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CALD and the NDIS

Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. With almost 30% of Australians born overseas, many from non-English speaking countries, providing cultural and linguistic services across the disability sector, especially within the NDIS is vital.

Woman holding documents pointing at the documents and talking with another woman.
Woman holding documents and talking with another woman.

What is CALD?

CALD means "culturally and linguistically diverse”.

The NDIS define CALD participants as “those who were either not born in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States of America, Canada, or South Africa, and/or where the primary language is spoken at home is not English.”

It’s important that the CALD supports and services being provided are based on an understanding of the cultural considerations of the individual, their families and carers.

Some of these considerations include the:

  • Beliefs and attitudes towards people with disability, health, and mental health

  • Expectations of care (i.e., family support and the roles of women)

  • Beliefs, practices, religion, behaviours, and preferences

  • English language proficiencies

Support provided to a CALD participant should ensure that they have autonomy over their freedom, choice, and control and that their cultural background is respected.

How does the NDIS support CALD participants?

The latest quarterly report released by the NDIA (page 17 of the Q3 Summary Part A) on 31st March 2022 indicated that the current percentage of CALD participants sits at 9.2%, which well is below the original estimated 20%.

Initiatives put forward by the NDIS in relation to CALD participants:

  • Working towards establishing and strengthening relationships within CALD communities, hosting community meetings, delivering presentations, and participating in expos and conferences

  • Committing $20 million to the National Community Connector Program, which is a community outreach program

  • The development of an Assisting Communities Practice Guide for Local Area Coordinators (LAC) and NDIA planners to understand specific considerations when meeting with CALD participants

  • Providing resources and translation services for CALD participants

The NDIS have also recently announced they intend to refresh the Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) Strategy with a three phased approach to be completed in October 2022.

The three-phase approach includes:

  1. A “Discover” stage where the NDIA will identify the focus of future co-design workshops through extensive community engagement and focus groups with CALD participants and stakeholders

  2. In the “Develop” stage, the NDIA will co-design workshops with CALD participants and stakeholder to explore, test and build areas of CALD strategy and possible actions

  3. In the “Deliver and Evaluate” stage, the NDIA will share a draft copy of the CALD strategy 2022-26 with key stakeholders who attended the workshops for final feedback. Final feedback will be used to refine the strategy and action plan before official launch in October 2022

What are Community Connectors?

Community Connectors provide support to people from culturally and linguistically diverse and non-English speaking backgrounds to access the NDIS. Essentially, they act as a liaison between a CALD person and the NDIS.

Their role can include:

  • Assisting in applying for the NDIS

  • Providing connections to local NDIS contacts

  • Providing support to better understand and use NDIS services

If you need help understanding the content of this page, please call the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) on 131 450.

Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or



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