A new office has opened in Parkes as part of an exciting announcement for those who will benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the region.
Not for profit social justice and community services organisation Social Futures is assisting in rolling out the NDIS in Parkes, Trundle, Peak Hill, Forbes, Eugowra and Yeoval.
And, with three staff on the ground, they were thrilled to open their new office at 31 Bogan Street on Tuesday morning.
Parkes Wiradjuri Elders Advisory Group member Geoff Anderson provided a Welcome to Country prior to speeches from Social Futures executive manager people and quality Samantha Albertini, regional manager Matt Eades and Councillor Pat Smith, and a ribbon cutting.
Morning tea was especially prepared and provided by members of Currajong Disability Services for the opening.
Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and State Member for Orange Phil Donato were apologies on the day.
The NDIS became available state-wide for people in NSW from July 1.
An official partner of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Social Futures now delivers what they’re calling Local Area Coordination (LAC) for the NDIS in Northern and Western NSW.
The Commonwealth Government scheme puts the person living with a disability at the centre of a process to learn about them and provide appropriate funding to help achieve their individual goals.
“This is the largest social reform that’s happened in Australia since Medicare, so it’s a huge reform and we’re on the cutting edge of it,” Ms Albertini said.
“The organisation won the tender to cover a lot of regional NSW Local Area Coordination, we do partner currently with two other organisations to help roll it out.”
Social Futures employs 80 staff throughout Northern and Western NSW, with Monica Perrie, Hannah Westcott and Belinda Separovic filling the three positions in Parkes.
This trio are the Local Area Coordinators (LACs), whose role is to support a participant throughout their transition onto the scheme.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be in Parkes,” Ms Albertini said.
“We have amazing staff here – Monica, Hannah and Belinda – and they’re the guys on the ground who speak to the participants every day, whether it’s participants who attend the building here, they might go out and see participants, or they might speak to them on the phone as well.
“These are the guys who all day everyday try and allay some fears about what the change might be...and help point them in the right direction.
“We were lucky to have four offices in Western NSW and one in Far West NSW.”
Their offices in Orange and Bathurst opened on Monday and still to come are the Dubbo and Broken Hill offices.
Cr Smith said Parkes Shire Council was passionate about issues relating to people with a disability and that it was important to get the word out of what services were available.
“The NDIS is an important function that this whole country needs,” she said.
“[Following] an unfortunate accident I had...I was not aware of what services were available to the people in need and it’s so important to get it out to the community.
“I think through Social Futures and the NDIS this is what is going to happen in this region.
“And it’s so important to have this office I believe...and very important for our community.”
While Mr McCormack was unable to attend the event, he did send a letter of congratulations.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the work you do – not just for this community, but for regional Australians,” he said.
“It is heartening to see your community organisation opening this office to help some of the most vulnerable in the community.
“The Social Futures organisation has been a strident advocate for social justice for more than 40 years and I am delighted to see it continuing its work to prepare residents for the NDIS roll-out in the Riverina and Central West.
“I’m confident this office will help those with a disability understand and navigate the NDIS.
“You are all making a difference to lives which may have slipped through the cracks otherwise. For all that you do, you have my sincerest gratitude.”
Social Futures is welcoming community members to their new office for “Ask a Local Area Coordinator” sessions to answer questions about their own situations.
The session times are Tuesday, November 14 10am-12pm, November 29 1pm-3pm and December 13 4pm-6pm.