A small island with big plans for people with disability

17 June 2021

How a training initiative has inspired positive momentum in the community.

Image: Lleyton, Chad and Jayden standing in front of a Norfolk Island Airport sign.

The Life Without Barriers story is one of connection. It was founded on a core mission to connect people with a disability to vital and quality services they may not have otherwise had access to before. The aim was simple, allow people with a disability to enjoy a full and rich life and become the master of their destiny. The journey not only has the potential to transform the individual, but also the communities they are part of. When important services reach remote areas, it’s a shared victory for all, as Norfolk Islanders can attest.

Norfolk Island is a tiny rocky outcrop around 1600km east of the East Coast of Australia, a territory with a distinct identity and the kind of place you can still track down a phone number by looking up a first name (usually a nickname) in the phone directory.

The locals know one another and look after one another, but the level of support for people with a disability is one area that has needed attention. Although the NDIS has been available to locals such as Lleyton Clark and Jayden McGowan, they haven’t been able to get access to the level of care they need, until now.

The funding has also made the recruitment of disability support workers a reality for the Islanders, enabling carers such as Chad Pettet to forge a new career path. He was one of five locals awarded a scholarship for a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) making him a fully qualified disability support worker.

He has been supporting Lleyton and Jayden for almost three years now and describes the relationship between the three as kinship, with

“Plenty of laughs and all the banter that goes on.”

The training initiative has inspired positive momentum in the community. Two locals who heard about the scheme immediately saw the value of funding themselves to obtain carer credentials. It signals the growing recognition of disability support as a career path and its evident that great services are also a powerful connector for communities.

They bring people together, and they bring people who were otherwise marginalised into the broader fabric of the community. They allow us all to belong.

Norfolk Islander Chad Pettet says the journey to become a support worker has been an empowering experience, “the training and skills I have learned means the people I help understand my role, which is supporting them to make the choices and go from there. As a career, it’s just so rewarding and encouraging that I’ve got the knowledge base to be able to, I guess, go beyond the barriers.”

Image via Link Disability Magazine.

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