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Disability affects 18.5% of Australians, or 4.2 million people (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012), however 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.
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 asylum seekers. More detailed websites on developmental assessment and education assessment are available.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA; an independent statutory agency). The NDIS will provide support to people with disability and their families and carers. Support is goal-oriented, with a focus on community participation and accessing mainstream supports. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community participation/access to NDIS has been low in the trial period (see NDIS Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reports).
Interpreter support is now available through TIS for NDIS planning and service delivery (fact sheet and easy English resource - both in English).
Supports for people <65 years to increase access to employment and community participation
Non resident children and adults (7 - 64 years), including asylum seekers and people on temporary protection visas (TPV) cannot access NDIS.
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 equivalent early intervention through State funded services (announced Victorian budget, 2017-18, see NDIS entry below and ECIS referral form for asylum seeker children).
Immigrant health resources. Author: Georgie Paxton, Karen Kiang, Sophie Oldfield, updated July 2018. Contact: email@example.com