The 2020 Wallaby Run House Intensive group has had an amazing start to the year. The group leader, Louise, commented, ‘Already I am seeing real connections and friendships being made, along with support for each other, cooperation, determination, persistence, enthusiasm and resilience. It’s so exciting to see!’

The group, Jaymee, Briony, Simon and Chelsea, together with Louise, attend the Wallaby Run rental home in Chirnside Park for two days and one overnight per week. To kick off the program for the year, they have spent a little bit of time getting to know one another’s likes, dislikes and senses of humour, similarities and sharing differences with respect and interest. They have had a discussion about how they would like the house to feel and have worked together to make up a list of house rules for everyone to follow and help them work through those minor disputes that are part of living in a share house. An important focus of IOE House Intensive Programs is helping participants develop their interpersonal skills as well as their independence, and to provide a real life experience of living outside of the family home with their peers.

The group also worked together to create roster sheets for participants to take home and to become familiar with the common household tasks that need to be completed regularly to keep a clean, healthy and comfortable environment. Participants work together to plan and shop for meals, do laundry and housework, prepare meals and clean up, make the beds and plan their days. The tasks are shared around from week to week between the group and provide a great learning experience and an opportunity to consolidate their skills each time their turn comes around. Families are asked to support participants at home to continue their learning and contribute at home as they would during the program. This ensures that skills are developed throughout the week in different settings. It also gives the participants a chance to proudly show off their new skills at home!

The Wallaby Run group has also started off 2020 using Wednesday mornings to practice using public transport, which has resulted in some great outings exploring the wider region, from Federation Square to the Dandenong Ranges.

This sort of activity builds skills and capacity on multiple levels from encouraging communication and sharing stories, navigating the public transport network, moving around in crowds, handling money and myki cards and operating within a budget, to interacting with members of the public, problem solving, road and personal safety, finding ways to reduce anxiety in unfamiliar settings, and so much more! Learning isn’t focused around talking in a class room; it’s about having experiences together and developing skills in real world situations.

As well as travel training, the group has decided to spend some time each week doing some form of volunteer work as a way to get work experience and also give back to the community. They have been in contact with Eastern Volunteers and are waiting to attend a group interview to share their interests and find out where they may be able to contribute.

Interchange Outer East currently runs ten House Intensive programs at four locations; three in Melbourne’s outer east and one in Myrtleford in rural Victoria. If you have a young adult living at home who has a disability and would like to enquire about House Intensive, contact the program coordinator, Linda Hull on 9758 5522 or linda.hull@ioe.org.au