Calls to overhaul NDIS to better accommodate Indigenous Australians
First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) – a national organisation that advocates for the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability – said the NDIS needed to recognise the different needs of Aboriginal people with disability.
Damian Griffis, the CEO of FPDN, told Pro Bono News that an overhaul of the scheme was necessary to capitalise on the “critical opportunity for many Aboriginal people” to get access to services.
“Meeting the needs of Aboriginal people with disability is one of the most critical and urgent social justice issues in Australia today,” Griffis said.
“It has to be a priority of the NDIS to recognise that the needs of a lot of Aboriginal people with disability, particularly those living in remote Australia, are going to be different. This is in the sense that there really doesn’t exist a service system out there.
Griffis said NDIS services should be delivered by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, to ensure Aboriginal Australians felt comfortable seeking help.
“We need to invest in communities and allow the communities themselves to support their own members with disability,” he said.
“And by supporting Aboriginal community-controlled organisations they can potentially create employment in Aboriginal communities, which can only be a positive.”
It comes as a new study led by Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute revealed that poor physical health was a major factor in Indigenous Australians experiencing significantly higher levels of psychological distress compared to non-Indigenous people.
The study used questionnaire data from 1,631 Aboriginal participants and 233,405 non-Aboriginal participants, finding that one in two Aboriginal people suffering significant ill health, physical disability and functional limitations were also likely to be highly psychologically distressed.
Baker Institute researcher Dr Bridgette McNamara said the study uncovered the powerful impact of poor physical health on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
“This study highlights that addressing physical ill-health in Aboriginal populations, which is significantly higher than non-Aboriginal populations, could also help to address the high levels of mental distress,” McNamara said.
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