This thesis identified the factors that influence the participation of Aboriginal people in the New South Wales Government Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) funded disability services, as described from the experiences of non-government disability service providers and paid disability service workers in New South Wales, Australia. Although it is known that the rates of morbidity are much higher among Aboriginal people compared with the non-Aboriginal population, the participation rates of Aboriginal people in disability services are under-representative. Various authors have examined these phenomena from the view point of Aboriginal people who may be interested in using disability services. However, there is limited understanding on the views of non-government and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workers of disability services about the factors that influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services. This study aimed to help fill this knowledge gap by achieving the following three research objectives:
1. Identify how and when the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services was identified in documented policy.
2. Identify and describe the factors that influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services as perceived by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employees in two NSW Government Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care funded disability services.
3. Develop an Explanatory Framework that adequately encapsulates and represents the factors identified in this study as influencing the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services.
One Aboriginal community controlled organisation and a generic disability organisation were the sites for investigation. Objective one was achieved through a critical historical analysis of policy documents developed by the governments, one Aboriginal community controlled organisation and one generic disability organisation. A rigorous electronic and manual search of publications spanning three decades from 1981 was undertaken. This analysis demonstrated that the disability services sector’s strategies to accommodate the needs of Aboriginal people with a disability have made a limited impact on the service participation rates and have been hampered by Eurocentric models of disability and research. A conceptual framework is proposed to assist disability researchers and policy analysts working with Aboriginal people with a disability. The conceptual framework brings together the strengths of both the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health and the Indigenous Standpoint Theory.
The second objective was achieved via a situational analysis of transcripts of interviews, focus groups and field notes that were conducted with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal paid employees of the same government funded organisations. Twelve factors that influenced the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services were identified from the data. Consistent with objective three, an Explanatory Framework was developed which illustrated the relationships between these factors. This framework demonstrated that the factors that influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services are inter-dependent historically, culturally and institutionally. The identified factors and explanatory framework are used to guide recommendations for future research, policy development and service provision in the sector.