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Overview of responses to the Experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability Issues paper (Auslan)

  • Auslan translation
Publication date

Overview of responses to the Experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability Issues paper


In March 2021 we asked people to tell us their views and thoughts about the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.

This video highlights some of the things people talked about in their responses.

What did people say?

People told us:

  • Like the rest of the community in Australia, multicultural communities have different understandings of disability which can include negative attitudes towards people with disability.
  • People with disability from diverse cultural and language backgrounds face barriers to accessing services including:
    • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
    • health, like hospitals and GPs
    • courts and police
    • education
    • employment
    • migration.
  • People with disability from multicultural communities also have problems engaging with these services. This is because of:
    • negative attitudes and discrimination
    • a lack of awareness of services
    • a lack of trust in services 
    • a lack of access to information
    • the lack of culturally safe and appropriate services and supports, for example, being able to choose the type of professional interpreter (male/female, or face-to-face/telephone interpreter).

Here are some examples of what we were told:

  • Asylum seekers, refugees or migrants who do not have permanent visas cannot get financial support like the Disability Support Pension.
  • When it comes to health care:
    • there is not enough access to professional interpreters
    • services are not delivered very well, for example there may be delays in appointments so interpreters have to leave
    • there is lack of training for health professionals about how to respond to a person’s cultural needs, or how to work with interpreters. An example relevant to the Deaf community is when a Deaf person is at a medical appointment and the health professional only looks at the interpreter and excludes the Deaf person. This is not culturally appropriate.
  • Police and the justice system do not adequately respond to or support people with disability from migrant and refugee backgrounds.  This can have particularly negative impacts on people with disability who do not speak English or who have mental health issues.
  • It can be hard for students with disability from different cultural backgrounds to access adjustments and supports at school, like an education assistant or interpreter. This is because government agencies and the National Disability Insurance Agency often disagree on who has responsibility for funding these supports.
  • Families or communities from different cultural backgrounds may not acknowledge domestic and family violence, so they may not report it because they feel ashamed or stigmatised.

Proposals for change

People proposed a wide range of changes across lots of different areas. Some of these are:

  • Governments should include people with disability from multicultural communities in designing policies that affect them.
  • The Australian Government should provide resources and funding for more professional accredited interpreters.
  • People with disability are often refused visas to Australia because of their disability. The Australian Government should make it easier and fairer for people with disability to get a visa.
  • Governments should resource organisations to run programs that prevent and respond to violence and abuse against diverse groups of people with disability.

More information

You can find more information on our website, including:

  • the original issues paper requesting feedback on the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability
  • the responses we received
  • an ‘overview’ or summary paper of the responses.

Go the ‘Policy & research’ section and click on ‘Issues papers’.