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What we spoke about

This SPN teleconference focused on issues concerning the arrival of humanitarian entrants with disabilities. Speakers included:

  • Maureen O’Keeffe, Settlement and Community Support Manager of Diversitat
  • Dan O’Meara & Meg Price, team leaders of Diversability at Diversitat
  • Gabriel Ng, Contract Manager, Complex Case Support, of the Department of Social Services.

Supporting those with a disability

More people with disabilities, and people with more severe disabilities, are coming to Australia under the Refugee and Humanitarian Program. This is due to welcome changes in 2012 to the health requirements for visas. The Refugee Council of Australia was one of many organisations that supported these changes. Previously, the government’s policy had prevented highly vulnerable refugees from being resettled in Australia.

This teleconference looked at what could be done to make sure  that they get the support services they need. The teleconference also considered how the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will affect them. While the Scheme has been welcomed across the sector, settlement services are concerned that those coming more recently do not have enough knowledge and support to negotiate the services available to them.

Our speakers

This SPN built on a previous SPN held in May 2014 which also focused on humanitarian entrants with disabilities. Since then, the rollout of the NDIS has presented new issues and possibilities, while the number of people with a disability has increased. A number of organisations have responded to these challenges and are well placed to also share their insights from the previous two years.

Diversitat in Geelong is part of the NDIS trial area, and will share their experiences of supporting humanitarian entrants to access the NDIS. Diversitat’s Disability Findings Report highlights the barriers that culturally and linguistically diverse communities face in accessing the NDIS. Diversitat has also established a new service, Diversability, to support CALD people with a disability.

The Department of Social Service’s Complex Case Support program will also share about how humanitarian entrants with a disability can get additional settlement through the CCS program. This includes the availability of additional funding to help meet the gaps while people wait to access mainstream disability services and the NDIS.

The discussion paper outlines concerns we have heard from our membership. It puts forward questions on how to improve policy and service delivery for humanitarian entrants with a disability.