One of the things that makes Interchange Outer East different from other disability support organisations is our focus on Family Support.

As Interchange Outer East has grown, developed and diversified, the focus on supporting families has remained at the core. Family support is the all- important building block upon which all other services of IOE have grown.

Our Family Support programs focus on the needs of families caring for children and young people with a disability. Family Support’s aim is to enhance family well-being through the development and coordination of programs and services for carers and their families in a safe and secure environment.

Over the years IOE has consulted with families to understand what types of support best meet their needs. Addressing these needs is often challenging, however as an agency IOE strives to meet them. The supports families consistently seek and those which guide our family services are:
• Being able to share feelings and experiences with other parents / siblings
• Information that is good, accurate and useful
• To know that someone cares and help is available when needed
• To be able to do the things that other families can do
• Safety and security for their child/children

There are two major beliefs that guide IOE’s approach to family support. We believe that families of people with disabilities deserve community support and assistance, and that their best support is often other families who understand their journey and the challenges they face. Family camps and days, sibling program, carers programs, social support programs for Mums, Dads and Grandparent carers, all give family members and carers the opportunity to come together with others who have empathy with their life situation. They make a stronger and more connected community which has disability as its common factor.

We believe it is imperative to support families because:
1. The longest and most secure relationship that people have is usually with their families
2. People with disabilities are best supported when their family has the tools, resources and assistance needed
3. Families of people with disabilities have the right to dream, plan and achieve their goals as all other families do

The introduction of the NDIS has posed many problems in regard to the support needs of families, as the NDIS philosophy is solely focused on the individual with a disability.

This has largely come out of the political campaign that launched the NDIS to prominence. Dominated by people without cognitive disabilities, the design and the development of the NDIS came out of the advocacy of these groups. As such the scheme has never come to grips with the crucial role of families in the scheme. This has led to many instances where carer supports and family based services just cease once NDIS comes into the picture.

That is why, in contradiction to the NDIS philosophy, IOE believes that the focus for our service should be on the family as a whole. All members of a family are affected and engaged in the support of a person with a disability. As such, we believe it is essential to consider the needs of the whole family to provide an effective service which will bring about the best support outcomes.