My name is Wendy and I am a married mum of two awesome teenagers, Jordan 16 and Hannah 14. My husband Danny has been an incredibly hardworking man, working two jobs since Jordan was a toddler in order for me to be a stay at home mum and be there for our kids through all their endeavours, and boy there have been a lot!

This year Hannah started year 8 at secondary school and seeing her so connected and settled and with Jordan moving from strength to strength at school and working at McDonalds, I found myself looking for that something extra to fill my time. I heard a comment once that ‘everyone needs someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to’ and seeing I had my loving family and plenty to do, it was time to look forward to something new.

I happened to be scrolling through my Facebook news feed when a post from Interchange Outer East appeared with ‘JOIN OUR TEAM’ heading up a call for the next round of casual support workers. It grabbed my eye as I have always been in awe of the families and the people who live with disabilities and thought perhaps it was my time to give. I took the step and commented on the post and from there it has been a whirlwind.

I attended an information session where I felt at home immediately. The support that was offered to potential support workers was very evident from the beginning. I had no hesitation submitting my application at the end of that session and the rest is history. I was interviewed and once offered a position I set the wheels in motion to obtain the necessary requirements as soon as possible. I wanted to get started as soon as I could. My employment was activated on 23 June and I have not looked back. It has been a steep learning curve to say the least, but the support of all the staff has made that a much easier task to tackle. They have been patient and answered my hundreds of questions, emails and phone calls without hesitation.

I have been as active as possible in getting shifts booked and have had such a variety of people to ‘work’ with (I find it hard to call what we do work when it’s actually so fulfilling and enjoyable). I have already had a number of ongoing shifts booked in to my week and have picked up one-off shifts wherever possible. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many awesome individuals, each of whom have taught me so much already in my short time with them. I certainly take home so much more than I thought would be possible.

I have had so many firsts from going to the gym with a super spunky natured young lady using public buses, to running through the playground being superheros with a young man who made my day when we danced to the Village People’s YMCA in the middle of Wally Tew Reserve. I have chatted for hours with a lovely lady over hot chocolate and been asked how my nacho making skills stack up. Every shift has something different and new. I have even now cooked vegetable byriani with flat bread from scratch for a lovely family when mum had hurt her arm, and braided her daughters hair which is some of the longest hair I have ever seen! To say I go home feeling fulfilled is an understatement.

I feel incredibly humbled to be allowed to be part of the lives of so many families and wonderful people and feel I now have a super huge extended family, so much so that my kids have signed up also as volunteers and have both attended their first full day shifts over the school holidays. I am so happy that I took the first step in this incredible journey and I would encourage anyone who has ever thought of making a difference to attend one of our information sessions… you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Check out the dates of our upcoming casual support worker recruitment sessions here

Meet Jackson

Isaac’s story

The extra support that 9 year old Isaac has had funded through his plan has made a huge difference to life for his whole family. As they have been using IOE programs for some time now and have been very happy with the agency it seemed natural to have IOE help them with support coordination.

Isaac has always enjoyed being part of IOE’s recreation programs – he loves the fun activities and particularly getting away for the weekend on camps. Being able to continue these activities was one the important needs that was factored into his plan and having all his support costs funded has meant he can achieve this goal.

Previously Isaac’s parents relied on a few short hours of council home support to give them very limited respite and assistance for Isaac. With the added 1:1 support they can finally have some time away for themselves while Isaac is being very capably supported at home.

Community access was also a stated aim but with Mum looking after Isaac and his siblings, (the youngest also has a disability) and Dad working weekends, opportunities to get out and about were rare. Now Isaac can head off with his support worker and indulge in his passion for all things ‘public transport’ – looking at and riding on trams, trains and buses. He is getting out and about and enjoying all the experiences and the growing independence that his extra support is enabling him to have.

Chris’s story

Through his NDIS package 23year old Chris is learning to become more independent, setting himself up for his life into the future.
One of the early rollout clients, Chris and his family have now had the chance to really experience the difference his NDIS plan has made. While the family opted for NDIA the look after the financial side of the plan, they nominated IOE to coordinate Chris’s supports and services from both IOE and other organisations.

Chris is still doing all the things he was before but with the added support he has been able to purchase he is now able to accomplish so much more. With a support worker now assisting him each afternoon, routines have been able to be put in place where he learns and practices those life skills he will need for a more independent life – personal care, cooking, organising, household tasks. He is also looking after his health and well-being by getting out and about in the community and getting regular exercise.

A support worker accompanies Chris to his work experience one day a fortnight. His funding provides him with additional support to explore more options for employment – like most young adults his age, work is one of his goals.

The funding of an O.T. has been a huge bonus for the family. She has been an ‘absolutely wonderful’ (quote from Mum!) hands on asset and has helped to put Chris’s afternoon routines in place and organised much needed, but previously unaffordable, home modifications.
Chris’s Mum, Linda, says she has seen Chris grow in happiness and confidence as he becomes more independent and less reliant on her. He now has his own future firmly in his sights thanks to the NDIS.