Ability Links NSW
Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) continues to support the ongoing reforms of the disability system in NSW. ALNSW supports people with disability, their families and carers to connect with their local community to achieve their goals and aspirations, and live enriched and fulfilled lives.
ALNSW commenced in the Hunter from 1 July 2013 to coincide with the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and expanded state-wide from 1 July 2014.
Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) funds non-government organisations and joint working arrangements to deliver ALNSW. There are now 347 Linker positions across NSW including 74 Aboriginal-specific Linkers and 79 Early Linkers.
Linkers work with people with a disability by building on their strengths and overcoming barriers to make connections within their local community.
Linkers also work alongside community, community organisations, clubs and groups, businesses and mainstream services to develop a better understanding of how they can become more welcoming and inclusive.
The new ALNSW website, www.abilitylinksnsw.org.au allows you to find your local Linker and read about the positive impacts being achieved.
Who can access Ability Links NSW
There is no formal assessment process or referral needed to access Ability Links. There are also no time limits placed on supports provided by Linkers. The focus of ALNSW is facilitating community based responses and moving away from traditional service delivery, where other opportunities exist. Linkers work in partnership with people to promote empowerment, flexibility and community connectedness and to create positive, sustainable changes in people's lives.
Early Linkers focus on supporting families and carers of children 0 to 8 years who have a developmental delay, or are pre diagnosis, awaiting, or post diagnosis. Early Linkers focus on the child's strengths to optimise opportunities for them to live a fulfilling life together with their siblings and peers in their community.
While all Linkers can work with family members as part of the process of working with a child with disability or as people in their own right, Early Linkers will work in a family-centred way because research shows this is important to effectively support young children with disability.
Family-centred practice recognises the goals and needs of the child in the context of the whole family. It involves:
- valuing and drawing on a family's knowledge of their child
- helping families to understand their child's diagnosis and establish caring and responsive relationships with their child,
- building parents' confidence to support their child and to advocate on their behalf when needed
- addressing parent stressors, and;
- helping families to integrate supports into their daily routines and natural settings.
It also involves being guided by the interests and needs of the child, recognising that even very young children can make choices and communicate their feelings, ideas and wishes in numerous ways.
While all Linkers work with communities and facilitate links across communities, Aboriginal Linkers have a specific focus on building trust and facilitating connections between Aboriginal community members and organisations and other community organisations, clubs and groups, businesses and mainstream services. They promote practices in mainstream organisations and services that are both culturally appropriate and inclusive of people with disability.
ADHC has engaged Urbis Pty Ltd to conduct an evaluation of the ALNSW program.
The evaluation has focused on the first three years of the model's implementation, from July 2013 to June 2016.
For more information about the ALNSW evaluation and to view the evaluation reports, please visit Urbis' ALNSW evaluation website at www.abilitylinksevaluation.com.au.
Working alongside local area coordinators during the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
During the transition to the NDIS, Linkers will work alongside Local Area Coordinators. In practice this means:
- A Local Area Coordinator (LAC) refers a person to their local Linker if they are ineligible for an NDIS Package but would benefit from support to build their networks and develop community connections.
- A Linker will refer a person to the NDIA or a provider of LAC if they need and are not currently accessing specialist supports.