Participants & families
We're looking forward to partnering with participants, their families and supporters as disability services transfer from the Victorian Government to Life Without Barriers in 2019.
Transferring to Life Without Barriers
Transferring to Life Without Barriers
The National Disability insurance Scheme (NDIS) is now rolling out across Victoria. As part of these changes, some disability services in selected areas of Greater Melbourne will transfer from the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to us, Life Without Barriers. This means that Life Without Barriers will become 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 18 March 2019.
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 around 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 is going to change immediately after the transfer?
From the day of transfer we become your new service provider and we begin our direct relationship with you. This means that any day-to-day issues, questions, concerns, or feedback about support arrangements will be directed to us in the first instance, rather than DHHS. Transferring DHHS staff will operate under Life Without Barriers' management and will be provided with an induction and training prior to the transfer.
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.
What will the first day after the transfer look like?
Just the same, really. Your current staff will be providing support and you won't notice anything different except some new branding around the house, such as handbooks and notices with the 'Life Without Barriers' name on them. We will respond to any concerns or feedback you have (rather than DHHS), and we will be responsible for managing and reporting any incidents that occur.
Why is my support service being 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 will transfer from DHHS to Life Without Barriers (LWB).
Where will your offices be?
We have well-established offices in Dandenong, Epping and Richmond, and we are setting up a new office in Canterbury in the eastern suburbs.
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 LWB charge extra for excursions?
LWB 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 will be 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, LWB will be engaging with participants, their families and staff to prepare SIL quotes for the NDIA to approve. Once your SIL 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 Housing FAQ section for further information.
What happens to the mobility allowance? Is this no longer available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
The Mobility Allowance will not be available to people who have transitioned to the NDIS. The NDIS 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 will you manage my money for personal spending?
Life Without Barriers (LWB) will provide support regarding your personal funds only when required and when this has been agreed to with you or your financial guardian. LWB 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. We are currently reviewing the DHHS Client Expenditure Recording System (CERS) to identify what parts of this system need to remain and what will change. We will make sure we let you know about any changes to this as soon as possible.
Will the Resident Trust Fund through Australian Unity still exist?
LWB is currently reviewing the Client Expenses Recording System (CERS) and will be providing more information about this as soon as the details are available.
Including families and supporters
How do you communicate with families?
We ensure regular and open communication in relation to the needs of individual residents, both face-to-face and by phone. Some houses have groups of families who also arrange regular meetings with LWB staff. Any significant changes are communicated in writing.
How can my family be confident that you will 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 control FAQ section.
How can my family contact LWB with their questions?
All participants, families, and staff can contact LWB with any questions they may have 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.
Will 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 resident meetings, by phone, and written communication.
Will there be more information sessions for families who could not attend previous events?
We haven't arranged any more group information sessions, but we are very keen to meet with as many families as possible to talk about the transfer. If you or a group of families wants to meet with us, please call 1800 955 229 or email email@example.com.
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 your supports through your service provider if your needs change after your transition.
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 does the transfer mean if I am over the age of 65?
If you are over 65 at the time of transfer, and have 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 have 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 will be checking that quality services are delivered every day? How often will managers visit my house?
There are a number of people and organisations who will be checking that quality services are being provided. These include our own LWB managers who will visit on a very regular basis, as well as official Community Visitors who report to the Office of the Public Advocate.
Will you fix existing issues, such as poor staff performance?
We will be 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 will ultimately inform how we will address existing issues. .
We will work 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 ultimately supports the delivery of quality services to participants.
We will also be working 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 (LWB) 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
How do investigations work in LWB?
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.
Does LWB have a process in place 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 whilst LWB 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.
Who is accountable for the Safety of Clients after the transfer?
After the transfer, the safety and wellbeing of participants will be the responsibility of Life Without Barriers, 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 a 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 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.
Supported Independent Living (SIL) – in home support
How does Board and Lodging work at LWB?
The NDIS requires a separation of accommodation and support. This means a separation of board and lodging payments, with rent being collected by the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) provider(this will be DHHS in most cases), and a contribution for utilities, housekeeping and furniture and white goods replacement to be collected by the Supported Independent Living (SIL) provider (this will be Life Without Barriers). We are currently reviewing the DHHS arrangements and our arrangements for this and will be developing a new process to meet the NDIS requirements. We will make sure we let you know the details of these new arrangements as soon as possible.
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 (LWB) 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.
Will I need a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Service Agreement/ Residential Statement for the Supported Independent Living (SIL) service?
Yes, you will - a Residential Statement will be prepared in time for the 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 currently in place through DHHS.
How will my personal belongings be managedduring the transfer?
Your personal belongings remain yours. The ownership of any DHHS-owned specialised equipment that is required to meet your individual needs will be transferred either to LWB or you. These will be included in an inventory of personal belongings and specialised equipment currently being developed by DHHS, and will be kept at your house at the time of transfer.
Where will management be located for Plenty Residential Services (PRS)? Will the administrative building continue to exist?
The relevant senior managers for Plenty Residential Services will be based either at Plenty Residential Services in Bundoora or at the LWB office in Epping. Over the next couple of months, we will be working closely with DHHS to understand the current use of the PRS administration building and identify what are the best future arrangements for this.
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 will be submitted to the NDIA by Life Without Barriers 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
When will my SIL Quote be prepared?
Life Without Barriers will prepare a SIL Quote for transferring participants after the transfer in 2019.
There is no need to worry about SIL Quotes until you have transferred to LWB, as your in-kind funding will continue until this is replaced by funding from the NDIA which is based on your approved SIL Quote. We will keep you and your family and supporters up to date on what the process is when the time comes.
What's the process for arranging a SIL Quote?
Once you transfer from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to Life Without Barriers (LWB) in 2019, we will prepare a SIL Quote with you, your staff, family and supporters. This process will begin with a meeting between LWB, you, your family and supporters to discuss your goals and your support needs at your home. Using the information that you and your family and supporters share with us, LWB will prepare your initial SIL Quote. This information will be checked by your staff and several LWB 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 that is currently in your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Plan.
How will resident vacancies be managed? How will you assess the compatibility of residents? Will LWB fill all vacancies in houses even if this 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 will 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?
Once you transfer 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 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
Will I still receive the same number of respite days that I get 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 (LWB) does provide support coordination services in Victoria and has a team of experienced support coordinators who will be happy to provide this service, if LWB is the provider of your choice.
How does LWB 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 Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) staff happy about the transfer?
We were excited to meet with many transferring DHHS staff at 'meet and greet' sessions, which were held during September. We were able to provide information about Life Without Barriers and answer many questions that staff had about the transfer. The feedback that we have had is that many staff are very positive and excited about the transfer. In the months leading up to the transfer, we will continue to provide updates and answer questions, so we can reassure everyone that the transfer will be a smooth and positive one, with minimal disruption.
In my group home there is a staff member called a 'key worker' who makes sure my family member's plans are up to date, appointments are booked etc. Will you have a similar system?
Yes, we will keep these arrangements in place where they are working well for you and your family member.
What is your approach to minimising casual or unfamiliar agency staff and ensuring there is a consistent and trained casual pool?
We are currently working closely with DHHS to understand how the casual pool operates and how it is managed. From there we will make an informed decision in relation to what processes, systems and structures we need to implement to establish an effective casual pool.
We understand that continuity of service is important to participants, and so we have this as a priority in how we think about planning in relation to the workforce. Furthermore, we will be working closely with DHHS to understand how recruitment works now, staff induction and ongoing learning and development, so we can ensure we meet our industrial obligations, and that we are able to continue to recruit, induct and train employees who are equipped with the appropriate skills and knowledge to provide quality services 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. We will have an on-call system in place from day 1 of the transfer and are working with DHHS to understand how the current system works.
How will you ensure I have staff with the right expertise?
Your current staff are transferring with you. 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 transferring staff will be provided with training prior to the transfer and on an ongoing basis, through an individual learning plan that will be reviewed annually.
Will there be roster flexibility to respond to sudden events that come up?
We will work with the transferring staff to understand what flexibility is built in to rosters to enable this to happen. We will also ensure that our workforce profile supports the flexibility that is required.
Supporting participants with complex needs
How will 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 will 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 will 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 will 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.
Will you ensure services are tailored to my individual needs?
Yes, 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 we support your 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 are over 65 at the time of transfer, and have 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 have 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.
My house doesn't have a bus so I often have to pay for taxis. Can you fix that?
The Transport Statement provided to each resident by DHHS will be a starting point to identify how your current transport arrangements are working. Through this, we will be able to explore whether there is a better option.
What transport arrangements for each group home will be in place?
Transport arrangements will continue to be met in line with everyone's Transport Statement.
My house has access to government cars on the weekend. Will this continue?
While government cars will not be available after the transfer, we will work with participants and their families to arrange an alternative transport solution that fills the gap.
Will I get the same access to transport as I do now?
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is developing a Transport Statement for each participant, which outlines the current transport arrangements. This statement will be provided to each person, their family, and a copy will be provided to us and kept in the house. The statement provides a basis for understanding everyone's current transport arrangements and will enable us to ensure transport services continue to be met in line with our obligations to you.
Life Without Barriers has been selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide support services to people in areas of Greater Melbourne.
From April 2019, Life Without Barriers will provide 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply as soon as possible.