APM Communities - Accessing the NDIS for CALD communities transcript

Liz: My name is Liz. I am a local area coordinator. We call that an LAC with APM Communities. I am from Kenya, and I have two lovely kids, a boy, and a girl, and seven years ago, my son was diagnosed with a disability at birth because he didn't get any oxygen into him for, I think, 11 seconds, which is a long time. He ended up with a brain defect or brain damage. Cerebral palsy was the diagnosis. And later on, three and a half years later, we got the diagnosis of autism. That was a difficult time. It was a very difficult time because having a disability from where I come from is culturally seen as a curse. So that was a difficult time for us. 

At that time when I was pregnant, there was about seven of us pregnant at the same time. All my girlfriends were all pregnant, so it was really difficult that we ended up being the only ones that had a child with a disability. So definitely isolated myself, did not want to mix with people in the community, did not want to get visitors. I would always have an excuse why I couldn't do something. 

So an LAC or a local area coordinator is... At APM, we've got two different roles. We've got one person that will sit down with you with the planning once you get qualified for the NDIS, which I will talk about later, and myself, my role is to be able to connect you with any support in the community. The NDIS stands for national disability insurance scheme. And it's a mouthful, but what that means is, national means once you get in, you can access the NDIS anywhere in Australia. Disability means the supports are only for people that have a disability. So you have to have a disability to qualify for the NDIS. And insurance means that it's actually a free service. You get a free service, and as long as you have the disability qualification, you qualify for the disability. And a scheme is a... So it's not a welfare system, it's not welfare, but people who have a disability will qualify for it. 

So it's an insurance in terms of you don't have to pay into it. It's not like a health insurance, you've got to pay into it, you don't have to pay, but it's a free service. As long as you qualify for it, you will get it. Our son has, as a result of autism and cerebral palsy, he's not verbal. He is trying to express himself, but we would have never known that he could use other ways to express himself. The NDIS funds a lot of supports around him, whether it's behavioral supports so that he can play well with his sister, the therapy that he gets with... One day, Zachary was crawling, and we were having a conversation about a wheelchair, and he would knee walk, and we had a lot of therapy, and I'm not saying this is everyone's journey, but that therapy was very supportive for him, because one day he stood up and he started running on his toes. And he runs really probably faster than me, but we can see that it's allowed us to do the things we enjoy. 

We love going into the community, whether it's a wedding, whether it's just meeting friends, and it was difficult to do that, because it was almost too hard to go out with him. But having support, having someone to come with us and go for those things allows us to be part of the community. Everyone's plan is going to look different. It's not going to be because one person has autism and they have this thing in their plan, that means if you have autism, you will get it. The conversation that you have with a planner is designed around what you need. So your neighbor will need, for example, a wheelchair, and you might not need a wheelchair. The supports have to be specific for the person. The supports that one requests have to be seen as reasonable and necessary. And what the words reasonable and necessary mean are, they have to be additional needs compared to an able-bodied person. 

So for you to qualify, the first thing, you've got to be under 65 years, the next thing, you've got to be an Australian citizen or an Australian resident, or hold a special category visa, and the other thing is, you've got to have a lifelong and a permanent disability. But then if you don't qualify for the NDIS, additionally, we can still as APM, local area coordinators, link you into mainstream supports that are not the NDIS, but could still support your disability. For you to join the NDIS, the first thing to do is to call the NDIA number, 1800 800 110, and make an access request. The second thing you could do is to go on the NDIA website and download an access request form and ask someone to help you complete that. The third thing you could do is to call APM on 1800 276 522, or alternatively, just walk into an APM office. 

And when you do that, you will be asked to present your evidence of disability. And this could be reports or anything that you've had from your disability. And if you're unsure of how to get that evidence, you could just ask an APM local area coordinator when you walk in. I would say if you or someone you're caring for or someone in your community has a disability, assist them to get onto the NDIS. Not only will it change that person's life, it will change the community so that the stigma that is associated with disability is broken. That stigma is what stops people from living a fulfilled life, however that looks like. So I would encourage that you help the community, you help the person you're caring for, or you help yourself, if you do have a disability.