In the past three weeks, VALID advocates have been in Ararat, Stawell and Warrnambool assisting 28 people living in DHHS specialist accommodation with their first NDIS plan. Most of the people we met lived at large institutions across Victoria, but have started going to their local football club, playing in the Tri-State Games, and taking interstate holidays. The NDIS is the big change they have been waiting for because they haven’t been able to do as much as they would like and they’re ready for something bigger.
Advocates would like to acknowledge DHHS staff who have put a lot of work into preparing for the meetings, and who provide support to residents throughout and after the meeting. Many of the staff we met have known the person they support for decades and are one of the few people who can tell us the person’s history, interests and goals. The staff we met were excited about the possibilities that the NDIS might offer beyond what they have been able to do with limited funding.
We also met NDIS planners who took time to understand the needs of each individual, who carefully worked through the person’s goals and support needs, who made suggestions about assessments that are long overdue, and allocated 1:1 support so that people can try new things and meet more people. We heard stories from planners about how NDIS funding has helped people to visit their elderly parents more often because they finally have support to make the trip, and about people pooling their NDIS funding to see live music with friends.
There is no doubt we have much further to go. So many people are eager to have a good job but there still aren’t many options to purchase the support that would make it possible. We met couples who want to live together but have never been offered the chance. And people who have never considered how they could use their support to be an active member of their family. People want more 1:1 support – not only group programs or group homes. The NDIS can do something about that.
Since the NDIS started rolling out across Australia, people with intellectual disabilities have set up small businesses, become volunteers, have joined clubs and are seeing friends and family more often. The VALID advocacy team hear these stories every day. Big changes take time, and a lot of commitment and imagination, but there are a lot of people getting on with the job, and VALID is proud to be a small part of it.
If you or someone you know needs advocacy, contact the VALID advocacy team on (03) 9416 4003 or email the Advocacy Manager, [email protected]