Published On: January 15th, 2024|Categories: Announcements, Community|Tags: |

The Vital Role of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Support in the NDIS

An integral part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) framework is that the support provided to participants must be helpful and accessible.

A way to achieve this is by providing participants with the opportunity to work with support workers who speak their native language.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) participants make up 8.4% of all scheme participants*. The term ‘CALD participants’ is used to refer to participants of the NDIS 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 spoken at home is not English.

As of March 31, 2021, there were 42,265 CALD participants*. This is an increase of 288 per cent over the past three years and the numbers continue to grow. Therefore, embracing cultural and linguistic diversity across every touch point of the NDIS is not only important but essential to its success.

In this blog post, we will explore the crucial role of CALD Support in enhancing the NDIS experience for participants and how this demonstrates appropriate and accessible support in action.

Some interesting CALD participants facts**

  1. In general, the families and carers of CALD participants have poorer outcomes at baseline compared to the families and carers of non-CALD participants, including less likely to have a paid job or being able to advocate for their child or family member.
  2. As compared to non-CALD participants, upon entering the scheme, children aged 0 to 14:
    • CALD participants generally have poorer outcomes compared to non-CALD participants
    • They’re less likely to be able to make friends outside of the family
    • Fewer CALD participants attend school in a mainstream class
  3. Upon entering the scheme, ages 15 and over:
    • CALD participants are slightly more likely to be involved in a community, cultural or religious group
    • They’re less likely to have a paid job
    • They’re less likely to have friends outside of family or paid staff
    • Baseline outcomes are also consistently poorer in the choice and control domain
  4. CALD participants aged 25 and over have worse health outcomes compared to non-CALD participants
  5. CALD participants aged 25 and over had poorer perceptions of the NDIS compared to non-CALD participants

The crucial role of CALD Support

  • Breaking Down Communication Barriers:

One of the primary challenges faced by individuals with disabilities is effective communication. CALD support workers play a pivotal role in bridging the communication gap between NDIS participants and service providers. By offering linguistic diversity, they ensure that participants, regardless of their cultural background, can clearly express their needs and preferences, fostering a more inclusive and responsive support environment.

  • Cultural Sensitivity and Understanding:

CALD support workers bring a unique understanding of various cultural nuances, traditions, and values. This cultural sensitivity is crucial when providing person-centered care, as it enables support workers to tailor services to align with the participant’s cultural background. This, in turn, contributes to a more holistic and respectful approach to disability support, acknowledging the diversity of experiences within the community.

  • Building Trust and Rapport:

The relationship between a participant and their support worker is fundamental to the success of the NDIS. CALD support workers often share cultural and linguistic ties with participants, facilitating the development of trust and rapport. This connection helps participants feel more comfortable and understood, fostering a positive and supportive environment that enhances their overall well-being.

  • Customizing Care Plans:

CALD support workers can contribute significantly to the development of personalized care plans. Their cultural insight enables them to recognize specific needs and preferences that may not be apparent to someone from a different cultural background. This ensures that the support provided is not only effective but also respectful of the participant’s cultural identity.

  • Reflecting Australia’s Cultural Mosaic:

Australia is a rich tapestry of cultures, and the NDIS should reflect this diversity. Having a workforce that mirrors the cultural mosaic of the nation promotes social cohesion and reinforces the idea that disability support is an inclusive and shared responsibility. CALD support workers contribute to a more representative and equitable system, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the NDIS.


The NDIS promotes the hiring of support workers who speak languages other than English as it increases the reach of the network. Bilingual or multilingual support workers allow the NDIS to be accessible to more people in more areas, regardless of language spoken, ethnicity, or cultural background.

In embracing CALD support within the NDIS framework, we take a significant step towards creating a more inclusive, culturally competent, and responsive disability support system. Recognising the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity not only enhances the quality of care provided but also contributes to a society that values and respects the unique contributions of every individual, regardless of their background or abilities. It is through this lens of diversity that we can truly unlock the full potential of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This will go a long way towards achieving the goal of empowering individuals with disabilities by providing them with tailored support services.

Here at Help at Hand Support we are proud to offer support to participants from diverse backgrounds. We actively recruit support workers who can speak a range of languages. We aim to provide our support services to the largest number of people we can help. Contact us today to discuss your CALD support requirements.


*Source: NDIS Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Strategy Progress Update – July 2021

**Source: NDIA Report 30 June 2019 – “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse participants”

Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024|

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