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Support disabled in community, not facilities, advocate says


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 the mainstream."

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.

References and further information

This article was originally produced by The Canberra Times.


To read the rest of this article visit The Canberra Times website


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