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From the CEO

I'm sure the December edition of this newsletter is the editor's favourite - the last for the year and a time of celebration and reflection. 2018 has been a year of challenges and triumphs for all of the Lifeskills family. New NDIS plans, successful completion of accredited courses, exchange visits between Bendigo and Bundoora Participants, new Participants and the smooth transition of the change of Directors.
I am continually delighted with the ingenuity of the Participants, be it in Podcasting, Gardening, Art and in particular through our discussions of the daily news and opinions or just hearing about what Lifeskills is doing well and what we can do better - direct from the Participants.

To all the Participants who received certificates for their efforts and success during the year; congratulations and well-done - a mighty effort. 

To the the families, friends, colleagues, departmental staff and La Trobe University supporters and collaborators, thank you for your support, interest and ideas. We sincerely appreciate and welcome your involvement.

On behalf of everyone here at Latrobe Lifeskills we wish you a safe and happy new year. 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Highlights from the year in Podcasting
The best of the Latrobe Lifeskills podcasts. Well done to all of the Lifeskills podcasters, to staff member Alison and to the fantastic team at La Trobe University's The Hub for all of their recording expertise and for putting this highlights reel together. We can't wait for another year of podcasting in 2019!
Five Tips on Preparing for Your Next NDIS Planning Meeting

Greetings Participants, Parents and Carers,
2018 is coming to a close and what a year we've all had. Congratulations to all Participants who have achieved their certification and qualifications! To the many who are midway through their learning, fear not, as Latrobe Lifeskills will continue to offer Accredited Training across both Bundoora and Bendigo Campuses in 2019.
On 20 November, Tammy and I attended the North East Disability Service Providers Expo 2018, held at the Plenty Ranges Art and Convention Centre. Over 50 NDIS and Non-NDIS Registered Providers, across a variety of support types, services, assistive technology, and accommodation were out 'peddling our wares', and what a remarkable sight it was. NDIA Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) presented on finding and managing support services and early intervention services. Separately, the Disability Services Commission and the Director of Living with Disability Research Centre of La Trobe University, Professor Christine Bigby, presented on emerging issues and remedies within the Disability Sector.


Whilst the turn out of the Participants and families were not as high as the previous two years, it was a great opportunity for us to network, catch up, discuss, share knowledge and meet other providers who operate within the region. Some of which, like Latrobe Lifeskills, have been operating in the North East Melbourne Area (NEMA) NDIS environment for three years now. 

I left the expo thinking about a few points of interest that evening. I found a common topic between the expo and our two recent parent/carer meetings at Lifeskills, are the positive and negative experiences that Participants and families have had from their NDIS planning/review meetings. The outcome of an NDIS planning meeting, as agreed by all the providers, can set the scene for the next 12 months of a Participant's life. Goals and funding allocations will for a large part dictate what a Participant can or cannot access following their NDIS plan approval (unless unscheduled plan reviews are triggered, but that is discussion for another day).

I decided to write my five tips on preparing for your next NDIS planning meeting from a provider's perspective:
1. 'It's a word game' - using the right language and terminology 
The above description was cleverly given by a parent at our recent parent/carer meeting; that working through an NDIS planning/review meeting is likened to 'a word game'. Participants and families have informed that they found better plan outcomes when the right language was used. Some of this has been credited to service providers and Support Coordinators (if available to you) that have prepared progress reports/summaries of supports for Participants at the nine-month mark which assists with the planning of the next 12 months. Provider progress reports can go a long way in assisting a planner’s understanding during planning meetings, ensuring funding has been secured appropriately. A Participant recently received ‘Short-Term Accommodation and Assistance’ (STAA), by asking for STAA instead of ‘respite’. Their eight-month wait was finally over.
2. Start practicing your choice and control
Providers in NEMA were briefed in early-2016 that within NDIS trial sites, Participants would start moving/changing service providers after 12 months of the scheme's introduction. In NEMA, we experienced this within the first four months. Today I see many Participants and families practising this with not only 1:1 and group-support providers but also with Plan Managers (Financial Intermediaries) and Support Coordinators!

3. Communicate and work with your service providers
If you are with service providers that you are happy with, do communicate and work with your service providers as we operate within the NDIS environment on a daily basis - this is our bread and butter. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be accessed via your providers, and perhaps services you have not yet considered.

4. Be prepared - bring your reports, plans, ideas, goals and funding quotes!
Take a whole-of-life approach (think short and long-term goals), and be prepared before your NDIS planning meeting. I recommend starting with the 'Every Australian Counts NDIS Planning Workbook' and consider a Participant's full seven-day week. To request for funding and support, ensure that you bring along those provider progress reports, summary reports, allied health reports, goals and plans for the next 12 months, reports from Support Coordinators (if available), and most importantly, bring the funding quotes prepared by providers. I often see/hear some Participants and families who come to an abrupt realisation when their NDIS plan falls short in funding, has wrong categories, or doesn't contain the requested support due to lack of supporting documents or understanding by the planners. Contact your service provider/s as soon as you are aware of an upcoming planning meeting so they can prepare these supporting documents. No harm in bringing extra copies to hand over to your planner if they do not have them in hand.

5. Ask what else is out there
This tip is not entirely related to NDIS planning meetings. I was approached by a Community Engagement Officer from the NDIA BSL during the expo and had an interesting conversation. I was never aware of this specific role, which is once again different to Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Officers. The take home message was that there are various mainstream services which can be introduced by the NDIA BSL. People who may not qualify for NDIS, or wish to know more about available mainstream services (non-NDIS Funded services), are welcome to visit a local NDIA BSL Branch Office

Bonus Tip! Have your voice heard because you are not alone
Finally, if you have employed all of the above tips, but have not aatainted a satisfactory outcome, then I suggest that you have your voice heard at the next Every Australian Counts - Make It Work Forum. To find one closest to you with details of venue, times and dates visit:
The above tips are my personal observations from a provider's perspective, and I do hope families, carer and Participants will find them handy or at least enlightening. Before I wrap this article up, I would like to point out that the next big December events are the Participant Presentation lunch in Bendigo, and Presentation evening in Bundoora where Latobe Lifeskills will be celebrating the achievements of each Participant for 2018. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend as I am currently on leave in Malaysia! Therefore, I bid everyone a wonderful festive season, a Happy New Year and a safe break. See you in the New Year.

Bendigo Presentation Lunch
Congratulations to Participants at Lifeskills Bendigo on a wonderful year.  The group celebrated with lunch on Tuesday 19 December. It was great to see so many parents in attendance also. Thanks for a great year Bendigo!
NEHC Partnership
Lifeskills was recently asked to be a part of a promotional video for North-East Healthy Communities (NEHC). The video explains the role of NEHC, and Lifeskills' CEO, Douglas Ball, explains how Lifeskills benefits from being a part of this fantastic partnership.

You can find out more about NEHC here and watch the video below.
International Day of People with Disability
Lifeskills band No Limitz performed live at Greensborough Walk on 27 November and at The Agora, La Trobe University Bundoora to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on Monday 3 December. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come down a watch the band perform some original songs and covers on both days. The band will be performing at the end of year presentation and will be working on some new songs in 2019.  
As part of the IDPWD, Lifeskills Participants also enjoyed some free bowling and ran into the state member for Thomastown, Bronwyn Halfpenny (third photo below) and swimming at Watermarc.
Lifeskills Bendigo - Phoenix FM and IDPWD 
Readers of last month's newsletter will remember Neale and Tanya's impromptu appearance on Phoenix FM in Bendigo. SInce then, the Bendigo group had the chance to tour the Phoenix FM studio. It was great to go behind the scenes, especially to check out the impressive music library!
The group also had some fun celebrating International Day of People with Disability at Rosiland Park, where a number of providers also came along to make the most of the festivities.
Gavin returns with the G Codex to review WWE 2K19. Check out Lifeskills' YouTube Channel for other podcasts, Milo Moments and more! You can also find the 2018 podcasting highlights above, a must watch!
The Quick Five with...Simon Chan 
My name is Simon Chan, I'm a Trainer/Assessor at Lifeskills. I currently facilitate accredited classes as well a few of the many NDIS funded activities that are offered here at Latrobe Lifeskills. Before working here at Lifeskills I worked as both a primary and secondary school teacher, teaching drama and  music, as well as other general subjects, working with students of all abilities and walks of life. Through my experiences, I have employed various teaching methods to cater to the learning needs of students and Participants. This has enabled me to  understand the unique ways in which students and Participants learn.
I have a passion for teaching and believe in a holistic approach to inspire learning and personal growth, helping students and Participants develop the skills necessary to live as independently as possible.
The quick five:
Q: Where is your favourite place to have a holiday? A: Italy; the food, the culture, the sights - bellissimo!
Q: If you had to watch only one movie
for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
A: Groundhog Day, so I could finally understand what Bill Murray was going through.

Q: Do you have any pets? A: I have two beautiful cats. Marley and
Betty. Both are best friends and enjoy each others company.
Q: Would you rather go 30 days without your phone or 30 days
without dessert?  
A: I am not much of a sweet tooth so I could confidently do no dessert for a month. I do use my phone. If I didn't have it on me people would think I was either stranded or on a tropical island!

Q: What’s one of your favourite things about working at Lifeskills?
 A: Really making a difference in Participants' lives. Their will, determination and characters are inspiring.
I will leave with a quote of what I personally believe to be the essence of true learning and path to obtaining "Lifeskills."
"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."
J. Dewey.
The craft Participants' pet beds are a hit!
Our fight for disability rights - and why we're not done yet
A fascinating TedTalk about disability rights and the need for greater accessibility in all societies.
Listen Here!
Participants getting into the Melbourne Cup spirit last month!
Coming Up!

* Lifeskills closes - Friday 21 December at 1:00pm 
* Lifeskills resumes Monday 7 January 2019 at 8:30am (9:00am Bendigo)

* Australia Day pubic holiday Monday 28 January 2019 (Lifeskills closed)
Copyright © 2018 Latrobe Lifeskills, All rights reserved.

Contact Details:
Head Office and Lifeskills Bundoora: 1A Union Drive, La Trobe University Bundoora VIC 3083
Lifeskills Bendigo: Edwards Road, La Trobe University, Flora Hill, Bendigo VIC 3552
Postal Address: PO Box 113, La Trobe University Bundoora VIC 3086
Phone: 03 9479 1474

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Latrobe Lifeskills · Lifeskills Head Office · 1A Union Drive · Bundoora, Vic 3083 · Australia

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