Free Pathfinders workshop on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Inverell and Gwydir Shire Ability Linker Brett Pischke said the workshop would help families prepare for their NDIS plans, and that facilitator Michaela Kennedy was "one in a million".
Inverell and Gwydir Shire Ability Linker Brett Pischke said the workshop would help families prepare for their NDIS plans, and that facilitator Michaela Kennedy was "one in a million".

As local families prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Pathfinders Ability Links are offering a free workshop to help kickstart their plans.

Held at the Inverell RSM Club from 9.30am to 2.30pm on Monday and Tuesday, September 12-13, people with disabilities or mental illnesses and their families and supporters are invited to participate in the Pathway to a Food Life workshop.

“We understand that people in the community don’t have a lot of information, or they might have got different information. This is going to kind of consolidate it all into one,” Inverell and Gwydir Shire linker Brett Pischke said.

He said the NDIS, which takes funding from services and gives it directly to people with disabilities and their families, was “the biggest social change within our country since Medicare”, and that the full rollout, which began on July 1, is expected to take at least two years.

He said the NDIS was all about “choice, voice and control,” and that in the past, if a person was given funding for a program that they didn’t like, they would simply have to bear it. With the NDIS, recipients will choose how the money is spent.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), who are implementing the changes, require a personal plan for each recipient to accurately account for their self-managed funding. 

“So within that plan, you need to say, ‘Ok, I have family supports for this, this and this, but my family’s now getting older. I need to have paid supports to do this, this and this,’” he said.

“These workshops are about getting that plan into place, getting all your ducks in a row, so that when you actually do get the call up from the NDIA to actually have your plan finalised, you’ve got all the information to present to them.”

He suggested that carers keep a month-long diary outlining their daily expenses and challenges.

“Everyday they write in it exactly. So if you have a child with a disability, you write in there, ‘Today I had to shower, change, bath, clean the teeth, had to do all that. My daughter wanted to go shopping, so I had to support her to do that,’” he said. Brett said it was important to keep a regular record to account for both good and bad days.

“If a person keeps a diary for a month, even if it’s just for a month, in a typical month, and then they can add up and say, well how many hours, or they can request how many hours of support that they’re going to need.” He said this could allow family carers to go back to work or have time for social activities.

“A lot of the time, the parents have put their lives on hold to look after their children. And visa versa,” he said. He said the workshop was open to all.