Participants & families
We're partnering with participants, their families and supporters as disability services have transferred from the Victorian Government to Life Without Barriers.
Transferring to Life Without Barriers
Transferring to Life Without Barriers
The National Disability insurance Scheme (NDIS) is rolling out across Victoria. As part of these changes, some disability services in selected areas of Greater Melbourne have transferred from the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to us, Life Without Barriers. This means that Life Without Barriers is the new service provider in certain locations where Supported Independent Living (group accommodation) and Short Term Accommodation and Assistance (respite support) is provided.
Life Without Barriers is a registered NDIS provider and has been providing disability services for almost 30 years. We are committed to being respectful, responsive, and most of all, to building positive relationships. Our focus always has, and will continue to be, supporting people achieve their goals.
Frequently asked questions
We understand that you, your family and supporters may have some questions about changing service provider. Below are some answers to some common questions that are accurate as of the 1st of June 2019. If you have any other questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Life Without Barriers (LWB)
Can you help with the NDIS?
Yes we can! We were involved in the first NDIS trial sites in 2013 and since then, have supported over 1000 people to transition to the NDIS. Our teams in Victoria have extensive knowledge and experience with the scheme and look forward to working with you to help you understand, navigate, and maximise the benefits of the NDIS.
What can we expect will change in the longer term?
We will take time to get to know you and to understand what you expect from us. As we get to know you, you can share with us what changes you would like to see (if any), including what goals you want to plan for.
Where are your offices?
The Victorian Disability Accommodation Supports (VDAS) Office is in Canterbury, which you can call on (03) 9245 2700, or visit Level 1, Suite 2, 15-17 Shierlaw Avenue.
We also have well-established offices across Melbourne, including Dandenong, Epping and Richmond.
Why was my support service transferred from the Victorian Government's Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHS)?
As you may already know, there are some changes happening to disability services all across Australia, which will help improve the services available and give people more choice. This change is part of the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It means that your group accommodation support provided in the house where you live has transferred from DHHS to Life Without Barriers.
What is your experience with disability support services in Victoria?
Life Without Barriers (LWB) has been providing group accommodation and individual support packages (ISPs) for people with disability in Victoria for nearly 10 years. Our services are currently located in Melbourne's northern and outer southern suburbs, and we are providing support coordination to around 140 people. Our teams have great experience in delivery and management of disability services and a very strong understanding of the NDIS.
Costs and funding
Does Life Without Barriers charge extra for excursions?
Life Without Barriers provides assistance to participants to access activities in their community according to their choice and personal budget. If an activity in the community has a cost, such as going to the movies, it is expected that the person will pay for this activity as would anyone living in the community. There is no charge added to a person’s household expenses contribution for participation in community activities unless this is pre-arranged, in line with our policy and agreed by everyone in the house.
What does the term “in-kind” support mean?
In-kind support refers to supports that are provided in a person’s plan, where the funding is not flexible and is paid directly to the person’s service provider. Following the transfer from DHHS to Life Without Barriers, we are engaging with participants, their families and staff to prepare SIL Quotes for the NDIA to approve. Once your SL Quote is approved, the in-kind funding that has been in place for support in your home will be replaced with SIL (Supported Independent Living) funding. See question our Supported Independent Living (SIL) FAQ section for further information.
Is there a mobility allowance available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
The Mobility Allowance is not available to people who have transitioned to the NDIS. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will assess a person’s support needs as part of their NDIS planning process and an allocation will be included as part of their NDIS plan, if this is deemed reasonable and necessary by the NDIA.
How do you manage my money for personal spending?
Life Without Barriers will provide support regarding your personal funds only when required and when this has been agreed to with you or your financial administrator. Life Without Barriers has a clear policy and procedure regarding any involvement with your money in order to ensure transparent management of funds, as well as minimising financial risks such as accidental or fraudulent use of a residents' money. Going forward, you and your financial administrator will receive monthly reports on your client personal expenses from Australian Unity, which will help you and your financial administrator to understand how your personal funds are being spent.
Does the Resident Trust Fund through Australian Unity still exist?
Before transfer, your payments for rent, housekeeping and client personal expenses went into a Residents Trust Fund (RTF). This fund was managed by Australian Unity. Now that Life Without Barriers is your service provider, your payments for housekeeping and client personal expenses will still go into an account that Australian Unity will manage. This account will have a new account number, which we will share with you and your financial administrator.
You and your financial administrator will receive monthly reports on your client personal expenses from Australian Unity, which will help you and your financial administrator to understand how your personal funds are being spent.
Including families and supporters
How can my family be confident that you deliver quality services?
We are committed to delivering safe and high quality services and we are regularly reviewed and audited by our funders and regulators. Protecting the human rights and dignity of you and other people we support, as well as preventing abuse, is central to our practice and is non-negotiable. Our approach to creating safe environments is built on open, confident, and trusting relationships with people we support, their families, supporters, our staff, and the community. For more information on how we ensure your safety and quality service, please read our Quality and safeguarding FAQ section.
How do you communicate with families and supporters?
We ensure regular and open communication in relation to the needs of individual residents, by face-to-face meetings, phone, and email.
Life Without Barriers also has a Families and Supporters Reference Group, made up of a representative group of supporters from across the different regions who expressed their interest in the group.
Families and supporters should have also received a Families and Supporters Welcome Pack in the mail, which included a form to send to Life Without Barriers, detailing how they would like to be contacted going forward. Families and supporters can still update their contact details by calling Life Without Barriers on 1800 955 229 or emailing email@example.com.
How can my family contact Life Without Barriers with their questions?
All participants, families, and staff can contact Life Without Barriers with any questions by calling 1800 955 229 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Families may also request a one-on-one meeting if this is how they would like to engage with us. We are very flexible in how we engage with families and really encourage people to contact us.
Do my family and I get a say in how the houses are run?
Absolutely, we view our relationship with families as a partnership. We regularly connect with families to discuss our support services through meetings, by phone, email, and written communication.
Will there be more information sessions for families and supporters?
Participants aged over 65
What about my aids and equipment?
The Victorian Government will continue to provide subsidised items of aids and equipment, including continence products, to people over 65 years of age and people under 65 years of age with health related conditions.
If you already have aids and equipment provided through the Victorian Aids and Equipment Program you can continue to use the items until you either no longer need the item or it no longer meets your needs. In which case, you can apply to the Victorian Aids and Equipment Program for a new or replacement item.
If you need new or different items you can submit an application to the Victorian Aids and Equipment Program.
What is Continuity of Support?
Continuity of Support means older Victorians living with a disability who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will continue to receive disability supports to enable them to stay living where they are. If this applies to you, it means you will continue to get the same services that you receive now.
You can also request a change to your supports through your service provider if your needs change.
Am I eligible for the Continuity of Support (Cos) Program?
To be eligible for the CoS Program, you must be a person with a disability, aged 65 years or over (or 50-64 years if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person), and not have transitioned to the NDIS.
To be eligible, you must also be receiving specialist disability supports in the last 12 months funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Where can I find more information about Continuity of Support?
For more information, visit the Australian Government's online 'Client Handbook' at https://agedcare.health.gov.au/programs/commonwealth-continuity-of-support-programme/client-resources/cos-client-handbook.
What happens if I am over the age of 65?
If you were over 65 at the time of transfer, and had not transitioned to the NDIS, your supports will be funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) under a scheme called Continuity of Support (CoS), which enables you to stay supported in your home. If you had already transitioned to the NDIS before turning 65, you can either choose to continue to be supported by the NDIS, or you may choose to move to aged care supports at any time.
Quality and safeguarding
Who checks that quality services are delivered every day? How often do managers visit my house?
There are a number of people and organisations who check that quality services are being provided. These include our own Life Without Barriers managers who will visit on a very regular basis, as well as official Community Visitors, who report to the Office of the Public Advocate.
How do you fix issues that existed before the transfer, such as poor staff performance?
We have been regularly communicating and consulting with staff, including House Supervisors and Operations Managers, to understand and identify any issues of concern that we may need to consider, which ultimately informs how we address existing issues.
We have also worked closely with the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU), as we recognise the importance of maintaining an effective, positive, and harmonious professional relationship with employee representatives, which supports the delivery of quality services to participants.
We also worked closely with the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to establish protocols for managing any issues such as staff underperformance.
What systems are in place to ensure that I am safe and quality services are delivered?
Life Without Barriers complies with all of the Victorian Government and National Disability Insurance Scheme's (NDIS) certification, registration, screening, safeguarding, and reporting requirements. These include:
- Robust screening and reference checking of all new staff including the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (DWES) and the new Code of Conduct for Disability Workers
- Client Incident Management System (CIMS)
- Strong practice governance and use of the Restrictive Interventions Data System (RIDS)
- Complaints management system
- Close work with the Office of Disability Services Commissioner
- Close work with the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) including the Community Visitor's Program
- Workplace Health and Safety and Injury management system
- Comprehensive induction and training program for staff
- Policies and procedures relating to our service delivery that comply with all of the requirements, including staff training in these
- Close work with advocacy organisations
Does Life Without Barriers have a process for when items go missing?
Yes. If an item belonging to you goes missing, this should be reported to your House Supervisor. If the item cannot be located and it went missing in the house or while Life Without Barriers staff were providing support, the House Supervisor will be required to lodge a report in our incident system. Depending on the item and the circumstances surrounding it going missing, an investigation may be required. If you are unhappy with the outcome of a report of a missing item, you should follow our complaints process.
How do investigations work at Life Without Barriers?
Incidents are reported via our Incident Reporting system (i-Sight). This system notifies various levels of management depending on the nature of the incident for required action. Where required, we will conduct an internal investigation by staff who are part of an investigation team but who do not work in or report to disability services. In some circumstances, we will engage an external investigator to conduct the investigation. Whether it is an internal or external investigation, we will ensure it is a thorough and transparent process that leads to a finding that will be communicated to relevant people. We will also ensure the outcome is fair and meets our obligations, which promotes continuous improvement.
Who is accountable for the safety of participants?
Now that you have transferred to Life Without Barriers, we are responsible for your safety and wellbeing, as your new provider.
On a day to day basis, House Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that support is provided in line with each person’s plan and that all relevant policies and procedures are understood and followed. These include things such as medication management, vehicle safety, restrictive practices, incident reporting, and complaint management. House Supervisors and their teams working in the houses are provided with training and support to understand and meet these obligations.
Who do I speak to if I am unhappy about the way you are running a house?
If you are unhappy with the way your house is running, we have an easy way for you to access our complaints process.
Firstly, where possible, we encourage you to raise your concern with the House Supervisor or your Key Worker. If the issue is not resolved in a way that you are comfortable with, then you can raise the concern with a more senior manager.
You, your family or supporters may also call Life Without Barriers on 1800 955 229, if you wish to make a complaint. This information is available in each house and also includes contact details of advocacy organisations and the Disability Services Commissioner.
We see complaints, compliments and feedback as an opportunity to understand the experience of the people we support and to continuously improve our approach and practice.
Supported Independent Living (SIL) – in home support
How does board and lodging work at Life Without Barriers?
The NDIS requires a separation of accommodation (rent) and support. This means that instead of one payment for ‘board and lodging’, your rent and housekeeping will now be paid separately. Rent is to be paid to your Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) provider (DHHS or Housing Choices), while housekeeping and client personal expenses is to be paid to your service provider (Life Without Barriers).
In other words, your money will now be divided into two payments – one payment for rent, then one combined payment for housekeeping and your client personal expenses.
Rent covers the cost to live in the house that your SDA provider owns, while the board contribution fee covers housekeeping, utilities and whitegoods. The housekeeping component covers all general living expenses including, food, waste collection, cleaning, kitchen appliances, plus the repair and replacement of household items. Your client personal expenses includes all personal products, activities or entertainment beyond your basic needs, such as toiletries, new clothing, gifts, hairdressing services, going to the movies and taxi fares.
Life Without Barriers will work with you and your financial administrator to help you put in place a direct debit arrangement, for the amount of money you need to pay for housekeeping and client personal expenses. This means the money you owe will be automatically transferred from your nominated bank account to Life Without Barriers, so you won’t have to remember when payments are due and it will be the same amount each time.
Will I still be able to do the things I enjoy and go to places I want to visit?
Absolutely! Our approach at Life Without Barriers is to partner with each person to support them to live the life they choose and achieve their goals.
Can I move house if I want to?
The NDIS offers greater choice and control for people, including where they live and who provides their support. If one of your goals is to move to a different accommodation arrangement, we can support you to explore the available options and move when you find somewhere that is right for you.
Do I need a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Service Agreement/ Residential Statement for the Supported Independent Living (SIL) service?
Yes, you do. Every participant should have received a Residential Statement at the time of transfer. An NDIS Service Agreement for Supported Independent Living (known as SIL), which is the support in your home, will be put in place once the funding for SIL is provided through the NDIS, rather than the in-kind funding that you received through DHHS.
Where is management for Plenty Residential Services (PRS) located? Does the administrative building still exist?
The relevant senior managers for Plenty Residential Services (PRS) are based at either Plenty Residential Services in Bundoora or at the Life Without Barriers office in Epping. The administrative building at PRS will now be known as the Bundoora office and is a shared space with DHHS.
When will my SIL Quote be prepared?
Life Without Barriers will prepare a SIL Quote for transferred participants later in 2019.
Your in-kind funding will continue until it is replaced by funding from the NDIA, which is based on your approved SIL Quote. Life Without Barriers will keep you, your family and supporters up to date on what the process is when the time comes.
What's the difference between a SIL Quote and a SIL Quote Pack?
Every person receiving SIL funding requires a SIL Quote, which is an important document that includes key information and evidence about your support needs at home, and how much funding is required to support you.
Your SIL Quote will be submitted to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) with a series of other important documents that support your SIL Quote, which is called a SIL Quote Pack. There will be one SIL Quote Pack per household. Your SIL Quote Pack will include:
- Your SIL Quote, which Life Without Barriers will submit to the NDIA with SIL Quotes for every other person living in your house
- A Roster of Care for the house that you live in, which will be created by Life Without Barriers
- A floor plan of the house that you live in
- An hourly breakdown of the support required for you and every person living in your house
- Evidence to support why such services are required
What’s the process for arranging a SIL Quote?
Now you have transferred from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to Life Without Barriers, we will prepare a SIL Quote with you, your staff, family and supporters. This process may include discussions with you, your family and supporters, about your goals and support needs at home. Using the information shared with us, Life Without Barriers will prepare your initial SIL Quote. This information will be checked by your staff and several Life Without Barriers teams to make sure all information is accurate and adheres to guidelines from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Once it is completed, we will send it to the NDIA for assessment and approval. After it has been approved, you will receive SIL funding and the necessary support in your home. This will replace the in-kind funding for support at home in your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Plan.
How are resident vacancies managed? How do you assess the compatibility of residents? Does Life Without Barriers fill all vacancies in houses, even if it has the potential to cause issues?
We understand just how important it is for people to feel comfortable about who they live with. We manage vacancies in partnership with the SDA providers and in line with the new NDIS requirements and the DHHS Vacancy Management process. This includes ensuring a standardised approach such as declaring and advertising the vacancy, then assessing the applications based on likely compatibility. We support decision making by arranging meetings and visits so that applicants have an opportunity to meet with people living at the house before a final offer is made and communicated.
How is Supported Independent Living (SIL) funding decided?
Now you have transferred to Life Without Barriers, we will prepare a SIL Quote with you, your staff, and family and supporters. This quote includes important information and evidence about your support needs at home. Once finalised, we will submit the quote to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) for consideration and approval. Once the NDIA approves the quote, the support in your home will be provided through the SIL funding. This will be reviewed on an annual basis or if your needs change.
Who do I speak to if I am unhappy in my house?
Firstly, where possible, we encourage you to raise your concern with the House Supervisor or your Key Worker. If the issue is not resolved in a way that you are comfortable with, then you can raise the concern with a more senior manager.
You may also call 1800 955 229 if you wish to make a complaint. This information is made available in each house and also includes the details of advocacy organisations and the Disability Services Commissioner.
We see complaints, compliments, and feedback as an opportunity to understand the experience of the people we support and to continuously improve our approach and practice.
Short Term Accommodationand Assistance (STAA) – respite support
Can I still receive the same number of respite days that I got with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (which may be over the 28 day cap)?
We will work with you to review your respite requirements and identify what is available through your NDIS funding.
How do I make a respite booking?
Initially, in the same way that you currently make bookings. In time, we will review the booking system to see if it can be improved.
Will my respite bookings be honoured?
Yes, your current bookings will be honoured. Before your current bookings end, we will work with you to determine your future respite needs, based on your NDIS plan and funding.
Can I choose my own support coordinator?
With the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), you can choose what service provider will provide your support coordinator. This means that you can choose any support coordination service operating in your area. Life Without Barriers does provide support coordination services in Victoria and has a team of experienced support coordinators who will be happy to provide this service, if Life Without Barriers is the provider of your choice.
How does Life Without Barriers recruit and ensure quality skilled staff?
We have a National Recruitment team with people based in Victoria. Our recruitment and selection processes for disability staff include online and face-to-face interviews with a panel, comprehensive reference checking, and evidence of required qualifications and training. We comply with relevant legislation, licensing, and accreditation requirements.
Are the former Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) staff happy about the transfer?
The overall feedback that we have received from staff since transferring, is that they are very positive and excited about working with Life Without Barriers. We will continue to provide updates and answer questions from staff, to ensure minimal disruption.
What is your approach to minimising casual or unfamiliar agency staff and ensuring there is a consistent and trained casual pool?
We have worked closely with DHHS to understand how the casual pool operated and was managed prior to transfer, to ensure consistency going forward.
Our staff rostering platform, called Workforce Connect, works with On Call and Care Choice agencies for casual staff, who are familiar with former DHHS group homes. Workforce Connect also allows staff to identify when there is preferred casual staff to fill a vacant shift, who are contacted first when a shift is available.
We have also conducted two rounds of casual staff recruitment to maintain casual workforce numbers. All staff have received inductions and ongoing learning and development, ensuring we meet our industrial obligations to recruit, induct and train employees who are equipped with the appropriate skills and knowledge to provide quality support to participants.
Do you have on-call, after hours support staff for weekends and after hours? If so, how does this work?
As we provide 24/7 support, it is essential that we have an effective on-call system for after hours to respond to incidents and emergencies and provide advice and support to staff and participants. Our on-call system has been in place from day 1, where the Operations Manager for each house is rostered for on-call. The phone number to contact the relevant Operations Manager is available in each house.
How do you ensure I have staff with the right expertise?
If there are any staffing vacancies in your house during the first two years of the transfer, we will work closely with DHHS to ensure the right staff with the right skills, experience, and values are recruited. Your staff were provided with training prior to the transfer, which will continue through an individual learning plan that will be reviewed annually.
Is there roster flexibility to respond to sudden events that come up?
We are working with transferred staff to understand what flexibility is built in to rosters to enable this to happen. We are also working to ensure our workforce profile supports the flexibility that is required.
Supporting participants with complex needs
How do you support me if I have no family to access advocacy?
We see access to independent advocacy as a vital component of our safeguarding framework and we work closely with advocacy organisations such as VALID, to ensure people receive support to develop their self-advocacy skills. Each house has details of advocacy organisations and staff are trained to understand the importance of independent advocates and welcome their involvement.
How do you make sure my complex needs are supported properly?
We are experienced at providing support to people with a diverse range of needs, including people with complex communication or health needs, significant behaviours of concern, degenerative conditions, and ageing. We recognise that some people require specialised approaches to support them and our approach is to listen, understand, and adapt our supports to meet these needs by involving our own specialists and partnering specialist services.
How do you cater to my dietary needs?
We understand that the people we support may have dietary needs, above and beyond the need for a balanced diet. We work with you, your family, and your health professionals to understand your dietary needs, then support our staff teams to implement these requirements and recommendations.
How do you ensure services are tailored to my individual needs?
Providing individually tailored, person-centred supports is at the centre of our approach. This includes quality planning, regular communication, and working in partnership with each person and their support network. As you transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), your needs and goals will be individually assessed to create a support plan that is tailored to you.
What happens if I am over the age of 65?
If you were over 65 at the time of transfer, and had not transitioned to the NDIS, your supports will be funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under a scheme called Continuity of Support (CoS). In this case, you do not need to move out of your home at this time, unless you choose to do so. If you had already transitioned to the NDIS before turning 65, you can either choose to continue to be supported by the NDIS, or choose to move to aged care supports at any time.
Read our Participants over 65 FAQ section for more information.
My house doesn't have a bus so I often have to pay for taxis. Can you fix that?
The Individual Transport Statement provided to each resident by DHHS is our starting point to identify how your previous transport arrangements worked. Through this, we will be able to explore whether there is a better option.
Before the transfer, my house had access to government cars on the weekend. Why has this stopped?
While government cars are no longer available since the transfer, we are working with participants, their families and supporters to arrange alternative transport solutions that fill the gap.
What are the transport arrangements for each group home?
Transport arrangements are met in line with every person’s Individual Transport Statement.
Do I get the same access to transport as I got from DHHS?
Every person’s transport arrangements with DHHS was recorded in an important document called an Individual Transport Statement. A copy of your Individual Transport Statement would have been sent to you, your family or supporters, as well as us, Life Without Barriers.
We use your Individual Transport Statement so that we know what transport services you accessed and how we can continue meeting your transport needs.
In other words, Life Without Barriers is committed to providing you the same access to transport arrangements that DHHS did, as outlined in your Individual Transport Statement.
We understand how important it is for participants to have access to the transport they need to achieve their goals.
Life Without Barriers was selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide support services to people in areas of Greater Melbourne.
Life Without Barriers now provides disability support services in the following suburbs of Melbourne.
North Eastern Melbourne
South and South Eastern Melbourne
St Kilda East
Box Hill North
Box Hill South
Mont Albert North
- Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announce disability services will transfer to Life Without Barriers
- Life Without Barriers visit participants, families and supporters in Eastern Melbourne
- Participants in Eastern Melbourne receive their Welcome Pack in the mail
Got a question? Contact us!
If you have any questions about the transfer of your services, you can contact Life Without Barriers by phone or email.
Call 1800 955 229 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If calling outside of these hours, leave a message and one of our friendly team members will get back to you.
Otherwise, email email@example.com and we will reply as soon as possible.