Closure of Australian Inclusion Network

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First Impressions of the Disability Sector in Brisbane

When I was given the opportunity to relocate to Brisbane from Perth I was excited for a couple of reasons.

  1. I wanted to be closer to my family in Brisbane, but it’s also a hop skip and a jump to New Zealand.
  2. The prospect of being able to help more people nationwide intrigued me, and I also wanted to know/prove that no matter which state we worked in we were able to still provide the same consistent services.

Over a year ago, not long before I went on Long Service Leave, I was given a feasibility document by our Chief Operating Officer, Richard Orr, which was completed by Disability Services Consulting (DSC) on our behalf. While the document had a lot of information, it also showed us where some of the gaps for people with a disability were. It also highlighted areas that we felt we could slip into quite easily. It showed us that there weren’t any other organisations like us in Queensland so we were in for interesting times.

A year later, I have successfully relocated to Brisbane to start the next chapter in the form of Australian Inclusion Network. Eloise, one of Inclusion WA’s staff who relocated to Brisbane a year earlier, had done a power of work. She set up meetings for us for my first week.

During my time in Brisbane, a few things stood out:

  1. People and families have lost trust in service providers based on their first-hand experience with them. The most common comments from families are:
    • Providers haven’t turned up, nor have they contacted them to explain why. We have experienced this a few times as well.
    • Providers have used all of their funding they are only half way through their plan.
    • No flexibility on when they can work, it is traditionally Monday to Friday 9 – 2pm
    • There is no communication from the organisation to people or their families. New Support Workers would turn up the person and their families wouldn’t know that it was happening nor had they ever meet them before.
  2. Service providers seemed weary about meeting with us and have either flat out refused or just not responded to our phone calls or emails. We weren’t asking for trade secrets more so just wanting to get a better understanding of the sector from a provider’s view.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad, we have been able to meet with a few providers. Usually, the smaller ones are the ones who want to work collaboratively with other providers. It has been these meeting that have made us realise that it’s going to be ok, and that there are organisations that are for the person and not just for the money.

As an organisation we know that we aren’t perfect and I feel that having the understanding that we can always improve as well as constantly question why we are doing something in the long run benefits not only the people we work alongside but also our mentors who do the amazing work.

We also know that people don’t come into the industry wanting to do a bad job. They want to make a positive impact on someone’s life and to make a positive change within their community. It’s up to us as service providers to support and develop staff so that they have a good understanding about what good support looks like.

Finally, as Richard always says to us:

Great Staff + Great Support = Great Outcomes

Manager, Individualised Services

Karla has been an institution within the organisation. She’s worked for Australian Inclusion Network’s sister organisation, Inclusion WA, since 2012. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge as AIN’s Manager. She is an amazing asset and has worked as a Mentor, Coordinator and Manager in her time with Inclusion WA. She has real life, successful experience in working alongside people with disabilities, helping them achieve their goals.  She is currently AIN's Manager.