Collaborating ‘to make solutions happen’

LivingMyWay - Andrew and Mia

Living My Way is a not-for-profit organisation celebrating 30 years of working with people with disabilities to help them access the best supports.

In the 1980s, the late disability rights advocate Kevin Byrne AM and a group of people with severe physical disabilities campaigned for the right to manage their own disability funding packages. At that time, funding was managed by providers and recipients had little say in how it was used.

Their action was sympathetically received and the federal government invited 24 campaigners to participate in a two-year pilot study. They would have choice and control over their funding packages by becoming registered employers.

The pilot, the first of its kind in the disability sector, was considered a success and evolved into the not-for-profit, member-based disability services organisation, Living My Way, in 1992.

Living My Way developed a unique model where Members manage their own supports and have the flexibility to employ their own Support Workers. Hiring and payroll are handled by Living My Way, with Members taking care of rostering and day-to-day management of their care.

In 2013, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was announced with similar principles of choice and self-direction and it went national in 2016.

Living My Way operates across NSW, with a few members in other states, and offers support workers, support coordination and plan management. The organisation also has in-house Occupational Therapists who assess Membersโ€™ needs, including assessments for the use of assistive technologies that may help Members to go on living their daily lives.

Living My Way Member Andrew Farrar-Pugh became clinically blind after a car accident when he was 19. His sight deteriorated overtime and he needed a guide dog.

“We worked with Guide Dogs Australia to help Andrew get a dog,” says Living My Way CEO Mark Turley. “We take the time to understand participants changing needs and work together to make solutions happen.”

Like many employers in the disability sector, Living My Way is always looking for skilled and compassionate staff. “They need to be empathetic and have a passion for care and helping people,” Turley says.

Living My Way is celebrating 30 years of excellence in disability services and operation with various initiatives, including the establishment of a foundation to fund research and grants, a Reconciliation Action Plan to respond to the needs of people with disabilities who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and a member advisory committee to ensure that member voices are heard.

Living My Way is also partnering with icare, helping develop self-management options for participants in the NSW Lifetime Care Scheme who have acquired severe physical or brain injuries due to an accident.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in the life of our members and we always strive to provide the best possible care,” Turley says. “People with disabilities want to live their best life, making their own decisions and enjoying independence and freedom.”

To learn more about Living My Way and enquire about our services, visit https://livingmyway.org.au/.