Support Worker

How the NDIS is changing the nature of Support Work

Mel Schlaeger

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) means choice for people with a disability (PWD) and for support staff. But what does this mean in action?

 From the perspective of a person with a disability NDIS means choice of service provider and support workers. This can also mean self-managing your support budget or having a coordinator of supports to help with paying staff and organising other aspects of your NDIS plan as required.

 In practical terms NDIS should mean that people with a disability can be in the driver’s seat of their own lives. Service providers have to be mindful that people with disabilities are now customers who can take their funding wherever their individual needs can be best met.

In my role with projectABLE, I hope to enable young people to see people with a disability as just like them, but with different support needs.  We want the students who attend projectABLE workshops to get the sense that supporting someone who has a disability is not about creating a life for the person.  Instead, it’s about walking alongside them and supporting the life they have created for themselves.

I want to acknowledge at this point that some people with disability will need more help than others to create and maintain a meaningful lifestyle. However it is our consistent purpose through disability awareness training to ensure PWD are not subject to pity in today’s society. For some students, projectABLE presenters are the first people with disability that they have met who are working.  I feel confident that in the future, young people will no longer be surprised that PWD are paid members of the workforce.

Future workers in the disability sector will have the opportunity to work with PWD who are active members of the community and who will be more confident to access the choices that are available to them.  I see the support worker/PWD relationship moving from people being grateful for the support they receive to people instead having the opportunity to connect on a genuine human level.

In the end it all comes down to respecting others and treating everyone as equals, and we can all be a small part of the mosaic that will continue to create positive change now and into the future.

 

Melanie Schlaegar

True Stories: Sarah Delaney – learn valuable skills in community work

Sarah Delaney editedI work with the Australian Foundation for Disability (AFFORD) as the Team Leader for the Community Participation Program at Jamisontown.

The Community Participation Program gives adults living with disability the opportunity to learn valuable life skills such as cooking, shopping and using public transport, whilst also having a great time with music, art, sport and community activities. Each person in the program is encouraged to be the best they can be and to have fun while achieving their goals. Jamisontown has 20 clients and 6 staff.

I haven’t always worked in disability. When I left school I went to Business College and became a secretary, progressing after 5 years or so to the level of executive secretary in a company which manufactured metal cutting tools. While I really enjoyed the work, I was over the office politics and felt I needed to try something new.

Growing up, my grandmother had lived with us all my through my childhood and we had cared for her,

True Stories: Casey Goh – Steep learning curves

Casey GohI feel my cultural background has definitely helped me to be able to relate well to my clients at Sunshine, where I am working as a Casual Support Worker.

I was born in Malaysia and came to Australia with my family when I was 5 years old. At times I did experience discrimination when I was growing up, just like many different cultural groups. Even today I do experience it, but I think my openness in dealing with different situations and my constant exploration has allowed me to be able to overcome a lot of that discrimination. I have always pushed myself to be exposed to different things and to mix with all sorts of people. I am curious about everything and I’m able to overcome a lot of challenges.