Deb’s Story by Kathleen de Leon

Debbie has been a long-term resident of Hillcrest since 1993 moving from Kingston where she has lived since 1979. Debbie began her career in Disability Support 10 years ago, after her son was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.  She previously worked as Manager of Life Skills Programs and has recently ventured into private support work.

Since the introduction of the 2006 Disability Services Act, Debbie believes that the changes to how we view the rights and needs of people with disabilities has improved. The quality and variety of services provided increased enabling people with disabilities to meet in places they felt comfortable to socialise. The services provided onsite by providers taught people with disabilities on how to deal with life situations.

Since the introduction of the NDIS, the payment model has changed putting these services at risk. NDIS participants receive individualised plans encouraging the access to mainstream services (café’s etc), community-based activities (libraries) and other programs. The NDIS and other systems work together to ensure participants have choice and control of the services they receive.  

Debbie applauds the opportunity to use mainstream services and community-based activities. Services, such as The Coffee Club Browns Plains, where she regularly visits with her clients, have been very accepting. The staff interact with workers and clients delivering a positive experience and teaching clients about public communication.   

Debbie is concerned that with the move to utilise community-based services, the onsite service providers will suffer and not survive. These services are vital for the socialisation of people with a disability to continue friendships and to interact with someone who understands.

We are creating a gap where once people with a disability were able to meet onsite with service providers to interact with each other, to now using mainstream services and community-based activities amongst the community.

Both models are very important to our clients so people with a disability can meet with Service Providers onsite as well as utilising mainstream services and activities.

Debbie also expressed that it is not easy finding appropriate community-based activities to meet the needs of clients which is an area we can improve on particularly at our local libraries with most programs on offer are for the very young or the elderly.

“I would like to see the local libraries and community centres changing the activities they offer to include people with disabilities as well” said Debbie. “We also need a social club that younger people with disabilities will be accepted, there is a lack of support for youth 17–25.  They want to socialise just like you and I, but when they leave school often, they lose their social connections.”

Debbie would also like to hear from businesses or organisations, who would like to support workers and their clients to visit in a social setting. You can contact her at debbarnes05@gmail.com

Kathleen de Leon is a long time Logan West resident. She’s founder of the popular Gotta Love Logan social media campaign and will be running for Division 7 at next year’s council elections – www.kathdeleon.com.au

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