Pinarc staff receive award that takes them to Nepal

THREE Pinarc Disability Support staff members have received an inaugural professional development award.

Speech pathologist Jessica Elliott, occupational therapist Stephanie van Velzen and case manager Nikki Gilbertson will travel to Pokhara in Nepal on January 18 to work with children with disabilities at Pinarc’s partner agency, Community Based Rehabilitation Service.

The award has been jointly sponsored by Pinarc chief executive officer Marianne Hubbard, in memory of her daughter, and Chris Packer and Associates.

Ms van Velzen said they would be training key disability support workers in the region, as well as doing home visits.

Ms Hubbard, who visited Pokhara in January this year, said the professional

development award was a wonderful opportunity for staff.

“I had an amazing time,” Ms Hubbard said. “It was pretty astonishing. “Their equipment is very basic and handmade out of wood so the family can make their own repairs.

“They are also living with very little. There is a lot of poverty in Nepal.”

Ms Hubbard said the trio would have to learn to be creative and resourceful.

“All home visits take place on the porch with all the villagers standing around and watching,” she said.

“The staff can then talk to the other villagers about the disability as well, which helps with inclusion and integration into the community.

“But at the same time, they don’t have the same understanding of confidentiality that we have.”

Ms Hubbard said whole communities cared for children in Nepal, rather than just families, but children with disabilities were still often hidden away.

“Disability is not even funded by the government,” she said.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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