Media Release Date: 14 May 2009
A new type of supported housing for people with a mild intellectual disability is to be built in Goulburn by The Abbeyfield Society with support from the NSW Government.
Minister for Disability Services Paul Lynch said the NSW Government would provide $500,000 to the Goulburn branch of The Abbeyfield Society to buy the property where the new house will be built.
The patron of the Abbeyfield Goulburn group, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Senator Ursula Stephens, welcomed the announcement as a great initiative and investment in the Goulburn community.
“The Abbeyfield house in Goulburn will provide the right mix of independence and a supportive environment for individuals with mild disability. This type of accommodation empowers individuals to live full lives within the community,” Dr Stephens said.
The Abbeyfield model, which was pioneered in England in the 1950s, provides accommodation support for older people with limited income and few assets who want to retain their independence but who enjoy the company and security of others.
This model has been expanded in recent years to meet the needs of people with a disability.
Mr Lynch said the people who would live in the Goulburn house would have low to moderate support needs.
“The Abbeyfield model does not replicate any accommodation types currently provided for people with a disability in New South Wales,” he said.
He said the model was in line with the policy of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) to increase the range and type of services available and to promote opportunities for people to integrate into the community.
“Under the Abbeyfield model, group accommodation is provided for up to 10 people,” Mr Lynch said.
Country Labor MLC for Goulburn Mick Veitch said the Abbeyfield model allowed each person to have a private bed-sitting room with an en-suite which they furnish themselves.
“Residents prepare their own breakfast and a housekeeper prepares the two main meals of the day, a service paid for by weekly contributions from the residents,” Mr Veitch said.
Mr Lynch said the success of the service was reliant on informal supports provided by family and community members.
“Abbeyfield has established a strong reputation around the world. It has more than 1000 houses in the United Kingdom and houses in 18 countries, including Australia,” Mr Lynch said.
“The Government is keen to support this project because it sees the introduction of this form of housing as being a real benefit for the community,” he said.
The Abbeyfield Society Goulburn Branch Chair Tony Egan said the funding was “fantastic” news for the group, which had been working towards the establishment of the house since it had been formed six years ago.
“Housing for people with a severe to profound intellectual disability is readily available, but there are few options for young adults with a mild to moderate intellectual disability,” he said.
“Moving from the family home to single unit accommodation can be daunting for these young adults, especially those who live outside of town on a rural property,” Mr Egan said.
“By living in the Abbeyfield type of housing with people of their own age and with similar desires, they will gain the confidence they need to integrate into the wider community,” he said.
Mr Egan said his organisation appreciated the role played by DADHC, which had suggested the formation of the group several years ago.
Dr Stephens said: “Everyone has been working hard to support this project, because it is exactly the kind of community service that is essential to an inclusive society.”
“Warrigal Care has shown great generosity in facilitating the acquisition and I congratulate Mr Egan and the Goulburn Abbeyfield Society for their efforts in securing this important funding,” she said.
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