Uncle Paul Calcott has recently joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), after seeing the Scheme roll out across Australia and in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
A long-time advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, Uncle Paul has recently gone through the NDIS process and has started using his funding, marking the first time in his life he has accessed services or supports.
“I was quite fiercely independent and after working in the industry for so long, I was quite resilient. I had a strong support network around me and I was in the workforce, so I never really felt a need. And there were no real indigenous services, so I avoided it.
“But things have changed because I have polio and it is degenerative. I have poor mobility issues, I want to continue to participate socially at home and in the community with my partner and friends. I saw the NDIS as a huge opportunity to maintain this and my independence.
“Getting on to the NDIS was actually more simple than some people make out. I called the 1800 number and from then I was sent out the forms. I went and had a yarn with my GP, we filled out the forms and sent them back and the ball started rolling.
“Once it was all approved, I met with my Local Area Coordinator from Carers Queensland, Andrew. He was incredibly respectful, and I got to talk about my cultural needs and goals, which are to remain independent, remain in my own home and to maintain my role as an Elder in the community.
“I liked it was more personal, I didn't have to go through a particular agency for my services.
“I think we need to be more aware of the benefits of the NDIS and have the process explained with more culturally appropriate information. More one-on-one community or cultural resources and stories. Then we can actually see, ‘oh, this has actually benefited me'. The planning stage is important as well.”
Uncle Paul continues to work with the National Disability Insurance Agency through the First People’s Disability Network Australia, on improving the engagement with, and resources for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and advocates for more culturally appropriate programs and activities for people with disability.
Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program holds free drop in sessions for groups and individuals in regions throughout South East Queensland and Central Queensland, where people with disability can learn about applying for the NDIS and how they can use the Scheme.
For more information about the NDIS or finding NDIS drop in sessions in the Sunshine Coast and Gympie region, contact NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Carers Queensland on (07) 5409 3300 or SunshineCoastLAC@carersqld.com.au.