NSW Refugee Health Service, Liverpool, Australia
One of the first steps to ensuring we can meet the human rights of people with disabilities is access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), with its high ideals of choice and participation. Increasing numbers of refugees being settled in Sydney living with disabilities, and the complexity of the NDIS, has meant our service needed to respond. Access to NDIS for these recent arrivals is a crucial part of recovery and resettlement from forced displacement. A better understanding of how to speak the NDIS language, to gain Access, and tailor the outcomes to recovery and community participation, is needed.
The NSW Refugee Health Service (RHS) has developed a multidisciplinary Disability Support Team (DST) to assist refugees with a disability gain access to the NDIS. This is no easy process. We try to: source necessary equipment, collect eligibility evidence, provide pre-planning, and support families to articulate their needs in NDIS Planning Meetings. It has also required significant investment of resources, dogged persistence and relentless advocacy.
Successfully navigating the NDIS means that our clients can have greater access to independence and community participation. We have had a high rate of success for people with a physical disability or developmental delay, but progress is still hard. There are also noticeable gaps. Gaining access to NDIS on the basis of a psychosocial disability continues to be challenging.
Lessons from the DST will help provide the trauma and torture counselling services, and other services supporting refugees with support needs, with an understanding of the NDIS language and processes to reach a better success rate in gaining funded supports for recovery. If we are committed to the human rights of all refugees, then we as a resettlement services collective all need to get better at supporting refugees living with a disability.