VALID running peer action groups in Ballarat to assist people with disabilities ahead of NDIS

With the mammoth National Disability Insurance Scheme currently being rolled out across the country, a group of dedicated advocates is helping people to gain a better understanding of the program while also encouraging them to become more involved in the community.   

Transition: Ballarat disability advocate Mark Thompson is one of the leaders of VALID's peer action groups, which take place once a month.

Transition: Ballarat disability advocate Mark Thompson is one of the leaders of VALID's peer action groups, which take place once a month.

The major overhaul of the federal government’s disability services began rolling out across the Central Highlands region at the beginning of this year and is expected to be completed within 18 months.  

The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability is encouraging Ballarat locals living with a disability, along with their family members, to come along to one of its monthly peer action groups as the NDIS is rolled out.  

Ballarat disability advocate Mark Thompson said while the groups largely focused on explaining the differences between the NDIS and previous support mechanisms, it was also about helping people to become more active. 

“We try and get groups of six or eight people in to talk about the problems they’re facing and to talk about how they might change their plans around with the NDIS,” Mr Thompson said.  

“Ultimately the people who do attend are the ones that benefit because the ones who don't attend are the ones who end up sitting at home.” 

VALID is one of six advocacy groups throughout Victoria to receive government funding to run the peer support groups, with an aim to fully integrate people with disabilities into society.  

VALID community development coordinator David Craig said the peer support groups played a major role in giving people confidence to get involved in sport and other community activities as well as to seek employment. 

“There’s such a focus on getting ready (for the NDIS) but it’s really about allowing people to live their lives with more choice and control,” Mr Craig said.  “We’re looking at ways we can work with the local community to encourage people with disabilities to find employment.”

The next session will be held on April 28 at the Eastwood Leisure Centre.