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Disability Care Australia - One big difference to lots of lives

DisabilityCare Australia e-news

Issue 2, 22 August 2013

In this issue:

Message from the CEO, David Bowen

CEO, David BowenHello,

I’m pleased to welcome you to the second e-news update from DisabilityCare Australia.

An exciting development since the last update is the announcement of Western Australia (WA) coming on board. A two year pilot will commence in WA on 1 July 2014. This involves a DisabilityCare Australia pilot site, commencing from July 2014 in the Perth Hills area for residents living in the local government areas (LGAs) of Swan, Kalamunda and Mundaring, as well as two sites operating under the Western Australian My Way initiative — from July 2014 for people in the Lower South West area and from July 2015 for people in the Cockburn-Kwinana area. This arrangement with WA means that DisabilityCare Australia is one step closer to being a truly national scheme.

I am also pleased to report that we continue to receive positive feedback from the people who are having their first interactions with DisabilityCare Australia, from participants getting their plans in place, from their families and carers, and from people making general enquiries. Our goal is to see real improvement for people with disability in their family life and community participation, so feedback from people on the ground is extremely valuable as they are the ones that understand their community the best. This feedback will help us improve the way we do things as we continue to implement the scheme, so please keep it coming.

In this edition, you will find stories about the start of implementation planning in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Queensland, and a regional update from the Hunter. You will also find reflections on first planning conversations from one of our Tasmanian planners. Planners play an important role in a participant’s journey through DisabilityCare Australia because they support participants to identify their goals and help plan what support they need.

In this edition you will also find a profile of one of the projects undertaken by the Disability Trust as part of the Practical Design Fund. The project aimed to help people with disability, their families and carers keep up to date with and prepare for the scheme.

Please pass this email on to your family, friends and associates, so they too can keep up to date by registering below.

I look forward to receiving your feedback and answering your questions.

Best wishes,


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Meet DisabilityCare Australia’s staff

Chris Oppert – DisabilityCare Australia planner, Launceston, Tasmania Interview with Chris Oppert – DisabilityCare Australia planner, Launceston, Tasmania

What did you do before joining DisabilityCare Australia?

Before joining DisabilityCare Australia, I studied in Sydney and Adelaide and recently was living in Canberra for over five years. While in Canberra I worked in the not-for-profit sector with people with disability. My main role was to facilitate community connections and skill development for my participants. I also held roles on community boards, such as Autism Asperger ACT, and played an active role as a presenter for community radio.

How are you enjoying living in Tasmania?

I am really enjoying it – especially the climate, which is similar to Canberra. The people are very friendly here, community-minded and seem very proud of their state.

What does your role involve?

I see my main responsibility as being the development of positive relationships with the young people and families I work with. These relationships are really the basis on which I can help young people and their families explore and develop their goals and support plans. I spend a lot of time meeting people outside the office in an environment that is comfortable for them. Although the shopfronts are comfortable and welcoming, not everyone always feels comfortable in a new environment. Helping young people to explore their goals is exciting –helping them to see beyond what is and to consider other possibilities. And helping them to think beyond disability specific services to other typical opportunities in their local community is important and potentially very rewarding.

How do you approach working with young people?

I find that it is really important to ask lots of questions about who they are, what they want to achieve, and their interests and concerns. It’s also crucial to include their families in the discussion where that’s appropriate. Family support is very important to many of the young people I work with, as families have a strong role in supporting a young person’s journey towards independence.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered so far?

I think that we are working with a totally new approach and because of that young people and their families are finding that they need quite a bit of time to think about what they want.

What is most rewarding thing about your role?

Simply working with young people and assisting them to think about and explore their goals – as well as uncovering opportunities and helping them to participate more actively in their local community.

How are you finding working in the Launceston office?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit all of the Tasmanian shopfronts. They all have very good facilities – but the most important thing for me is the people I work with. I really enjoy working with my colleagues, whose skill and drive is very impressive. It’s a wonderful experience to be part of building a strong, respectful, enabling culture that we as a team established and identified, and it feels like everyone is working with the same orientation.

Supporting the sector – Practical Design Fund project spotlight

The Practical Design Fund aims to support individuals and grassroots organisations by funding a range of projects to identify practical solutions and innovative methods to help people with disability, their families and carers and the disability sector to prepare for DisabilityCare Australia.

The Disability Trust is one organisation that has, along with other organisations in the Illawarra region, developed an innovative tool for people with disability.

My Voice, My Choice is an information sharing platform, which will help people with disability, their families and carers keep up to date with and prepare for the scheme. It assists them with storing, accessing and sharing information.

My Voice, My Choice is a safe place for people with disability, their friends and carers to discuss important issues online and to store and send documents that need to be shared with service providers. There is also a simple budgeting tool to enable people who are self-managing their package of supports and to track their own funding.

One additional benefit of the tool is that it provides people with opportunities to connect with others in the community, including people with similar support needs, age or facing similar challenges. This can especially benefit people living in rural and remote areas as well as those who are socially isolated.

Lisa Ashford-Potter is Brenton’s Mum, and she says:

‘I’m not going to be around forever, so the ability to train Brenton up to do these sort of things, to take on that responsibility is going to be important for him and for his independence. It’ll build the quality of life that he has. It’s their voice, their choice and it’s the way it should be.’

For more information or to trial My Voice, My Choice, visit

Regional update from the Hunter

After the excitement of the 1 July launch, our regional offices have quickly settled into scheduling appointments, working with people with disability to develop their individual plans, and providing information, advice and referrals—for participants in the scheme, their families and carers, and members of the general public.

Rob Watkins and Louise Hamilton share the role of Launch Manager in the Hunter office. They have both brought extensive experience to DisabilityCare Australia: Rob from the NSW State Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, and Louise from the Australian Government Department of Human Services. Together, they have created a team committed to providing outstanding service to participants, their families and carers in the Hunter. They have also worked on preparing the Hunter disability sector for a smooth transition to DisabilityCare Australia.

Together, Rob, Louise and the Hunter team opened the doors of the first DisabilityCare Australia site in New South Wales on 1 July 2013.

Rob and Louise have said that the time spent with participants working through their goals and establishing plans to achieve those goals is truly inspiring.

‘One example, provided by one of our planners, was her visit with a participant who is a grandmother with an intellectually disability who has been unable to visit her grandchildren due to transport limitations. Through DisabilityCare Australia, she will now have access to transport and can be reunited with her family.’

‘Another participant we are working with is hoping to get her wheelchair repaired so she can get out and about after months of being almost housebound, while others are keen to try some employment or maybe a training course.’

At DisabilityCare Australia, we hope to make positive change in the Hunter community by working alongside participants, their families and carers, providers and other members of the community.

Paralympian Kurt Fearnley with Senior Planner Matthew Kirkman

Paralympian Kurt Fearnley with Senior Planner Matthew Kirkman at the Hunter office opening

Implementation planning for new launch sites is underway

Implementation planning for the new launch sites that will start from July 2014 is currently underway.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will be the first state or territory in the country to make a whole of system transition for all people with disability aged under 65. Between now and June 2014 in the ACT, there will be a focus on improving the capacity of people with disability and their families to exercise choice and control, and improving capability of the community sector to deliver services under the scheme, in preparation for the roll out from July 2014.

The Barkly region of the Northern Territory (NT) includes some of the most remote communities in Australia, and new service delivery solutions will be required so that people are able to access the supports they need from July 2014.

Western Australia (WA) will host three locations from July 2014. One location will implement the DisabilityCare Australia model and the other two will implement the Western Australian My Way model. My Way, delivered by the not-for-profit sector, enables people with disability, their families and carers to design, plan and implement their own supports and services. This combined approach presents an opportunity to learn from both models to improve outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers, as the scheme rolls out nationally.

DisabilityCare Australia is currently working with officials in the ACT and NT and will shortly start working with WA to implement the launch sites.

More details will be published on our website as information becomes available.

Copyright in DisabilityCare Australia e-news is held by DisabilityCare Australia. Material in DisabilityCare Australia e-news can be used, copied or adapted provided the source is attributed. DisabilityCare Australia e-news is subject to Creative Commons BY licence.

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