APM Communities Accessing the NDIS for LGBTQIA+ communities transcript

MJ: My name is MJ. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am the LGBTIQA+ subject matter specialist at APM Communities. As you may guess by the name of my role, I identify under the LGBTIQA+ umbrella myself. And I think it's really important for these sorts of roles to be occupied by people from lived experience backgrounds.

As a local area coordinator or LAC, I assist LGBTIQA+ people with disability to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme or NDIS. I also support LGBTIQA+ organizations to understand the NDIS and be accessible to LGBTIQA+ people with disability. The NDIS is a world-first government program, which helps connect people with disability with the supports and the funds they need to be part of their communities. It is a free service for eligible people with disability and it's about building your capacity and ensuring that you do not have to pay for your reasonable and necessary disability supports if you have any. The NDIS is not Centrelink. There is no income reporting. If you or someone you know is born with or acquires a permanent and significant disability, the NDIS is there to provide meaningful supports and connections.

I've seen NDIS participants bring their whole selves into their planning meetings once they know that I will be there or their LAC lets them know that we can link them to LGBTIQA+ community groups. The relief on their faces when they know they are not alone in their NDIS journey and that there is a dedicated role to making their experience inclusive is fantastic. Some LGBTIQA+ participants have connected with their communities for the first time because they did not have anyone else who sat down with them and asked, "How can we help you reach your goals?"

There is certainly a fear that LGBTIQA+ people will have negative NDIS experiences because we have historically experienced persecution, but I've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure APM Communities offers a sensitive, knowledgeable service to our LGBTIQA+ customers. Sometimes people believe that because the NDIS encourages you to live a full life for yourself, costs for things like hormone replacement therapy or HRT will be covered. The NDIS is about providing support for people's needs relating to their disability and being transgender is not a disability. Similarly, common mental health challenges in LGBTIQA+ communities like depression and anxiety can not receive funded supports unless they have a direct relation to your disability. That said, your Lac is there to help you find appropriate supports and this can include connecting you with LGBTIQA+ inclusive services.

The NDIS provides supports to help people with disability improve their capacity. Everybody is different so every NDIS participant has their own plan, which lists their goals, which may or may not have funding associated with them. These plans may evolve and look different as your circumstances change over time. As examples, you might need support to access community events and social outings that relate to your interests, which may be an LGBTIQA+ event, learn to use public transport to become more independent, to access employment, or to explore mobility options with your therapist so that you can get around your house or out into the community. If you believe you or someone you know may be eligible, definitely look into whether the NDIS is right for you. As a free government program, the NDIS has the potential to benefit your life and your communities. Even if you're not eligible for the NDIS, our staff can connect you to other community supports out there.

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