Biloela community backs new learning hub

People with intellectual disability in Biloela will have access to state-of-the-art support and skills development services, with Endeavour Foundation opening a Learning and Lifestyle day service thanks to the support of generous community fundraising.

When Biloela local, Aileen Trace, was searching for support services for her adult son Mark, who lives with intellectual disability, she found there was little available in town.

“Mark was very lucky to move to Endeavour Foundation’s supported accommodation in Gladstone when he finished high school,” said Ms Trace, “There was nothing for him in Biloela.”

“It’s a different story with services in Gladstone, as Mark does two days at Endeavour Foundation’s Learning and Lifestyle day service and three days of paid employment at their Disability Enterprise there.”

Endeavour Foundation CEO Andrew Donne said that sadly, it was a familiar struggle for many parents and caregivers in remote and rural communities.

“Far too often, a lack of rural and regional services will result in people moving away from their family and community to obtain support,” Mr Donne said.

More than twenty years on from her experience trying to find support services for her son, who is now 45, Ms Trace and the Biloela community have worked hard to provide others the opportunity that Mark didn’t have.

The Biloela Reference Group was pivotal in raising community awareness and the funds for Endeavour Foundation to trial a Learning and Lifestyle hub in Biloela.

Ms Trace hopes it will make a huge difference to people in the small country town, so they don’t have to travel 120km just to access the services that are readily available in larger towns and cities.

“Many country families don’t have the means or time to travel an hour and a half away for suitable NDIS services,” Ms Trace said.

“I see the Learning and Lifestyle service as the next step of a person’s education after high school, by receiving structured learning programs and potentially performing more complex tasks,” she said.

Mr Andrew Donne said the opening of the new Learning and Lifestyle meant adults with intellectual disability could continue to learn new skills and enjoy being part of their local community, after completing school.

“The programs at our day services enable people with disability to develop life and job skills that will set them up for the future, and reinforce community connections,” Mr Donne said.

“State-of-the-art technology, including our virtual reality learning tools give people the option to practice skills in a safe environment before taking them out into the real world.”

“Endeavour Foundation has always had fantastic support from the Biloela community, and we hope that continues with people accessing this exciting new service.”

“I know donors and fundraisers who have campaigned hard to bring this service to Biloela are thrilled that the funds raised in this community, will stay in this community,” he concluded.

In addition to the new Learning and Lifestyle hub, Endeavour Foundation offers supported accommodation for people with intellectual disability looking to live more independently in Biloela.

On-going services provided at Biloela Learning and Lifestyle will be funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but the funds to establish the service were raised by the community.