The LWB Story - It's a Wrap

4 July 2018

As they say in the movies – “It’s a Wrap!” Over 650 Life Without Barriers Staff, Clients, Carers & Supporter Workers, Board Members, Business Partners, Community Partners and members of the community enjoyed recent screenings of The LWB Story cinemas across the country in Alice Springs, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Darwin.

Image: Board Chair Terry Lawler and Chief Executive Claire Robbs at the Newcastle screening of the LWB Story

From humble beginnings back in 1995, supporting a small number of people with disability in Newcastle, Life Without Barriers has grown to become one of Australia’s largest social purpose organisations supporting individuals and communities who have otherwise felt marginalised. The LWB Story is a documentary film chronicling and celebrating the first 25 years of Life Without Barriers. 

Life Without Barriers now employees more than 5,600 staff and support more than 18,000 people from diverse community groups across the country. We have grown exponentially while staying true to our original compassionate, respectful and empowering vision – to partner with people to help change lives for the better.

We want to acknowledge all of those interviewed for this film, all 110 people in 45 different locations to be exact, for donating their time, for sharing their stories, experiences and preparing to be vulnerable to help us make The LWB Story. While not everyone interviewed is included in the film, all of their personal stories struck a powerful chord.

Over the years, Life Without Barriers emerged from a passionate commitment to break down barriers and create opportunity for people with disability, and later, children in out-of-home care, people living with mental health challenges, asylum seekers and refugees, and older Australians.

Here are some of the highlights from the State and Territory screenings below.

Alice Springs Screening – 23rd May 2018

The LWB Story screening was held at the Araluen Arts Centre on Wednesday 23rd May in Alice Springs. The event was a huge success with a total of 60 clients and staff attending. The energy in the theatre was unforgettable when the clients saw themselves and their fellow LWB friends and staff on the big screen! Everybody's excitement and joy was beautiful and felt by all. The feedback from staff was very positive – they were very excited to learn about the different innovative services we offer across Australia.

Brisbane Screening – 25th May 2018

With more than 120 attendees from all over the south east corner, New Farm's very trendy retro cinema was jumping with choc tops, popcorn and an abundance of good will last Friday. Queensland State Director Helena Holdaway took to the proscenium arch to introduce special guests, Song woman Aunty Maroochy did an incredibly moving Welcome to Country, words of welcome and thanks from Aunty Peggy Tidyman, and a special appearance from one of the 'stars' of the movie, LWB client Shaun McKee, who has won gold, silver or bronze in a world games or Olympic capacity in more than 12 sporting disciplines. He's a champion - and as we watched his, and all of our other champions from the 25 year story of our organisation unfold, everyone crossed the finish line of the movie with total pride. 

Perth Screening – 29th May 2018

The hotly anticipated Perth premiere of The LWB Story was held on Tuesday 29th May at The Backlot Studios, a private, boutique, 50-seat cinema in West Perth. Staff were treated to an intimate viewing experience, kicked off by a Welcome to Country from Matthew McGuire of the Whudjuk Noongar nation, who played the boomerang clapsticks and thanked LWB staff for the work they do for Aboriginal people in WA. WA State Director, Jennie Burns, provided some brief words on finding your “Why” at LWB and how opportunities like this provided LWB staff to reflect on some of the good work that they do, after which everyone happily settled down with a choc top and a bag of popcorn to watch the film. Feedback on the event was extremely positive and appearances of current LWB staff were met with clapping and cheers. From all accounts, staff old and new found it to be an inspiring event and a great opportunity to meet their peers in a more relaxed environment.

Sydney Screening – 30th May 2018

The Sydney premiere of the much anticipated screening of The LWB Story was held last night 30th May at Broadway Hoyts cinema. Despite the rain, it was wonderful to see the cinema buzzing with over 60 Life Without Barriers staff from all over Sydney, even Wollongong and key external stakeholders from the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies, Adopt Change, Maxxia, NAB, Volkswagen, PWC, KPMG, Weave, Westpac and special guest Mark Tonga, Chair of Disability Council NSW. Staff were fortunate to be able to speak with to the very talented Vincent Tay from award-winning Roar Footage team who was instrumental in bringing The LWB Story to life. Comfortable in the newly renovated theatre with boxes of popcorn, choc tops and drinks the night began with an amazing and moving welcome to country by Uncle Allen Madden. New South Wales State Director Rod Best hosted the lovely night introducing our 25 year journey and was followed by special words and reflections from LWB Board member Graeme Innes AM.

The feedback from everyone was phenomenal. Staff thought it was wonderful to see all the diverse projects that other states and territories work on, and were inspired to incorporate them in NSW. New staff members found it to be the perfect way to induct them into the LWB culture and external guests were so impressed and moved by our story that some were happy to stay well after the screening to learn more!

Canberra Screening – 31th May 2018

On 31st May, the Canberra screening of The LWB Story took place in the comfy Hoyts Cinema in Woden. There were 35 people in attendance – mostly LWB staff and support workers.  Peter Dahl, ACT Territory Director, provided context for the film and how DUO has been integrating into the Life Without Barriers over the past 11 months. Many people came away from the screening commenting that they didn’t previously know much about Life Without Barriers and the extent of the work that LWB was doing across the country, and were inspired by some of the stories in the film.

Melbourne Screening – 12th June 2018

Around 50 people settled into Cinema 1 at ACMI in Melbourne on 12 June to watch The LWB Story. Special guest Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Ian Hunter welcomed us to the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation with stories and a song. The night was masterfully MC’d by Uli Kaplan who is a member of LWB’s Disability Services Advisory Council (DSAC) and a staff member at our Epping office. In the audience were staff from all over Melbourne and their family members, foster carers and members of DSAC and other people we support. Each guest was treated to popcorn and choc tops as we watched the movie on the big screen. Movie goers were delighted and inspired the whole way through – audience members cheered with excitement when they spotted the familiar faces of their colleagues and clients on the screen.

It was a fantastic night and a great excuse for people from all over the Victorian team to get together and celebrate why it’s great to be a part of LWB.

Newcastle Screening – 14th June 2018

June 14th on the cold Newcastle night was a special one! Over 160 people came along to the beautiful vintage Tower Cinemas to see the Newie premiere of The LWB Story. Joining us for the screening was Life Without Barriers Chair Terry Lawler and Chief Executive Claire Robbs. Terry shared some inspiring words and personal reflections as one of the original founders of Life Without Barriers. They were joined in the front row by LWB Board Member Tracey McCosker and Executive Director of Corporate Services and Finance, John O’Connor. Ray Kelly Jr did a beautiful Welcome to Country from the Awabakal people.

Most importantly, we joined in the spiritual home of Life Without Barriers – Newcastle – by Director of Values, Loretta Perry. The LWB Story was thanks to her. It has been her passion project and for all of us to view it on the big screen along with Loretta was a moving and special moment.

Also in attendance – a number of partners from FaCS, CSA, Core Project, Viatek, Real Futures and GWG and Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club – who were clearly blown away by the passionate commitment LWB demonstrates to caring for vulnerable populations. The end of the film was marked with a loud round of applause and inspired chatter about all of the amazing work Life Without Barriers does across the country.

Adelaide Screening – 14th June 2018

The 14th June was the long awaited South Australian screening of the LWB Story, held at Hoyts Norwood Cinema. It was a wonderful evening, with everyone in attendance – staff, clients and VIP guests alike - thoroughly enjoying the documentary. The trio of popcorn, choc tops and soft drinks went down a treat with everyone in attendance! Local Elder, Lewis O’Brien opened proceedings delivering the Welcome to Country, followed by an introduction to LWB and the documentary from State Director, Sue Thomas, and LWB Board Member Jan Lowe. 

Many people were overwhelmed by the movie (in a positive way!) and we received excellent feedback and comments after the screening, including “I was quite emotional”, “very inspiring”, “makes me proud to be working at LWB” and “I didn’t realise all of the services that are operational in other states…maybe we could have those services here?” All in all a wonderfully inspiring evening!

Darwin Screening – 3rd July 2018

On Tuesday 3rd July, over 60 people attended the Darwin screening of The LWB Story at the Gateway Cinema in Palmerston. With their popcorn and ice cream in hand, external stakeholders, staff, clients and community participants mingled and chatted, exchanging stories on what Life Without Barriers means to them and how it’s services have assisted in their everyday lives, before moving in to the cinema to watch the screening. Damien Mick, NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiatives Lead, took to the stage to introduce the film and offer the Acknowledgement of Country. Following the film, Larrakia Elder, Jeanneen McLennan, delivered an engaging and moving closing with an official Welcome to Country.

The feedback received after the screening was wonderful. Everybody found the film extremely moving and many commented that they were interested to see the different programs which Life Without Barriers offered across the country.