When your wildest dreams come true

When your wildest dreams come true

When Brad Parker was young, he loved toys. But now 26, it’s not the Tonka truck variety he is into. His dream is to work for the council driving the trucks, rollers and graders, which for Brad, is no mean feat. Brad was born with low muscle tone, which can affect not only movement, but overall health, eating and speech. Growing up, working on his grandparent’s farm, just outside of Casino, Northern NSW, Brad learnt to love the outdoors.

Like a true cowboy, he can even crack a whip and has showcased his skills at the annual Casino Beef Week festivities.“We have a really long whip – it’s called a bullock whip – the handle is so long it takes two hands to hold the whip to crack it. It makes a huge sound!” he said.

 

 

Brad has always been motivated to succeed. After high school, he went to TAFE, in Lismore, where he completed a Certificate III in Construction and also did work experience, helping in school canteens. However, what Brad really wanted was a job. It was then, he met his Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, Jenny, and got his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, which focused on his goal of obtaining employment.
 
 
“Brad joined the NDIS because he was always wanting to get a job, so we looked at how he could keep his body strong and maintain it,” Brad’s mother, Judy, said.
 
 
“It was his dream to have a go, and we wanted to give him every chance. We knew he could work. He has done things on the farm and we know he has the ability and skills to work in any environment. It was all about finding a job to suit him, and we found it, which is great.”
Brad now works full-time for Richmond Valley Council. Even though he wasn’t working the day of the interview, Brad wore his freshly cleaned and pressed uniform and his face lit up when he talked about his work.
 
Young man Brad with arm around his mum, judy in a park
 
“The council job has been life changing. They are great people. I have a great boss,” Brad said. Working as a multipurpose laborer, doing traffic control and working on the roads to lay out hot mix asphalt, Brad said he enjoys any job he does with the council.“Any job I like!” he said. “I want to get more tickets with the council and get my truck license.“Also, the roller and the grader – there’s five other vehicles I want to learn to operate. I like big toys!” Brad grins.
 
 
Last summer, as bushfires raged through parts of the Northern Rivers, Brad was a part of a Richmond Valley Council team doing traffic control to keep community members out of the danger zone. When asked if he was frightened being so close to the fires, he smiled, “No! It was pretty good actually! I really enjoyed helping the community stay safe and being so close to a big fire is something I’ve never experienced.
 
 
“I saw a fireball – and then a fire that never touched the road – it went over us in mid-air! I saw an explosion – the Telstra exchange exploded! We were a fair distance away, but we could still see all the action,” Brad said. During that time, Brad was interviewed by media about his experience with the bushfires earning him the nickname of “Hollywood” by a few of the ‘boys’ at the Council.
 
 
Today, Brad is clearly enjoying his time being interviewed at his favourite Casino bakery – it’s obvious by the number of people who stop and say g’day to him, he is well known around town.
 
 
In addition to support from an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician and speech pathologist, the NDIS also provide social supports, which Judy says have been an important outlet for Brad. Every second Friday, on Brad’s rostered day off from work, he travels to Lismore to attend art classes, at Multitask Club Lane. Every Sunday, Brad participates in a Ten Pin Bowling Competition with his team, The Pokémon Three. “I’ve been bowling for nearly three years,” Brad said. When asked how good he is, and how many strikes he gets, Brad’s laughs and says “professional!” and “almost all of the time!”
 
 
Now Brad has achieved his goal of full-time employment, his next NDIS plan will address another aspect of his life. A couple of years ago, Brad met his girlfriend, Jasmin. His next goal will look at increasing his independence and moving out with Jasmin into a home of their own. “We want outcomes that see him and Jasmin happy and healthy with good relationships and a strong connection to their community. We want to set them up for a good future,” Judy said. “Our experience with Social Futures was really great from the time we walked through the doors and met our LAC. They made us feel comfortable and answered all our questions. “The NDIS is an excellent program. It gives them a lot more confidence in themselves, helping them with everyday living in an environment that is safe for them. “It’s a good feeling, because you know, we’re not going to be around forever, so it’s wonderful to know the NDIS is there to help get them where they want to get to and to see them succeed.
 
 
“Could I have imagined when Brad was younger he would end up with a full-time job, working for Richmond Valley Council? Not in my wildest dreams! It is all these programs now being funded by the NDIS that allows people with disabilities to achieve their dreams.”
 
 
If you would like more information about Social Futures Local Area Coordination for the NDIS, call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 between 8:30-4:30pm Monday to Friday or email [email protected].
 

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

The recent drought-breaking rain across central New South Wales has brought smiles at long last to the faces of long-suffering landholders and residents, among them Michael Beh. “One of my hobbies is photography and since I started getting support from the National...

read more

Chesney flies the coop

For parents, Ross and Sandy Bailey the NDIS provided great relief when their 19-year-old son, Chesney had his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan approved four years ago. Chesney, who grew up 50 kilometres outside of Forbes on his parent’s farm, has...

read more

Rob’s come along in leaps and bounds

At 67, Broken Hill man Rob Lindsay has lived with an intellectual difficulty all his life. “There just weren’t assessments for that sort of thing when Rob was younger”, said his sister Joan. “At school, he didn’t keep up, that’s just the way it was. When he left...

read more

Jack’s Story: Gazing into a new future

Jack Pellizzer is in his last year of high school in Broken Hill. He likes school and, like most 18-year-old boys, he also likes music and movies. But until recently it was difficult for him to tell people what he liked and wanted. Jack has a number of undiagnosed...

read more

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Different on the Outside, same on the Inside

Different on the Outside, same on the Inside

Social Futures is challenging stereotypes about disability in Central Coast schools. ‘Different on the Outside, Same on the Inside’ is a free program for primary school aged children aimed at breaking down misconceptions and social barriers and encouraging awareness and inclusion for people with disability.

This program is facilitated by Social Futures Local Area Coordinator for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Maree Jenner.

As a person of short stature or dwarfism, Maree engages young people and speaks to her own experience of difference and the challenges faced by “growing up little” in a world built for average height people. 

“I am so passionate about this program. Because I have a physical disability, I am different,” Maree said.

“It is such a good opportunity to go in and talk to children, because they notice things, they are learning. And the earlier you talk to young people, the better. Young people have questions about disability, they are curious about difference. They want to know why that is, and to understand.”

“Having contact with me and becoming familiar with disability helps to remove awkwardness. Through this program we support young people to feel comfortable with difference and open avenues toward understanding and respect,” Maree said.

Children with disability, whether physical, developmental, intellectual, emotional, or sensory, are at increased risk of being bullied, which can result in poor mental health, anxiety, depression and even suicide.

“Sadly, bullying happens frequently in our country. But bullying occurs often as a result of ignorance and misunderstanding, and this program wants to rectify that,” Maree said.

Maree is supported in this by Sam Millard, National President of Short Statured People of Australia. 

close up headshot of Sam Millard smiling“The work that Social Futures will be doing through this program will give Short Statured people of all ages a greater opportunity to participate freely in the community without feelings of isolation and angst that a lack of understanding can cause. We also hope that the focus on school-aged children will allow us to continue to tackle the complex issue of bullying together as an organisation and as a community,” Mr Millard said.

If your Central Coast primary school is interested in participating in the Different on the Outside, Same on the Inside Program, contact Social Futures on 1800 522 679.

This program is funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and delivered by Social Futures. Social Futures delivers Local Area Coordination services for the NDIS across more than half of NSW, including the Central Coast.  

To talk to a Local Area Coordinator email [email protected] or call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm). 

Download the program flyer here

Sports Ability

Sports Ability

Sports Ability is a fun, interactive and free program being delivered to schools in Northern NSW.

Paralympian David (DJ) Johnson engages young people with his achievements as an elite athlete and stories from the Sydney 2000 Olympics, speaks about bullying and inclusion, and teaches key skills in custom designed sports wheelchairs.

Students are encouraged to ask lots of questions with an aim to remove awkwardness, break down assumptions and misconceptions, and open avenues for understanding and respect.

Programs such as Sports Ability have been shown to increase awareness, foster inclusion and improve attitudes toward disability.

“Sports Ability is all about inclusion. So, maybe if these young people have a friend who has a disability, they can modify the game, or choose another that can include everyone from the start,” DJ said.

“We’ve come a long way, but more education is definitely needed.

“Children learn so much from speaking with someone who has a disability. They can find out all the things they been able to achieve in their lives, and not be so quick to judge and make generalisations when they next see or meet someone else with a disability,” DJ said.

Call today to talk to us about delivering the Sports Ability Program for your school – 1800 522 679.

Download the program flyer here

Check out the video with Paralympian David Johnson below.

Anita – I’m telling my story because more people need to know

Anita – I’m telling my story because more people need to know

Life took a dramatic turn in 2015, when 53-year-old Byron Bay woman, Anita Carden, went hiking in New Zealand with her husband.

“We were walking back from a glacier. Easy. A really easy walk. And I rolled an ankle. That’s all. I didn’t sprain it,” Anita said.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, but at that point my nervous system had malfunctioned and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) set in.”

 

 

Anita said CRPS is a chronic nerve pain condition, usually affecting the arms, legs, hands or feet. It can occur after injury or trauma, and is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the nervous system.

“It’s one of the most debilitating and difficult to treat of all chronic pain conditions,” she said. 

“I woke up the next morning and couldn’t bear weight. It had changed colour, and it was a done deal at that point. Though I didn’t know it at the time.

“I thought I must have strained it. My husband looked at it and said, ‘It looks like it’s broken’, but I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even really remember hurting it, it was such an insignificant injury.” 

Two days later the couple flew home.

Anita sitting beachside“My GP thought it might be a blood clot because I’d been flying, but the tests came back clear.

“I went to another GP, then another – five GPs in total for different opinions. Then I saw a Neurosurgeon, but he didn’t know.

“I went to a Vascular Surgeon, and he was concerned. At that point my leg was cold and blue.

“Next, I saw a Rheumatologist who said, ‘I think that might be CRPS’. I said ‘What’s that?’”

Anita said she spent the next six months going back and forth to a Lismore pain clinic, but there wasn’t anything it could do.

“By the time I left the clinic, my leg was bleeding. It was basically dead,” she said.

“I then travelled to Adelaide where a doctor performed a sympathectomy, injecting anaesthetic into the sympathetic nerve in my spine. It didn’t work.

“The doctor then tried a sciatic nerve block. It didn’t work either, so I was referred to Sydney’s North Shore Hospital where doctors performed a spinal cord stimulator – a $50,000 treatment – but again, nothing.

Anita said at this point, having exhausted all other treatment options, she realised her only course of action was amputation.

It was after her leg was amputated, and she was left with a lifelong disability, her journey with Social Futures and the NDIS began.  

“My Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, Winston Guymer, was absolutely brilliant,” she said.

“What I love about the NDIS is that they have compassion for the individual.

“There are so many people needing help, you worry that you could become a number, but the NDIS hasn’t made me feel that way. I feel I have been treated with respect all the way along.”

Anita sitting on a bench with crutchesIn May, the NDIS funded the best microprocessor knee available for Anita.  

“It was a really big claim Winston put in” Anita said. “I thought I don’t know if I am going to get this, but if I didn’t get that knee, I really felt my days would be over,” she said

“I’m a really active person. I’m at the beach most days, jumping over rock pools. I want to go back to New Zealand and hike glaciers. I felt if I didn’t get the waterproof knee, my active life would’ve been finished, but Winston and the NDIS understood, when they looked at my life, they could see it was what I needed. That is compassion and empathy.

“I wanted to do this story, because more people need to know the NDIS does actually care about people. I don’t feel like a number. Too many people complain about the NDIS – I think it’s great.

“Losing a leg is life-changing,” Anita said. “I thought I’m in my fifties – will I ever regain my mobility again? The answer is yes. I am almost there, and I have had a great experience – our NDIS is second to none.

 

“Many disabilities are invisible, and some people hide their disability, but not me. I want people to see this is what can happen, but with the right help, you can transition back into society and be able-bodied,” Anita said.

Social Futures delivers Local Area Coordination services for the NDIS across more than half of NSW.

To talk to a Local Area Coordinator email [email protected] or call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm).

 

Using her NDIS plan 

Anita’s NDIS supports have helped her achieve: 

  • independence and mobility
  • the chance to live the active life she wants to

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

The recent drought-breaking rain across central New South Wales has brought smiles at long last to the faces of long-suffering landholders and residents, among them Michael Beh. “One of my hobbies is photography and since I started getting support from the National...

read more

Chesney flies the coop

For parents, Ross and Sandy Bailey the NDIS provided great relief when their 19-year-old son, Chesney had his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan approved four years ago. Chesney, who grew up 50 kilometres outside of Forbes on his parent’s farm, has...

read more

Rob’s come along in leaps and bounds

At 67, Broken Hill man Rob Lindsay has lived with an intellectual difficulty all his life. “There just weren’t assessments for that sort of thing when Rob was younger”, said his sister Joan. “At school, he didn’t keep up, that’s just the way it was. When he left...

read more

Jack’s Story: Gazing into a new future

Jack Pellizzer is in his last year of high school in Broken Hill. He likes school and, like most 18-year-old boys, he also likes music and movies. But until recently it was difficult for him to tell people what he liked and wanted. Jack has a number of undiagnosed...

read more

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Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

The recent drought-breaking rain across central New South Wales has brought smiles at long last to the faces of long-suffering landholders and residents, among them Michael Beh.

“One of my hobbies is photography and since I started getting support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme through Social Futures I’ve been able to get out and about taking photos of the landscape,” he says.

 

 

“I was out there through the bushfires and the empty dams, then this year I’ve been able to watch the land transform from drought to beautiful green and I’ve got a photographic record of it.

“There’s a road between Dubbo and Molong called Banjo Paterson Way that’s got sculptures of animals on bikes along a 100km stretch. There’s about 100 of these sculptures and I shot 49 of them during the drought.

“Now it’s all green again and I’m taking more photos to do a ‘before and after’ sequence, which I’m working on turning into postcards for the Banjo Paterson Museum so they can raise some money by selling them to tourists.”

Michael, 60, has lived in Wellington for most of the past 15 years since recovering from a 2005 motorbike accident in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region. He broke his neck in the accident and has lived with quadriplegia since then, although he has regained some movement in his arms and hands.

“Not good enough to push a wheelchair or hold power tools but I can do a lot of things with my arms and hands,” he says. “I’m actually a lot better off than many people with quadriplegia, I’ve only got three locked-up fingers.”

Michael says at the time of his accident he was “living the dream”.

“I grew up in the Kimberley, left when I was 18 and always wanted to go back, so when I got the chance to return when I was 31 I took it with both hands,” he says. “By the time of the accident I’d bought a house, I’d got married, I was working for myself, things were looking rosy.

“Then my life ended, or that’s the way it seemed for many years.”

After the accident Michael spent four months in hospital in Perth, then was able to transfer to Sydney’s Royal Rehab Hospital because of his NSW family ties and eventually moved in with his mother in Wellington after completing rehab. He still lives with his mother and has a sister living close by.

“I didn’t have access to much personal support beyond my family or therapeutic assistance after I finished rehab, nor did I have much to live on,” he says. “There was a lot of equipment I couldn’t afford and my family and local community had to fundraise to purchase a vehicle for me and modify it – it cost a lot of money.

“People talk about how hard it is going through lockdown, well, I was in lockdown for nine years before the NDIS came along.”

Since joining the NDIS two years ago Michael says his life has “improved out of sight – I’m no longer the prisoner of Wellington.”

“The NDIS has given me the ability to do things and actually live a life,” Michael says. “Before I didn’t have the option of going off to the movies once a week, or going away for the weekend, or pursuing my photography seriously.

“Now that I’ve got a support worker to drive me around I’ve gone from occasionally going out to take a few quick snaps to actually producing something good that I can exhibit or potentially sell. Couldn’t have done that without the NDIS.”

Michael has three adult daughters and 11 grandchildren but hardly saw them in the years following his accident. One daughter lives in the Hunter Valley while the other two live in Queensland.

“I’ve always kept in touch with my girls but before I got onto Facebook I rarely saw them or the growing number of grandkids, because it was just too difficult and too expensive,” he says.

“After the NDIS came in I was able to pay for one of my carers to drive me up to Brisbane for the first time and got together with pretty much everyone in my family, including 10 of my grandkids. It was fantastic.”

Michael’s NDIS plan funds personal care and domestic assistance for up to 44 hours a week, and he has extra funding to pay a support worker to drive him to social and community activities for a further eight hours a week.

He also accesses physical and occupational therapy using his NDIS funding, and recently all his internal power points and some outside taps were raised as part of ongoing approved home modifications.

“I’ve got a man cave in the carport that I’ve filled up with ferns, and now I can water them myself,” he says.

Michael continues to experience problems with his short-term memory resulting from the head trauma incurred at the time of his accident, which makes keeping appointments and managing his care a challenge.

“If you tell me something now, in three days’ time I won’t remember it,” he says. “Luckily I’ve had really good support from Summah, my Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, and from service provider breakthru which coordinates all my care.”

“It took some time to fine tune my plan but it’s ended up delivering everything I need. The NDIS has completely transformed my life.”

NB: The NDIS is now supporting more than 400,000 Australians with disability, including more than 175,000 people who are receiving support for the first time. On 1 July 2020, the NDIS marked seven years since the inception of the Scheme, and it is now available to all eligible Australians. More than 124,000 people in New South Wales are now being supported.

The NDIS provides eligible Australians with disability with the supports they need to live more independently and to increase their social and economic participation.

If you would like more information about Social Futures Local Area Coordination for the NDIS, call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 between 8:30-4:30pm Monday to Friday or email [email protected].

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

The recent drought-breaking rain across central New South Wales has brought smiles at long last to the faces of long-suffering landholders and residents, among them Michael Beh. “One of my hobbies is photography and since I started getting support from the National...

read more

Chesney flies the coop

For parents, Ross and Sandy Bailey the NDIS provided great relief when their 19-year-old son, Chesney had his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan approved four years ago. Chesney, who grew up 50 kilometres outside of Forbes on his parent’s farm, has...

read more

Rob’s come along in leaps and bounds

At 67, Broken Hill man Rob Lindsay has lived with an intellectual difficulty all his life. “There just weren’t assessments for that sort of thing when Rob was younger”, said his sister Joan. “At school, he didn’t keep up, that’s just the way it was. When he left...

read more

Jack’s Story: Gazing into a new future

Jack Pellizzer is in his last year of high school in Broken Hill. He likes school and, like most 18-year-old boys, he also likes music and movies. But until recently it was difficult for him to tell people what he liked and wanted. Jack has a number of undiagnosed...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



Chesney flies the coop

Chesney flies the coop

For parents, Ross and Sandy Bailey the NDIS provided great relief when their 19-year-old son, Chesney had his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan approved four years ago.

Chesney, who grew up 50 kilometres outside of Forbes on his parent’s farm, has intellectual disability and autism and Ross said life before the NDIS was difficult.

“We didn’t have a lot of funding or support,” he said. “I used to spend hours in the car, driving 200 kilometres a day, two days a week, to get Chesney to his after school work at the biscuit factory.”

Then they met their Local Area Coordinator, Tracey, from Social Futures, and things began to get easier.

Chesney’s NDIS plan included transport funding. It meant he could catch a taxi to Parkes, halving his dad’s travel time, but Ross and Sandy were becoming concerned about Chesney’s future.

He had lived with them on the farm all his life, and they knew they weren’t going to be around to take care of him forever.

A big change came though, when Ross and Sandy took off to New Zealand for their first holiday alone in 30 years.

“Chesney received NDIS funding for respite care for the two weeks they were away. He stayed in a little apartment, in Forbes, with regular contact from support workers, and discovered independence.

“He did whatever he wanted for two whole weeks while we were in New Zealand and he’s been badgering me to move out on his own ever since!” Ross said.

The move to his own home happened a month ago and Chesney hasn’t looked back.

“He is a five minute walk to his workplace. He gets himself off to work each day, and it’s only a short bike ride to his older sister’s house.

“I went to see Chesney last weekend,” Ross said. “At 10am, he was lounging around in his pyjamas, eating pancakes he’d made himself for breakfast.

“He goes out on Thursdays with two of his friends from the biscuit factory and comes home to see us every second weekend.

“Chesney now has access to a range of activities. He has more choice over what he wants to do and how he wants to spend his time than he has ever had before,” Ross said.

Once a week, Chesney joins a support group and goes to Orange or Dubbo where he visits the library, gym and pool.

“If you saw Chesney two years ago, he was a very different person. He actually says hello to people now, he smiles and has confidence. He has independence now and things to do with his time.

“He just wouldn’t have been able to do this before. Nowadays he has support funding for someone to come and visit him every day, to help him write a shopping list of what he wants to eat for the week, and to make sure he isn’t cooking himself fish and chips every night!”

“Being unwell myself, the knowledge he will have ongoing lifelong support from the NDIS if he needs it, is a great relief,” said Ross.

“Everything is working really well. I’ve never had trouble or difficulty getting everything we’ve needed.”

Social Futures delivers Local Area Coordination services for the NDIS across more than 50% of NSW.

To talk to a Local Area Coordinator email [email protected] or call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm).

Using his NDIS plan

Chesney’s NDIS supports have helped him achieve: 

  • greater independence through living on his own in supported accommodation
  • greater self-confidence
  • Increased social capacity

 

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Green shoots for Michael as the drought breaks

The recent drought-breaking rain across central New South Wales has brought smiles at long last to the faces of long-suffering landholders and residents, among them Michael Beh. “One of my hobbies is photography and since I started getting support from the National...

read more

Chesney flies the coop

For parents, Ross and Sandy Bailey the NDIS provided great relief when their 19-year-old son, Chesney had his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan approved four years ago. Chesney, who grew up 50 kilometres outside of Forbes on his parent’s farm, has...

read more

Rob’s come along in leaps and bounds

At 67, Broken Hill man Rob Lindsay has lived with an intellectual difficulty all his life. “There just weren’t assessments for that sort of thing when Rob was younger”, said his sister Joan. “At school, he didn’t keep up, that’s just the way it was. When he left...

read more

Jack’s Story: Gazing into a new future

Jack Pellizzer is in his last year of high school in Broken Hill. He likes school and, like most 18-year-old boys, he also likes music and movies. But until recently it was difficult for him to tell people what he liked and wanted. Jack has a number of undiagnosed...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



Delivering services around COVID-19

Social Futures is committed to the continuation of delivering support services in a safe, practical and innovative way while navigating COVID-19.