Like every teenager, Mary Sedgwick dreamt of the day she would leave home.
For 10 years, Mary held on to that dream.
Although, like many Australians with a disability, the funding required for her support needs was not available, Mary and her family never gave up hope.
But six weeks ago, that dream became a reality, thanks to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Mary, who is an Endeavour Foundation customer in Ayr, North Queensland, was one of the first NDIS participants to receive her Package in the small town after the Scheme rolled out from 1 July last year.
Before moving to Ayr in January 2016, Mary grew up in Victoria with her mum, Alison and stepdad Marc, where she received a self-managed package from the Victorian State Government. While the funding was minimal, it allowed for Mary to attend community day service programs.
In January 2014, Mary, with her mum and stepdad, embarked on a caravanning trip around Australia, for two years travelling to towns that were able to provide Mary with support through day service programs.
During this time Mary, who is blind and with Cerebral Palsy, and her family made contact with Endeavour Foundation’s Ayr Learning & Lifestyle service.
Natasha Drew, Acting Service Development and Innovation Manager in Ayr, and her team worked with Mary to ensure they could tailor a program to meet Mary’s needs. From there, Mary joined them for four weeks before moving onto the Innisfail and Cairns Learning & Lifestyle services as her family travelled up the North Queensland coast.
“We worked with Mary to create a personalised plan on a DVD. Mary could take it with her during her travels so she didn’t have to keep telling her story over again,” Natasha said.
“On the way back down the coast, Mary called back and spent some more time with us.”
Mary’s mum, Alison, said she and Mary were so impressed with the services provided by Endeavour Foundation that in January, 2016 they made the decision to not return to Victoria and to end their travel in Ayr so Mary could attend the Endeavour Foundation Learning & Lifestyle service on a daily basis.
Mary’s NDIS journey
Alison said with the support of the staff at the Ayr Learning & Lifestyle, Mary was assisted to write her NDIS pre-plan.
Mary was contacted by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on 17 October 2016, a planning meeting was scheduled for the following day and she was provided with her approved plan on 19 October, which included funding for independent living support and community access.
“In my planning meeting, I was able to tell them (the planner) that my main goal was to move out and live independently but all I needed was the money to make that happen,” Mary said.
“It finally happened. I’ve been able to move out of home after 10 years. I have wanted to move out since I was 18 years old.
“This has changed my life and I am very excited to be living with my friends.”
Alison also attributed this reality to the dedication and hard work of Endeavour Foundation staff who worked closely with Mary in making her goal a reality.
“Thanks to the skills of Endeavour foundation staff and the fortitude shown by them in making the main goal of Mary’s plan come to fruition. Mary’s goal was realised ten years after Mary first voiced her wish to live independently, and five months after her NDIA plan was first written and approved,” Alison said.
“Further the skill of the NDIA practitioners, their patience, and their willingness to listen to Mary has resulted in a very favourable outcome. Mary is now happily residing in Endeavour Foundation supported accommodation with friends that she also attends her day programs with. Mary has been residing there now for about six weeks and could not be happier.”
Natasha says it has been a privilege to be a part of Mary’s NDIS journey and seeing the joy and happiness that it (the NDIS) has given her to live the life she only once dreamt of.