Australia’s Leading Service Provider that Gives People with a Disability a Fair Go [Interview][Transcript]

Scott_Sheppard_House_with_No_StepsGuest: Scott Sheppard
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Scott Sheppard is the Executive General Manager of House with No Steps in Queensland & Northern New South Wales. Scott has worked in the Disability Services sector for over 20 years.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we are joined by Executive General Manager of House with No Steps in Queensland and Northern New South Wales Scott Sheppard to share insightful information regarding their wide range of services. They focus on enabling people with a disability to realise their personal aspirations and goals. Their disability services offer support for people with a disability to realise their dreams, whether that means moving out of home, finding a job, or being active.

Transcription
Health Professional Radio – Giving People with a Disability a Fair Go

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today I’m joined by Scott Sheppard. Now Scott’s the Executive General Manger for Queensland and Northern New South Wales at House with No Steps. Scott welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Scott Sheppard: Thank you Wayne. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

W: It’s our pleasure to have you. Now I think because I read House with No Steps that I know what you’re about but I get these things wrong so often. Why don’t you tell us what it is you’re about and what your geographic … you function in?

S: Yeah, it’s a great question Wayne because a lot of people think House with No Steps use lifts or escalators and of course we don’t, or not of course, we don’t. We provide support services to people with a disability. So a House with No Steps is our name that’s been around for over 60 years but it’s more of a metaphor nowadays. So literally it’s about taking away barriers and making sure that’s no access issues for people with disabilities in their daily lives. So we’re a not for profit organization, we’re a human right based organization and in our…disabilities will never limit the degree of choice and control people have over their own lives. So we work hard thru a range of different services to make sure that people we support get a fair go. Now whether that’s a person with an intellectual disability or physical disability, of course the services are very different but the principle is still the same.

W: I see. I had the misconception that everyone else has, I have to admit. So you are not concerned about the nature of the disability but in fact how to overcome and neutralize that disability where you can.

S: Absolutely. The principle is the same and human rights for everybody. Whether you have an impairment that affects your physical access or your coordination or whether you have a cognitive impairment that may perhaps that you process information differently or your brain and cognitive abilities are different or you actually acquired a brain injury or an impairment over say for a stroke or an accident. At the end of the day we’re all equal human beings and we just all need different types of support the … basically what we can.

W: Now Scott I’m assuming that you’d be closely involved with the National Disability Insurance Scheme given that that’s the nature that your work is around disability. Is that something you can talk about with us today?

S: I’d like to Wayne. For us, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is a game changer. We’ve been advocating and supporting the NDIS for a good 4 or 5 years and it’s the opportunity to make sure that there’s an entitlement based national scheme in place so that any person who is born or acquired a disability has a right to the same service no matter where they live. At the moment, we basically have a broken, inadequate system which is vary greatly depending on where you live, what state, what locality you live in and it’s a real shame because we know what good intervention, good services, good therapy can mean to a person and just for the…either a government policy or some dollars, people have been missing out and doing it extremely tough. So it’s an all too familiar story where there perhaps is an elderly couple of parents that in their 70s they may have a son or daughter whose 40, 50 with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy and they’ve been caring for that adult child basically all their lives and have had little support and maybe they’ve got a good GP that helps them, some counsel services but their biggest fear is “What happens when I die? What’s gonna happen to my son or daughter? Where would they live? Who will look after them and who will look after their best interest?” The NDIS is an insurance scheme that is similar to Medicare, so it’s actually an economic argument based on insurance actuarial and probabilities rather than just social welfare scheme. So the productivity commission model then demonstrated that if you spend some money upfront with a child or a young person and a family or a person as they acquire their disability early, you actually it will cost less in the long run to the government. It actually insures that people are healthier, more productive and therefore can contribute back to the economy rather than they’re in the bottomless pit welfare handout that has to go to families as they breakdown or for people as they lose their employment or they present at a…health services in emergency departments or in aged care based as people with a disability who are young but because they have perhaps a nursing level of care requirement there is a blocking bed in hospitals or they’re taking up beds in aged care facilities. So they don’t need to be there, they could be living out in the community with the proper support and that’s a lot about what we do. We provide the age relevant support that people need so that they can continue to live within a community and hopefully make a worthwhile contribution.

W: Scott that’s very interesting to hear you explain enough, I’ve not heard explain before in terms of its economic benefits and that’s interesting to hear it expressed that way. Now a lot of our listeners are clinicians of one kind or another, what’s the message you’d like them to hear from you today?

S: We’d like them to know about the NDIS most importantly that there is a scheme that they should know about. So that they can make the necessary referrals within their own services and also effectively about House with No Steps. We have a large geographic footprint across the Eastern Coast of Australia, from the ACT right across New South Wales and Queensland. We currently support over three and a half thousand people with disability, we run businesses and we actually employ the 600 people with disabilities. We provide early intervention, clinical services in communities where perhaps the first diagnosis of a disability at birth or at 12 months of age, a family can come with their child and have therapists that understand what it means to provide them the support and perhaps offer referrals to other clinicians and help that child develop and reach their milestones and perhaps they’ll be able to go to school through their school life perhaps when they’re ready to leave school to find a job and maintain a job and to provide respite to families so families who have a child or adult that can support them with help but they need a break from time to time so we can provide that break whether it’s in the community or in the family home. We can also provide training, skill development, supported living where we can support people 24/7 around the clock either with high physical support needs or more behavioral and facilitation and guidance type support. So yeah, but House with No Steps does we work locally with local clinicians and communities, we make the right connections so that people can get the sort of support that they need and we’ve currently been in the Hunter region in New South Wales and now in the ACT, we’ve been part of the NDIS…for over 2 years. We’re seeing great results, people are actually getting packages and additional support that they need, they’re actually having more choice and control over those supports and now we’re pretty excited in Queensland we’re actually… to roll out in Townsville…launch site for Queensland of the NDIS. So we’ve got our first NDIS customers in Townsville and we’re looking over the next couple of years progressively roll out more NDIS services right throughout Queensland.

W: Scott it’s a fascinating initiative and it will be interesting to see it rolled out. So people who are looking for more information and looking to contact you, how can they get in touch with you?

S: We have a 1300 LETS GO customer inquiry line, so that’s 1300 LETS GO or for those who prefer be all numerical number 1300 538 746. We have a customer service person there that will be able to take people inquiries and point them in the right direction and we also have our website which is hwns.com.au and there’s a whole raft of information available to people on our website, it’s about ourselves or about the NDIS.

W: Scott Sheppard, Executive General Manager, Queensland and Northern New South Wales at House with No Steps, it’s been a pleasure having you with us today. Thank you for giving up some time to talk to us.

S: My pleasure, thank you very much for having us Wayne.

W: If you just missed my conversation with Scott, the good news is we have a transcript on our website, we also have an audio archive on both YouTube and SoundCloud and you can get access to all of those at the Health Professional Radio website, www.hpr.fm. If you’ve missed that website for House with No Steps it was www.hwns.com.au. This is Health Professional Radio and you’re listening to Wayne Bucklar. Thank you for spending your time with us today.

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