Information about your LGBTQ+ family: why it’s important for NDIS service providers
Information about your child’s and family’s goals, expectations, values and everyday life helps NDIS service providers work with you to support your child’s health, development and wellbeing.
Your child with disability, autism or other additional needs including developmental delay does best when the whole family helps them work towards their NDIS goals. If your child’s NDIS service providers and NDIS support workers understand what’s important to your LGBTQ+ family, they’re better able to find activities, strategies and resources that work for your family. This is what’s known as a family-centred approach.
But remember that you’re not required to disclose information about gender and sexuality to NDIS providers and workers. It’s your choice to share this information or not.
All families working with the NDIS have the right to respect and consideration for their family make-up, circumstances, arrangements and background. You can read more about LGBTQ+ inclusive NDIS experiences.
What and how much information to share about your LGBTQ+ family
It’s up to you to choose what and how much information to share about your LGBTQ+ family.
When you’re deciding what to share with your child’s NDIS service providers and NDIS support workers, you can start by thinking about what they need to know to support your child. You might tell them:
- who’s important in the life of your child – for example, the people in your child’s family of origin and your chosen family, siblings, co-parents and other people in your child’s support network
- how you want NDIS providers and workers to acknowledge and communicate with you, your child and your child’s family and support network – for example, the pronouns and names that your child uses for the special people in their life.
It’s also important to agree within your family about what to share and how to share it. If agreeing about these things is difficult for your family, you might be able to get support from friends, other LGBTQ+ families, professionals like counsellors and psychologists, and helplines.
If you need support to talk about your family with your child’s NDIS providers and workers, you can take someone with you – for example, a family member, friend or advocate.
Partnerships with professionals can take time and a lot of open, two-way communication to develop. If you get new support workers, you’ll probably have to tell your story again. This can be an opportunity to highlight what’s important to your child and family and to benefit from the fresh perspectives a new worker can bring.
Helping your child communicate about their LGBTQ+ family
Your child might need help communicating about their LGBTQ+ family with NDIS service providers and NDIS support workers. Here are some ideas:
- Help your child understand that they can be themselves with the NDIS and that they and their family will be respected and valued. For example, if a therapist is surprised when your child says they have two mums, you could say, ‘It’s OK. They just don’t know our family yet’.
- If your child uses communication aids or a sign language, make sure that NDIS providers and workers understand these tools and the signs or functions that your child uses to talk about their family.
- Look out for and respond to cues about your child’s feelings. For example, if your child looks uncomfortable talking about something, you could check on their feelings privately and work out how to help.
Your child should feel welcome, respected and safe with their NDIS service providers. Your NDIS service providers and NDIS support workers should speak to you and your child in kind and gentle ways and keep information about your child and family private.
Deciding not to share information about your LGBTQ+ family
You don’t have to tell your child’s NDIS service providers and NDIS support workers everything. For example, you might choose not to disclose information about your LGBTQ+ family for the following reasons:
- The people your child works with in the NDIS don’t need to know about your family in detail. What you talk about with a worker you see every week might be different from what a casual worker needs to know.
- You don’t feel safe sharing information about your gender or sexuality with your child’s NDIS service providers or organisations.
- You’re waiting until you feel comfortable with your child’s NDIS providers and workers before you share information about your family.
Another option is sharing information or explaining things to your child’s NDIS providers, but limiting the information that providers record about your family. For example, if your partner doesn’t want to be ‘out’, you could ask your provider to record the name of one parent only. Or if a parent has recently changed their name, you might ask them to write the new name without recording the former name of a different gender.
If your child’s NDIS provider or worker asks a question that feels personal or intrusive or that goes beyond what you’d planned to share, it’s OK to ask how the information they want will help your child meet their NDIS goals. Then you can decide whether and how to answer.
Some people use the term ‘inviting in’ to highlight that information about gender and sexuality can be something we choose to reveal only to those people or professionals we feel safe with and supported by.
If your NDIS experience isn’t safe or inclusive
If you’re unhappy with the way an NDIS service provider or NDIS support worker is treating you, your child or your family, you can make a complaint.
You might be able to work with child’s NDIS provider to resolve the complaint or you can ask the independent 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 choose not to complain or you can’t resolve the situation, it’s also OK to change providers.
Looking after yourselves as an LGBTQ+ family in the NDIS
All families navigate challenges as their children grow and develop. Parents in LGBTQ+ families might have to navigate challenges like discrimination, a lack of understanding of their needs, or the feeling of always explaining their circumstances to professionals and providers and facing questions and judgments from people. This can be exhausting for LGBTQ+ families.
Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally can help you meet these challenges. It can also help you give your child what they need to grow and thrive.
Looking after yourself includes strengthening your support networks and asking for help. Find ways to connect with people you trust, either in person or online. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. Support can come from your family and friends, other LGBTQ+ parents, LGBTQ+ organisations and professionals like counsellors and psychologists.