'Helping people get on with doing what they want to do’: Brotherhood takes first steps delivering NDIS
10 August 2016
Wherever Louise goes, Arthur is always by her side. Louise Pearson, a Brotherhood local area coordinator based at Greensborough in Melbourne’s north-east, describes her guide dog Arthur with affection as a ‘crazy cracker’.
Arthur, 21-months old, is Louise’s fifth guide dog and has been with her for three months – about the same time the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been up and running in north-east Melbourne, where the Brotherhood is coordinating NDIS services.
‘He is just so enthusiastic,’ says Louise as Arthur’s ears prick up.
‘He’s got a toy at work and he strolls up and down the corridor. Everyone has been so inclusive and welcoming of us.’
Louise says it’s ‘an honour’ to be working with the Brotherhood and helping to coordinate the early stages of the NDIS, which has been described as Australia’s most significant social policy reform in the last 40 years. The scheme offers people with a disability more independence and provides for more choice when deciding what services they require.
The Brotherhood, in partnership with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the federal agency responsible for the scheme, is delivering local area coordination (LAC) services in the north-eastern Melbourne regions of Banyule, Darebin, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra.
‘I like to help others,’ says Louise. ‘I love being out with the clients, planning together and setting goals so people with disabilities can lead full and independent lives.’
Louise and her 15 colleagues at the Greensborough office – currently looking after Banyule and Nillumbik – recently greeted Brotherhood executive director Tony Nicholson, who over the coming weeks is visiting the organisation’s NDIS sites to meet staff and get first-hand feedback on the early stages of delivering the service.
Earlier that day, Tony visited the Brotherhood’s NDIS office for Darebin – which is located in Preston – where site manager Julie Robertson gave a tour and introduced Tony to staff.
‘Each local area coordinator is currently assisting three or four people living with a disability, as they transition to the new service,’ says Julie. ‘The workload and number of cases per person will grow as awareness increases about the services we are delivering in the area.’
Abdalla Elamin, a local area coordinator for Darebin, says the job is ‘wonderful’.
‘I’m learning so much, and what I’m learning now will help a lot when we get busier,’ he says.
And the Brotherhood is working closely with the NDIA as the service rolls out.
Pauline Risoli, one of several NDIA workers who support the Brotherhood’s local area coordinators, says ‘collaboration is key’.
‘We make sure that anyone who needs mentoring gets the support they need, and we ensure that the service is being monitored to achieve the desired outcomes,’ she says. ‘We are here to ensure the transition to the new service is smooth and that someone from the NDIA is on-site who can answer questions accurately and promptly.’
Back at the Greensborough office, where Arthur is undoubtedly stealing the show, Louise reiterates the importance of independence – and supporting people with a disability so they can pursue lives of dignity and worth.
‘That’s the thing,’ she says, ‘we help people so they can get on with doing what they want to do.’