Support disabled in community, not facilities, advocate says
Families of people with disabilities should be
looking to the community for support as the government prepares to
close respite services, advocate Jan Kruger says.
Ms Kruger, whose son Jack has a developmental disability, said the
community would become increasingly important for families of
people with disabilities as the ACT government prepares to close or
offload respite services across Canberra.
The Elouera respite house will close in November, after the
government announced it was consolidating respite services before
next year's switch to the disability insurance scheme.
The impending closure has prompted backlash among some sectors of
the community, but Ms Kruger said it should be viewed as an
opportunity to move towards the mainstream.
"It's important that people see there are other options than
facilities," she said.
"The community tends to be the last place we go looking, rather
than the first … We need to be supporting people to be involved in
Ms Kruger said her O'Connor family did not use respite services,
choosing instead to immerse 11-year-old Jack in the community
through sport and through organisations like the Scouts.
She said the engagement with mainstream society had benefited her
son, but was only possible because of her and her husband Paul's
willingness to open up to the community.
"That's where people need to be looking for their respite because
it's also something meaningful for our son," she said.
"I think the families should take authority and look themselves,
with support from the community. I think there are a lot of
families that have lost hope. It needs to be reinvigorated."
Ms Kruger said the concept of a connected community where people
with a disability played a valuable part was something highlighted
by her advocacy group ImagineMore, which would also be hosting an
inclusion and integration conference in November.
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