In this section
Disability affects 17.7% of Australians, or 4.4 million people (
AIHW, 2022), although there is limited research about disability in people of refugee-background and people seeking asylum in Australia (see
Refugee Research Clearing House).
In May 2012, Chris Bowen (then Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) announced
streamlining the health waiver provisions for offshore Humanitarian entrants in response to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration report,
Enabling Australia: Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability. These changes effectively allowed humanitarian entrants with disability to settle in Australia. In clinical practice we have seen more children with disability subsequently, although
health waiver data (2011-2016) do not suggest significant numbers of entrants with waivers in place.
Clinical assessment and service access can be complex for recently arrived children with disability, especially for older children and adolescents. The
RCH refugee fellows are available for advice if needed. This webpage is intended to provide useful links for healthcare providers working with people with disability, particularly those who arrived in Australia as refugees or seeking asylum. More detailed websites on
developmental assessment and
education assessment are available.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA; an independent statutory agency). The NDIS provides support to people with disability and their families and carers who hold permanent residency or citizenship. Support is goal-oriented, with a focus on community participation and accessing mainstream supports. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community participation/access to NDIS was low in the trial period (see
NDIS Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reports). See:
Interpreter support is available through TIS for NDIS planning and service delivery (fact sheet for providers,
fact sheet for participants).
Supports for people <65 years to increase access to employment and community participation
Aside from (adult) protected SCV holders, non-resident children and adults with disability, including asylum seekers and people (refugees) on temporary protection visas (TPV) cannot access NDIS. Alternative pathways are available in Victoria as follows:
Supports for children 0-6 years to reduce or prevent future disability
Non-resident children, including asylum seeker children <7 years are not eligible for early intervention through NDIS, but can access the DET ECIS-CoS program (announced Victorian budget, 2017-18, ECIS-CoS application - see process above.
In July 2022, the Disability reform ministers committed to a range of measures to improve hospital discharge for people in/eligible for NDIS (see media release and resources). These include:
In order to progress this, hospital staff need to refer people to NDIA as soon as possible, by emailing: email@example.com (and also email Disability.firstname.lastname@example.org internally at RCH) and provide a functional assessment within 15 calendar days to enable NDIS to have an approved plan within 30 days.
NDIA hospital journey map and NDIA hospital discharge pathway.
Independent assessments for NDIS have not progressed - (see
Discussion paper November 2020). There was (Dec 2020)
public consultation over Nov 2020 - Feb 2021, and review by the
Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS - through a Senate Inquiry, also see timeline.
Immigrant health resources. Author: Georgie Paxton, Karen Kiang, Sophie Oldfield, updated Apr 2023. Contact: email@example.com