The National Disability Insurance Agency and the Commonwealth Government Department of Health review consumer-driven care models implemented by NDIS and aged care reforms to take into account the particular needs of people from refugee backgrounds, including longer appointment times, interpreters, flexible service delivery systems, and planners who are skilled in working cross culturally and have an understanding of the refugee experience.
The National Disability Insurance Agency should develop action items to ensure full implementation of the NDIA CALD Strategy and publish regular monitoring and evaluation reports to assess the implementation of this strategy.
Refugee and humanitarian entrants living with a disability should be provided with additional settlement support through the Humanitarian Settlement Program in order to understand and navigate access to the NDIS. This should include additional hours to receive casework support so they can attend appointments and assessments, and support in completing the application for the NDIS.
Support Coordination should automatically be provided to all newly arrived refugees applying for NDIS-funding to ensure they are able to access services as soon as possible.
Refugees and humanitarian entrants with a disability should receive priority access to NDIS, medical advice and allied health assessments, and Enable NSW disability support equipment. This priority access recognises the lack of prior access to disability support services prior to arrival, and immediate equipment needs.
The Department of Social Services should extend funding for hiring of disability support aids until people have access to Enable NSW or the NDIS-funded equipment. DSS should provide clear advice that where long waiting lists exist, services can be purchased.
The Department of Social Services, Department of Home Affairs, NSW Health and contracted services should work to implement a system that ensure accurate and timely health information transfers from assessments offshore to health and settlement service providers providing on-arrival support.
To address the issue of housing for refugees arriving with a disability:
- The Australian Government should ensure that adequate short-term accommodation is set aside for refugee and humanitarian entrants with a disability on arrival. Further, additional support should be provided for people with a disability to transition into long-term affordable and accessible housing.
- The Commonwealth Government Department of Social Services should provide funding for an OT housing assessment prior to the client signing a rental agreement, particularly where a person has moderate to severe mobility issues.
- The Commonwealth Government Department of Social Services should extend funding for hiring of mobility aids until new humanitarian entrants have access to equipment via Enable NSW or the NDIS, or at a minimum, until the DSP is in place.
- Short-term accommodation should be extended until the Disability Support Pension has been finalised so families have an accurate estimate of their income when finding accommodation, to increase the likelihood that they could find appropriate housing.
- The NSW Government should adopt an affordable housing supply strategy to expand the supply of affordable rental housing, with effective targets.
The Australian Government should consider ways to embed specialised disability support officers within on-arrival settlement services specifically to ensure caseworkers supporting new arrivals with a disability can access staff who have expertise in the integration of disability and settlement service systems.
NSW Health should consider funding refugee health services or networks to develop care pathways across health, disability and settlement services for people with significant impairments from refugee backgrounds. This should be through a consensus process including all relevant services and, where appropriate, people with disabilities and their carers. NSW Health should provide additional support to boost the case management capacity of refugee health services across the state.
The Commonwealth Government departments of Home Affairs and Social Services should provide access to free interpreting services for allied health consultations through the Translating and Interpreting Service.
All disability services should review their policies and procedures to ensure appropriate use of interpreters for all service provision. Encouragement and close monitoring of interpreter use should be adhered to.
The Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs, through its Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) contracts, should provide NDIS equivalent packages of support for people seeking asylum who meet the non-residency related requirements for NDIS. Until this is implemented, the NSW government should fund NDIS equivalent packages of support for refugees holding Temporary Protection and Safe Haven Enterprise visas who are not eligible for NDIS.
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