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Journal article
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This study explored the process and early outcomes of work undertaken by a program to increase Aboriginal people’s awareness of, and access to, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This ‘Access Program’ was implemented through the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. Access Program staff were interviewed to explore the strengths, challenges, and future directions of the program. The demographics, primary disability types, and NDIS access outcomes for clients who engaged with the program in the first 12 months of its implementation have been described. The Access Program engaged with 373 clients during the study period and assisted 118 of these to achieve access to the NDIS. The program was reported as successful by staff in its aim of connecting eligible people with the NDIS. Vital to this success was program implementation by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector. Staff in these organisations held community trust, provided culturally appropriate services, and utilised strengths-based approaches to overcome barriers that have historically hindered Aboriginal people’s engagement with disability services. Our results demonstrate the Access Program is a successful start in increasing awareness of, and access to, the NDIS for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region. Much work remains to assist the large number of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region believed to be eligible for NDIS support who are yet to achieve access.

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