Connecting Aboriginals living with disability

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka with Aboriginal elder Adelaide Wenberg, of Unanderra, at the launch of IAC's Ability Links program. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka with Aboriginal elder Adelaide Wenberg, of Unanderra, at the launch of IAC's Ability Links program. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

The Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation has unveiled a program to connect indigenous people with a disability to the wider community.

NSW Minister for Ageing, Disability and the Illawarra John Ajaka launched the IAC's Ability Links program on Thursday, which aims to help Aboriginal people improve their quality of life by linking them with services including education and recreation.

"People with a disability, and their carers and families, may become withdrawn from the community. The program is to help them engage in mainstream society, or work to achieve a common goal, like going to school or learning to drive," said Basilia McGaw, manager at Warrigal Employment.

Ms McGaw said Aboriginal people might ignore or not recognise they had a disability, making treatment and management difficult.

"For these communities, this program's importance may be stronger even than mainstream society," she said.

Two Aboriginal linker positions will be created in the IAC in coming weeks, aiming to engage up to 150 people in the program's first year. Linkers will promote disability service providers, helping people with a disability and their families to set and achieve goals, and general training and health assistance.

Aboriginal elders will also work with the program as volunteer ambassadors to encourage communities to work with the linkers.

Ms McGaw said the linker program was important for the move to a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

"We have never had a specific service like this before," she said.

"We want to empower people with a disability, to link them with the community in a way they haven't been in the past."

The program started in July, and the linker workers will join the service in coming weeks.

For more information, contact Warrigal Employment on 4276 1878.

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