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The First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN), the peak disability organisation representing Indigenous Australians with disabilities and their families, has released a 10 point plan for the implementation of DisabilityCare Australia (formally the National disability insurance scheme) to ensure Indigenous people with disabilities are catered for.
The FPDN believes the introduction of DisabilityCare Australia presents an opportunity for Indigenous people with disabilities to engage in a substantive way for the first time with the disability service system. Currently, most Indigenous people with disabilities remain at the periphery of a system which doesn't adequately cater to their needs.
The FPDN's executive officer Damian Griffis said that the concept of disability barely existed in a lot of Indigenous communities. 'Most Aboriginal people with disabilities don't identify as having a disability,' he explained. 'There wasn't a word in traditional languages for disability. People were talked about in the sense that uncle over there's got one leg, keep an eye on him, rather than labelling him as disabled.'
Deaf Australia spokeswoman Kim Curtis said as an Indigenous woman she often had to step out of her comfort zone and ask for help. 'Many Aboriginal people are not assertive and are not able to ask for their rights because they don't know what they are,' she said. 'It's really about us empowering our mob.'
Jenifer Cullen from Synapse (formerly the Brain Injury of Association of Queensland) recently spent six weeks in remote Indigenous communities in far north Queensland and the Torres Strait. She said there was a complete lack of awareness about the scheme. 'It's about starting that conversation and getting the community to be a part of it,' she said.
The plan, which includes establishing an expert working group on Indigenous engagement with DisabilityCare Australia, is available on the FPDN website.
Source: First Peoples Disability Network, The Australian