The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has significant potential to provide equitable opportunity of access to health and disability services but continues to face particular challenges when it comes to people impacted by brain injury and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
People living with brain injury, who are often confronted with distinctly different functional impairments than people with similar impairments arising from other causes, constitute a highly marginalised and under-serviced group within the Australian health and disability sector. Often misunderstood and overlooked, people with brain injury frequently fall victim to the criminal justice system.
While there is little data on incidence of brain injury within Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander populations, the prevalence of risk factors for brain injury is high. For example, head trauma accounts for 30% of injuries requiring hospitalisation in Indigenous Australians, compared to 18% in non-Indigenous Australians.[i] These challenges compound a host of existing barriers to obtaining quality care and effective interventions.
For Indigenous Australians with brain injury, gaining access to the NDIS relies on demonstrations of cognitive impairment, which typically require a cognitive assessment. While relatively straightforward in the non-Indigenous population, this is problematic for Indigenous Australians, due to the lack of scientifically validated instruments for assessing cognition in adult Indigenous Australians.