Laundry isn’t a chore

I love seeing people kick goals

Ebonie Saunders is a support worker at Golden City Support Services. She has been on the team now for six years. She provides daily active support for people who live in their own homes.

“I enjoy supporting people at their homes,” Ebonie smiles. “It’s good because it is quality one-on-one time with the people we support.”

Golden City Support Services believe that every moment has potential. “Little and often” is one of the four essentials of Person-Centred Active Support practised by Golden City Support Services.

It is hard for some people with intellectual disability to be engaged in an activity for a long time. Little and often gives people the chance to stop, take a break and then come back to an activity. Ebonie explains, “So, to give support “little and often”, can take a long time.”

“I learnt about “little and often” when I first started with Golden City Support Services, at Five Bases of Support training.”

“You give the person you support, the opportunity to participate in every area of their life. It means that in every moment, you support a person to be engaged in their life as much as possible.”

“One of the gentlemen that I support is now able to do a load of washing independently,” shares Ebonie. “This took a while to make happen—taking step-by-step and prompting consistently.”

It could take up to an hour with Ebonie beside him; to gather the washing, put it in the washing machine, put in the powder and turn the machine on. Ebonie frequently offered the opportunity to develop his skill to do the washing. “It took one-and-a-half years, but he can now put on a load of washing without me being there!”

“The role of my job is to work myself out of a job!” Ebonie laughs. “The more tasks people can do independently, the less support we need to give. This means more choice and control people have over their lives—this is a basic right that everyone deserves.”

Ebonie reflects, “Sometimes this job can be challenging because it is so person-centred. Things change from day to day, from moment to moment, because we are all human. It is important to me as a support worker to be supported—especially on bad days. Instead of feeling bad or that I have screwed up, I have a team of supportive people at Golden City Support Services that I can talk to about whatever happened.”

“Supporting people with challenging behaviours can be hard. Having a supportive work team of Practice Coaches means that you don’t take challenging behaviours that happen, personally.”

“Golden City Support Services do a great job of looking after work-life balance—because if I am not okay at home, then I am not okay at work.”

“I have also had the opportunity to develop my skills. Golden City Support Services paid for me to do Communication Matters training with Bendigo Health and Barbara Solarsh. I am now qualified to create communication aids for someone who is non-verbal.”

“It is so rewarding witnessing a non-verbal person re-build relationships because they now have the communication tools to have real conversations and increase their interaction with family, friends and the greater community.”

Ben Townsend shopping with his support person from Golden City Support Services
Ben shopping, with Ebonie, who is providing Person-Centred Active Support.

“I love seeing people I support kick goals. The people I support have changed the way that I view the world and how I live. It has shown me to value every moment. Supporting someone to do their laundry might sound mundane and not important, but for the person I support, it means he has more choice and control over his life.”

“I certainly don’t see doing my laundry as a chore anymore.”

2018 is a big year for createAbility

CreateAbility is recognised in the program of activities for the Regional Centre for Culture 2018. This program highlights and promotes creativity in our region -encompassing the City of Greater Bendigo, and the Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields and Hepburn Shires.

CreateAbility’s new performance project, DENDRON – the Forest In Us, is our major contribution to the Regional Centre for Culture.

DENDRON explores our fascination with forests and ‘the woods’. So often wild environments are places for journeying and transformation. The word ‘dendron’ has its roots in the Greek word for tree, but also refers to the structures at the ends of our nerve cells where the synapses pass their messages. Dendrons look much like tiny trees and literally form forests of vital communication within the body. DENDRON will be performed at Ulumbarra Theatre in November. The production received funding from Creative Victoria.

CreateAbility would not be able to take on significant projects such as this without the great partnerships we have with the City of Greater Bendigo and Capital Venues and Events. The Capital are continuing their support for createAbility this year with a residency at The Engine Room at the Old Fire Station and co-producing the theatre based performances. This means that they provide a working theatre where development and rehearsal takes place as well as technical and production support.

This is just one of createAbilty’s projects this year. They also received funding from the City of Greater Bendigo for a film project based (loosely) on Peter Pan. This version is called Peta Pan. There are plot twists and extraordinary characters that may or may not bear resemblance to characters you know from the original.

And CreateAbility is taking their successful show from last year, No Hands, on tour to Wodonga in September. Funded through Touring Victoria (Creative Victoria) it will be presented at The Cube. The performance group will offer a workshop on devising inclusive performance while they are there.

A big thank you to Golden City Support Services for their continued support.

Follow CreateAbility on Facebook and Instagram.

Creative Links and Communication

Creative Links takes place every weekday and aims to build the capacity of individuals in finding their interests and as well as sharing their interests with others. The role of communication, making interactions successful, is essential.

Robbie, a regular Creative Links member is eager to be understood and to understand others. Sometimes this is a challenge.

When Robbie first began attending Creative Links he would answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to questions. These days he is often the one to start a conversation with “Good morning, how are you?”

We have been very interested to see this change and to understand what it takes for communication to be successful.

Two things we know that are essential for good communication are trust and a positive social environment.

Communication is essentially based on trust. It is an exchange that requires both parties to share with each other. If we don’t follow through on what we’ve said, it breaks trust and there is little point in participating in communication. At Creative Links we are particularly attentive to this principle.

Communication is social. We communicate because we want to connect with others. At Creative Links we have been looking for various ways that people can express themselves.

Expression through creativity offers many opportunities to communicate. Robbie does extraordinary artwork. His drawings often include figures.

We observed that the figures in his drawings related directly to the group of people around him. Robbie draws the exact number of people who are present and depicts them in the activity they are engaged with. Sometimes they are gathered around a table for lunch or going together on an outing.

Robbie shows us the importance of both individual expression and the social environment that makes communication something we want and need.

Where could your could your interest lead?

Creative Links explores what people are interested in and connects them with people and opportunities that extend those interests.

Lee-Ellen is someone who has great organising and scheduling skills.

At Creative Links, Lee-Ellen talked about how she manages taxis in Bendigo, as well as helping out others she knows. Together with the Creative Links team, she approached Bendigo Taxis to see if there might be some way for her skills to be developed in a work environment.

Colin at Bendigo Taxis was very receptive to exploring this and agreed to have Lee-Ellen come into the taxi office to gain some hands-on experience with a busy taxi dispatch room.

The taxi office is not a big building and Lee-Ellen’s wheelchair only just made it in, but that didn’t discourage Lee-Ellen or the taxi company!

For a couple of hours each fortnight, Lee-Ellen has been answering calls and learning how to book taxi drivers on the computer system that sets up each job for the wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

She has quickly gone from observing to practising all of the process herself; answering the calls and making the computer bookings.

It has been a great experience for Lee-Ellen and also for the people in the taxi office. “From little acorns, big results come,’ says Colin of Bendigo Taxi’s. “We are so pleased that Lee-Ellen’s time with us has lead to a part-time employment opportunity at Arnold Street Gallery working on their databases.”

How to be inclusive

In a world dominated by screens and social media, libraries are the architecture of community connection.

“We have dramatically transformed into becoming so much more than a home for a book collection,” shares Kath Waugh, Manager of the Bendigo Library. “We are Bendigo’s shared lounge room for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”

Once a shush space, controlled and quiet, the library is now a vibrant community hub of music, events, study and entrepreneurial activity. The diversity of library uses and users is what the library seeks to nurture and foster each day. However, with difference, there can also be challenges.

“We are a place where people with a disability feel welcome, and if they like—they can stay all day,” says Kath. “Sometimes there have been behaviours creeping in that were making other users feel uncomfortable.”

“It is important to us that everyone feels welcome. I wanted to work with disability services to understand what the experience of coming into the library was like for people with a disability.”

It takes time to be inclusive. After many discussions over a period of time with the team at Golden City Support Services, the library staff established ways to communicate expected ‘standards of behavior’.

“With Golden City Support Services, we created an easy-English guide that we use to explain to people about the behaviour that we expect from our users. Support people worked with their clients to help them understand and abide by the standards and library staff feedback on what is working and what needs a bit of tweaking.”

“We act where there is an opportunity to make a difference,” says Ian McLean CEO of Golden City Support Services. “We know our community works best together. With great relationships and great skills to communicate we know our community becomes more inclusive and this is good for everyone.”

“Inclusiveness,” says Mark Hands, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Goldfields Library Corporation “…is stepping back from your unconscious bias. You can never know another person’s journey and you can’t make assumptions about someone’s behaviour. The library is a place where people learn and learning how to relate to one another as different human beings is as important as learning any other skill.”

“What we do is invest time in understanding people. Investing time is about relationships between people. Time is finite and invaluable because it builds trust. It is something that money can’t achieve.”

The library team now have the tools to establish trust and negotiate needs as a whole-of-community-service and also an individual’s needs.

“This way of being does take time, but it works for people of all ages and walks of life,” says Kath. “It is so important to make time to understand one another because a public library is about providing opportunities that are available to every person in the community.”

Kath goes on to say that this is now the default way that the library responds to any conflict and friction in the shared space. “We work to unpack behaviour. It is about respect—we respect you here, but we want you to also respect the library as a shared place for everyone.”

“We want our library to reflect the society we want to live in. Here we are a place in our community that aims to be from harassment, discrimination—and free from judgement. Who doesn’t want to live a world like that?”

Care for your mental health

Your mental health is important.

“How each of us care for our mental health is different,” says Ian McLean CEO of Golden City Support Services

Golden City Support Services is a provider of community based mental health support services.

“We value everyone having a good life in our community. We wanted to share with you a few ideas how other people care for their mental health from our recent research project; ‘Mapping Natural Supports’.

They are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day life to care for your own mental health.

1. Stay connected

Stay in touch with family, friends, work mates, social groups and activities that have the most meaning to you.

Social media can be helpful to stay in touch, but we all need to experience regular face-to-face connection – nothing beats personal interaction.

“Sometimes I’m bored, but not often,” says Frank. Frank loves dogs, but finds relationships with people more difficult. “I pick up the phone if need to. I always have the phone on for calling or texting.”

2. Make physical activity a part of your regular routine

Louise started playing sport at a young age. “I grew up in a family where we used to go for nightly walks together. Walking is a management technique for my mental health and recently gym has been an extension of that.”

Consider what you enjoy doing to stay active and work out how this activity might become a part of your day-to-day life.

3.Pay attention to you

Are you sleeping more or less than usual? Are you eating more or less than usual? Do you feel like getting out of the house?

Paying attention to these things will give you a good indication of how your mental health is traveling. If there is some change its time to talk to someone and address what is underlying these changes.

4. Be aware of what services are available for you to access

Everyone from time to time needs a mental health check from a professional. Your first point of call is your GP and your local community health services.

If you require indivisualised mental health services the NDIS is a new way to support you on your recovery journey. At Golden City Support Services we deliver community based mental health services that are about having more friends, more opportunities and more control.

Find out more about Golden City Support Services at or call 5434 2777.

Love and Blindness Create the Future

One of the best stories of innovation and designing for the future I know is about a blind Contessa and the man who loved her.

A skilled mechanic, Pellegrino Turri fell in love with the gorgeous Contessa Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono (you could just fall in love with that name!).

They lived in Italy in the early 19 century and they wrote beautiful love letters to each other. But the Contessa was loosing her sight, so from love and to continue their correspondence Pellegrino began to think how he might devise a machine for writing.

A few other people had conceived of a mechanical writing apparatus but nobody had actually built a functioning model. Signor Turri was the first to fashion a functioning ‘typewriter’. It did not look quite like today’s typewriter but his machine worked. No example of it exists today but the original love letters typed on his machine from the beloved Contessa do.

Would Pellegrino have succeeded or even tried to make the thing that led to one of the most widely used pieces of technology in the world if there had been no obstacle or barrier to overcome or no love involved? Did the Contessa’s disability bring about the invention of the keyboard which is now a thing without which we cannot function in our present world? Is it cleverness or passion that succeeds in producing the most useful developments in our lives?

When we pay attention to the people around us and their experiences, to the things that matter to them, to the things that prevent them from living the life they aspire to, then we are able to think beyond the expected and beyond the already known to imagine things that will truly be revolutionary and lead to us all functioning better in our world.

There are designers who have taken this approach to working towards the future. They have developed methods for doing just these kinds of things. They call their work human centred design or design thinking and they can tell great stories about how people are changing the world.

As an agency that works with people with a wide range of support needs, Golden City Support Services has taken up this approach and it is helping in the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This reshaping of our service system allows us to think differently and to develop services that respond better to the needs of people requiring support under the scheme.

John Willis

Golden City Support Services / CreateAbility


Tips to Stay Connected

George had played billiards for years and was a bit sick of it. A friend suggested, “I think you should take up chess.”

If you feel disconnected from the world around you because of a change in your life or feel like it’s time to connect to other people, Golden City Support Services have got some practical tips to share.

You might find the spark to getting involved in something new from a friend. George took up his friend’s suggestion and is now a member of a chess club and plays in competitions.

“How we make connections in our lives is different for everyone,” says Golden City Support Services CEO, Ian McLean. “That’s what we found out from our recent research project; ‘Mapping Natural Supports’. Everybody has different interests and people’s lives change and take different paths. We support people by inviting them to think about what sort of life they want.”

Amanda wanted to be more involved in her child’s school by contributing her skills and expertise, so she applied to join the school council. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet other parents and help out.”

She asked around about the school council and spoke to the principal. “He thought the council would benefit from the skills I have – so I applied and I was successful!”

Offering your skills and expertise to groups and organisations in your community is a great way to connect to others.

“I knew the people at the community centre who were playing badminton, so we went together.” Anthony had played tennis and badminton as a child and joined a club with friends.

Here are a few ideas to get you started in building connections:

• Take up an invitation from a friend
• Search online for support or interest groups
• Browse the library to see what’s available
• Check the local newspaper
• Talk to friends who have similar interests
• Think about the skills you have and make connections with organisations
• Search for local events on Facebook or Eventbrite
• If you have a support person in your life ask them to help you

The NDIS is a new way to support you on your recovery journey and live a good life in the community. At Golden City Support Services we deliver individualised services that are about having more friends, more opportunities and more control.

Find out more about Golden City Support Services visit, or call 5434 2777

The Garden is the Place to Connect

At the base of Victoria Hill, in Energetic Street you will find the Long Gully Community Garden. Fruit and vegies are grown here, but this special place is known for growing much more. The garden’s catch-cry is; “you don’t need a green thumb, you just need the time to come!”

Richard is an active gardener, having had a plot at the community garden since 2013. He has a keen interest in gardening and attends to his vegetable garden every week, with his support person from Golden City Support Services. Over this time Richard has connected to a community of people who have similar interests to him.

Richard has a disability and has experienced great benefit from being actively supported in his interest, so he can participate in everyday tasks.

Ian McLean, CEO of Golden City Support Services, explains, “When you have choice and control over your life, you are more likely to be living a life that is meaningful to you.”

Richard expresses the enjoyment he gets from his garden by the way he reminds his support staff that it is his gardening day. His satisfaction after a day of gardening is very apparent especially when he enjoys an evening meal he has cooked using produce from his garden.

Ian McLean, says, “We are an active part of each local community where we work. We do this because it means a better life for the people we support.”

The Long Gully Community Garden, managed by the Long Gully Neighbourhood Centre, is a unique place for the local community to connect and enjoy doing what they love together.

Richard is not the only person to have achieved significant things at the community garden. In April, aspiring gardener, 8-year-old, Henari Clark, was presented the ‘Victoria in Bloom’ award as the state’s best young gardener.

The Victoria in Bloom award recognises the great work of gardening enthusiasts living in public or community housing. It is an award that thanks individuals for their hard work that contributes in such a positive way to their community.

People who frequent the gardens include Long Gully residents, a local playgroup, groups of people with special needs or disabilities, and the elderly.

Many have found this garden to be a quiet and restorative place to visit – just to sit and have a cuppa under a tree, listen to the birds and smell the flowers.

Positive Behaviour Support Training

Golden City Support Services makes a difference in people’s lives.

“We are proud to have the skills of positive behaviour support in our team,” says Golden City Support Services CEO, Ian McLean.

Mid-2017, over 60 people from around Victoria came to Golden City Support Services offices in Bendigo to undertake ‘Positive Behaviour Support Training’ with Dr.Gary LaVigna.

Represented in the training room were people from a wide variety of professions, from teachers to support people, speech pathology and more. The attendees were learning how to make a change in someone’s life—without using restrictive or negative support.

Dr. Gary LaVigna is the Clinical Director of the Institute for Applied Behaviour Analysis in Los Angeles, California. He spends much of his time consulting with organisations—establishing non-aversive behaviour support plans for individuals exhibiting severe and challenging behaviour—and presenting seminars on this topic throughout the world.

“What we give in our four-day training to attendees is the awareness that even the most severe behaviour problems can be solved by positive behaviour support,” says Gary.

Golden City Support Services has had a long association with Gary and the Institute of Applied Analysis; over 25 years. “When the skills that Gary teaches are applied, real change can happen for people who have cognitive disabilities and show behaviour of concern,” shares Ian.

“Positive behaviour support is a proven practice that works and results in long-term positive change in the quality of a person’s life.

“If you restrict someone’s behaviour or focus on their behaviour, the situation usually stays unresolved or even becomes worse.

“The safest way of providing support to a person is by using the skills that Gary teaches through positive behaviour support training.

For more information about Golden City Support Services and positive behaviour support contact their Enquiry team on 1800 001 005 or