Challenge: Providing local expertise on the NDIS

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With almost 60 years of history, Challenge Community Services has extensive experience tailoring support packages to allow children and adults with disabilities to flourish, extending both their formal education and their living skills.

In 1958 following a series of meetings between concerned citizens and parents, Tamworth Council held a public meeting. The meeting was well attended by the community and culminated in the formation of the Tamworth & District Handicapped Children’s Association, a name it retained for 25 years.

It is this rich heritage of community participation that provides Challenge with the expertise required to work with people with disabilities across their entire lives. Helen Anglias, Challenge Therapeutic Services Team Leader, is a psychologist with over 20 years’ experience in her field.

“It is this extensive personal experience of working with people with disabilities that provides my team and I with the psychological insight needed to understand the behavioural needs within a disability diagnosis,” Helen said.

“But it also provides us with a community understanding and service flexibility to match Behaviour Plans and support programs to individual participants, including their family and care networks, culture and environment.”

The Challenge Therapeutic Services team help participants create a Behaviour Plan tailored to their individual circumstances, within their 24/7 care environment.

“Our behavioural support approach takes into consideration all their support networks, including the services, culture, families, teachers and carers, so each plan is written in a way that is accessible and useful to everyone,” Helen said.

The team focusses on developing strategies and providing support tailored to participants’ individual environment and lifestyle, helping them to become more functional and productive in their life.

“If the participant is a student, a member of the Therapeutic Services team would go to the school and meet with their teachers. We would also attend the family home and meet with any respite carers that might be involved,” Helen said.

“We take into consideration the family and care culture so we can tailor a behaviour plan that is appropriate for the school and home environment, which can be used to provide assistance to carers, teachers, and parents.”

When the Therapeutic Services team assesses a participant’s needs, they take into account what is already in place; looking at what’s working and what is not. This enables them to expand upon what works well and change those aspects that aren’t the right fit.

“If they are an adult with a disability, we make contact with the family or carers and visit their home so we can provide an appropriate assessment based on their own living environment, not in a clinical, disconnected office,” Helen said.

“We also take into consideration their attendance at day programs or care support received outside of the family.”

As well as behavioural support, under the NDIS Challenge Therapeutic Services offers counselling and assessment around functional skills, supporting each participants’ individual goals to encourage their inclusion into the community.

“We provide general individual counselling, but often we also focus on relationship capacity building,” Helen said.

“We help participants with the skills they need to connect and the ability to control their own emotions and behaviour, especially in response to others. People with a disability need support to understand their own reactions so that they can look after themselves emotionally.”

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides people with disabilities with support to become more independent and enjoy life to its fullest. The system provides flexibility and control for participants, with the ability to change services accessed as their individual needs change over time.

According to Therapeutic Services Manager Kylie Boyraz, Challenge Community Services offers behaviour support, individual counselling and opportunities for counselling and therapy groups through the NDIS. She said there were a number of different ways participants could access these Therapeutic Services.

“Referrals and enquiries often come from NDIS Support Coordinators who will get in touch with us directly to organise a support package for their clients,” Kylie said.

“Enquiries and referrals can also come from participants or through carers or other service providers, with the client’s consent. After the referral, we will contact the participant or their carers directly and come up with a suitable day and time to meet and discuss with a Behavioural Plan to suit their individual circumstances.”

Their team of skilled psychologists are based in Maitland and Tamworth and they provide outreach services throughout the New England North West and Hunter regions.

For more information phone free call 1800 795 441 or walk-in referrals are also welcome at Challenge Community Services in East Maitland (14 Garnett Road) and Tamworth (13 Darling Street) offices.

Author: Katrina Warmoll

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About Challenge Community Services

60 years ago we were a small band of parents and friends seeking support services for our children with disabilities. Today, Challenge has grown to be one of the largest community support services in New South Wales. We provide support to over 2 500 people from Albury to Lismore, Sydney, Dubbo, Tamworth and beyond. With over 600 staff, 85 of which have a disability, we strive to comply with and exceed all standards required under State and Federal Acts.

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