Lifeskills funding push: Group optimistic despite setback

Lifeskills Plus will continue pushing forward to fund an improved facility for local people with disabilities, following the announcement that the organisation’s application for state government funding was unsuccessful.

Lifeskills Plus applied for capital grants funding from Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance, to allow Lifeskills to leave its ageing Perry Street facility to purchase and equip the former Clarkson’s Clearance building neighbouring its Southside Skills Centre.

Despite the setback, the Lifeskills Plus Board of Directors, led by chairman Bruce Walker, has taken action and is working already with state and federal politicians to have the decision reversed.

“We don’t have a choice,” said CEO Carolyn Peek. 

“This is too important for the people in the Mid-Western Regional area for us not to be proactive.”

Lifeskills currently supports 54 people with disabilities from Mudgee, Gulgong, Kandos, Rylstone and as far away as Running Stream at both its Perry Street and Southside centres.  

The Perry Street facility provides care for 20 people with disabilities, with numbers continuing to grow on a monthly basis through word of mouth, people leaving school, school referrals for the Out of School Hours Service and respite care, and new families coming to town. 

As the needs and numbers of local people with disabilities continue to grow, Ms Peek said Lifeskills needed a facility that would enhance the opportunities for people attending the centre to achieve positive outcomes in all aspects of their lives.

The centre’s support staff will also appreciate the improved facility and resources to assist them in continuing to provide high quality care.

“As we work towards the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it is important to have a facility that provides a positive and interactive environment that can be shared between people with disabilities and their community,” Ms Peek said.

“This project also reflects the values of each individual and the person-centred planning approach put forward in the NSW government’s Stronger Together 2 plan. 

“This plan focuses on each person and their goals in life, and maximises opportunities for genuine involvement in their community.”

The proposed new facility will be fitted with a therapy room and a sensory room providing both calming and stimulating experiences, which is especially beneficial to people with autism.

There will be enough rooms for Lifeskills to cater for expanding numbers while comfortably continuing its art, craft, music, drama and dance activities.  

It will also have a woodwork room that can be used by clients in the new building and people participating in woodwork from Southside Skills Centre.

The extra space and improved facilities will make it easier for Lifeskills to welcome people from the community to volunteer or visit.

Everything will be wheelchair accessiblse, including entries, broad corridors and doorways, sensory gardens and yards, bathrooms and all rooms meeting current building specifications for disability standards.

The plan for the new building also includes a separate four-bedroom respite facility. The existing centre only allows Lifeskills to cater for one person at a time.  

This new respite facility will enable Lifeskills Plus to work towards reducing the pressure for respite in the local area, which currently means many locals must travel to Dubbo or Bathurst for respite.

Everyone at Lifeskills Plus acknowledges and appreciates the support of local businesses and the community and looks forward to this continuing in the future. 

HOUSE HUNTING: A member of Lifeskills Out of School Hours group enjoys an afternoon at Bizee Bodz while the organisation seeks funding for an improved facility.

HOUSE HUNTING: A member of Lifeskills Out of School Hours group enjoys an afternoon at Bizee Bodz while the organisation seeks funding for an improved facility.