The New Resource Tackling the Language Barrier

It is no secret that people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds have a tougher time accessing disability supports. The NDIA has estimated that at full Scheme 20% of NDIS Participants will identify as being from a CALD background. Yet as of the last Quarterly Report, only a tiny 8% of Participants identified as CALD. The Agency suggests that some of this is due the geographical areas that have rolled out thus far. But it would be hard to argue that there are not access issues as well. We all complain about how complex the Scheme is, but imagine going through access or planning in a language you are not fluent in? Supposing, of course, you have even been told that the Scheme exists in the first place! 

For these reasons, the latest resource developed by Settlement Services International (SSI) is well overdue in this sector. Through funding from an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant, they have developed the National Multilingual Disability Hub.  The Hub provides information on disability and the NDIS in 14 languages: Arabic, Assyrian, Bangla, Cantonese, Farsi, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese.

People can access the information by the website or hotline. They predict that the hotline will be for an older generation of CALD people, whereas the tech-savvy youth will prefer to use the website on the their phone, tablets, or whatever the kids are using these days.

Providers also have the opportunity to use the Hub to promote their services. SSI are looking for registered providers with bilingual staff or CALD specific services. Most people referred by the Hub will want to speak to someone in one of the above 14 languages on their first contact. So you will need to either have bilingual staff available to answer questions or be ready to be assisted by Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS).  If that sounds like you then email with the following information:

  • Name of service:

  • Supports provided:

  • Days/times provided:

  • NDIS Registered? (Y/N):

  • Languages spoken (by staff):

  • Coverage area (LGAs):

  • Phone:

  • State:

  • Email:

  • Link to website:

  • Registered with TIS (Y/N):

The Hub is also keen to promote any in-language information that you might have, including from languages other than the 14 listed above.

This resource has the potential to be quite literally life changing for the many people from CALD backgrounds who are struggling to access the Scheme or just want some more information. So we encourage you to spread the word. We have a long way to go before we hit 20%, but by removing information and language barriers we finally have some hope of getting there.