Muay Thai trainer and adventurer, Michael, is one of thousands of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants benefiting from accessing disability supports from Carers Queensland, as the organisation celebrates five years supporting participants in the Toowoomba region.
As Queensland’s largest NDIS Local Area Coordination (LAC) Partner in the Community, Carers Queensland has helped and supported more than 3500 people from Toowoomba and surrounding areas to access and efficiently use their NDIS plans.
As well as providing quality support, information, advice, and referral to people with disability, Carers Queensland’s NDIS LAC PITC Program supports locals to engage with other mainstream and community systems.
Benefiting from Carers Queensland supports is Toowoomba local Michael, the first person in Australia to receive NDIS funding for his seeing eye dog, Cody, in 2018.
Michael has Corneal Keratoconus, an eye disorder, which eventually leads to blindness. But thanks to NDIS supports, he’s living a full and busy life as a Muay Thai trainer.
“My NDIS journey started in 2018 when I applied for access through Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program,” Michael said.
“I’ve been very proactive in the process ever since and was the first person in Australia to receive funding for my seeing-eye dog, Cody. Having the right team around me has always been key to an effective, productive plan. Knowing how to get the best out of your NDIS plan is also helpful.”
In addition to NDIS support, Michael is harnessing the powerful weapon that is his mind to achieve great things and overcome all obstacles, including losing more than 60 kilograms and living a medication-free lifestyle.
“I’ve gone from 64 tablets a day and 165kg to being around 88kg and not having to take any medication whatsoever,” he said.
For those with a disability who are yet to embark on the NDIS journey, Michael urged people not to be scared to take the first step forward and to speak with Carers Queensland.
“Only one person can truly defeat you, the same one that changed who you were or who you will become. Be the warrior you are, do not defeat yourself,” he said.
This year, Carers Queensland celebrates five years of delivering its NDIS LAC PITC Program in the Toowoomba and surrounding areas, after opening its doors in February 2017.
One of Carers Queensland’s first Toowoomba team leaders, Kara McCollom, said she remembers the program’s humble beginnings with a small start-up team.
“Now we have 36 staff members who support over 3500 participants who live across five local government areas – Toowoomba, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Maranoa, and Goondiwindi,” she said.
“One of Carers Queensland’s exciting achievements came in May 2021, during National Reconciliation Week, when we launched our latest ‘Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2021-2023’ in Toowoomba.”
“This further cemented our reputation as a valued and contributing member of the local community.”
“From taking part in the ‘Carnival of Flowers’ parade to supporting LGBTQIA+ youth groups, Carers Queensland is the region’s leading linking, referral and support organisation for people with disability and their families when they engage with mainstream, community and government systems.”
Carers Queensland CEO, Debra Cottrell, said Carers Queensland is a trusted network in its communities.
“As Queensland’s largest LAC partner, we’re focused on sharing information and resources with participants and non-participants to connect them to services to pursue their goals,” she said.
“Particularly in regional areas, where services can be more challenging to access, our community and mainstream teams are creating unique programs and activities to foster greater community inclusion and keep participants connected and supported.
Carers Queensland is also proactively ensuring the smooth delivery of early supports for children, supporting families to transition from the Early Childhood Approach (ECA) partner to the NDIS LAC Program.
“We work together with a child’s ECA partner to prepare families for their transition, so they have all the information they need to feel prepared and excited about the next stage of their NDIS journey,” she said.
“As changes have been rolled out across the NDIS, Carers Queensland has been swift in its response to ensure greater plan implementation support for individuals and their families or carers.”
The organisation’s five-year milestone in Toowoomba comes just after the NDIS’s latest Quarterly Report, published in February, revealed the world-first insurance scheme has now transformed the lives of more than 500,000 Australians living with significant and permanent disability.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, or email@example.com