The NDIS has the principles of equity and inclusivity embedded in the vision that governed its inception in 2013, recognizing the rich diversity of our nation. As a stakeholder in upholding the vision of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia, Beyond Choice understood the vital role that cultural competency and inclusivity play in providing supports that are tailored to the unique needs of participants. To truly offer core support services that meet individual requirements, cultural sensitivity and inclusivity must be at the forefront of our approach.
Understanding Cultural Competency in NDIS
Cultural competency is the ability to recognize, respect, and effectively work with individuals and families from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is essential to ensure that support services are not just accessible, but genuinely responsive to the unique needs and values of NDIS participants.
One crucial aspect of cultural competency within the NDIS framework is acknowledging that disability can intersect with cultural identity. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds may have distinct views on disability, support, and the role of the family in caregiving (support systems). These nuances cannot be overlooked if we are to provide core support tailored to individual needs.
Cultural Competency in Practice
The NDIS is committed to ensuring that cultural competency is not just a buzzword but a practice embedded in the system. Here’s how Beyond Choice aims to achieve this:
Culturally Diverse Workforce: We encourage disability service providers to employ a diverse workforce that reflects the cultural diversity of our society. This ensures that participants can communicate with support workers who understand their language, cultural norms, and beliefs.
Training and Development: The NDIS offers training and development programs to service providers and support workers on cultural competency. These programs aim to enhance their understanding of different cultures, customs, and ways of life.
Inclusive Planning: Our planning processes encourage participants and their families to express their cultural and religious preferences. This information is integrated into their individualized plans to ensure that their support is culturally sensitive and respectful.
Community Engagement: We actively engage with culturally diverse communities to understand their unique challenges and expectations. This informs the development of tailored support services that meet their needs effectively and integrate them back into their cultural diaspora and beyond.
The Inseparability of Inclusivity and Tailored Support
Inclusivity is at the heart of the NDIS. It doesn’t draw the line at accommodating different backgrounds/cultures; it’s about creating a level playing field where all participants have equal access to opportunities and support. Inclusivity is indispensable for providing core support services that are genuinely tailored to each participant.
Inclusivity and Individualized Planning
Our commitment to inclusivity is most evident in the process of individualized planning. Every participant, regardless of their cultural background or disability, is entitled to a plan that is uniquely crafted to meet their needs and aspirations. Inclusivity ensures that participants are not denied services due to factors such as language barriers or cultural differences.
Choice and Control
Inclusivity is the foundation of our principle around ‘choice and control.’ It empowers participants to have a say in the design and delivery of their support services. Cultural inclusivity allows participants to access support that respects their values and traditions, promoting a sense of control and ownership.
The Data Speaks
Cultural competency and inclusivity are not just lofty ideals; they have a tangible impact on the effectiveness of the NDIS. A 2020 study conducted by the National Disability Services (NDS) found that culturally competent support services led to higher levels of satisfaction among participants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Participants reported feeling heard, respected, and more empowered to make decisions about their support.
Moreover, this approach aligns with international best practices. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the importance of culturally competent and inclusive services for persons with disabilities, recognizing the correlation between cultural responsiveness and improved outcomes.
The Way Forward
I am proud of the progress we’ve made in prioritizing cultural competency and inclusivity. However, this is an ongoing journey. We must remain committed to learning, evolving, and addressing the ever-evolving needs of our diverse society. Cultural competency and inclusivity are unavoidable parts of ensuring core support tailored to participants’ needs, as the pillar that upholds the NDIS. We must continue to foster an environment where diversity is celebrated, and support services are designed to enrich the lives of every participant, regardless of their cultural background. Again policy and legislation helps but to reflect the values that underpin the NDIS – we must work together on our mission to empower and support Australians living with disabilities.
Founder, Beyond Choice
SIL and Core support Specialists