Our People to Live Stronger & Longer

Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council NDIS Forum 2022

On the 5th of May the AH&MRC held its first combined NDIS forum with the objective of addressing the barriers that Aboriginal communities face in engaging with the NDIS, as well as opportunities to work with industry stakeholders.

We were fortunate to hear from NDIS and community services consultant, Mathew Fante. Mathew presented us with the various ways in which ACCHOs can engage with the NDIS, as either registered or unregistered service providers. He broke down the ways in which the fee-for-service model of the
NDIS differs to more familiar models. Despite these differences, ACCHOs are able to marry the two in ways that enable business sustainability and quality service delivery. These steps are uncovered in what we call a feasibility study. This process consists of extensive market research including an assessment of local demographics. This is measured against the organisation’s current services, financials and organisational structure. By engaging in this process ACCHOs are able to make an informed decision that best meets the needs of their communities.

Mathew’s presentation was seamlessly followed by Ally O’Rourke from the NDIA’s provider engagement team. Ally answered our challenging questions on the complexities of transitioning from early childhood intervention to NDIS and the access issues faced by Aboriginal communities (which often increase with remoteness). This session gave us the opportunity to share personal experiences and discuss the on the ground barriers faced by communities. As such, we challenged the NDIA on how they plan to address the access issues faced by communities and what they are doing to close the gap. This was supported by Debbie Lee from First People’s Disability Network (FPDN), who shared on her experience as an advocate for people living with disabilities.

In her work, Debbie has developed connections with various government and non-government agencies, community members and peak bodies. Of special mention is her work with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) on the disability strengthening plan. As part of her advocacy work, Debbie supports participants to know their rights particularly as it pertains to cultural engagement and safety. Additionally, she hopes to encourage the linkage of health and disability to establish consistency and quality of care.

Below are the contact details for the presenters, NACCHO representatives and AH&MRC who were in attendance.


Mathew Fante Consulting:

National Disability Insurance Agency:

  • Ally O’Rourke (Assistant director – co-design & engagement branch): ally.o’rourke@ndis.gov.au

First People’s Disability Network: