A strong support network is an vital part of living a rich and fulfilling life for any individual, and it is particularly essential when facing the challenges of disability and illness. There are many forms of support, and people with a disability can often benefit from a network or community organisation with knowledge and connections in the disability community.
There are hundreds of organisations across Australia that passionately advocate for and serve the needs of people with disabilities. The services provided by these groups vary from social support and daily living assistance, to skills-based learning and everything in between. There are also many groups that provide support and advice for carers, friends, and family members, as well as education and training for professionals who work in the disability industry.
Finding the right supports can be a challenge in itself, and knowing where to look is an important key to finding the organisation or group that best serves your needs. Because of this, we have compiled a list of some of the best disability-centered organisations that provide support to people with disabilities, their carers, and families across the nation.
First Peoples Disability Network Australia
The First Peoples Disability Network Australia is a national organisation supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities, their families, and their communities. The organisation is governed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates with lived experience of disability, and is free for community members to join.
The FPDN works in several core areas, with projects including Cafe Our Way groups, sourcing and providing training materials, and running workshops with members to better help them understand their rights. The First Peoples Disability Network also takes part in community-driven research, and won the Improving Advocacy and Rights Promotion Award at the 2014 National Disability Awards.
Belonging Matters is a small non-profit community education and advisory service developed and run by individuals and families with a passion for social inclusion. They aim to inspire and build the knowledge of people with disabilities, and advocate for lives which are fulfilling, unique, socially inclusive, and empowering.
Belonging Matters facilitates the Building Community Networks project, in which a person with a disability nominates four or more non-paid support persons who connect in Circle of Support meetings with them. The organisation provides a facilitator in these meetings to help identify long-term goals, bring together and support those in the individual’s network, and connect them to their local community. They also run workshops, conferences, and retreats for people with disabilities, their carers, and their families. Annual membership is $35, or $25 with a concession.
Yooralla began as a means for disability advocates to fight for human rights and create opportunities and empowerment for people with disabilities. They provide a wide range of services, including accommodation, assistive technology, assistance with daily living, skill building courses, respire, therapy, and more.
Yooralla work to support not only people with disabilities, but also their family, carers, and professionals working with them. Yooralla also provides opportunities for volunteering and student placement.
Arts Access Australia
Led by people with disabilities, Arts Access Australia advocates for full and equal opportunities for cultural participation for all Australians. They provide information, advice, research, advocacy, and leadership and development opportunities for Australian artists with disabilities. There are two membership levels: free, and professional which ranges from $33 per annum to $275 per annum depending on whether you are applying as an individual or an industry organisation.
Arts Access Australia helps to promote various artistic opportunities across Australia, from exhibitions to auditions. They feature many artists and their work in their Art Space, and manage projects like their NDIS Working Group and international exchange programs.
Able Australia works to foster and strengthen an inclusive community for people with disabilities. They deliver high quality person-centered services, including social interaction and community engagement support, adaptive technology programs, a community visitors scheme, skills training, respite, transport support, an at risk youth program, and more.
They also offer opportunities for both individuals and corporate groups to volunteer their time in community transport, Auslan interpretation services, activity-based support, and assisting with events and programs.
Disability living can be difficult, but if you manage to get the right support, help and advice, they will empower you and help you get on with everything you would need to.
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