Advocating for our clients
By Fiona McBeath
Our role at Early Links is something we cherish, as we are provided with an opportunity to support our clients and families – a privilege we take very seriously. We feel honoured to be invited into the lives and homes of those we support. Walking alongside our families, we too experience the joy when things go well and the heartbreak when they don’t. We position ourselves as advocates and fiercely defend our families’ when their stories are not heard, or injustice occurs. We fight for an inclusive community that provides the opportunity to dream. It is not through a want for power or reward that we do this work. It is for the passion that we each feel for inclusion, the core of our beliefs.
Supporting clients on their NDIS journey
This passion for supporting inclusion and overcoming injustices leads us to support participants in many ways on their NDIS journey. Our advocacy support has several points of focus. We may start the journey by assisting clients with accessing the NDIS. Once a participant has a plan, we offer a wide range of therapy services tailored to their individual support needs.
Each year, a participant’s plan is reviewed, and a report is submitted with goals for ongoing support. Sadly, despite the therapist’s recommendations, not every plan built will meet the client’s needs. This opens up another branch of our advocacy support, whereby staff support our participants in navigating the review processes of the NDIS.
Collaborating with the University of Newcastle
Recently Early Links were provided with a valuable opportunity to collaborate with students from the Law Faculty at the University of Newcastle. With a value statement that identifies a commitment to widening participation, promoting diversity and fairness, and overcoming injustice and increasing success for all, we are blessed that they are giving their time to support us in our advocacy work.
Eleanor and Chris, two law students from the university, are currently researching past decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning the NDIS. By analysing past cases, AAT decisions, and other relevant documentation, Eleanor and Chris hope to better understand what the tribunal defines as “reasonable and necessary” support. Once completed, they hope to use this research to develop scaffolds that Early Links staff can utilise in requesting and advocating for relevant client support.
Our hope for the future
We are heartened by recent comments from NDIS Minister Bill Shorten, who announced a plan to work through the vast backlog of cases in front of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. He shared details of an independent committee that will be established to review outstanding AAT cases to see if they can be resolved without the court’s involvement.
With optimism that these changes will also support our advocacy work, we would like to thank the students for the work that they are doing to support Early Links in their ongoing advocacy journey – where inclusion will be the winner.
Get In Touch
Please complete the form below to contact Early Links. Our friendly team will be very happy to assist you.
44 Bulwer Street, Maitland, NSW 2320
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