Ageing, Disability & Home Care

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Living Life My Way: supporting Aboriginal people

Living Life My Way

The NSW Government knows that specific initiatives are needed to support Aboriginal people with disability, their families, carers and communities to prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Talking to Aboriginal people

In June and July 2013, the NSW Government went out to Aboriginal communities across NSW to talk to Aboriginal people with disability, their families, carers and communities about the transition to the NDIS and how they need to be supported to be ready for it. What Aboriginal people told us at these Yarn Ups has been summarised in the Yarnin’ about Disability – sharing what Aboriginal people told us report. This report is helping guide how we support Aboriginal people in NSW.

Meet our Aboriginal Ambassadors and Champions

During 2013, the Minister appointed five Aboriginal people as Living Life My Way Ambassadors and Champions. These people are sharing their stories to inspire and encourage other people about the possibilities for themselves and to raise community awareness about person centred approaches in NSW. Each of them has first hand experience of living with disability, and all share the common desire to make a lasting and positive difference in the lives of others by sharing their stories.

Read about our Aboriginal Ambassadors and Champions

Tribute to Living Life My Way Champion Shane Lipari

The Department of Family and Community Services wishes to honour the life of Shane Lipari, a valued Champion in the Living Life My Way Ambassadors and Champions Program who passed away on 12 January 2017. Shane was from western NSW, and had a neurological disorder which affected his muscle condition, speech quality and heart function.

Shane was enthusiastic and passionate about improving the lives of people with disability. Shane became a Champion in the NSW Government’s Ambassadors and Champions program in 2012. His willingness to share his story to inspire others to strive for the best possible life saw him championing for people with disability in many events across Western, Far West and the Illawarra Shoalhaven districts.

Shane has made a lasting and positive difference in the lives of many others through communicating what is possible from his first-hand experience of a person living with disability.

Tracy BarrellTracy Barrell from northern NSW, is a single mother of two boys. Born without legs and only one arm, Tracy has always led an active independent life with no full-time carer. Tracy believes the Ambassador and Champions program will help break down barriers and will give people with disability, their family and carers a sense of power and  control in their lives.
Athol CallaghanAthol Callaghan is an Aboriginal Elder of Walbunja and Dhungutti decent. He currently lives with his wife in Surf Beach, Eurobodalla area and has two daughters, one son and three grandchildren who he adores very much. Athol has been a trainee nurse, truck driver and general labourer and has also held several senior executive positions in both the private and Aboriginal community sectors. In 2003 he had a jet ski accident which resulted in him becoming a paraplegic. Since his accident Athol has managed his lifestyle so he can continue to maximise his independence and live a healthy and active lifestyle. He is also a one eyed Rabbitohs supporter!
Hilda Payne

Hilda is a young Aboriginal woman who grew up in Broken Hill and now lives in Coffs Harbour. From childhood she has lived with a degenerative visual impairment but still managed to complete her schooling in the mainstream school system.

After leaving school, Hilda’s goal was to live as independently as possible.Since relocating to Coffs Harbour she has continued with her Transition To Work program, as well as receiving support from Guide Dogs and other services which have helped orientate her in her new environment.

Hilda is keen to share her story and be an inspiration to others, just as she has been inspired by some of the other Ambassadors and Champions.

Liz Wall SmithLiz Wall Smith is a member of the Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council. At present Liz advocates for her son to receive services to treat his severe autism. His life long condition has seen Liz enter the disability intervention field. In 2011 Liz was awarded a Bachelor of Social Work from Charles Sturt University. She has used this qualification to focus her energies on improving outcomes for people living with disability.
Junee WaitesSuzanne Trindall-Engertis a proud single Mother of two wonderful children.  At the age of 12 Suzy was diagnosed with a Juvenile form of Macular Degeneration. This affects the central vision. This has never deterred Suzy from setting and achieving her goals. Having a sister and brother living with the same condition they had a great support system and rarely felt isolated.  Suzy understands that not everyone has the same support and feels it is her time to show support for those who may not be as lucky as she has been.

Getting Prepared and Aboriginal people

The NSW Government has demonstrated its commitment to supporting people with disability, families and carers prepare for the NDIS by investing in eight capacity building projects which have been funded until 30 June 2015.

These projects are supporting people across the state learn about how NSW is transitioning to the NDIS, have the opportunity to develop their skills to enable them to participate confidently in individualised arrangements and connect and share with other people with disability, families and carers.

Learn more about Getting Prepared projects.

The Aboriginal Disability Network NSW has been funded to share information with Aboriginal communities in rural and remote areas of NSW about the NSW disability reforms and transitioning to the NDIS.

Learn more about the Aboriginal Disability Network project.

My Choice Matters, the NSW Consumer Development Fund, is coordinating activities and projects for all people with disability, families and carers in NSW. Aboriginal people are eligible to participate in all these activities.Some of these activities are specifically designed to inform and support Aboriginal people.

Learn more about My Choice Matters.

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