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Access to supports for First Nations communities and all participants in remote communities

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There is limited access to supports for remote and First Nations participants

For all participants living in remote communities who have been in the scheme for at least one year:

  • around two in five participants are not getting daily activity supports
  • over one in three participants are not getting therapy services.210

Even in towns and cities, many NDIS services are not culturally appropriate for First Nations people with disability. As a result, First Nations participants may need to choose between supports that are not culturally safe or not getting funded supports at all.

Funding for individuals also does not consider the strength of communities that participants live in.

Aboriginal Health as … Not just the physical wellbeing of an individual, but the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

- Jenny Bedford and Cassie Atchison, Disability Royal Commission Public Hearing 211

A narrow focus on the individual, without an understanding of the importance of family and community, conflicts with the Anangu way of living… To help the individual, you often have to support and build the capacity of the family and community… if the NDIS continues to operate without any flexibility to work with families, the scheme will limit individual choice and control for Anangu.

- Kim McCrae, Disability Royal Commission Public Hearing 212

Increases in loadings to remote and very remote price limits and greater flexibility in pricing arrangements have helped, but not enough. Past reviews have repeatedly called for different ways to deliver supports. We have found the NDIS cannot rely on ‘competition’ alone to deliver supports to remote communities and First Nations communities.

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Governments should better coordinate and purchase supports in remote communities and First Nations communities

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), First Nations communities, remote communities, other Australian Government agencies and state and territory governments should work together as partners to buy or ‘commission’ supports for people in the community to improve access. We call this ‘alternative commissioning’.

One way which communities may want to coordinate supports is by joining up (or integrating) funding for different supports and community initiatives across government programs. We call this ‘integrated commissioning’.

Integrated commissioning approaches would make it clearer and easier for communities -particularly in remote areas - to understand what services they can access, from who and when. Taking a whole-of-community approach can also minimise duplication and gaps in supports.

Over time, communities should be supported to buy and coordinate supports for themselves. We call this ‘community commissioning’.

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Governments must share power with First Nations communities

The National Agreement for Closing the Gap commits all Australian governments to work in full and genuine partnership with First Nations people in making policies. It emphasises the importance of four key priority reforms:

  • shared decision-making
  • community controlled delivery
  • transforming government organisations to be more accountable and responsive
  • providing shared access to data and information at a regional level.

These key priority reforms are central to ensuring progress and delivering fundamental change. These apply to all government activities involving First Nations communities.

The Disability Sector Strengthening Plan was developed under the National Agreement for Closing the Gap to support achievement of the priority reform regarding community controlled delivery within the disability sector.213 It also tells governments how they should engage with and respond to the needs of First Nations people with disability. Designing and rolling out alternative commissioning approaches should be no exception.

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