Waltja has been supporting people with disabilities in remote communities since 1995, when a disability brokerage was set up with support from the Department of Health and Community Services. Waltja currently receives some financial support from the NT Government Department of Health to help people access the right services. Waltja works with people aged under fifty who have a severe or profound disability. The communities we work in are: Engawala, Laramba, Ampilatawatja, Utopia, Willowra and Papunya. With this program, Waltja helps clients join in cultural activities and community events, and for them and their families to get respite. Waltja also helps clients access other services, such as the community clinic, specialist agencies and Government. Hannah Hueneke is Waltja’s Disability Program worker.
We helped a young boy with disability to take his family – grandma, mum, aunt, cousins, and two brothers – on a bush trip for cultural activities. They went swimming, looked for bush tucker, sat out under the trees, told stories, and made a fire. The family has no car so Waltja provided a safe vehicle for the family and organized to borrow a 4WD from the art centre so that extended family could all be together.
Waltja facilitated a meeting with schoolteacher and principal and the young boy’s mother. We got advice from the Downs Syndrome Association and the Department of Education Student Services on how to support the young boy and his family so he could attend school. We took the young boy to school, took photos of him at school. We made a book of photos, which we sent back to the school and family. This has helped build a relationship between the school and the young boy and his family.
Waltja worked with a young man who has vision impairment and cerebral palsy. Waltja helped raise funds for him for a needs assessment to find out what computer equipment he was able to use and then to buy the equipment. Centrecorp donated funds for a large touch screen computer and other assistive technology. Waltja then helped the client find a place in the community to host his computer. It is at the new BIITE Learning Centre. We recruited a volunteer in the community who is taking the client to the centre each week to use his computer. This time is also respite for his parents. Waltja also advocated for the client to get regular respite in Alice Springs, which has really helped him and his family.
Waltja supported a young woman with Acquired Brain Injury and other injuries, caused by a motor vehicle accident. We provided much support in the community for this client, including regular liaison with Adult Guardianship. This has helped her to stay independent and have the freedom to make choices. Waltja’s support also includes simple things like taking her shopping at places she wants to go. We also liaised with the art centre on the community and supported the client to go there and paint regularly.
The way the funding is organised, Waltja can only support some communities in our region. People with disabilities and their families in other communities keep asking for Waltja’s support but we are not able to help them.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is being introduced and this will eventually affect all people with disabilities in all remote communities.
Many clients have complex issues and needs. This means they need to access many different services. In a remote community this is difficult.