Joel and Lisa’s family affair

If ever there was a family built on grit and determination along with lashings of love, it is Joel and Lisa’s.

Both have a disability and when they met 17 years ago during a workplace forum at Orange-based Australian Disability Enterprise Wangarang Industries, “it was pretty much love at first contact” says Joel.

They married in 2006 and Lisa gave birth to their son David in 2008. Now 10, David also has an intellectual disability, low muscle tone and speech apraxia and has recently been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Joel and Lisa were determined to raise David and with the help of their families they managed to provide a loving home for their son. However, four years ago the picture darkened for Joel.

“My visual cortex was damaged at birth and since birth I have had no peripheral vision,” says Joel. “Then four years ago I went to work one day and by knock-off time the vision in my left eye was basically gone. Within a year, the same thing had happened to my other eye – no-one knows why.”

Joel admits to tough times.

“There was a person at Wangarang that I used to push around in his wheelchair and I had to tell him I could no longer do it. He burst into tears.

“That was hard but it got me thinking – perhaps I could use my experience and insight to help people get out and about in the community who couldn’t do it on their own?”

Four years on and Joel, Lisa and David have all been accepted onto the NDIS.

David now lives with his grandmother Abbey for most of the week, which is great for Lisa and Joel as Abbey’s house is just down the road. David’s NDIS plan funds ongoing speech therapy and a support worker to take him to swimming and dream cricket, and he has recently joined a riding for the disabled program.

Lisa gets help around the home and in the garden, and a support worker takes her for outings on Fridays to have lunch, go for a walk or get her hair done. 

She also receives exercise physiology to help with her rheumatoid arthritis and to maintain her mobility.

“Our NDIS support has given us independence, we feel happier,” says Lisa. “It feels nice to have support at home with things that we would normally struggle with.”

As for Joel, his NDIS funding has allowed him to pursue his dream of starting his own business with Lisa.

“A friend who has been a bit of mentor to me suggested I could help organise a few trips away for some of the guys at Wangarang,” says Joel. “That has been the basis for my business Ability Dreaming.”

Joel and Lisa have organised five events so far, including a meet and greet with the Canberra Raiders rugby league team at a closed training session in Orange and a trip to the Disney On Ice Show in Newcastle just a few weeks ago.

“I’ve spent a heap of time researching the business, attracting sponsorship, building a website and getting the word out over the past year, with the help of my NDIS-funded support worker,” says Joel.

The business launch took place on 7 July 2018 and Joel is currently working on getting Ability Dreaming registered as a service provider with the NDIS.

“There are six people in our team, most of us volunteers including Lisa and myself. Our dream is to make the business sustainable over the long term and pay wages to our staff while providing a quality experience for our participants.

“Our focus is on the ability – not the disability.”

Joel is vision impaired and has a mild learning difficulty while Lisa has a moderate intellectual disability, rheumatoid arthritis and a speech impediment.

They married in 2006 and Lisa gave birth to their son David in 2008. Now 10, David also has an intellectual disability, low muscle tone and speech apraxia and has recently been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Joel and Lisa were determined to raise David and with the help of their families they managed to provide a loving home for their son. However, four years ago the picture darkened for Joel.

“My visual cortex was damaged at birth and since birth I have had no peripheral vision,” says Joel. “Then four years ago I went to work one day and by knock-off time the vision in my left eye was basically gone. Within a year, the same thing had happened to my other eye – no-one knows why.”

Joel admits to tough times.

“There was a person at Wangarang that I used to push around in his wheelchair and I had to tell him I could no longer do it. He burst into tears.

“That was hard but it got me thinking – perhaps I could use my experience and insight to help people get out and about in the community who couldn’t do it on their own?”

Four years on and Joel, Lisa and David have all been accepted onto the NDIS.

David now lives with his grandmother Abbey for most of the week, which is great for Lisa and Joel as Abbey’s house is just down the road. David’s NDIS plan funds ongoing speech therapy and a support worker to take him to swimming and dream cricket, and he has recently joined a riding for the disabled program.

Lisa gets help around the home and in the garden, and a support worker takes her for outings on Fridays to have lunch, go for a walk or get her hair done. She also receives exercise physiology to help with her rheumatoid arthritis and to maintain her mobility.

“Our NDIS support has given us independence, we feel happier,” says Lisa. “It feels nice to have support at home with things that we would normally struggle with.”

As for Joel, his NDIS funding has allowed him to pursue his dream of starting his own business with Lisa.

“A friend who has been a bit of mentor to me suggested I could help organise a few trips away for some of the guys at Wangarang,” says Joel. “That has been the basis for my business Ability Dreaming.”

Joel and Lisa have organised five events so far, including a meet and greet with the Canberra Raiders rugby league team at a closed training session in Orange and a trip to the Disney On Ice Show in Newcastle just a few weeks ago.

“I’ve spent a heap of time researching the business, attracting sponsorship, building a website and getting the word out over the past year, with the help of my NDIS-funded support worker,” says Joel.

The business launch took place on 7 July 2018 and Joel is currently working on getting Ability Dreaming registered as a service provider with the NDIS.

“There are six people in our team, most of us volunteers including Lisa and myself. Our dream is to make the business sustainable over the long term and pay wages to our staff while providing a quality experience for our participants.

“Our focus is on the ability – not the disability.”

“Our NDIS support has given us independence, we feel happier, it feels nice to have support at home with things that we would normally struggle with.”

Lisa

NDIS Participant

Joel, Lisa and David’s NDIS supports have helped them:

  • Spend more time in the community
  • Start a business (Joel and Lisa)
  • Play sport (David)
  • Improve communication (David)
  • Reinforce strong family ties

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

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