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  • Writer's pictureAboriginal Family Support Services

Be With Me - A program supporting Aboriginal Families & Communities to Navigate the NDIS

Aboriginal family Support Services (AFSS) has been working in South Australia helping to build safe and culturally strong Aboriginal Families and Communities since 1978. The NDIS can be tricky to navigate for the most experienced of users, but the ‘Be with Me’ program adds a layer of support to Aboriginal Families to stay safe, supported and together. This program was the first of its kind in SA, and was born from what we saw as a huge unmet need in community. Our ‘Be with Me’ practitioners are all Aboriginal people, with a lived experience of the NDIS in their families – we call them Navigators.

From left to right; Ricache Van Groesen (Navigator), Olivia King (manager NDIS and SILS), Shana-May Karpany (Navigator) & Eileen Collins-Cole (Navigator) with the Hesta Award for Excelence in Team Work, Disability.

How we can help people who don’t have an NDIS plan?

Our Navigators will meet with a person or family and work with them to find the right supports they need, most often this is an application for the NDIS, sometimes its my aged care, or a different community based option. Our Navigators will support clients to their appointments, support them with reports and assessments and walk alongside people through the application and support planning processes.

How we can help people who have a plan, but aren’t getting the supports they want or need?

Our Navigators will sit with a person and explain their plan or supports in a practical way – and help them plan how they can be implemented. Navigators will do warm referrals into services, do research to find the right match and be an ongoing partner in making sure the supports keep meeting clients needs.

How we can help ensure better practise?

Our Navigators provide free training to community members, organisations, individual workers and AFSS employees on Aboriginality and Disability – this training has been popular, and the feedback we have received has been really positive. We have a lot of people approach us about training, we also offer it whenever we refer a client into a service as a way of ensuring the service our clients receive is culturally informed.


"Our Navigator was able to support and guide me through all the hoops that came along with Kudos and to try obtaining NDIS approval for our son, they have been an amazing support throughout this journey so far." - Toni, a Be With Me client


If you would like more information, to put in a referral to receive support from a Navigator, or to attend training, please contact


Originally published in Connected Caregiving Autumn 2023

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