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Acknowledgement of Country

Painting by Debbie Lee titled Why stand alone, when we can stand together?
Why stand alone, when we can stand together? Debbie Lee (Proud Yidinji, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi Jalbu woman)

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country across this nation on whose lands we all work, play and live. We acknowledge their ongoing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

We extend that respect to all First Nations people. They continue to undertake disproportionate care to sustain this land, their families and communities while facing the ongoing effects of colonisation.

First Nations people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. Historically discriminatory policies continue to affect the safety and accessibility of supports and services. We recognise that ‘disability’ is a western concept that does not readily translate into First Nations communities and languages. We acknowledge that, in order to access supports, First Nations people have been required to label themselves as a ‘person with disability’ or as ‘other’. This is at odds with the fundamental First Nations cultural value of inclusion.

We also acknowledge that, to date, the implementation of the NDIS has placed an emphasis on individualised supports. This is often at odds with First Nations culture and values, which place family and community first. This is a source of wider reflection in this report.

We recognise First Nations people with disability experience multiple layers of individual, structural and systemic discrimination (ableism and racism) based on their intersectional identity. This experience is further compounded for First Nations women, Elders, LGBTIQA+SB communities and those living in regional, rural and remote locations.

We need to do better, together, to create a more inclusive and accessible society that recognises and reflects the lived realities of First Nations people.

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A word on language and disability

We know language matters when it comes to talking about people with disability. People with disability are too often described in ways that are discriminatory, demeaning or infantilising. We commit to breaking these harmful stereotypes, and demonstrate this by the words we use in this report.

In this report, we use the term ‘disability’ in the context of the internationally recognised social model of disability. This is a commitment by all Australian governments under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31. It describes disability as a social construct. Under this model, intersecting societal barriers are the obstacles to equal participation, not people’s impairment.

We acknowledge the historical use of the medical model of disability. Its continued use has had discriminatory and negative attitudinal impacts on people with disability. Where possible, we have strived to avoid use of such terminology.

We use person-first language in this report - person with disability. We acknowledge, however, that preferences vary between different disability communities. Where possible, we have tried to use language commonly used or preferred by a community. Where possible, we have also reflected the language used in submissions received by the Review, to be true to how people described themselves. This has sometimes meant our language is not consistent.

We also at times refer to the very important role of ‘family and carers’ in the lives of people with disability. In using this term, we wish to make clear that it is meant to be all-embracing. It includes parents, siblings, allies and supporters who play very important roles in the lives of people with disability, both individually and collectively.

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United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

We have undertaken the Review with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) front and centre of mind. The NDIS is one of the most important global innovations in disability rights and is essential to Australia meeting its obligations under the UNCRPD. Our recommendations have been developed to uphold this rights-based approach. They aim to promote, protect and ensure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people with disability.

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Definitions and glossary

In this report we use a range of specialist, technical words and expressions. Some of these words are well known within the disability community. At other times, technical terms can have a different meaning when applied to the working of the scheme.

For example, take the use of ‘supports’. In everyday usage, ‘supports’ can mean ‘to give assistance’, but within the disability community and the NDIS, it means ‘an activity or service that the NDIS provides funding for’.

With that in mind, we have compiled a list of commonly used key words and acronyms. We have tried to avoid the use of jargon and acronyms unless they are well known or help clarify a point.

A glossary with key words and their definitions and a list of acronyms is in Appendix A.

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Content warning

This report contains material that may be triggering or upsetting for some readers. If you need support at any time, you can contact the following confidential services which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

If you would like to report a specific incident involving an NDIS provider or worker, you can contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

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