Supports culturally and linguistically diverse communities to navigate the NDIS

Sahar Abdelrahman, NDIS Support Coordinator.

 

THIS week, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Support Coordinator Sahar Abdelrahman has been busy helping local people in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities translate and understand official COVID-19 news and updates.

“Helping people in my community thrive is what gives me purpose in my work,” Sahar told News Of The Area.

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For Coffs Harbour local Sahar, her job is personal.

Born and raised in Egypt, Sahar and her son came to Australia in 2012 as humanitarian refugees.

This has given her a unique insight into her work with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.

In her work, she helps NDIS participants from both English and CALD backgrounds to understand their funding and connect with services and supports in their local area.

“My first client was a young teenager who was non-verbal and living with significant intellectual disability,” she said.

“His parents and family had just arrived in the area as refugees and had very little English.

“They had lost another child who had similar disabilities and were trying to get their son medical help.

“It was difficult for them to navigate the healthcare system and understand what kind of supports were available to them.

“They were reserved and didn’t know they had choices and could be a voice for their son.”

Sahar was able to work with the family to communicate and connect to medical support at the hospital, including OTs, therapists and support workers as well as access to a wheelchair and other mobility equipment.

When Sahar herself arrived in Coffs Harbour she experienced first-hand the challenges some of her clients faced.

Living in a neighbourhood with no Arabic speakers and only basic English, she took every opportunity she could to improve her language skills.

“My neighbours were amazing,” she said.

“They were Australian and would often invite us to the traditional backyard BBQ.

“I would sit amongst them with my English textbook and listen to them speak, picking up words and practicing my pronunciation through conversation.

“Now I help other refugees find their voice.”

“Helping people in the CALD community realise their own capacity for self-determination has brought me full circle.”

 

By Andrea FERRARI

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