With more than 20 years of experience in the community services sector between them, Emily Heywood and Mel Speirs watched with keen interest the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme when it began in the Central Highlands region in January 2017.
They both welcomed the decision that funding sits with an individual, thereby giving participants freedom of choice to select the supports that best suit their needs.
With their mutual passion and experience in advocating for and supporting people with disabilities, the big question for them was how to contribute this significant revolution in the disability sector.
The idea was born over a cup of coffee, and after a few months of hard work Inspire Support opened a centre for participants to socialise, engage in activities and build their individual skills.
Inspire Support recognised through their experience supporting people with psycho-social, intellectual and other disabilities that participant’s needs don’t stop at 5pm on a Friday when organisations close their doors for the weekend. Their first goal was to offer a space for people to be supported and have a place to call their second home on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as during the week.
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Since opening a year ago, the centre has evolved as participants have influenced and chosen how activities are delivered and what takes place.
Emily said one of her most rewarding experiences since opening the centre is seeing the participants drive and take control of what activities they participate in, including the creation of a band, The Inspirations. The Inspirations performed two concerts for friends, family and support people in August this year and are excitedly preparing for Christmas performances.
“We don’t see the space as ours, we see it as our participants to use as engage with in ways that are meaningful for them,” said Emily. While Inspire Support offer staff-led activities every morning and afternoon, participants can use other parts of the centre if they prefer.
The freedom to use computers, listen to music, be social, participate in cooking, play sport in the park, and get involved in group or individual activities - no matter what day of the week - embraces the NDIS values of choice and control.
2018 has been a huge year for the team at Inspire Support, and they look forward to growing even further in 2019. “We will continue to evolve based on the needs of the participants, as what they tell us they want,” said Emily. “Our centre is for them, and we will keep listening to their contributions and expanding what we offer based on their ideas.”