The Multicultural Council participated in a national roundtable at the National Disability Insurance Agency on 26 May about ways to ensure that people from culturally diverse backgrounds are aware of the new scheme. The new disability insurance scheme is operating in a limited way at the moment, but has been described as one of the biggest social reforms in a generation and will roll out over the coming years.
There were representatives from around the country, including from states that have specialist multicultural disability services, such as the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW and Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities.
The roundtable heard that by the time the scheme is fully established it will involve approximately 420,000 participants, with about 62,000 of those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The scheme is designed to change the emphasis from the government funding services to them funding the individual consumer directly to select the package of assistance that best suits their needs. The ‘average’ insurance scheme consumer is expected to access approximately $35,000 of support per year over their lifetime.
The roundtable heard that there are some critical needs in multicultural communities that seem to be emerging from the scheme at this stage – including the large number of older people caring for a child with a disability that have never accessed services and are ‘invisible’ to the new scheme. People also reported that the use of interpreters were coming out of the insurance scheme allocation, cutting into entitlements. There is also a lack of understanding about the scheme in many migrant communities and the complexity of accessing a package was a major concern.
The roundtable also discussed some significant new opportunities provided by the new disability scheme – including that individuals will be able to design a culturally appropriate support package for themselves. Also that the scheme could provide opportunities for a new range of services that could be provided by ethnic and cultural organisations.
The Multicultural Council will continue to work with this national policy action group over the coming months and we hope to sponsor some community information sessions in Tasmania too.