Peer Support in community organisations

Written by Jacqui Vella

Here at Northwest Disability Services we continually aim to provide a fun and energetic work environment for our staff; sometimes due to the nature of this work, our staff face difficult situations. Having a close knit group of people working together makes for a much more productive day and means that staff can really “get into” their role and work together.

Community services and disability work in particular can be a challenging job at times. Our staff work directly with service users and their families so understandably it can be hard to “clock off” at the end of the day and focus on home life. I think it’s really important for staff to feel comfortable in voicing their opinions and concerns on a daily basis and I feel very strongly about keeping communication lines open to all staff at all times. This gives staff the opportunity to talk about any concerns or issues that they are experiencing in the programs and basically just get things “off their chest”. The staff and management of NWDS strive to create this open environment every day and continue to work towards solutions and brighter futures for everyone.

Recently we have developed an NWDS “Social Group” which is made up of staff and volunteers from all of our buildings that get together every now and then for social gatherings. We have put together a volunteer “social committee” to meet regularly and plan fundraising events for our organisation to help raise some funds for our end of year staff Christmas Party.

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Providing holiday respite

Written by Jacqui Vella

So the holidays are over and everyone is back at their desks and working hard to launch a new year at North West Disability Services (NWDS). As for myself, 2011 started with a bang with our Flexible Respite & Leisure Link school holiday program!

These 2 week programs run alongside the school terms and are held during the school holiday breaks, for children that have Flexible Respite or Leisure Link packages. The fortnight includes a range of different activities including rock-climbing, movies, farm days, jumping castle fun, arts and crafts and bushwalking.

Our groups consist of roughly 10 children with disabilities per day and around 5 staff members, as well as additional volunteers or students. As the coordinator of this program I worked in the groups on the frontline to ensure safety and supervision at all times (and secretly I just wanted to be there too!) I know 10 children doesn’t seem like that many, but with the range of disabilities, ages and personalities we have here each day, it’s a recipe for mischief, fun and a very messy building!

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My International Day of People with Disability

Written by Jacqui Vella

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a globally celebrated day of activities and events held on 3 December each year, which recognises the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities within communities all over the world.

The day represents empowerment to people with disabilities and gives them a turn in the limelight.

At Northwest Disability Services our aim for the day was to showcase the incredible talents of our aspiring artists with the launch of our ‘Access to Art’ exhibition, to rally together with members of our wider community and to have some fun!

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Working with children

Written by Jacqui Vella

When I first started out in the disability sector I entered into the Post School Options (PSO) Program. Which is designed to bridge the gap from school life to adult independent life for people with disabilities. All of the clients I worked with were over 18 years old. I worked in PSO for about 2.5 years in different levels of management and this is where my passion for the industry truly began.

At the beginning of this year (2010) I was interviewed and offered the position of Area Coordinator of Flexible Respite. I was stoked, as I wanted to move up the management ladder, but also because this area of respite was generally directed at families with children with disabilities. This was also an area I had not had much experience in.

In this post I’m going to discuss a few of the issues, challenges and highlights of my journey so far working with children.

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