Why a Diverse Workforce is Essential in Disability Services

Enhancing Disability Services Through Culturally Sensitive Practices for First Nations Communities

In recent years, a growing awareness of the intersectional discrimination faced by First Nations people with disabilities has underscored the need for a culturally sensitive and inclusive workforce in the disability services sector. According to recent studies, these individuals face discrimination that extends beyond disability, influenced by factors such as age, gender, sexuality, and geographic location (ResearchGate, 2019; NCBI, 2018).


These forms of discrimination are embedded within institutional frameworks, notably within policies like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (The Conversation, 2021). It is crucial to develop a workforce that is both culturally safe and informed by the rights of individuals, to improve access and outcomes for First Nations people with disabilities.


Studies indicate that initiatives focused on Indigenous workforce development, which embraces community-centred principles and includes cultural training, significantly enhance service delivery, particularly in rural and remote Indigenous communities (Lowitja Institute, 2019). By attracting and retaining Aboriginal workers, disability service providers are better equipped to meet the unique challenges faced by Indigenous people with disabilities (FPDN Workforce Paper, 2023).


Effective Indigenous disability workforce strategies should prioritize cultural competence and community engagement. This approach ensures culturally appropriate support and builds trust and increases participation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (AIHW, 2020).


Addressing Multifaceted Barriers

Indigenous people encounter numerous obstacles in accessing disability services, including:

  • limited service choices,
  • transportation difficulties,
  • the availability of trained professionals,
  • and concerns over service quality and cultural sensitivity.

These challenges are intensified by historical factors such as colonization, trauma, and systemic racism within the disability services sector (Indigenous Health Bulletin, 2020).


To overcome these barriers, disability service providers must:

  • Actively engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse, 2021).
  • Prioritize Indigenous leadership and perspectives.
  • Create pathways for meaningful participation (ABS, 2021).

Building trust, respecting cultural differences, and providing choice and control to Indigenous clients are vital steps toward fostering a more inclusive and equitable disability services sector.


A Call to Action

An Indigenous-led, culturally responsive approach to disability service provision is essential for ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their background, receive high-quality and culturally appropriate support. By closing the gap between service providers and Indigenous communities, we aim to forge a more inclusive and accessible future for everyone.

At Celtic Training, we are committed to contributing to the development of the Indigenous workforce in the disability sector. By enrolling in CHC33021 Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability), you can join us in this important work, enhancing and celebrating the diversity of care.


Contact us today to learn more about how you can make a difference in this vital area.




Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). “Disability support for Indigenous Australians.” https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/disability-support-for-indigenous-australians

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.” https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people-disability

Indigenous Health Bulletin. “Twelve factors that can influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability.” https://healthbulletin.org.au/articles/twelve-factors-that-can-influence-the-participation-of-aboriginal-people-in-disability/

The Conversation. “Here’s why the planned NDIS reforms discriminate against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” https://theconversation.com/heres-why-the-planned-ndis-reforms-discriminate-against-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people-160183

Lowitja Institute. NDIS Report. https://www.lowitja.org.au/wp-content/uploads/migrate/20190905_NDIS%20Report_final.pdf
ResearchGate. “Need for an Australian Indigenous disability workforce strategy: review of the literature.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304992229_Need_for_an_Australian_Indigenous_disability_workforce_strategy_review_of_the_literature

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). “Study on Indigenous health and services.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981953/

Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse. “Mental Health Workforce Paper.” https://www.indigenousmhspc.gov.au/getattachment/1bc22960-458e-4563-a6b4-e4e2fcbf8a56/upton-et-al-2021-mental-health-workforce-20210802.pdf?v=1531

First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN). “Workforce Paper.” https://www.ndisreview.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/FPDN_Workforce_Paper.pdf