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Diversity Research 2013 Abstract

Submitted to the Human Rights Commission Annual Diversity Research Report: Disabled refugees storytelling

Recent research stresses that beyond marginalization, disabled refugees are invisible to our disability services, compounding an already difficult resettlement experience. Stories told by families having already navigated disability services, may offer the insight into meaningful help we can provide. This oral storytelling methodology addresses the problems some refugees face, not having words in their native language to describe disability or challenges with information presented in written format, whether in their native language or English.

This project sought to clarify the reasons for the low rate of service uptake, to improve access and change professional practices to improve social inclusion. Its recommendations are to:
1. Address cultural norms about disability
2. Support self-emerging community leadership amongst former refugees and
3. Review inter-agency collaboration practices to ensure that support for the disabled family members are prioritized.

Our findings demonstrate that sharing stories from families of refugee backgrounds, who have accessed disability services, can facilitate newcomers’ integration. We propose to compile and distribute an audio-visual repository of stories to palliate to the limited knowledge of disability services of disabled refugees and their families. For this curriculum to be integrated in workforce development, these stories are recorded in native languages as well as in English allowing social workers, meeting families soon after they reach New Zealand or staff in the Health and Disability sector to share them with clients on-site from their smartphones.

This research followed the SPARK NZ 'Knowledge Translation' methodology and was supported by the IHC Foundation. It was disseminated widely as well as presented as a keynote at the Ministry of Health Needs Assessments Coordinating Agencies annual conference. 

More about the project including a video summary available at: http://tinyurl.com/refugees-stories