After Cyclone Ita!

Views from Mt Inkerman Belinda 16-4-14 two

Photos sent in by one our enthusiastic Flexi photographers, Belinda.

This beautiful green scenery is very different from the pre-wet times when everything was brown and dry!

Belinda says these photos are taken of the damage to the sugar cane around and from Mt Inkerman.

A great place for a picnic!

Thanks Belinda!



Settled in and waiting for Cyclone Ita

We have so SO good at pre-cyclone preparations over the years, that this is really business as usual!

We start our preparations in September and complete them in October with all the emergency water, food, radios and other gear all stowed away. We contact everyone we work with as well as their families to make sure they are all prepared and have plans ready.

Right now, all the phone calls have been made to check on how folk have coped with the increasing rain and wind overnight, and with that done, we will settle back and wait for the storm to pass.

With all our enthusiastic photographers around, I hope to post some photos this evening!



What is happening with the NDIS?

The truth is, no-one knows. And sadly - wherever we go - families, parents and individuals have little or no knowledge about NDIS or the Queensland model 'Your Life Your Choice' either!

Flexi Queensland Board Chairman, Ian Shepherdson agrees, the one thing that is becoming clearer: is that we are not getting the NDIS we all hoped for. Many of those who have spent a lifetime championing the cause, are watching on with despair.

NDIS is growing to be just another huge, great top heavy, and very, very expensive government department.

I won't discuss here concerns about complexities around the NDIA being a Fund Holder, a decision maker and a service provider except to say isn't this a conflict of interest? Wasn't this the reasoning behind the decision of the Federal Governments decision to split Medibank and Medicare up years ago?

There is little about the NDIS that is emerging that bears any resemblance to the flexible, client controlled, highly mobile and responsive (and inexpensive) model that Flexi Queensland has been operating (and on the smell of an oil rag) for over 20 years!

What are we hearing from the field, on the internet and in the reviews?

NDIS was always supposed to be uncapped however we are hearing calls to ensure allocations are capped. This means that there will be a limit to the allocation of funding for individuals.

We thought NDIS was going to give people choice. Instead, every part of each funding allocation will be controlled by a planner and a team within the NDIA and attached to goals. We are very concerned that fluctuating needs, emergencies, additional assistance and the ability to rapidly respond to emerging issues will not be available to the individual (unless they are gifted with second sight). We are also concerned that the determination of needs made by the NDIA Worker and this decision is only 'informed' by the individual and/or the family.

The big thing about NDIS was that finally, the flexibility and control over life and choices was going to be handed back to the individual with the disability.

This is not true. For example, if a participant is ill/goes on holidays and doesn’t use all their allotted support? Does it roll over? As funding is allocated to 'goals' it is our understanding that funds can't be “rolled over”; although goals may be.

The question over whether you lose your funds, may also depend on whether the funded support was regarded as flexible or fixed in the plan. If flexible, then unspent funds could theoretically be used for something else. However, it all means you will need to go back to the agency to get permission to alter the use to which your unspent funds can be allocated.

In talking to department staff, and reading the various websites nobody is saying much; it seems to be full steam ahead. In Queensland, our government Disability Services staff are continuing to work towards the NDIS being implimented in 2016.

As one very respected CEO of a disability organisation observed to me: NDIS will replicate Queensland's Disability Services in that instead of thousands of dissatisfied customers, the NDIS will get hundreds of thousands dissatisfied customers

Given the signals coming out of Canberra, I suspect that there is going to be some major changes to the timelines and eligibility - a significant changing of the goal posts. It is my guess that the NDIS we are looking at now will be un-recogniseable in five years.

It is already un-recognisable to what we all fought so hard for only five years ago.

Last chance to book on the Country and Western Cruise!

If you are considering a top holiday - filled with your favourite country and western songs and artists - this is your last chance to book!

From 4 to 12 October 2014, this is a 7 day cruise to Noumea and Isle of Pines with live entertainment by International and Australian artists:

The Bellamy Brothers, Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, Beccy Cole, Graeme Connors, Shane Nicholson, The Wolverines, Simply Bushed, Bill Chambers, Roo Arcus and Rachel Olsson!!!

Special classes and events throughout the cruise: as well as Line dancing, clogging, square dancing lessons.

For those flying in from Queensland we arrive the day before and we can add on a fabulous Sunset Dinner Cruise around the bay. Watch the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour bridge go gently past as you have a wonderful three course meal, then a stroll back to the Hotel refreshed!

$6310 twin share

Welcome to our new Gympie Local Area Mentor!

ValWe are delighted to welcome Val back to our ranks, this time as one of our Mentors.

Val is based in the Gympie area and will be providing support and planning expertise to families and individuals in the corridor from Gympie to Bundaberg and west.

Val is known to many folk in Queensland - she has worked with people who have disabilities and their families for around 20 years, but MOST memorably - Val joined us as a Flexi Crew member on the very first Flexi Holiday all the way back in 2009!

If you live in the Hervey Bay or Gympie areas and are interested in being supported by Flexi Queensland under Your Life Your Choice - give us a ring on 1800 210 637, and we will arrange for Val to come out and have a chat to see what we can help with!

PS This picture was taken just as the rain arrived - much to Val's delight - the rain is filling the dam behind her!

Independent Units - under construction

land 1Land 3land 5land 4

The independent units are taking shape really quickly now - it is so exciting to see the walls go up. We will soon be selecting tiles and the really important stuff like paint colours!

It won't be long before the roof will be up - and then the second stage will kick off.

These units are fully accessible. They have their own bedroom, full bathroom, small lounge, a kitchenette and laundry, and a small verandah to enjoy the Burdekin evenings.

We are just getting an information pack together - so if you are interested - please give us a call 1800 210 637.

How our Education System reworks supporting kids with disabilities

This is an interesting and thought provoking conversaton by a regular Flexi blog readers Dan Mercer and Kylie on the struggle experienced by schools to sensitively manage the tensions between the (lack of) money and the needs of students with a disability. I have edited it slightly - just to improve the online readability!

I have included Kylie's reply to Dan's reflections as part of a wider discourse discussed in this blog some time ago  on how we (humans and organisations) can keep doing things better for service users - and yet keep the authenticity and connectedness focused on the individual.

From Dan:

I am nearly finished my Phd. The title of the project outlined below has arisen from two previous tries at defining a project. The first try was an intervention in a Special Education Unit on a student which aimed to teach him to manage his own Individual Education Plan (IEP). The second try aimed to look at staff attitudes to new policies of Least Restrictive Behaviour with a Queensland Service Provider. Both of these ideas met obstacles and we abandoned them.
My interest in young people with disabilities and my Christian world view caused me to want to research the difficulties faced by local Christian schools in enrolling students with disabilities (SWD). The funding difference between an SWD in a government school and a Christian school was cause for conflict revealed in open letters to the Queensland government by various Christian groups. Thus I uncovered a difficulty for many Christian schools who want to enrol students with disabilities. How do these schools manage their faith and Christian educational philosophy, with the conflict of government controls on funding to the Christian schools? What are the perspectives of stakeholders in RICSQ on disability? How do they define disability?

Kylie's reflections:

"how do these schools manage their faith and christian educational philosophy, with the conflict of government controls on funding..."

I think you are getting closer by questioning perspectives and definition of disability. Pretty much all human services, including health sciences, struggle with providing services in the face of resource constraints, whilst angsting over how to maintain service that is congruent with beliefs, philosophies, evidence and a theory base.

All schools including Christian schools in a sense are no different, working to fulfill their vision in the face of adversity. Sometimes principle wins out, sometimes instrumental perspectives win in order to at least maintain the appearance of the vision of service. I think that schools are part of the larger landscape of society, where ADHD is medicated yet not therapeutically managed and does not qualify for funding in school support; and ASD is funded. Yet diagnosis, as with ADHD, can be laid on thick and fast, and often instrumentally - to gain school support funding, and through a superficial diagnosis that does not include wider family support.

I think what I'm trying to say is that funding for disability support in schools is set in a larger landscape of conceptions and misrepresentations of what a normal child is...and this is partly determined according to what funding and support can be supplied: to a degree disability is relative to time, era, ideology and even culture.

I would suggest that if more resources were available across the board, less children would require a diagnosis in order to get support, because the "normal" way of doing things - would be able to accommodate and include the real normal. This, of course is a continuum - and unfortunately where the range on the continuum is at any point in time, is actually accommodated: shrinking with funding availability, or widening. So how do schools manage their faithful service in tending to all equitably?

They redefine the skills required to be an education worker. They tend to more of a range in abilities as the norm, rather than the exclusionary practices we all take for granted. Ones that now identify certain qualities or characteristics as a deficit. But by using a strengths approach, an anti oppressive practice perspective, could characterise another model of education.

At the end of the day: yes, the money available is a problem. When we remember how to use each other as resources as a community again, we may find that much can be gained through good will.

The community as an extension of formal service provision that seems to characterise Flexi Queensland, illustrated in their current accommodation project, might go some way to illuminating the interface with formal service provision and informal resource networking.

That might be some of the answers to how schools can provide more in the face of funding limitations, while extending the Christian ethos of inclusion and charity in a sense that reaches broader than the P and C, and other somewhat (in reality) closed groups that typically operate in schools.

Hope all is going well with your project, perhaps you are finished by now, thanks for offering a space to contribute.

Thanks Dan and Kylie - keep the thoughts coming!

I will be posting photos of our accommodation project in a few days!! We will be ready to start collecting expressions of interest from people who would like to move in then too!


Towards Disability Justice Strategies

Access to justice in the criminal justice system for people with disabilities who need communication supports or who have complex and multiple support needs (people with disabilities) is a significant problem in every jurisdiction in Australia. Whether a person with disability is the victim of a crime, accused of a crime or a witness, they are at increased risk of being disrespected and disbelieved and of not enjoying equality before the law.

In 2013, the Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a wide-ranging consultation process to identify how people with disabilities deal with the barriers they experience to equality before the law. The Commission sought submissions in a range of forms and held public meetings in every State and Territory, including regional locations. Many individual meetings with people with disabilities and their advocates, support services in the community and in government and people in the police, courts and the custody and release system were also conducted.

The Report proposes that in light of the substantial challenges that exist, each jurisdiction in Australia should develop an holistic, over-arching response to these issues through a Disability Justice Strategy.

Equal Before the Law: Towards Disability Justice Strategies
Australian Human Rights Commission,

For further information you can click this link through to the summary pages.

NDIS Quarterly Reports available

For everyone who is interested in how the NDIS trial sites are progressing, you can pick up the last two quarterly reports here .

It is really important for parents, carers, service users and workers in the disability sector to get their heads around the way the NDIS is going to change lives.

Flexi News tries to pick and choose interesting information or websites to help with keeping our readers up to date.

You can follow this  site and that way you will get an advance copy of information as I receive it and post it online.



Flexi Holidays for 2014

This is Ben, who received his holiday book gift after his 15 day New Zealand Holiday cruise just before last Christmas.

We are working on some exciting new holidays that have been requested by some new travelers this year.

We have an 8 day fly and cruising holiday to Sydney, Melbourne and around Tasmania just before Christmas - total cost around $2900 twin share depending on your needs!

We are going on another 7 day Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila  cruise in September - we absolutely LOVE this cruise and it is perfect for the first time holiday makers! Again costs do vary according to your needs - so give us a call and we can help you to work things out.

We also have had requests for the following:

  •  visit to Bathurst  in October for The Great Race!
  •  a shopping trip to Melbourne in late November and
  • a fly/cruise to the 2015 Melbourne Cup - sadly the 2014 trip is now sold out!

I am putting together these trips - so if you are interested - please contact me as soon as possible on 1800 210 637