LGBTQ+ families working with NDIS providers
If your child has disability, developmental delay or developmental concerns and your child or someone in your family is LGBTQ+, you can expect NDIS providers to be respectful and inclusive. For example, you can expect NDIS providers, early childhood partners, local area coordinators and support workers to:
- accept your family without judgment or explanation
- treat your family with respect and dignity
- make your family feel welcome and safe.
This includes when you’re:
- doing your child’s NDIS application
- developing your child’s NDIS goals and your child’s NDIS plan
- choosing NDIS providers for your child
- working with NDIS providers
- reassessing your child’s NDIS plan or telling the NDIA about changes in your situation.
Signs that NDIS providers are culturally safe and inclusive for LGBTQ+ families
If you’re an LGBTQ+ family, you can look for signs that NDIS providers are culturally safe and inclusive. For example, NDIS providers might:
- use images of or stories about families like yours on their website
- display symbols like rainbow or pride flags, posters, stickers and badges
- use language and forms that include or recognise same-sex relationships and non-binary gender identities.
You can also ask NDIS providers directly about whether they’re culturally safe and inclusive. For example, you could ask them:
- whether they’ve worked with LGBTQ+ people before
- what they know about including LGBTQ+ people
- whether they have, or are working towards, the Rainbow Tick accreditation
- whether their staff attend LGBTQ+ inclusivity and/or cultural safety training and who provides this training
- where you can find their inclusion and anti-discrimination policies.
Cultural safety and NDIS providers: what it might feel like for LGBTQ+ families
NDIS providers have a responsibility to create an environment where you and your family feel genuinely safe and welcome.
If you’re working with a culturally safe and inclusive NDIS provider, here’s how you might expect to feel:
- You or your child can be authentically yourself – for example, in the way you dress or speak.
- Your gender or sexuality, or your child’s, is affirmed by NDIS providers and support workers. For example, they use correct pronouns.
- You can describe your family in your own words without having to justify or explain it. For example, ‘Craig’s donor dad will be coming to his appointment tomorrow’.
- You don’t have to be an LGBTQ+ educator. For example, you can ask for your child to use the toilet of their gender without explaining why.
You can check in with your partner, if you have one, your co-parents and your child’s siblings to see how they’re feeling about NDIS providers too. For example, you could ask:
- Does the experience ‘feel right’ to you?
- Do you feel you can be yourself?
- Do you feel that your life and needs are understood?
- Do you feel that your privacy is respected?
- Do you think there are any areas where the NDIS provider could improve?
If you notice that family members seem uncomfortable when working with NDIS providers, you could ask about this too. For example, ‘I’ve noticed you go out when your sister’s therapists come over. Is that something you want to talk about?’
Tips for LGBTQ+ families working with NDIS providers
Many NDIS providers and support workers are experienced in working with LGBTQ+ families, but it might be a new experience for others. If it feels safe and OK, here are ideas for improving the cultural safety and inclusivity of your NDIS providers and support workers:
- Give feedback to NDIS providers about their cultural safety and inclusivity. For example, if you don’t see your gender identity on a form, you could explain why this is important and request an updated version of the form.
- Tell NDIS providers what they need to know about your LGBTQ+ family to give your child the best support. For example, you might tell them why or how your chosen family will be involved in your child’s therapy.
- Be explicit about what you need in service agreements or plan reassessment reports. For example, you could specify that plan reassessment reports need to be sent both to you and your co-parent if you’re separated and you both need to see this information.
- Advocate for your child, if you think their needs aren’t being met. For example, you might explain to your child’s NDIS providers and support workers why a family-centred approach is important to you.
When NDIS experiences aren’t culturally safe or inclusive
Your child has the right to develop and learn in a safe and healthy environment.
If you’re unhappy with the way an NDIS provider or support worker is treating you, your child or your family, you can make a complaint. You might be able to work with your child’s provider to resolve the complaint, or you can ask the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to help you sort out the complaint. The NDIS Commission can also take action against a provider if necessary.
If you speak up about your concerns, it can help NDIS providers to improve their services to other LGBTQ+ families. It can also help to improve overall quality and safety for children in the NDIS. But if you choose not to complain or you can’t resolve the situation, it’s also OK to change providers.