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NDIS rollout calls for reflection on original Centacare mission, disability service expert says

Annette Drew

NDIS roll: Disability services advocate with Centacare Brisbane Annette Drew is working as part of specialised team to help clients receive correct funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Photo: Emilie Ng

DISABILITY services expert Annette Drew believes advanced pre-planning and keeping to the “mission at heart” would ensure Centacare’s Brisbane clients make a smooth transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Mrs Drew has managed Centacare’s Supported Accommodation Independent Lifestyle (Sail) in Sunnybank for 17 years, and said the NDIS offered great opportunities but also big challenges for staff and clients of Centacare, the social welfare arm of Brisbane archdiocese.

Funded by a Medicare levy increase to Australian taxpayers, NDIS funding will be available to Australians under 65 living with a permanent or significant disability.

While the scheme would have positive benefits for clients, in particular funding for people who had previously not received funding for disability services, Mrs Drew also predicted some “upheaval”.

“Despite this changing environment, Centacare is ready to support our clients,” Mrs Drew said.

“Our service provision has to be done with our mission at heart, the dignity of the human person.”

Mrs Drew has spent the past 30 years focusing on the dignity of the human person as a respected advocate for people living with disabilities and those who work tirelessly to care for them.

A former youth work for the Brisbane archdiocese, Mrs Drew first joined Centacare in 1986 to lead a project that offered independent living for people with disabilities.

Her advocacy work and more than 15 years as a community services manager in disability support earned her the 2015 Professional Leader of the Year in the Community Leader Awards, which are now open for nominations for 2017.

“It’s cemented for me what I’ve always believed, and I’ve been fairly outspoken as an advocate on behalf of both clients and staff and I feel that someone needs to speak on their behalf,” Mrs Drew said.

“It has given me the confidence to know that I have been on the right track and that I’ve been influential in how services are delivered and what I believe are the important ingredients to having a good service.”

Annette Drew and Lyn Coleman

Offering support: Annette Drew speaks with colleague Lyn Coleman, who has worked for Centacare’s disability services for 20 years. Photo: Emilie Ng.

Mrs Drew said Centacare was one of the first organisations in Queensland to advocate for people with a disability.

“I’ve always believed we’re not so much about being a business but a service,” she said.

“(Centacare) is a business because we’re working in a business model but the reason the Church first got involved in working in this area was because no one else was doing anything about it.”

Making the impossible possible is what has kept Mrs Drew in her role with Centacare’s Community Services (Disability Support) for more than 15 years.

“It’s given me such joy to see people realise some of their dreams; that’s been really important to me,” she said.

Over the next 12 months Mrs Drew will work closely with a specialised team to ensure her 35 clients receive correct funding under the NDIS.

The scheme rolled out in the Ipswich, Lockyer, Scenic Rim and Somerset region from July 1 with a growing number of clients already rolled over to the NDIS.

Brisbane clients will be able to access the new funding scheme from July 1 next year.

Existing clients and new ones eligible for funding through the NDIS will have a planning meeting with the National Disability Insurance Agency, and Centacare is offering its support each step of the way.

“One of my aims is to ensure clients recieve the level of funding they need,” Mrs Drew said.

“That will be something we’ll have to work very carefully on – their plans for them, help them with their plans so they’ll have every possible cost of what they’ll need to have in that plan.

“Centacare will work closely with clients in their planning process assisting them in meeting all their needs.

“Centacare has been proactive in the development of a pre-planning booklet.

“By completing the booklet clients will be ready for their NDIS planning meeting.”

Centacare is a registered NDIS provider and can be contacted on 1300 236 822.

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