Building Capacity and Potential through Connection

Building Capacity and Potential through Connection – sharing understandings, experiences and journeys of disability, and building capacity and potential through connection 2018-2019

This pilot project was funded by Multicultural Affairs Queensland (MAQ). It commenced in December 2018 and was completed in September 2019. The project aimed to explore ways to build capacity and improve the lives of vulnerable people with disability from refugee and migrant backgrounds by connecting them with knowledgeable and caring community members whose understanding of disability has been informed by through their own lived experience.

Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN), the Community Resource Unit (CRU) and Mamre Assoc. provided assistance to identify suitable volunteer families and other advice and support. Nine families were introduced to volunteer families and individuals, and supported to have discussions that allowed them the opportunity to find commonalities in their lived experience of disability. These conversations and sharing of information between families took place in their homes, local parks, during visits to local surroundings and by attending groups, such as disability support groups together. Information shared included personal stories, understandings of specific disability types, effective therapies and interventions, local disability organisations, the NDIS, and sharing of internet resources such as government and disability specific websites, and translated materials and videos.

The refugee and migrant families and individuals were from diverse cultural backgrounds including Sudanese, Burundian, Karen, Congolese, Somali, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Aboriginal and Anglo-Australian.

The impacts of the project for individuals and their families varied for each but some examples include:

  • Learning more about disability, and having a chance to share experiences
  • Understanding more about the NDIS and how it works
  • Providing opportunities to visit places of interest within their local community and surroundings
  • Gaining a better understanding of different types of education for children with disability
  • One family who had no access to their NDIS funds, now has increased funds that includes support co-ordination and has now been linked to a local disability support organisation that will be able to provide them with ongoing links to local supports.

Feedback from individuals with disability and CALD families regarding this project was positive and increased their knowledge and understanding across a broad range of areas. Unfortunately the project also highlighted many of the hardships that families were experiencing in accessing adequate NDIA support. Many were not receiving the support they needed to implement their plan, many lacked any support co-ordination and many had small and inadequate plans. These concerns have been highlighted with the NDIA and in a project report to MAQ, and in some instances AMPARO was required to step in to provide the families with advocacy. AMPARO Advocacy would like to sincerely thank MAQ for funding this important work and QDN, Mamre and CRU for their generous assistance with this project.

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