Empowerment starts here | NDIS feature

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SUPPORT: Rick Corney has been instrumental in allowing Ballarat Community Health clients to take part in program designs, hosting a drop-in session to hear what people wanted. Photo: Kate Healy.

SUPPORT: Rick Corney has been instrumental in allowing Ballarat Community Health clients to take part in program designs, hosting a drop-in session to hear what people wanted. Photo: Kate Healy.

The NDIS is a new way of providing support for people with disability, their families and carers in Australia. This is a significant change. 

Ballarat Community Health has been working with the community for 40 years to create opportunities and supportive environments which empower people. The organisation promotes the social model of disability which means that people with disability have a right to be fully participating citizens on an equal basis with others. 

It is up to all of us, not just funded services, to include people with disabilities in community life. The NDIS provides funding for people to have more choice and control over the services and programs that will make a difference in their lives. 

One area of disability that is not well understood is psychosocial disability. This a term used to describe the experience of people with disability related to mental health conditions. These impairments can include a loss of ability to function, think clearly, experience full physical health, and manage the social and emotional aspects of their lives. 

Ballarat Community Health have engaged a peer support worker, Rick Corney, to assist BCH to plan for NDIS funded programs that  are meaningful to people with a psychosocial disability

Rick’s personal experiences with mental illness give him an insight into the challenges facing people seeking assistance. His desire to assist those with mental illness craft their own treatment paths stemmed from his own experience with mental illness.

“It was a struggle because I was diagnosed with a pretty severe mental illness, and I didn’t ask for a lot of the treatment, it was forced upon me,” he said. “Part of my role is working in the mental health program, liaising with facilitators and helping clients transition to the NDIS”.  

Rick has been instrumental in creating pathways for clients to take part in the design of programs on offer and recently hosted a drop in session to find out what people wanted.

BCH is an NDIS provider providing allied health services and counselling to NDIS participants, and can also provide support coordination.

Managing and processing feelings and emotions can be very difficult and complex, especially if people are experiencing significant changes in relationships or wellbeing. Many people find counselling helpful. Counselling can assist you to grow as a person and achieve your goals.

NDIS participants can request counselling in their NDIS plan to understand feelings and manage personal relationships and major changes in life.

In addition to counselling, NDIS participants may also have a need to include allied health services such as exercise physiology, physiotherapy and podiatry in their NDIS plan to ensure they can best manage activities of daily living. Ballarat Community Health can provide these supports for participants across the Ballarat region.

NDIS opens doors for Sean

OPPORTUNITY: Villa Maria Catholic Homes helped Sean make the most out of his new NDIS plan, linking him with disability support worker, Kevin.

OPPORTUNITY: Villa Maria Catholic Homes helped Sean make the most out of his new NDIS plan, linking him with disability support worker, Kevin.

Sean likes having a laugh, high adrenaline sports, keeping fit, playing wheelchair basketball and spending time with his adorable puppy, Ruby. 

The 28-year-old has cerebral palsy and has never let his disability or people’s attitudes get in the way of achieving his goals and having fun. “I’ve had a lot of people over the years telling me that I can’t do this and I can’t do that, and I like proving them wrong.” 

One thing that was holding him back though was a lack of supports outside of his family. That changed when he got his first NDIS plan this year and he turned to not-for-profit disability service provider Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH), which recently opened an office in Ballarat. 

VMCH has helped Sean, who lives in Ararat, make the most out of his new NDIS plan. VMCH linked Sean with disability support worker, Kevin, and they go to the gym and the swimming pool. They also go fishing and jet boating. 

“Before the NDIS I was not getting any support. It was a lot of stress on my family,” Sean said. “Having Kevin takes a lot of the stress off my family. Kevin is a really nice guy. He has a sense of humour.” 

VMCH has been providing disability services in Victoria for more than 100 years and recently opened an office in Ballarat to offer disability support services in regions including Ararat, Pyrenees Shire, Moorabool Shire, Golden Plains Shire and Hepburn Shire. 

For Kevin, the NDIS had offered him a career change. After 33 years working at a goldmine in Stawell, Kevin was retrenched and looking for a change. “This job is different. That’s what I enjoy about it. Every day can be different. It’s nice to catch up with Sean and see the benefits he’s getting out of what we’re doing. It’s very rewarding.” 

VMCH’s new Central Highlands office helps people make the most of their NDIS plan. This includes NDIS plan management and support coordination, support with daily living and community participation. 

Seeds Regional Manager, Jo Debrincat said VMCH has already helped hundreds of people transition over to the NDIS in other parts of Victoria. “The NDIS is about choice and the arrival of disability service providers like VMCH into this region broadens people’s options.” 

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Providing a helping hand

HELP: Throughout the NDIS rollout, Pinarc has continued its Medicare-funded services, training and programs, including a Social Skills group.

HELP: Throughout the NDIS rollout, Pinarc has continued its Medicare-funded services, training and programs, including a Social Skills group.

Good preparation has made all the difference to Pinarc Disability Support in supporting families transitioning to the NDIS. New software programs and automating many of the administration processes has significantly reduced running costs.

“Increased efficiency means that our Financial Plan Management service has really taken off,” says Chief Executive Officer, Marianne Hubbard. “It is exciting to see people making their support decisions without worrying about managing payments. Monthly statements let customers know exactly how much is left in their plan.”

Signing more than 1000 new service agreements in the first six months, Hubbard reports strong growth in programs such as the popular Independent Living Skills program. This focuses on skills development in self-care, barista training, cooking, gardening, and continued literacy and numeracy, with options for volunteering and work placements.

The NDIS has meant an increase in access with the opportunity to join Pinarc after-school programs and a range of Saturday social groups. “With increased funding we are seeing people joining groups and accessing the community, instead of just staying at home, ” says Sara Cavanagh, Senior Services Manager. “School-aged children who needed allied health services were also previously missing out. However with increased NDIS funding, we now find that our speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy are in high demand.”

With the new funding model, people are now able to access small group programs, which provide safe recreational and social opportunities, a chance for creative exploration and skill development. The NDIS has increased opportunities for children, teenagers and adults to access holiday programs and camps. Previously there were long waiting lists and access was limited, however programs are now expanding.

“The success of Pinarc is based on our individualised support within each group program and the expertise of our friendly, experienced staff,” says Hubbard. “We are proud to truly make a difference in providing each person with the opportunity to maximise their potential.”

Why empowerment is key

OPPORTUNITIES: The NDIS has opened up avenues that allow participants to maximise their options and maintain tighter control over their support network.

OPPORTUNITIES: The NDIS has opened up avenues that allow participants to maximise their options and maintain tighter control over their support network.

For many years, Uniting Ballarat has been assisting people in the Central Highland community with health care and support services. They are also a mental health care service provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), giving help and advice to participants. 

Sean Duffy, Executive Officer for Uniting Ballarat, explains how they are an essential entry point to the NDIS for local people. “The primary benefit of the NDIS is that people who have a disability or a mental health condition can access support that is tailored specifically to their individual needs and goals,” he said. “The other benefit is that they can maintain control regarding who supports them. From the first contact, we help people navigate the NDIS so they thoroughly understand what is being offered and how it can help them find the best support.”

Previously, the choice of what was available to people was restricted and at times limited. However the NDIS has opened up avenues that allow participants to maximise their options and maintain tighter control over their support network. 

People accessing the NDIS through Uniting also have the option of exploring the additional range of services provided by the organisation and coordinated assistance to navigate other community support options. 

“Through Uniting, participants in the NDIS will also have access to additional services such housing services, alcohol and drug services, mental health clinical treatment services and aged care community services,” Sean said. 

Uniting is there as the first point of contact for people wanting to access the NDIS. They have a team of experienced support staff on board who are always ready to help. 

It’s a service open to all members of the community who feel they would like some help and advice, with no prior referral or plan needed to come in for chat about the options. “We want to empower people to make the choices that work for them,” Sean said.

The importance of a home

SUPPORT: McCallum is assisting families with their long-term living arrangements and providing pathways for people to access quality housing.

SUPPORT: McCallum is assisting families with their long-term living arrangements and providing pathways for people to access quality housing.

Every individual, family and community understands that the cornerstone of someone enjoying their life is access to a safe, comfortable and welcoming home. Unfortunately for many individuals establishing a home for themselves becomes their highest, unmet life challenge. For individuals with a disability it can appear to be an insurmountable dream.

However, as part of planning for a family’s future accommodation needs the NDIS, through the application of the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) framework, will enable affordable, fully accessible housing for the first time. No longer will block funded group homes be the norm – the future will be truly customer-driven, innovative housing solutions.  

McCallum understands the difficultly families face when trying to source suitable accommodation for loved ones who may not be able to fully advocate for their own needs. We also appreciate the enormous unmet demand for quality, affordable housing that is appropriate to the needs of individuals who require high support environments in which to live. 

With the introduction of the NDIS, McCallum is assisting families to consider their long-term family living arrangements and providing pathways for individuals to access quality housing. 

During 2017 McCallum purchased two building lots in the new Lucas estate with plans to develop two innovative homes for individuals with high support needs. The homes will feature the latest assistive technologies and flexible designs to that enable private and communal spaces to create a truly welcoming home.

The building for the first Lucas estate home is set to begin in early 2018 with residents moving in later in the year. The second home is scheduled to start towards the end 2018. Looking forward, McCallum is excited by the opportunities of building architecturally designed homes that not only meet the needs of individuals but are built in great locations, are affordable and beautiful.  

Providing pathways to your destination


ON TRACK: Ballarat Regional Industries matches participants with the type of work and location most suited to their capabilities and interests, such as a range of landscaping services.

ON TRACK: Ballarat Regional Industries matches participants with the type of work and location most suited to their capabilities and interests, such as a range of landscaping services.

Ballarat Regional Industries (BRI) is a registered NDIS service provider delivering supported employment services for people with disabilities at its Wendouree, Sebastopol and Melton sites.

The range of services include process packaging of a range of products, paper, cardboard and plastic recycling, manufacture of timber pallets and boxes and a range of landscaping services.

BRI matches participants with the type of work and location most suited to their capabilities and interests, always with a view to ensuring they have choices and opportunities to live a self-determined life.

Commencing early next year, BRI is offering a Pathways to your Destination program which will incorporate one day each week in a classroom environment, learning independent living skills, basic computer education, increasing social skills, everyday health and hygiene, reading and writing, and becoming job ready.

This is followed by another day actually working in one of the BRI work sites. Participants enrolled in this program will be paid as employees of BRI.

Experts in customised equipment

Astec is a family owned business that has been operating for more than 20 years. We have a large range of products and specialise in customised equipment. Astec has been working with the NDIS since the trial started in Geelong four years ago.

Astec are able to provide a large spectrum of equipment to suit everyday needs, from kitchen and eating equipment, lift chairs, hi-lo beds, bathroom and showering equipment, wheelchairs and scooters, ceiling hoists and tracks. Astec also perform vehicle modifications to help you get around from hand controls, through to fitting out vans with flat floors and wheelchair hoists. We are able to install grab rails in your home, as well as getting rails custom made to suit outdoors. We are able to deliver goods to your house and set them up for you and train you on how to safely use the equipment.

We sell sleep apnoea equipment and have trained sleep therapists in house to assist you with this equipment. With a large inhouse workshop and five vans on the road, we are able to service and repair most types of equipment. With a large range of spare parts on hand, we also have a fast turnaround on repairs. Our well trained staff also have a large knowledge base on all of the equipment.