World’s first online noticeboard for people with disability launched in Geelong

On the morning of Friday November 13 at Kardinia Park Geelong, UnitingCare lifeAssist made three major announcements, including a joint announcement with Wesley Mission Victoria. 

All three announcements heralded new approaches which will empower people with disability and meet the needs of the disability community across Victoria today and well into the future.

On hand for this historic event were Federal MP for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson, local State MPs Christine Couzens and Simon Ramsay.  Every municipality within the NDIS Barwon trial site were represented, as were the National Disability Insurance Agency, government departments numerous organisations which deal in disability services and members of the local disability community. – a world’s first in disability

lifeAssist’s new online community noticeboard, linkAssist, is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.  It exemplifies the organisation’s overall approach by providing people with disability, their families and carers tangible empowerment through connection with others and with the community.

 “It was clear that there was a real need for people with disability to be able to connect with each other and their local community” said lifeAssist’s Acting Chief Executive, Emmanuel Gauci.

Paramount in the design has been the protection of the privacy of all users, coupled with ease of operation.

Notices cover six main categories:  Accommodation, Training and Employment, Community Groups and Peer Support, Travel, Buy Swap Sell, and Does Anyone Know…?.

“linkAssist will be provided as a totally free service, made possible with the support of a very limited number of sponsored link advertisers,” said Mr Gauci. “This will always be a community noticeboard, not a commercial platform.”

Pictured above:  Federal Member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson (centre), was  joined by Jillian Wells from the lifeAssist Board of Governance (right) and Peta Hooke from YMCA Escapes (left) to turn on the public access to linkAssist. 

“linkAssist will initially go live in the Barwon region on December 3 – International Day of People with Disability, before being extended to other areas from early 2016,” said Mr Gauci.

People and organisations can now register and create their linkAssist notices before the site goes live on Thursday December 3.  People will then be able to browse current notices in their area, respond to notices, as well as create their own notices all with total anonymity.

Anyone who creates an approved notice by December 1 will go into the draw to win one of 3 ipad minis.  Businesses which register for sponsored link advertising by the end of December will receive their first 3 months free.

linkAssist has been developed by UnitingCare lifeAssist with Melbourne-based website developers Blocks Global. 

lifeAssist – new services, new approach

Helen Killmier, Executive Manager – Disability Solutions at lifeAssist outlined an expanded range of services and a new approach to delivering services which better suit the needs of clients under the NDIS.

“The move from block to individualised funding represents an exciting opportunity for people to truly be at the centre of and to self-direct their services and, ultimately their lives,” said Ms Killmier.  “The vision of the NDIS is simple and powerful: to maximise people’s independence, choices and social and economic participation.”

The lifeAssist approach which was outlined is goal oriented, encouraging people to take positive risks to achieve the things that matter to them the most.  lifeAssist services will work with people to ensure that they can access and participate in community activities, transition from school to the next steps in life.

 “As a person’s needs change, so does our response and level of support – the ultimate goal is for the person to achieve as much independence as possible, and for our involvement to decrease as the person’s capacity and community networks increase.  I guess you could say that our ultimate aim is to do ourselves out of a job by ensuring people gain maximum independence” said Ms Killmier.

Wesley Mission Victoria and lifeAssist announce strategic alliance

The third and final announcement of the morning was made in a joint statement by the Chairs of the Boards of Governance of UnitingCare lifeAssist, Mr Michael Lanyon, and of Wesley Mission Victoria, Ms Sue Norman.

In the joint announcement, Ms Norman noted that the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Victoria represents a new way of providing individualised support for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers.

“It will transform the way we and other providers deliver valuable community services as an expression of God’s mission in the world, to some of our state’s most vulnerable people”, Ms Norman said. 

“As the two largest providers of services for people with disability within the Uniting Church in Victoria, we believe that it is imperative that we work together to ensure that we are fully prepared to offer our services in this new competitive environment.”

“We are delighted today to formally launch a strategic alliance between Wesley Mission Victoria and UnitingCare lifeAssist,”

MC for this special event was Tim McCallum.

Tim, originally from Geelong, came to national prominence on “The Voice” when he performed Puccini’s Nessun Dorma.  It was not until the judges all turned their chairs that they realised Tim was in a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident which left him a quadriplegic at the age of 18.  Now based in Brisbane, as soon as Tim heard about linkAssist being launched in his old home town, he didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to be MC.  To close the formal part of proceedings, Tim performed Nessun Dorma to a raptuous reception from everyone in the room.

-November 2015