Opportunity Pathways supports access to study and work

Opportunity Pathways supports access to study and work

young woman hanging hi-viz shirts on the line

Social Futures is offering a new program called Opportunity Pathways for Rent Choice recipients and social housing clients to help them access education, training and work in the Northern Rivers region.

The program offers flexible, personalised support to people who want to improve their employment options. Participants will have access to pre-employment training, employment support, post-employment support and housing independence services.

Anyone interested in the program can contact Jason McDonald, Program Manager on 0428 856 546 or by email [email protected].

Opportunity Pathways is a new initiative under Futures Directions in Social Housing NSW.


Auslan signing comes to Byron Writers Festival

Auslan signing comes to Byron Writers Festival

This year the Deaf Community will have more access to the Byron Writers Festival, beginning with an Auslan-signed promotional video developed in collaboration with Social Futures’ Far North Coast (FNC) Ability Links.

The video features FNC Ability Links Co-Manager Sigrid Macdonald introducing the event and explaining the Auslan interpreting services that will be available during the festival, which runs from 2-4 August at Elements of Byron Resort. “It’s great to see Byron Writers Festival in the vanguard of public events realising the need to make themselves more accessible to people with disabilities, including members of the Deaf Community like myself,” Sigrid said.

Download the media release

In collaboration with:


‘Fight like a girl’ self-defence class sure to be a hit

‘Fight like a girl’ self-defence class sure to be a hit

Coach self defence training

Fight Like A Girl self-defence has come back to B-Space in Ballina for a six-week course starting 23 May 2019. This is a girls’ only class that builds confidence and empowers participants with useful skills in a safe and fun environment.
The course is being taught by Sensei Rachel Whiting, who has over 30 years’ experience teaching martial arts and self-defence. She is passionate about teaching girls the skills they need to keep themselves safe as the situation arises.


Download media release
Remembering Sorry Day …

Remembering Sorry Day …

the word sorry in the sky against sydney opera house

… and the impact of the Stolen Generations on all Aboriginal people in Australia. Our thoughts are with our staff, our participants, our wider communities and their loved ones. We remember and honour Elders past, present and those who are yet to come.

Sorry Day has been held annually on 26 May since 1998. It provides an important reminder for everyone in Australia to remember the past policies of forced child removal. On Sorry Day we reflect on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations and recognise moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.

The first Sorry Day was held ten years after the publication of the Bringing Them Home report. However a report on government services, released by the Productivity Commission last year, said there were 17,664 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in 2016-17, compared with 9,070 in 2007-08. So is sorry enough?

Read more about the Stolen Generations and the history of Sorry Day in this fantastic information sheet from Reconciliation Australia.

Right Support. Right Time. 2019 Better Chances Regional Forum

Right Support. Right Time. 2019 Better Chances Regional Forum

The Right Support. Right Time. 2019 Better Chances Regional Forum held on 13 June 2019 at Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre focused on and explored the question, can children, young people and families we work with get the right support at the right time?

The event attracted 135 attendees representing 46 organisations. The day was facilitated by Naomi Moran, General Manager at the Koori Mail and we had 16 presentations and 4 workshops. All of the presenters were from the Northern Rivers, with the exception of two NSW Government presenters from Sydney who joined with The Family Centre to present on the results of a child protection pilot project. There was a really strong focus on Aboriginal culture, and understanding how the whole sector can work more supportively alongside Aboriginal workers, organisations and communities. Other themes for the day included connecting across organisations and systems, acting on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and connecting with community in our work.

Evaluation told us that 95% of attendees surveyed thought the forum was engaging and interesting, and 96% of those surveyed learnt new things or made new connections that will assist them with their work.

Participants also told us that most useful and enjoyable sessions on the day were Helene Collard, (We Al-li), Carmen Stewart (It Takes a Town) and Naomi Moran (Forum facilitator).

Click below to download the presentations from the forum.


The number of recommendations were developed from the day which will inform the BCF’s work program and results framework. We thank everyone who contributed to making this event a great and challenging day for the sector. 

From hobby sketching to the Archibald Prize

From hobby sketching to the Archibald Prize

When Zion Levy Stewart first started sketching people who visited his family home at age 20, everyone thought it might help him pass the time. Twenty years on, this National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant was an entrant in this year’s 2019 Archibald Portrait Prize – the biggest art competition in the land.


Zion has Down Syndrome and experiences difficulty communicating through the spoken word. However, he has no such difficulty showing his love of life through his vibrant and colourful art, which includes sketches, painted canvases and ceramics.

With his NDIS plan in place and support from his Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, Zion is now set to take his art to a much wider audience.

Born in London and spending his teenage years in Sydney, Zion’s arrival in the North Coast NSW town of Mullumbimby coincided with his artistic flowering. His natural ability was nurtured by local disability service provider RED Inc, which set up an art studio in the Byron Bay industrial estate for Zion and other clients who had shown artistic talent.

Learning the trade

“They were very encouraging, providing art teachers and showing Zion the basics of sketching and painting,” his mother Christine says.

“Then after a while I discovered that one of my friends used to be an art teacher, so she also worked with Zion for a few years. She was able to work with him here at home twice a week, and she was so excited by Zion’s potential that she was happy to keep coming on a voluntary basis.

“One of the big things about having NDIS funding is that at last it allowed us to pay her, which was long overdue.”

Zion has exhibited his distinctive naïve and colourful artwork in many group shows but in the past few years he’s started to hold solo shows on his own. Christine says his work is now greatly admired and collected, particularly on the North Coast, and Zion has had several commissions. His work is in private art collections in the US and the UK as well as here in Australia.

Wider horizons

One show in particular, ‘Picasso would be jealous’, was so successful that it allowed him to fund a trip to the United States and Mexico late last year, including paying for his art teacher to accompany him. She did art with him in the mornings and evenings, and he always went out with his art materials and sketched in the street.

“It was great – Mexico is absolutely fabulous,” Christine says.

Zion’s Mexican experience was the inspiration behind his most recent show, ‘Viva’, which showcased his watercolours, an addition to his more customary acrylic painting style.

Although Zion’s Archibald Prize entry – a portrait of Aboriginal elder, artist, musician and educator Walangari Karntawarra – did not make the list of finalists when they were announced on 2 May, Christine said she was just happy that he had entered.

Keeping busy

In the meantime, Zion has plenty to keep him busy beyond his artwork. His NDIS plan funds support seven days a week, both in-home and at service provider United Disability, as well as community engagement, exercise, speech therapy and participation in a local drama group.

“Monica, Zion’s LAC, has been fabulous about helping us get all of our supports in place and explaining how we can use his funding,” Christine says.

“My desire is for Zion to be recognised for his ability rather than his disability. I also hope that his success shows just what people with disabilities are capable of – there are just so many amazingly talented people out there who can shine, given the chance.”

To see Zion’s artwork, go to www.zionart.com.au or visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/zionstewartartist/.

“My desire is for Zion to be recognised for his ability rather than his disability. I also hope that his success shows just what people with disabilities are capable of – there are so many amazingly talented people out there who can shine, given the chance” (Christine Levy, mother)

Zion’s NDIS supports have helped him:

  • Develop his artistic ability
  • Participate in community activities
  • Maintain his physical health
  • Improve his speech

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

There’s no place like home

Just a few years ago, Tammy had reached the point of considering moving into supported accommodation due to the impact of her disability. The long-term Forbes resident was increasingly isolated and incapacitated by Devic’s disease, caused by the inflammation and...

read more

Zac’s change of scenery pays off

When Zac Oatley moved to Yamba on NSW's North Coast with his family two years ago it was the start of a new life in more ways than one. Not only was it a change of scenery from his native Queensland, it was also the start of his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Katy blossoms as independence grows

Katy is the apple of her parents' eye but they don't shy away from the tough times they have experienced in raising her.   Now 30 years old, Katy has a significant intellectual disability and other medical issues and has required 24/7 care for her entire life....

read more

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required

Pin It on Pinterest