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Federal government supports initiative for people with a disability in ethnic communities

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N E W S Brian H o w e

RELEASEDeputy Prime Minister Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services BH/18192 14 August 1992


The Federal Government placed a high priority on improving access to services for people with a disability from ethnic communities, the Federal Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services, Brian Howe, said today.

Mr Howe was launching a report - "Training Programs on Service Provision for People With Disabilities of Non-English Speaking Background” - in Melbourne.

"The Federal Government provided more than $18,000 to Action on Disability Within Ethnic Communities (ADEC) to carry out a project to provide training for staff working in the disability field," he said.

"This report is an evaluation of that project."

Mr Howe said it was crucial that staff working in the field are aware of the needs of people with a disability from non-English speaking backgrounds.

"With the right training, staff can learn how to break down the cultural barriers," he said.

"ADEC has shown how we can work towards achieving a fair go for all Australians regardless of their ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds."

ADEC was established in 1982 in response to the under-use of services by families of non-English speaking background who have a family member with a disability.

Contact: Jane Robinson, Mr Howe's Office (06) 277 7680 Christopher Leach, HHCS (03) 604 4209

COMMONWEALTH p a r l ia m e n t a r y LIBRARY ivHCAH d

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Justice Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Commonwealth-State Relations








14 AUGUST 1992

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today to launch the report "Training Programs on Service Provision for People with Disabilities of Non-English

Speaking Background" produced by Action on Disabilities

Within Ethnic Communities Inc (ADEC).

In 1985 the Commonwealth Government decided to strengthen its efforts to ensure that services and programs were properly designed and delivered.

As a result, the Access and Equity program came into being,

reflecting the Government's commitment to the principle that every Australian, whatever their background, should have access to and an equitable share of the resources managed by

it on behalf of the community.

The program recognised that people with a disability have

problems obtaining information in relation to their disability and also experience difficulties in obtaining access to community services.

People with a disability from non-English speaking backgrounds often face a "double disadvantage" because of

language barriers and cultural differences.

According to Department of Social Security figures, some 32%

of people on the disability-support-pension in Victoria are from a non-English speaking background. In the suburb of Brunswick, where we stand today, some 62% of people on the

disability support pension are from a non-English speaking

background. (DSS March 1992)

Another sobering fact, is that Brunswick's unemployment rate

is higher than 23%. In fact many of Melbourne's suburbs

where there is a high concentration of people from non-English speaking backgrounds have been severely affected

by the recession.

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Given the Commonwealth's focus on employment services for

people with a disability, these figures indicate quite clearly that the Disability Services Program must ensure that the services it develops are sensitive to the needs of all

people, regardless of their ethnic origin.

In tough times, a fair society is one which looks to those in greatest need - a society which doesn't use the recession as a cop out.

I would be the first to admit that encouraging access for people from non-English speaking backgrounds to services for people with a disability is something we need to do better.

I believe there are two essential strategies to achieve this aim:

1. We need to change the attitudes and improve

the skills of people working in the disability

field, so that they are willing and able to

ensure equity of access.

2. It is also imperative that all people with a disability - not-just.those literate in

English - have access to relevant information

to enable them to make informed choices.

I would like to outline three projects that the Disability

Services Program has been involved in during the past year.

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Firstly, in 1991 a grant of over $18,000 was given to Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities to provide training,

to workers in the disability field in Victoria.

The training included sessions on values and culture, as well as practical sessions aimed at improving the participants' ability to design and deliver culturally responsive services.

Of course, it is the report on these training sessions that

brings me here today.

The feedback I have received from staff in the Disability Services Branch in Melbourne indicates that these training

sessions were definitely worthwhile.

Secondly, my Department, in conjunction with SBS, has developed a video for the "English at Work" language education series. Called "Getting a Job", this episode

explores the issue of people with a disability gaining employment and participating in the life of the general


The video, with voice-over segments in five community languages, will be screened on SBS seven times over a three

year period.

The video will also be used extensively for language training

purposes. The English at Work series is used by private

companies as part of their in-house workplace education; by

the Adult Migrant Education Program; the Distance Learning Program; and the Home Tutor Program. So you can see, this video is an excellent vehicle for informing the ethnic

population about disability issues.

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And finally, my Department has produced a facts sheet that has been translated into eight community languages.

The development of this facts sheet is in response to suggestions from ethnic communities, that simple, cost effective facts sheets are the best way of communicating with

ethnic communities. The facts sheets are colour coded for

ease of recognition.

The facts sheet provides information on disability services provided by the Commonwealth Government and explains the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement.

Included at the end of the facts sheet is the Telephone Interpreter Service number for people to contact if they require more information. Staff at the Telephone Interpreter

Service have been provided with more detailed information and

will assist clients to contact the State Office of the Disability Services Program if this is necessary.

I believe the projects I have outlined, constitute a small but significant step towards achieving social justice for people with-a disability.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I officially launch ADEC's report titled "Training ProgramsĀ· on Service-Provision

for People with Disabilities of Non-English Speaking


This report describes the training programs provided to staff

of my Department and staff of services funded under the

Disability Services Act.

Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities is a leader in

the area of -promoting the needs and rights of people with a disability.

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The work that ADEC has done in this area provides a clear

illustration of how we can work towards achieving a fair go and a fair share for all Australians regardless of their

ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Ethnic communities have rightly been critical of the Anglo

Celtic influences on service delivery in Australia. This

report together with ADEC-'s expertise provide a valuable resource to help service providers and government redress the


I commend ADEC for their vision, commitment and co-operative effort.

Given what I have discussed this morning, I thought it was appropriate to take this opportunity to officially launch the

facts sheet I talked of earlier.

The facts sheet, printed in Greek, Italian, Spanish, Serbian, Croatian, Vietnamese and Arabic is available from Disability

Services State offices and will be distributed to community

agencies such as ADEC and Migrant Resource Centres.

By providing information in an accessible form and utilising preferred communication channels we can help to ensure that social justice is a reality for all- Australians, ..regardless

of disability, language or culture.