The Benevolent Society and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) have partnered together to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in South East Queensland access NDIS Early Childhood Approach (ECA) services.
The partnership started in 2020 as a pilot program aimed to redress the lack of awareness and equitable access to NDIS support by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the region. Taking into consideration that past policies, practices and history are still impacting First Nations people today, the partnership aims to support clients to live the life that they choose by connecting them to culturally-appropriate services and walking them through the application process for a better experience with less confusion.
The collaboration between The Benevolent Society and IUIH has been able to reduce barriers to access services and cultivate trust within the community through a culturally meaningful and client-centred approach. 80% of participants who have accessed the NDIS through the program are utilising their funding. Additionally, by considering cultural appropriateness within each step of the application process, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have become more comfortable accessing these services and has led to an increase in overall engagement with the ECA.
Tarsha Jones, Senior Practitioner in Early Childhood Approach at The Benevolent Society, said: “The Benevolent Society provides a streamlined approach to support the application and planning process for the NDIS services, whilst the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health leverages trusted relationships from its existing health clients and health professionals.”
The partnership ensures that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are provided with culturally appropriate processes which allows families to have better experiences, less confusion and reduces stress which gives them the liberty to concentrate on their child/children’s needs. This has included connecting families in community outreach programs such as local caravan park BBQ’s, Aboriginal playgroups, and events in the community.
As part of the success of the partnership, Tarsha and Sarah De Lemos from the IUIH presented their learnings at the SNAICC Conference in early December. SNAICC is the national non-government peak body in Australia who represent the interest of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children. The conference provides an opportunity for organisations to share their work, learn from one another and make renewed commitments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children.
“This partnership is the first of its kind in the nation,” says Tarsha Jones. “It is an honour to be able to speak on a national platform about how the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health and The Benevolent Society are working together for better outcomes.”
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