“We focus solely on enabling opportunities within mainstream settings within the community” – Simon Nugus, CEO VSA
Accessible Mainstream Participation & Volunteering
Volunteering Services Australia is the country’s largest recruitment and support agency, and every year we support over 2,500 people to engage in volunteering.
Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), we focus on supporting people to access mainstream opportunities which meet their goals and aspirations, and to support people to build their capacity while undertaking activities which align with their skills and interests. We focus solely on enabling opportunities within mainstream settings within the community.
We have supported people to:
- Join and Participate in mainstream sporting clubs and recreational groups
- Obtain volunteering opportunities and paid employment with organisations of their choice and which match their interests and career ambitions.
- Participate in everyday activities – whether it’s meeting new friends, attending music concerts, going to the pub or attending TAFE or University. Anything that people do as part of a fulfilling life.
Kim* is 37 years old and has always had a keen interest in working with animals. Kim uses a wheelchair for mobility and requires adaptive technology to support her low vision. She has often struggled to find workplaces which are suitable for her wheelchair, or which have alternative and adaptive technologies to support her vision.
Kim contacted VSA to talk about how she would like to work with animals, learn new skills, meet new people and put her skills and talent to good use. In partnership with a local animal sanctuary, VSA arranged for Kim to visit the workplace and together identified the barriers that might exist for Kim when working there. Kim, VSA and the animal sanctuary modified Kim’s future work environment to ensure that she could participate in her role with no barriers. This included some simple actions, such as:
- Introducing a mentor to work with Kim during the first few weeks of her employment
- Using a height-adjustable desk, a magnified screen reader and adaptive keyboard so that Kim could check her work emails
- Installed some small step ramps into the animal pens
- Scheduling Kim’s work times to her requirements and preference
- Arranged for an accessible car parking space for when Kim was supported to and from work
Kim is an active and contributing member of the team, and has built long-lasting friendships with her work colleagues. She has been recognised as the volunteer of the month on more than one occasion. Kim has increased her volunteer hours which she now undertakes independently with no support from a mentor or paid support worker, and she continues to build her skills in her chosen profession.
*Name has been changed for the clients privacy.
Do you want to Volunteer or study at TAFE or University?
We specialise in supporting NDIS Participants to reach their goals and aspirations through volunteering and/or participation in mainstream leaning and training such as TAFE or University
- We will meet with you to understand your goals, strengths, interests, capacity building objectives and your volunteering and career ambitions.
- Understand from you what modifications might be required within your new workplace or learning environment to best suit your needs and preferences, and to ensure that you are able to maximise your participation.
- Based on the information you provide, we will approach the types of organisations and learning institutions you would like to work with and participate within, discuss and promote all opportunities.
- Led by you, we will work with the organisations to ensure that any environmental or social modification are put into place before you start. For example:
- Transport to and from your place of work or learning
- Accessible entryways, pathways, bathrooms, and so on
- Adaptive technology to support you to fully participate
- Structure your wok or learning schedule around your needs and preferences
- You can select your preferred volunteer mentor to work with you until you are comfortable within your new work or learning environment. We encourage you to pick a mentor who might:
- Have the same interests and hobbies as you
- Be of a similar age and gender
- Be culturally and socially compatible with you
- Provide a paid support worker while you work if your health or support needs are more complex
- Contact you, your employer/teacher and your mentor weekly to continuously improve your experience, and make ongoing modifications based on any changing needs or preferences.
To be eligible for this service, it is important that you:
- Tell us about your strengths, goals and ambitions. While it is important that we hear about the supports you require, we focus on supporting you to access and undertake opportunities from a strengths-based perspective.
- Do not want to work or volunteer in a Supported Employment arrangement, or access ‘disability-specific’ learning pathways. Our service focuses only on supporting you to access and participate within mainstream, community-based businesses and organisations.
- Are willing to be an active member of the organisation or place of learning you engage with, and work as part of a team.
To access our mainstream support services, please call us on (07) 5526 0688 and ask for Simon Nugus or click here to send us an email and we will be in touch straight away.