people in this group, the NDIS needs to be proactive in communicating to CALD communities about what is available to them.

“This forum will explore possible reasons behind the current extremely low participation rate, as well as the steps that urgently need to be taken to ensure that this is improved. We hope that this symposium will highlight the access and equity needs of CALD communities which must be central in NDIS policies, programs and services, rather than considered as a side issue,” says Dr Ward.