Inaugural CALD and Disability Symposium



Jane Flanagan

Jane Flanagan

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)

Jane Flanagan is Senior Research & Policy Officer at National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA).

NEDA advocates nationally for the human rights of people with disability from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Their key purpose is to promote, protect and advance the human rights and freedoms of people with disability by working collaboratively on areas of shared interests, purposes and strategic priorities and opportunities.

NEDA is a founding member of Disability People’s Organisation (DPO) Australia, an alliance of national DPOs, which are constituted and governed by people with disability. Their key purpose is to promote, protect and advance the human rights and freedoms of people with disability by working collaboratively on areas of shared interests, purposes and strategic priorities and opportunities. DPO Australia is made up of First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN); Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA); National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA); and People with Disability Australia (PWDA).

Sue Lyons

Sue Lyons

Department for Communities and Social Inclusion, Disability Policy Unit

Sue has worked in aged care and disability in the NGO and State and Local Government sectors for the past twenty years. During this time she has undertaken roles as a service provider, aged care and elder abuse prevention advocate, and project manager.

Currently, Sue is a Team Leader in the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion Disability Policy Unit with a particular focus on ensuring that people with disability can access their communities and participate in activities, education and employment opportunities.

Moss Politis

Moss Politis

Disability Rights and Advocacy Service

Moss Politis has been a leader in the CALD Disability space for a number of years now.  Moss leads a team of advocates at the Disability Rights and Advocacy Service, formerly known as Multicultural Advocacy Liaison Service SA. DRAS’ primary focus is to improve the accessibility and delivery of services and promote the rights of people with disabilities, including sensory impairment, mental illness and learning disabilities, at individual and policy levels.

Maria Eliadis

Maria Eliadis

Centre for Cultural Diversity in Disability

Maria has over 20 years’ experience working in senior management and consulting positions across the community, corporate and academic sectors. For the past 10 years Maria’s work has focused on developing programs that build people’s capacity and confidence to lead change, plan interventions and make a difference.

Maria’s work in disability has involved managing a boutique education and learning centre, undertaking program reviews and evaluations, running leadership development programs for people with intellectual disabilities and work readiness programs with ADE’s and capacity building and re-orientation programs for disability services networks to support social inclusion approaches.

In 2016 Maria, with her family, re-located to Adelaide after 23 years living in Victoria. Maria lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband, the local koala’s, one lone kangaroo and lots of fruit trees.

Key points raised at Round Table discussions

  • All the systems are based on people knowing about them and how they operate – so people need to have that knowledge,
  • That there is a lack of appropriate (relevant, effective) dissemination of information using cultural ‘pipelines’,
  • Concern was expressed about the significant paradigm shift and the need to unlearn the past and learn the ‘new’,
  • Need to understand the impact of the changing roles of community supports and where community actually fits,
  • There are lessons to learn from the Aged Care reforms,
  • How do ‘we’ insert ourselves in the communication channels?

Action items from the Round Table discussions

  • Need data on what’s available for people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds in SA,
  • Look at how we can influence the LAC’s and other key players. For example ask them about their specific plans for CALD and their CALD focus,
  • Explore options for partnerships to submit for ILC funding,
  • Need to develop resources for CALD communities to get proactive,
  • Communications campaigns for CALD communities,
  • Focus on educating communities,

Key themes from presentations

All presentations highlighted the importance of the human rights framework that guides and informs the developments and aspirations of the disability sector reforms. The NDIS is only one component of this broader disability sector reform agenda which is reflected in the National Disability Strategy.

The focus is currently on rolling out the NDIS (which is about how disability supports are funded) after the rollout is complete policy initiatives and strategies will focus on ensuring access and inclusion.

The NDS is being strengthened in SA with the drafting of the Disability Inclusion Bill with principles (5) a&b relevant to people from CALD backgrounds.  Following the rollout of the NDIS it will be up to mainstream services to ensure accessible and equitable services for all people with disabilities.

  • The intersectional experience of people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in general is the biggest barrier.
  • The experience of people with disabilities from CALD is complex, not well understood and has access to little by way of appropriate resources, supports or services. There is a concern that they will ‘fall through the cracks’.
  • Most information about the NDIS rollout is either online or available through information expo’s. The rollout of the NDIS across SA will be preceded by information expos open to the whole community.
  • Local Area Coordination partners are also being announced with the rollout. The first partnership in SA is with Feros Care.

For more information – Link to NDIS SA site about rollout schedule and info expo’s

  • People with disabilities from CALD backgrounds, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in general experience significant barriers to the NDIS and are subject to discriminatory immigration and resettlement policies.
  • They experience long waiting periods before being eligible to apply, and there is a lack of culturally appropriate supports for them to access.
  • Assessment is through a ‘health’ lens and focuses on impairment while ignoring the abilities and contributions people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds can offer.
  • people with disabilities from CALD, their families and carers endure the burden of high financial and personal costs while waiting for assessments
  • They face the ambiguity of being treated differently with supports and services often not knowing ‘what to do’ with them.
  • There are tangible barriers to this including discriminatory policies, unprepared supports or under resourced supports, being marginalised in the NDIS rollout. Not to mention issues of language, comprehension and culture.
  • Excuses are being forwarded for not ‘enabling’ people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds
  • Lack of support for families and carers due to lack of understanding of needs and skills to address them

People with disabilities from CALD backgrounds are underrepresented in all sectors regarding access.

There is a noticeable lack of action on issues of discrimination.

  • Benchmarks for CALD access and participation are ‘artificially’ low.
  • What happens to people who are not computer literate or do not have easy access to computers. Online information is almost exclusively in English or plain English. Translated material is inconsistent and not guaranteed.
  • The emphasis for developing CALD relevant supports has been to encourage CALD community service providers to register as providers and to ‘harvest’ CALD capacity in the existing workforce.
  • There are several initiatives in SA including the Disability Justice Plan and the SAPOL access and inclusion plan
  • Smart living housing Project the Blue Bays App
  • Employment initiatives to increase the participation of people with disabilities in employment.
  • Advocacy is not covered by the NDIS.
  • The National Disability Advocacy Program is under review. (NB: since the Symposium the Review of the National Disability Advocacy Program Consultation Report has been released) INSERT LINK
  • Strong expectation that people with disabilities will (can) self-advocate or have peer and family support is unrealistic.
  • Disability specific services will ‘go to market’ making people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds, especially asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in general vulnerable to ‘exclusion’ by providers for being too hard, not profitable or providers not having the ‘skills’ to provide culturally appropriate support. (This is also an issue for other ‘sectors’ of the disability community).
  • Co-designing is a critical to quality, relevant and accessible supports yet the barriers and discrimination highlighted above make it very difficult and highly unlikely people with disabilities from CALD backgrounds will be supported adequately for them to participate in co-designing activities.