When former coffin maker Mathew Jones’ peripheral vision dramatically deteriorated over a 13-year period he was left isolated and unemployed.
The husband and father of three lost his ability to drive and was bound to his Smythesdale property – filling in his days pottering around the garden.
A little more than a year ago Mr Jones’ life changed for the better when he was paired with guide dog Petros. Now, Mr Jones’ life is set for a second transformation as he prepares to move onto the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Under his approved plan Mr Jones will be eligible for more taxi help, technology such as electronic viewers and access to activities like gardening groups. He hopes the funding he receives will enable him to seek part-time employment giving him a greater sense of purpose.
“Generally it will help me to get out in the community and meet more people,” Mr Jones said. “It will open up a new world of opportunities.”
Previously, the care of Mr Jones’ guide dog has not been funded –under the plan it will be.
“With the NDIS I will get help for the maintenance of the guide dog – vet bills and other things the NDIS will cover,” Mr Jones said.
“That will help (financially) particularly with three young kids, a mortgage and two children going to high school.”
Guide Dogs Victoria chief executive Karen Hayes said the NDIS would be “overwhelmingly” positive for its clients.
“Under the NDIS those using disability services will have greater decision-making powers,” Ms Hayes said.
“Rather than being prescribed a set of ‘off the peg’ services, not specifically designed for their individual circumstances, the NDIS gives people the right to choose the types of support they feel will best meet their needs.”
Ms Hayes said the scheme provides a platform for innovative and creative thinking.
“Nothing makes that clearer than talking to some of the people who use our services, like Mathew, for whom the roll-out of the NDIS marks a pivotal moment in their personal and professional development”.