Catching up for lunch every Friday

Elaine looks forward to Friday lunch.  Not only does she enjoy skipping cooking, she catches up with her friends.

The Friday social lunch group have been meeting together every Friday lunch for two years, and over this time have developed new friendships.  Support worker Katie says, “It’s important to meet up each week.  When people regularly come together they feel comfortable.”

Lunch at the bakery and then a spot of op-shopping is one of the Friday lunch events that Jenny enjoys.  “We might sit down in a restaurant or sometimes have a BBQ,” she says.  “We travel together and eat out together.”


David is one of over 100 volunteers at Uniting AgeWell.  He started volunteering with the support of Creative Links, a Golden City Support Services program, which helps people to connect people to their interests in the community.

He first began volunteering on a Thursday in the laundry, but soon decided that this task wasn’t the best fit for his skills. As a well-known and loved artist with CreateAbility’s Performance Ensemble, David was naturally drawn to the weekly singing group.

Volunteer Manager Kerry says that when David first started he seemed very shy, but since he has been helping out with the singing group he has made lots of friends and accompanies the singing with his guitar.


Find out something new

Wayne’s advice to anyone who is invited to try something new is; “Give it a go.” 

He never knew that he could paint.  It is a new passion that gets him up every day.  “Before I tried painting at the Access Creative Studios I was just sitting at home; now I am motivated,” he said. 

Tammy, Wayne’s Golden City Support Services Support Coordinator, suggested that he might like to visit and see what happens at the Access Creative Studios. At first, Wayne admits he wasn’t sure about this idea but found he felt comfortable at the studios. 

“I discovered something new about myself, I never knew – I can paint!  I feel good when I paint.” 

“I have made new friends here – it is like a little family,” he said. 

“I make sure everyone has a cuppa, and I even drop into the studio for a visit – to say Hello and share a cuppa.” 

“I like painting animals.” Wayne’s recent body of artwork features gorillas, cats, giraffe and also a Christmas wombat series.  “Animals bring a lot of joy into your life,” he explains.  “They make you feel comfortable and calm.  Animals are soothing.” 

Wayne wants his viewers to enjoy his artwork and realise that painting is something that is worth doing. 

“You should give it a go to try something new,” says Wayne. “You might think you can’t do it, but there is always the opportunity to discover.”

Doing Business

Melissa Gordon-Cooke’s small business “Mels Munchies” has been operating for several years now.  

One of Mel’s favourite parts of any workday is counting the earnings and banking her proceeds.  

Over quite a few months, Mel slowly developed a rapport with bank staff at the Strath Village Branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Mel’s confidence to bank independently continued to increase, and Mel especially enjoyed using the automatic coin deposit machine.  

However, a small hitch became obvious. The bank had located a small fixed table adjacent to the machine. This table was a convenient place for ambulant customers to place items but made it impossible for Mel to position her wheelchair close enough to the device to reach it without some form of hand on hand support from staff.  

As a result, Mel started asking to move to another bank. With support and encouragement, Mel explained to the bank staff what the problem was and even had a face-to-face chat with the Branch Manager.  

Several weeks later, Mel entered the bank expecting to have the “same old problem” only to discover that the table was relocated – solving her problems of access to do her business banking.


Choice to change

It happens to all of us – sometimes the same routine stops giving us challenges and meaning, and we are ready to try something new. 

Ross, a man with a disability, has been attending the same day program for over a decade. He was ready for a change, to try new activities and meet new people. 

With his new NDIS Plan, that provides for one on one support, he is actively making a change in his life and choosing to try new activities indoors and outdoors. 

Maddie, Ross’s support person, found out about Sailability on Facebook and suggested it to Ross as one activity he might like to try. 

Ross is developing quite a knack for creative crafts and is enjoying expressing himself through this. Getting into making and creating has given Ross an opportunity to exercise his hands and arms more frequently with a noticeable increase in his motor skills.  

As a result, Ross has become more independently mobile and confident in the use of his wheelchair.  This is a bonus for Ross.  With increased mobility and confidence he is going out with his partner more often.

Cooking To Share

Tam’s housemate Paula inspired her to start cooking.

“When I came around for a sleepover she was baking,” says Tam, a young woman with a disability, who recently celebrated her 21st birthday.

With her support person, Tam developed her cooking skills. “I love spaghetti, and that was the first thing I wanted to learn how to make,” she said. “I can cook meals on my own, and the best part is sharing my cooking with others.”

“I feel happy when I give to other people,” says Tam. Making a cup of tea for her flatmate is just another one of the nice things she likes to do for other people in the kitchen.

Confident to Try Something New

Justin is growing in his confidence.

Justin is a young man with a disability who is supported at his regular job delivering newspapers and to do his household shop.

Over time, with support, Justin has begun to feel more independent.

He is thinking about having less support in his regular activities like shopping to that he can have support to try a new experience. He thought he would like to go to Melbourne.

Justin planned the support he needed to make the visit to Melbourne. Because of his confidence to shop independently, he decided to do his shopping without to support and save up his support hours for a trip to Melbourne.

“My favourite thing about Melbourne was patting the horse and talking to people on the train, I enjoyed the fish market and spent a lot of money on sushi,” Justin said.

Shopping and Auslan

Can you imagine going shopping without being able to ask anyone a question, or hear his or her answer?

Communication is important for everyone to express what is important to others and in return actively listen to other people to understand what is important to them.

“I like to go to places where people can do some signing.” Colin is deaf and Auslan is his language. Together with Jimmy, his hearing dog, Colin does his regular grocery shop at ALDI.

A hearing dog is just like an eye-seeing dog. When he goes to the supermarket with Colin, Jimmy wears a jacket – that is his uniform and that alerts everyone he is working and they can’t pat him.

Golden City Support Services support worker Janelle supports Colin in his day-to-day communications at work and out in the community.

“We always get lots of attention when Jimmy is with me and my support person Janelle,” says Colin. “Between the three of us, there is a lot of signing happening without any sound!”

“That is how we met Brad while shopping. He asked us to show us some signs – so I showed him ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’.”

“Then, the next week Brad remembered the signs for ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’ I showed him ‘How much?’ Then the next week shopping I showed him some more signs!

“One day when we went into the shop three different people signed to me ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’ – Brad taught people in his team how to talk to me!

Above: Colin and Brad demonstrate how to say ‘Hello’ using Auslan.

“It was exciting to teach other people my language. To help everyone learn and remember, Janelle and I created a poster for their tearoom of Auslan signs.

Next time Colin went shopping the team at ALDI presented him with a gift. “They were so happy with the Auslan sign we created they gave me a present – to say thank you for teaching them sign language. I love that they gave me a gift!”

Above: Colin and Brad demonstrate how to say ‘Thank you’ using Auslan.

Recently the Manager of Colin’s local ALDI enrolled for an Auslan course. He says that “I like talking to people and having the skills to talk to anybody is really important.”

Above: Colin and Brad demonstrate how to say ‘How are you?’ using Auslan.

“To give the best possible support we need to know what is important to a person,” says Ian McLean CEO of Golden City Support Services. “Communication is key to knowing someone well and is the foundation of our team’s support practice.”

Here is a great resource that supports learning and conversation between Auslan and English for your ipad.

Expand Your Impact event supported by Golden City Support Services

Make A Change Australia is an organisation dedicated to supporting local community leaders, social entrepreneurs and anyone wanting to make a positive difference where they live.

Golden City Support Services has been sponsoring their program of activities and promoting inclusive approaches to social change.

Their most recent event on 18th March, Expand Your Impact, was a training day aiming to increase the productivity of community-based local initiatives. The key topics were Future Vision, Building Teams, Effective Communication and Linking Resources. Despite being a Sunday close to 60 people attended and the enthusiasm never flagged throughout the day.

Most people attending live in Bendigo but there were others from surrounding districts including Ballarat, Kyneton and Melbourne. It was great to see a number of local secondary school students and young university students.

The projects individuals were working on were very diverse, from establishing a support group for new mothers with type 1 diabetes, to encouraging ways for children to be physically active on their way to school. The project we have been working on, Matching Pets to People, with PetCare and Chally Animal Rescue was also represented on the day.

As well as learning some skills for getting a successful project on the way one of the most valuable things was meeting other people who had something to share with other projects. People made great connections that really did ‘expand their impact’.

The day finished with an inspiring presentation from Beth Eggleston who works for Australian Red Cross and has been involved in overseas aid projects that have changed the lives of many people.

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.”