State-funded service Ability Links NSW will cease operations on 30 August 2019 as part of a plan to streamline linking services nationally, with service functions transitioning into the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) component of NDIS Local Area Coordination (LAC).
Delivered over the past five years in Central and Orana Far West NSW by LiveBetter Community Services, Ability Links NSW has helped countless regional Australians with disability achieve their goals and stay connected in the community.
Ability Links NSW participants will transition to the NDIS Social Futures’ Local Area Coordination (LAC) team by the end of August, with the program officially starting in the region from 1 September 2019. LiveBetter Team Leader, Cassie Gardner, said it would be an emotional farewell for the team who have helped many participants throughout regional NSW.
“Ability links has been an outstanding program that has brought significant benefits to thousands of people with disabilities and other marginalised communities in this state,” said Ms Gardner.
When Cody Jones from Dubbo was first diagnosed with a disability, he was told by doctors he would never gain paid employment. But Cody was determined to “smash the idea of disability discrimination in the job market into a million pieces”. After reaching out to Ability Links, Cody got the support he needed to fast track his goal. Cody gained paid employment with Ability Links NSW as a ‘Lived Experience Linker’ after completing a Bachelor of Social Work and now helps other people with disability achieve their goals.
“We know that just under 20 per cent of people in Australia have some form of disability and that number is growing. Whether it was talking to local businesses about being more accessible or linking businesses and people with disabilities together as employees or volunteers, Ability Links NSW helped people with disabilities stay connected to the wider community,” said Cody.
An independent evaluation of the Ability Links program published in 2018 found that every dollar invested in Ability Links generated $3.60 in benefits and Ms Gardner said it was important to thank the Linkers for their dedication and to acknowledge the success stories.
“We look forward to seeing more success stories come from the ILC to ensure people with disability are supported to live more accessible and connected lives,” Cassie said.