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The hilarious short film that is challenging disability labels.

Peter was 18 and in the Army when he first started hearing voices.

Food rescue on a grand scale & chef Katie’s sensational summer recipes.


PETER CUMMING Unsure of what to do or where to turn, Peter’s life soon unravelled and, over the next decade, his mental health journey took many twists and turns.


ANNALIESE SZOCS The peace and acceptance she found through yoga was something she wanted to make available for people of all ages whose disability, illness or injury might have otherwise kept them away from yoga classes.

JEREMY THE DUD Overwhelming, unbelievable, game changing.Those are words you can use to describe public reaction to the worldwide release of new short film Jeremy the Dud.

LISA HAMPSON Lisa hasn’t let her intellectual disability and mental health issues significantly hold her back from fulfilling the life she always wanted in the town she grew up in.


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Phone 1300 558 368 Email: Or visit Karingal St Laurence Limited ABN 74 614 366 031 ACN 614 366 031

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Welcome to the final edition of REALISE magazine for 2017.

to review what additional services we could offer on a national basis.

We have had an amazing 12 months at Karingal St Laurence, which has included rebranding the organisation to be called genU.

The merger and the acquisition got us thinking about what Karingal St Laurence would look like moving forward, and we began consulting with many of our stakeholders to understand what we wanted our organisation to be known for in the future across our expanding range of services.

I wanted to take you through some of the key steps of our transition to genU in this article, and explain some of the key decisions we have made along the way. Karingal and St Laurence Community Services made the decision to merge in mid-2016, and that merger was formalised on July 1, 2017 creating Karingal St Laurence. Both organisations have long, proud histories - particularly in the Barwon region - and we were very excited about the benefits of forming one organisation and what that would mean for our clients, their families, our business partners and our staff for the future.

There are many dedicated people within our organisation who have committed themselves to improving the lives of our current clients with disabilities and those who are experiencing disadvantage. Alongside this group is also a new generation of clients coming through who want to achieve the same goals. This new generation has a different set of expectations compared to what people were experiencing 10, 20 or 30 years ago, due to the advancement of social standards and technology.

In addition to merging, we also made the acquisition of two other significant organisations in December, 2016. Those organisations were Employment Services Group (which was a similar business to our MatchWorks division) and IPA Recruitment Solutions – a specialist recruitment and labour hire agency. This purchase meant we now operated at more than 200 locations in every state except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and allowed us

With this in mind, we made the decision to rebrand Karingal St Laurence to genU (which is short for Generation You). The genU brand change was about refreshing the services that we offer to our existing clients and consumers, but also about passing on the baton, and to help attract that new generation of clients and parents to our services. We want to ensure that we remain relevant in a highly competitive and challenging industry.


We launched the new brand in Geelong in October, and we have continued that rebrand process, which includes a new logo, new signage and brochures, a new website and stronger language in our communications. What’s important to note is our service delivery remains at the highest level possible for our existing clients and that will not change. Karingal St Laurence is part of our new logo, which reflects our proud history and heritage, and we have the upmost respect for everyone who has brought us to where we are today.

Thirty of the cast members in the film have a disability and the feedback from them and many of our existing clients has been extremely positive. The trailer was released on Facebook and attracted more than 5 million views from people across the world, with the full episode now available to watch on YouTube. Being part of this project has been an eye-opening experience, and we’re really proud of the positive attention Jeremy the Dud has received. Another important development is the construction of our new head office, which will bring together

Karingal itself started as a playgroup in 1952, and focusing on attracting and supporting younger clients and families (who at the moment seek their services from other organisations) makes a lot of sense to me.

more than 250 genU staff at one location in Geelong. The $15 million development at Reynolds Road in Belmont has an expected completion date of December next year, and reinforces our commitment to the Geelong region.

A project that reinforced our new brand, and showed the ‘edgier’ direction we wanted to take was the development of short film ‘Jeremy the Dud’. We commissioned the film through local director, Ryan Chamley, of Robot Army, whose sister has multiple sclerosis, and together we created a world where everyone has a disability and those who don’t are in the minority and referred to as ‘duds’. The film explores the unconscious bias that people with a disability face every day in a satirical and humorous way, and gave our clients the opportunity to act as extras.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your past support, and want to reinforce our need for the continued support of everyone who forms part of our great organisation. So much has happened this year, and we hope that all of the changes will bring us together to better deliver our services and help all of our clients realise their dreams. Mike McKinstry genU CEO


Hello you! You’re at the beginning of something big.

Right now, you and millions of other Australians are shaping new attitudes to disability, ageing and community services. Add to this, the once-in-a-lifetime reforms that are changing the way it‘s all funded. And together they throw up all sorts of opportunities (and challenges). The new genU is answering the call. Because it‘s time for a fresh approach. genU exists to give you what you need, to reach your potential and achieve what you never thought you could.



More than 40 Geelong region job seekers had a chance to experience a range of different work experiences to better grow their skills while learning from industry professionals. Job Shadowing, a genU initiative with the purpose of promoting equal employment opportunities for people with a disability, launched in November with 10 employers taking part. Job seekers visited a range of businesses, “shadowing” their host for the day and learning the ins and outs of how that business worked. Mike McKinstry, who also took part in the Job Shadowing initiative, said the program mirrored genU’s vision, mission and values. “The vision for our organisation is ‘building inclusive communities’, and for me this initiative is very much trying to do just that.” There will be more Job Shadowing days in 2018, and for more information on how to take part contact (03) 5222 7445

Thank you to the following organisations who participated in the Job Shadowing experience: Coles Lara, Coles Waurn Ponds, genU, Mule Coffee Shed, Poolwerx, Rydges, Select Group Architects, St Vincent de Paul, WorkSafe and Centre of Excellence



When Mount Druitt job seeker, Shanae, walked through the doors of Employment Services Group (ESG) in February 2017, she was a parent of five wanting to return to work but who felt that her professional appearance was holding her back. The Indigenous job seeker was also focused solely on finding employment to earn a set amount of money. Indigenous Employment Consultant, Helen Edwards, suggested that Shanae take part in Deadly Yakka - the specifically designed Indigenous employment program - to improve her confidence and skills. “Shanae’s views on employment throughout the program soon changed. She realised that employment not only offers financial stability, but it also assists to reshape your life and enables you to provide for your family and the future,” Helen said. “From the beginning, Shanae stood out as a job seeker that needed some simple guidance to the array of potential employment opportunities that would accentuate her obvious natural talent in engaging with people. All Shanae needed was the extra bit of confidence on how to research the ideal role and how to present herself at job interviews.


“Shanae is a real people person and advocates really well. She even supported and encouraged other participants in the program to see the bigger picture and the opportunities that lay ahead, once they gain the skills they need to progress to employment.”

SHANAE’S PATH TO EMPLOYMENT Shanae completed Deadly Yakka in February 2017 and was accepted into the Woolworths Indigenous Recruitment Program. She completed two weeks of training and work placement before interviewing for and gaining a position at one of the new stores in Western Sydney. Shanae is still employed six months on and is often the first to put her hand up for extra shifts or to fill in for staff at short notice, even though it requires a two-kilometre walk to her bus stop. “Shanae has become such a strong and supportive team member, and her managers have glowing reports of her enthusiasm and dedication to the brand and to the store. She has increased her working hours and is now less dependent on Centrelink benefits,” Helen said.

For more information about the Deadly Yakka program, please visit

Shanae is just one example of how the Deadly Yakka program is paving the way for Indigenous job seekers to find and maintain meaningful employment.

WHAT IS DEADLY YAKKA? Since launching in the Melbourne suburb of Preston in February 2014, Deadly Yakka is now offered nationally and is continually rolled out at MatchWorks and Employment Services Group (ESG) locations. The purpose of Deadly Yakka is to bring communities together and to give Indigenous job seekers a supportive network to make the transition into stable, ongoing employment. It begins with a launch, where guests are greeted by a traditional welcome and smoking ceremony by local elders. Clients then undertake two weeks of program content and coaching around presenting themselves to employers. Program content includes goal setting and personal development, life skills for work, interview skills, cultural awareness training, presentation advice, workplace expectations and job search skills, while also addressing personal barriers to understand what has been holding participants back in their journey to work.

The program has already seen successful outcomes at Victorian, Queensland and South Australian MatchWorks locations. This year, the program has also been delivered across ESG locations in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. Deadly Yakka launched at ESG’s Mount Druitt branch in late February 2017 and was led by MatchWorks team members Ian Winter and Irene Sazdov. Helen Edwards was introduced as the new ESG Indigenous Employment Consultant and so began the journey of ten Indigenous job seekers wanting to change their own lives and influence the lives of their families.

WINNING IN THE WEST The journey continued as the program crossed the country to Perth in March 2017 and, to much excitement, delivered one of the most successful Deadly Yakka programs to date, with every program participant successfully finding meaningful work. “Special mention goes to Aaron who was the last job seeker to secure full-time employment from that group,” Helen said. “Aaron was probably one of the shyest men we have encountered, who felt his soft spoken, shy demeanour and lack of confidence was holding him back from the work he always wanted. “Since completing the Deadly Yakka program, Aaron has fulfilled all the requirements of a preemployment program for work in the far north Western Australia mines in a fly-in and fly-out (FIFO) role. “Speaking with Aaron the day before he flew out was like talking to a changed man. Gone was the softly spoken voice I was used to. It was replaced with an excited man who shared with me the positive changes that employment will have for him and his young family.” The Deadly Yakka program has also assisted Indigenous job seekers to realise their employment potential in Lake Haven, Campbelltown and St Marys in NSW, Belconnen in ACT and Kwinana in WA.





For more information about Images MatchWorks, from Instagram: visit @chefjamwafootty

Peter shares his story below, in his own words… I probably had the sickness as far back as when I was 18. I started hearing voices and I thought people were watching me, but I didn’t think it was a mental illness at the time. It was paranoia; I just thought it was all really happening. I was in the Army at the time, working in a training hospital at Wagga (New South Wales), and I didn’t want to tell them I had anything like that going on in my life. I saw that people with mental illness weren’t treated very well; they were seen as malingerers or weak and I didn’t want to be seen like that – I didn’t want to lose my job either. I got out of the Army when I was 20 and I felt okay at the time. I had a couple of bad times but the symptoms came and went, so I didn’t think much of them. I took some time off, then I enrolled in university in 1999 to do a Bachelor of Nursing at LaTrobe in Bendigo, but things started to get worse. I started having panic attacks in class, I felt everyone was watching me and talking about me and I couldn’t concentrate. I saw the counsellor on campus but it didn’t help, I didn’t get what I needed out of those sessions, so I didn’t go back Things got so bad that I was drinking to try and control my anxiety; I actually deferred my place, hoping I would get better in a year’s time. I started seeing a psychologist in Geelong, but I didn’t tell her about the voices because I didn’t want to be told I had a mental illness. I skirted around it but it didn’t do me any good, it was pretty much a waste of time. When the year came around I was worse, I had to give up my place and I couldn’t study. That was really frustrating, it was so hard to get into because I didn’t do Year 12 and I never finished any subjects, so I couldn’t really go back.

Around the year 2000, I obviously knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was or if there was any treatment for it. My dad was the family GP and I didn’t really have a good relationship with him, so I didn’t tell him about anything I was going through. Mum was a registered nurse, she was really supportive and she knew something was wrong too, but I don’t think she knew what it was either. I cut myself off for a couple of years; I just stayed at home and did nothing really – all my friendships faded away. I didn’t want to be branded with a mental illness; I thought it would exclude me from jobs and people would see me as weak or not as psychologically tough as other people – I didn’t want that to go on my record. I tried to fix it myself. I did a lot of research on the internet about symptoms, but nothing I did seemed to work. I took a lot of supplements; I used to spend hundreds of dollars at the vitamin store and none of it worked. I thought something spiritually was wrong with me, so I got interested in religion and karma, thinking maybe I’d done something wrong and that was why something bad was happening to me. I followed Buddhism and became a vegetarian – physically, becoming a vegetarian helped, but not mentally. I got a job looking after animals at a wildlife sanctuary, I donated lots of money to charity, but again, none of it worked. It wasn’t until my dad passed away in 2006 that I went to see another doctor and that’s when I [was] diagnosed with major depressive disorder and put on antidepressants, which did help a little bit. Gradually, the symptoms worsened and I started behaving strangely, thinking people were watching me, thinking I was telepathic, thinking I was broadcasting my thoughts to other people. My mum organised an appointment with the mental health team and they were going to put me in hospital, but I didn’t want to go. The


only thing I knew about mental health hospitals was the stuff you see on TV, like strait jackets and electric shock therapy. I agreed to go in the end, they put me on a few of different medications and I was in there for a couple of weeks. When I got back home, things started to get bad again. I jumped in my mum’s car in Warrnambool and drove into the forest trying to get away from the voices and all the people watching me, but even in the middle of the forest the voices were still there. When I got home the next morning the mental health nurses were waiting to take me back to hospital and I was happy to go. I wasn’t functioning anymore and I knew I needed help. When I got there they put me on [an antipsychotic medication] called Clozapine and about a week later I was able to leave and the symptoms were pretty much gone. So, that was a while ago now, back in 2007, and since that time I’ve been doing pretty well. The medication has a few side effects, like extreme tiredness and weight gain, but it’s a small price to pay for having peace of mind again. I still work four days a week at the wildlife sanctuary and I study one day a week doing aged care. I did a Cert III in Mental Health through genU Training and that’s where I met Jules. She got me to do the talks in the Mental Health First Aid courses. I’m working through my Cert IV in Mental Health now and the goal is to get back into nursing, hopefully next year.


My day-to-day life is pretty good now. The anxiety is gone and I’m off the anti-depressants, so I’m feeling pretty good. For people going through a similar thing, it’s really hard and you don’t want to tell people you’re having these sort of thoughts and these sort of symptoms, but it really helps to get it out there and seek some help. I had a really good mental health nurse who would come and see my every month after I got out of hospital. I was able to talk to them openly and realise the thoughts I had were part of my schizophrenia, so it wasn’t that bad. I enjoy getting out there and talking about my experiences. There’s more awareness and acceptance of it in the world I think. Schizophrenia still has a long way to go, but there’s even some celebrities coming out now saying they have bipolar or other mental health issues and that definitely takes away the stigma. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or anything, it’s just an illness and if it’s treated properly you’ll be okay. Peter Cumming has been regularly speaking at genU Training’s Mental Health First Aid twoday courses, sharing his story and helping people understand the importance of talking to people about mental health. For more information about the Mental Health First Aid course visit

For more information on genU Training please phone 1300 582 687 or visit



Lynne Foreman has dedicated her life to advocacy and achieving support for people with a disability. Born with arthrogryposis, a congenital condition with multiple joint contractures at birth, carers are a crucial part of Lynne’s day and allow her to live the life she chooses. She receives around 27 support worker hours each week. Her carers are people with whom she has a mutual respect and appreciation. They are her colleagues, or as she affectionately calls them, her girls. For Lynne, a good support worker is someone who asks what she would like when they arrive for the day. “All my girls know the first thing to do is make a cup of tea for me and a coffee for my husband Alex. “My routine is always different depending on what I am doing for the day. Sometimes it is breakfast and then a shower. Or, if I am going out for the day, I like to have a shower first, so if the taxi comes early at least I am ready to go. “I have learnt easy ways of doing things from my girls. I’m always open to new ways, and will try anything once; and, if it’s doesn’t suit, that’s okay. “When I started getting care in 2002, I was walking on elbow crutches and had two shower


chairs; one was under the shower, then I transferred to the other dry chair to dry off and get dressed. Well, a new girl came on my team and said, “Why are you transferring? I can dry and dress you from the one chair and it would save you some energy.” It was the best thing to happen, and as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. “One morning one of the funniest things happened, I asked the support worker to cook me two slices of toast in the morning and said I would like vegemite and honey on them. Well, they did exactly what I said on the two slices of toast – they put vegemite and honey together on both slices! I said, “I am sorry but I can’t eat this. I didn’t mean that I wanted vegemite and honey together!” And they said, “I thought it was a bit strange.” “Whoever comes into my house I might not get on with – we all have different personalities. It’s a two way street and we both have to gel. I tell carers and participants, ‘Don’t take anything personally, as we can’t get on with everyone’. I know a few people don’t like young carers, but for me they have helped with apps for phones and other things.”


Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography

These are the things I expect from my support workers: • Respectful – This means showing you value other people’s perspectives, time and space. • Listening – If I say there is nothing else I want done today, even if there are dishes that need washing, don’t go and do them, I like to do things myself at times. • Honest – I have had girls take me to the pool, but they are afraid of the water. And yes, they received my care plan. Some are only in this job for the money. • Punctuality – I understand if there are car problems, things do happen, but not all the time. • Clean and tidy – Our house is your workplace. Yes, I am old school, but I was always told if you go to work with stains on your clothes, your performance is not as good.


• Understanding – I am not the only one in my house. I am married and have a little dog, so carers must acknowledge Alex and they must like dogs, otherwise it won’t work. • Flexibility – Just like everybody, sometimes I like the shower first and then have breakfast, and sometime vice-versa. I say I like to keep the girls on their toes and I do change the time for my shift but, of course, I will always try and give you a bit of notice. • Non-smokers – I know you shouldn’t smoke in my house, but most of my shifts are up close and personal, and for nonsmokers like myself and Alex, we can smell the smoke on your clothes. • Don’t assume – I don’t want things done your way. We all have different ways of doing things, before you do anything ask me first, I don’t bite! For more information on becoming a carer, visit


For Annaliese Szocs, the peace and acceptance she found through yoga was something she wanted to make available for other “Spectrum Rockers” and people of all ages whose disability, illness or injury might have otherwise kept them away from yoga classes. REALISE spoke to Annaliese about why yoga is such an important part of her life and the joy she gets from sharing her passion.

WHERE DID YOUR YOGA JOURNEY BEGIN? Throughout my life, I’ve always had a sense of not quite fitting in, of being different/quirky/weird, and of not really belonging. I was severely bullied in both primary and high school for being different and weird. As an adult, I still never felt like I fitted in anywhere and ended up on all sorts of medications after being misdiagnosed with depression. I knew there was something more to it. I discovered yoga at age 18 and found that for an hour or so during class, it was okay to just be myself. It didn’t matter that I was weird and clumsy, I could just be who I was and where I was on my yoga mat, and that was totally okay.


Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography

ARE THERE ANY TWEAKS THAT YOU NEED TO DO TO TEACH A CLASS FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES? I was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s (Syndrome) in May of 2009, although it took me until October 2013 to really accept and understand what being an “Aspie” actually meant. I was very selective about who I told and when, until I arrived at yoga teacher training in Indonesia during August 2014 and literally blurted it out during the welcome circle! Now I tell pretty much anyone, and I don’t care if I get judged. If someone has an issue with my autism, it’s their issue; it’s not on me.

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? Seeing the happy looks on the kids’ (and adults’!) faces at the end of class. The most beautiful compliment I’ve received in my teaching career came from an incredible 11-year-old girl on the spectrum. At the end of her first class, she said, “Thank you for relaxing me.” I was so moved that I think I cried for about half an hour once she’d gone home. It was then that I knew I was on the right path. Seeing all of my students progress in their yoga practice is such an honour and a privilege, especially those who have been with me since I was a student teacher back in August 2014.


I tweak every class to meet the unique individual needs of the participants, regardless of age. It is rare for me to have perfect, uninjured adults in my classes, and I’ve specialised in teaching the students that a number of other yoga teachers just don’t want to teach… absolute beginners, people with current or recent injuries, those with chronic medical conditions, and kids with disabilities. Just as no two adults are alike, no two kids are alike either, and never has this been more apparent than when teaching “Spectrum Rockers” and other kids with disabilities. Similarities like a general preference for visual learning come into play, but having the ability to personally understand and appreciate the journey of a child who has a disability takes teaching to another level. I customise every aspect of every single class I teach, from the amount of lighting to the texture of mats and blankets, from the music selection and volume, to the types of yoga asana (poses) that the participants do that session, through to the types of craft and art activities I offer for kids’ sessions. Some kids love music and dance, others don’t cope with loud noises, and still others may not like furry textures or certain colours. A one-hour class probably takes another two hours of planning and organising - and I love it! Find out more at

YOU ARE PREGNANT AT THE MOMENT … IS THERE MUCH ADJUSTMENT TO DOING YOGA WHEN PREGNANT? Yes, we are expecting our first baby in January 2018 and I will teach for as long as I can - at this stage I’ll finish up classes in mid-December. I’ve had a pretty smooth ride so far, with only a few minor (but still annoying) pregnancy issues to deal with. I’ve been told that is due in part to my yoga practice, but also to my excellent fitness level and health before pregnancy. Many traditional yoga poses are unsuitable during pregnancy, so I’ve had to adjust both my personal practice and the way that I teach, as there are limitations on what I can do and demonstrate in order to keep myself and the baby safe. For example, anything that can overstretch, strain or compress the belly is out - this includes strong spinal twists, strong inversions, any face down (prone) poses that involve lying on the belly, and poses that stretch the abdomen strongly. With the right guidance from an experienced teacher, yoga is fantastic for pregnant women - it builds strength

and stamina, while promoting relaxation and fostering a strong connection with their unborn baby.

YOU’RE SOMEONE WHO SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE LIVING YOUR DREAMS AND DOING WHAT YOU ENJOY. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM, WHO ARE KEEN TO FULFIL THEIR OWN DREAMS TOO? You can do and be whatever you want in life, as long as you put in the work and back yourself 100 per cent. I’m full of crazy plans and ideas; some I pull off and some fail. But I’m never afraid to fail - it’s another lesson I need to learn to get to where I need to be. Set your goals and standards high - reach for the stars and remember that nothing great in life is easy to achieve. NEVER let other people dictate what you can and can’t do in life. Be yourself, because who you are is absolutely perfect. And my favourite quote is: “Fall seven times, get up eight.”

Annaliese Szocs (née Bishop) started the Inspiring Grace Foundation Incorporated in early 2016, offering spectrum and special needs yoga classes free of charge and enjoys teaching yoga to children with disabilities, as well as adults. She won the Sports and Recreation section of the Geelong Awards for People with a Disability in 2017. She will be running her classes in 2018 and is looking forward to welcoming back current students, as well as meeting new attendees.


Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) is a targeted approach under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for babies and children up to six years-of-age who have a disability, or who are experiencing delays in their development and require assistance. ECEI is the first step for children under six years old to build capabilities and development prior to entering the Scheme. This means support and individual services specifically for early childhood, and building ability to increase a child’s long-term opportunities through mainstream services outside of the NDIS. While transitioning out of ECEI may not be possible in every circumstance, targeted early intervention builds the foundation for greater outcomes to participate in everyday activities, increasing quality of life. Once a child reaches six years and older, plans under ECEI go through an assessment to verify the ongoing needs of your child, and may progress in two different ways: • Transition to become an NDIS participant • Transition out of ECEI to other government and non-government services


If your child will be best supported with an NDIS plan, your ECEI Partner will work with you to request NDIS access, which will involve supplying supporting evidence. Once confirmed, a longer-term plan will be developed with support to connect you with service providers of your choice.

The role of an ECEI Partner An ECEI Partner is a locally-based service provider, who is experienced in early childhood intervention. ECEI Partners are the first point of contact for parents and carers. Support provided by an ECEI Partner may include: • Help to understand your child’s support needs • Guidance and information to help you make decisions about appropriate supports and services for your child and family • Assistance to access government services and community supports • Short-term early childhood intervention • Monitoring your child’s progress • Support to access an NDIS plan if your child requires more long-term intervention support Once the NDIS has rolled out in your area, you will be able to access a locally based ECEI Partner to find out about services for your child.

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICES While the NDIS will be a source of support for an expected 460,000 participants, it is not intended to replace other government services that are available to all Australians, such as health, education, employment, transport, aged care, justice and housing. NDIS funded plans are separate to any other support that people may receive from other government services such as the Disability Support Pension, Carers Allowance or Health Care Card. The only funded support that will change as a NDIS participant is the mobility allowance.

NDIS plans are goal orientated, and will provide support to access and connect with other services that can help you to achieve better outcomes in life. Because the NDIS is not intended to replace other Government services, you will still need to independently access support through different government funded sectors. This might mean accessing the health system to visitor your doctor or education system to go to school. The NDIS is a supporting system that enables people with disability to access, use and benefit from other government services that are available to all Australians.

ACCESSING THE NDIS As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is introduced around Australia, you may have a few questions about how to access the NDIS. This snapshot will help you answer some of the more common ones. - To participate in the NDIS right now, you must: • Have a permanent and significant disability or developmental delay • Be of a certain age when you first apply to enter the NDIS • Live in Australia where the NDIS is available • Be an Australian citizen or hold a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category visa. - If you already receive supports from a state or territory government disability program, you will be contacted when it is time to transition – in the meantime, your current supports and services will continue. - As you prepare to access the NDIS, you might like to work with a family member, friend or carer, an NDIS Local Area Coordinator, Early Childhood Partner, your doctor or other health professional. Your doctor or health professional may be asked to provide evidence, by:

For more information visit or call us on 1800 800 110

• Completing the NDIS Supporting Evidence Form or parts of the Access Request Form • They may also be asked to provide more information that explains the impact of your disability. - Once you are granted access to the NDIS, you will be contacted to begin your planning conversation. You can talk to your NDIS representative about how to prepare for your planning conversation, visit or call them on 1800 800 110 to find out more.


Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography

Bob Jones passed away aged 79 in September after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in July, 2017. Before he died, the Ocean Grove resident had been sharing his life story with Geelong’s Ted Cooper – both men were connected through genU’s Aged Care services. Bob’s life was full of many adventures tinged with happiness, sadness, regrets and achievements. He asked that his story be shared on the pages of REALISE magazine… Bob was born in the Western Sydney suburb of Liverpool in 1938. His parents were Yvonne and Arthur Bernard Jones, who lived with their seven children in an old Army hut. His father was of Aboriginal descent, a hard man who was injured while fighting in the war. Bob’s mother Yvonne was of Irish descent and had a beautiful singing voice. She would often sit outside the local hotel, serenading patrons with Irish songs. When Bob was 14 years old, his mother gave him two shillings to go and buy a loaf of bread. Instead of going to the shop, he ran away from home and embarked on a 1300km walk to the Queensland town of Rockhampton. He wouldn’t return home again until his father’s death seven years later. During Bob’s time in Queensland he took on many jobs, including working at a number of cattle stations – rounding up sheep and other livestock alongside grown men. A visit from a travelling circus changed Bob’s life, and he was soon up on the trapeze, doing backflips off horses and entertaining circus crowds as a clown. He worked for Ashton, Bullen Bros, Souls and Perry circuses.


Bob met his first wife, Lyn, on a circus trip to Melbourne, and the pair courted controversy due to their eight-year age difference. Bob fronted a magistrate on charges of being with an underage girl, but he insisted he had done nothing wrong and the magistrate married the couple in his chambers that day. Lyn was the love of Bob’s life, and they had two daughters and four sons. The family continually moved, living in Melbourne and Brisbane among other places. Bob was a truck driver during this time, and would often take off with no set return date. Bob’s walkabouts stopped when Lyn passed away from cancer, aged 52. Bob had a near-death experience in his 50s, while working at a tourist park in Darwin. He took a turn and was flown to Adelaide for bypass surgery. He remembered having a dream, where a white station wagon had come to take him to heaven but a booming voice told him, ‘Go back, it’s not your time!’ When Bob woke up, doctors told him he no longer needed an operation and he returned to Darwin. In his final years, Bob was supported to live at home through a Home Care Package. He spent the final few months of his life with his daughter, Doreen, which gave him a chance to reflect. “If I had my life over again, I’d do things a little bit different ... I haven’t always been there for my kids – I think that hurts a bit,” he said in September.

For more information on genU aged care, please visit


AGED CARE AND LIFESTYLE SERVICES Keeping as active as you can, staying as independent as possible and remaining connected to your community. At genU we know this is important to you. We’re all about building quality supports so you can retain your independence and live life your way. So go on, give us a call today.

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Watching her children grow up are memories Geelong’s Linda Blaik treasures. From spending time with her daughters, Lorren and Kirsty, to seeing the joy on her son Russell’s face when their beloved Collingwood Football Club broke its AFL premiership drought in 1990. Today, Linda has three grandchildren, although she doesn’t have clear memories of what they all looked like when they were born. Linda was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy when she was 10 years old, a condition that also affected two of her brothers, and she lost sight completely eight years ago. “That was probably the worst thing about not having any sight, not being able to see the grandchildren’s expressions,” Linda said. “It doesn’t bother me really, but there are times when you wish that you could see them, their little looks and those sorts of things. But you’ve just got to get on with it, there’s no sense worrying about what isn’t. It’s a case of if I sat at home and did nothing, my life would be wasted.” “Getting on with it” is a mantra Linda lives by – from her passionate advocacy and fundraising for the vision impaired, to conducting courses for students with various education and training institutions.


Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography

Linda is also part of the Learning, Educating and Advocating for Disability Barwon committee through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Linda credits the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) in Melbourne for

playing a leading role in developing her life skills after leaving school, and she met her husband, David, in 1979 through her brothers’ connection to blind cricket. One of Linda’s passions has been supporting Guide Dogs Victoria. She served as the President of the Geelong Auxiliary for almost a decade, and was also part of the Guide Dogs Client Consumer Advisory Committee. In 1994, Linda made a life changing decision to take on her first dog – but she admits it was a reluctant decision at first. “I had a bit of sight then, and I always thought I had too much sight for a Guide Dog; I thought you really should be blind. But I tell you what, it made such a difference,” Linda said. “The freedom that it gave was unbelievable; there was no more poking in the ribs with a cane, there was no more hitting into chairs, no more having to find the counter at a shop – the dog automatically did it and it was just an amazing feeling.” With a Guide Dog by her side, travelling from Geelong to Melbourne for various meetings became easier, and she formed an unshakable bond with her new best friend. Linda has had six dogs over the years, and, while there have been ups and down along the way, she said people considering using a Guide Dog should jump at the chance. “The sooner you get your name down, the better – go for a trial,” Linda said. “They have days where you can go to Guide Dogs and see what it’s all about, to work out whether it’s going to work for you. “I just think a dog opens up the world to your mobility, your social life and just every aspect I think.”

“All the kids barracked for Collingwood, every kid had a Collingwood jumper, so all through high school it was all about Collingwood,” Linda said. “When I first met David, he was a rugby league man and he barracked for Western Suburbs, which were the Magpies in New South Wales. “He decided he better barrack for Collingwood because of that connection, and I would not have married him if he wasn’t a Magpie!” Linda has continued to attend Collingwood games when she can, soaking up the noise and excitement of the contests, and Daicos has quickly attuned to the roar of a football crowd.

Linda’s current guide dog, Daicos, is named after legendary Collingwood Football Club champion Peter Daicos (pictured right), who was part of the Pies premiership team in 1990.

“He sits on a Collingwood blanket or a Collingwood doona, and he goes decked out of course. I went to Collingwood versus Geelong here last year, a NAB Cup game, and it was his first game,” she said.

Her love of Collingwood started during her time at the RVIB school in Burwood, where Magpies players would regularly come and play kick-tokick with the children.

“Every time Collingwood kicked a goal, the cheer went up and right at the end, when Collingwood won, I went up in the air and he was up in the air with me.”

For more information on Guide Dog services, please visit



Overwhelming, unbelievable, game changing. Those are words you can use to describe public reaction to the worldwide release of new short film Jeremy the Dud. The film was commissioned by genU with the aim of portraying experiences from those who have a disability, using sharp-edged humour and real life depictions to break through stereotypes. The project was a collaboration between Robot Army Productions and genU, which has proved to be a very successful partnership. The Facebook movie trailer alone attracted more than five million views, as fans eagerly awaited the release of the pilot online in late October. And when the film was released, it did not disappoint.

There’s been a lot of interest from overseas, with more than half of viewers coming from places including Britain, America and Germany. Produced and shot entirely in Geelong, the cast was comprised of mainly local actors with a couple of exceptions, namely Nick Boshier (Soul Mates, Bondi Hipsters, #7DaysLater) who plays Jeremy, alongside Adam Bowes (Hacksaw Ridge) who plays the womanising character of amputee Kyle. Other local talents feature in the film, such as Sam Humphrey (The Greatest Showman) who plays Jai, and Chloe Hayden as Heidi (also known under her alias Princess Aspien).

From cast members doing radio gigs to newspaper coverage from all over Australia, the response has been overwhelmingly positive - and that’s not even counting the online likes, comments and more than 50,000 shares! Jeremy the Dud has attracted overwhelming praise from people with a disability, community organisations and government bodies for its touching portrayal of role reversals. Nearly every character in the film has a disability, and the rare ones that don’t are labelled ‘duds’, wearing tags to state they are “without speciality”. The film, in a humorous way, portrays the condescending remarks and isolation that people with a disability experience on a regular basis. This flipping of standards shines a spotlight on this behaviour and challenges those watching to reconsider how they treat others.


For Chloe, like many of the cast members, the film holds personal significance. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (what we now know as part of the Autism spectrum) as a young teenager, she is well-versed in the stigmas and misconceptions of her condition. “People hear autism and they have a stigma around it, and they assume that you can’t do this or that,” said Chloe. “The amount of times that I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You can’t be autistic because you do this’, like, you’ve met one person with a disability.” She said the film showed the viewer how it felt to experience the condescending and demeaning attitudes faced by people with a disability and hopefully brought understanding to those with no first-hand exposure of the themes it raises.

there. We’re all capable of giving to society and everyone basically should be given a fair go. “Some people may be confronted, but I think there’s certainly a good balance between humour and making a statement, especially in the last scene, which is poignant and really hits home, and just the way it was done was really beautiful.” Initial feedback towards the film has been extremely positive, with viewers praising the casting and premise behind the production. Who knows whether it will be the last we see of these characters…

“It kind of gives them that insight that ‘oh, (people with disabilities) can do that’.” It’s a sentiment that Nick shares. “It was just brilliant performing alongside brilliant actors, who haven’t necessarily been able to play a role that wasn’t identified and marked by their disability.” The environment was a supportive one, with a “considerate cast and crew that always had our best interests in mind,” Adam said. “In the past I’ve had my legs blown off, like in Hacksaw Ridge, or they’ve been eaten by a zombie, so it was great to just play a character that didn’t have to focus solely on the legs - it’s just a part of me and life.” There was a sense of camaraderie between crew members as they worked towards the mutual goal of producing something thought-provoking. “We all became a family on set,” Adam added. He warns, though, not everyone may see things in a positive light. “I think there’s always going to be some people who are offended, but a majority of people who either have a disability or know someone who does will just find it hilarious,” he said. “The fact that we got to tell this story and really start a conversation was more than we could hope for, and it’s such a positive message to get out


Tania Sherley Excuse my language but as a wheelchair user/born with my disabilities, I bloody love this.

Jamie Kirdland This kind of awareness is AMAZING to see. Thank you so much for creating this show. I really do hope people see this and realize that all the small things really do add up. And we see them. We hear them. My name is Jamie. And I’m more than just your label

Carol Cadd Dear God, this needs to be made into a regular TV series. It’s bloody awesome.

Casey Greer As a partially blind girl, this makes me happy. I’ve never seen anyone like myself represented in a film.

Rhett Amazing first episode. Has a huge message and meaning while being funny and entertaining.

@Playwright 82 Wow. Very thought provoking. I really liked it. It made me see how condescending people can be to those with a disability.





For many, the daily commute to work on public transport is a mild annoyance. But for Belmont’s Lisa Hampson it’s more challenging than that. There’s also an element of fear. On the whole, Lisa hasn’t let her intellectual disability and mental health issues significantly hold her back from fulfilling the life she always wanted in the town she grew up in. On her lounge room wall there’s a board with her schedule of weekly commitments. Every day is filled in - apart from Sunday - which is reserved for spending time with family, including her beloved nieces and nephews. This year, working as a supermarket assistant at Coles in central Geelong has become the priority and her women’s group meetings, genU MyPath work and other study keep her busy too. Lisa is also completing a three-month driving course to prepare her for taking her Learner’s Permit test. “Life is much more fun when you keep busy and get out and about,” Lisa says. “Getting to know lots of people is a good thing. Now, when I go down to the shops, I will often run into people I’ve met and they will give me a wave and I’ll chat with them.”


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While 2017 has mainly been a year of positive achievements, Lisa is still rebuilding her confidence after she was robbed at knife point at a Geelong bus stop. It was Mother’s Day morning, and an excited Lisa was heading to her mum’s place in Corio – as she’d done many times - when a man confronted her before heartlessly stealing her wallet, back pack and the present she had bought for mother. Shaken up, she spent much of the day giving evidence at the police station. Lisa is looking forward to the day her attacker is brought to justice. But that’s yet to happen.

“Whether he is caught and goes to jail or not is not up to me. But I just believe in karma and that what goes around comes around.” The traumatic event ruined her day but Lisa has been determined not to let it affect the positive attitude she’d built for herself. She admits, however, that she’s still rattled by the incident. “It was very scary at the time. I still look over my shoulder when I go to the bus stop. “But I don’t let it stop me from using public transport. “I know there are also lots of good people out in the community and I have been safe on the buses for a long time before it happened.” At work, Lisa is known for her insistence on having things done properly and efficiently and she enjoys getting home from work knowing she’s contributed something to the workplace. “The other workers are lovely. “I want to keep working there and get as much experience as I can.” Her long-term goal is to complete her driver’s course and, one day, to be able to drive herself to work. Lisa’s genU Mental Health Support worker, Rachal Bland, who meets with Lisa fortnightly, believes it’s a realistic goal. “I’ve been working with Lisa for the last 18 months and it’s been great to see how she’s come on in leaps and bounds in that time. “Her progress goes to show how much of a vital role community services can play, especially for people who set themselves some personal life goals,” Rachal said.


The 14th Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) conference brought together 350 delegates from more than 21 countries around the world at Ă–rebro University in Sweden. Natasha Williams flew into Stockholm after visiting some disability services in Denmark, where the NNDR was established in 1997. What she learned in her time in Scandinavia would challenge what she had believed about innovation in the disability services sector here and overseas. These are her reflections on her time in Sweden and Denmark: There are around 20,000 people in Sweden who are supported with their fundamental needs. From what I could conclude, it seems the local government/municipalities are responsible for funding the first 20 hours of support, after which the Swedish Government become involved. For some reason, I always had the impression that disability supports and services were far more superior in Europe, and, in particular, in Scandinavian countries. After day one of the conference I mentioned this to one of the speakers, who sounded very surprised at this assumption. To be honest, after three days in Sweden, a couple of days in Copenhagen and the weeks


I subsequently travelled throughout Europe, I actually think we are on a very positive and proactive path in Australia. In my work at genU and considering the wider disability sector, I observe people, employees, processes and solutions that easily could have been presented as “innovative�. Copenhagen in Demark is a beautiful and organised city. There have been modifications to cobblestone roads and paths (pictured right) to accommodate people riding bikes, pushing prams and using mobility equipment. It is amazing to think there are two bikes for every person who lives there, thus limited traffic and congestion. The bike and walking paths have lanes for directions and the public transport is readily available, easy to use and on time. I saw no small buses driving people who have a disability around, but rather experienced a disability provider who supports people to arrange their activities based on both choice and availability of forms of transport. Throughout the conference I spoke to representatives from other countries and shared our common intentions we have as part of the global direction to achieve the Convention on the

Rights of Person with Disability (CRDP), which is the “right to live independent life in society”. We know the CRDP has set the agenda for inclusion. It has legal aspects about equality and rights for people who have a disability. Australia, along with other countries, signed up to the CRDP over 10 years ago and currently our National Disability Strategy helps guide us to meet the articles in this convention. During the conference and from my travel I took pages of notes and knew that I had lots to communicate when I was back home. I had a special page of notes which I called “Must Do” to record some key messages and tasks that I feel we need to continue, further undertake or start to do. When I left the conference I felt even more committed to: • Find leaders who are prepared to challenge what we know is safe • Keep supporting the NDIS • Do more to advocate for sexuality and diversity in general • Capture measurements and undertake our own organisational research when we make changes to our systems, policy and processes • Place more consideration on minimum social work qualifications of coordinators • Don’t build any more opportunities for segregation specific to providing day activities and support • Think before we design - is it accessible? • Take some risks to ensure people who have a disability have their needs met (this is especially relevant to sexuality) • Promote more decision making opportunities for our clients • Not talk FOR people who have a disability or for their families (talk WITH them) • Make decisions with people who have a disability and with their input, always • Ensure our service underpins and aligns as a minimum to the CRPD In some respect we are lucky that Australia is a young country and accessibility is somewhat easier to achieve, especially as we don’t have the historical architecture seen in parts of Europe. Simply using a lift at a train station is a barrier in many parts of Europe. While I visited many museums and walked many roads that were accessible, I certainly wondered at what point cobblestone roads would be replaced to better support the inclusion for people who have a

disability who are trying to participate in their community. Walking into the Melbourne airport I noted the easy signs, pictograms, doorway widths and customer service, which made me very grateful to be home and feeling excited for the future of our country. It is my opinion that although sometimes we don’t get it exactly right, we are actually on a very positive path. We continue to have robust discussions about inclusion, we think about accessibility when we design, we have a commitment to the CRDP and we have some almightily competent leaders, workers and individual change agents pushing us in the right direction.

For more information on the Nordic Network on Disability Research, go to



When asked what she wants to do as a career, 22-yearold Lauren McGinley is quick to say she would love to be a travel writer. After finishing Year 12 three years ago, Lauren was accepted into a Bachelor of Law degree at Australian Catholic University. She spent two years studying law before changing to a paralegal course and then deferring to go travelling. Many spend their late teens and early twenties navigating different career paths, but most will never do so while overcoming the obstacles that Lauren has. And most won’t have her same outlook on life. Lauren has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Quadriplegia resulting from complications at birth. The condition impairs her speech and the motor function of her limbs, and has caused her to need several ongoing rehabilitations such as physical and occupational therapy. “My left arm and hand don’t really do much, but I can use my hand to hold things,” she said. “My right hand can perform most tasks. “I use a walking frame or can walk holding on to someone. And I can walk around the house on my own using the furniture. I’ve had to learn to walk again three times.” Living with this type of cerebral palsy hasn’t stopped her from following her dreams and living her life to the fullest. Lauren lives with her family and miniature pony, Emily, in Strathtulloh, Victoria. She practices yoga and loves catching up with close friends and seeing a movie. So, at the age of 18, when Lauren suddenly felt sick and couldn’t walk properly, she wasn’t prepared for what the doctors would tell her.


“When I initially became unwell, the idea that I may be suffering a stroke never entered my mind,” she said. “I thought it must be a migraine, but I’d never had a migraine before. “Even when the MRI results came back confirming that it was a stroke, I didn’t believe it. I thought, ‘I’m not old enough to have a stroke; young people don’t have strokes.’” It was December 2013 and Lauren was halfway through completing Year 12 over two years when she was struck down. The stroke had left her with a blood clot in her brain and another on her spine, paralysed on her left side and without hot, cold or pain sensations down her right side. The experience, however, only made Lauren more focused. “At the start it all felt weird,” she said. “But in another way it kind of made me want to achieve more. “Once I had come to terms with what had happened, it was time to start fighting. It was no secret that regaining movement in my left side was going to be one of the most difficult tasks I was going to have to do in my life, but I was up for the challenge and determined to succeed.” Lauren spent five weeks in the Royal Children’s Hospital undertaking intense physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions five days a week. “At first my progress was slow, but then I began noticing some improvements. Doing a bridge for the first time was like winning the lottery. By the end of the five weeks I was taking steps in a walking frame.” With determination and hard work, Lauren continued to see progress until she was taking steps on her own, moving her arm and holding objects in her hand. She had finally begun feeling like her old self again. Lauren continued her studies along with her rehabilitation therapies and finished school with exceptional results the year following the stroke. “When I finished Year 12, I put my preferences in for law and received a principal’s recommendation from my school principal to ACU [Australian Catholic University],” she said. “It was a bit of a shock when I got the course offer.” Lauren’s optimism and the support of her family have been paramount to her recovery and success. Her mum, Catriona, says that’s how they do it in her family.

“We just say when things happen you’ve got to get on with it and deal with it as best you can,” Catriona said. “She’s a very positive person.” Now, having deferred her course to take a break and contemplate her next move, Lauren has been able to explore other career avenues. “When I was in the UK this year, I started a Facebook page about my trip and a few people said, ‘You could be a travel writer.’ I didn’t know it was a job. I thought they were kidding!” But the more she has looked into the idea, the more appealing it became. “I want to write about accessible travel for people like me.” With such a bright outlook, it’s clear Lauren will achieve whatever she puts her mind to. “If there’s one thing that I have learnt from this experience it is that life is short and fragile,” she said. “I’m kind of glad I had the stroke younger, because I’ve got my whole life ahead of me and I had to get on with it. “Making the most of life is crucial because that is what it really means to be living.”

Lauren attends modified yoga classes and Young Stroke Survivor support group sessions hosted by the Stroke Association of Victoria’s Barwon branch, located in Geelong. The program’s coordinator, Carly Stephens, says Lauren is an asset to the centre, especially to young stroke survivors. The Barwon branch offers stroke survivors many services, such as technology support, yoga, a neuro-rehab game geared at strengthening neural pathways, walking groups, baking and peer support. For more information about the Stroke Association of Victoria’s Barwon branch, contact Carly on 03 4222 7630 or carly@strokeassociation. For more information about The Stroke Association of Victoria, visit www.


Not quite a hobby, not quite a job. That’s how Aaron Lucas describes his time at the Colac and District Community Foodshare, a program initiated by genU’s Colac management team that provides valuable work experience to genU participants, most of whom have a disability. Volunteers pack and distribute ‘rescued’ fruit and vegetables that might otherwise be thrown out, providing more than 40,000 kilograms of food a year to those less fortunate. Driving through Colac, you get the feeling that this community – population 12,000 – will embrace something good that comes their way. Through that, it appears the Foodshare initiative is a win for everyone – helping organisations with food at little to no cost, and preparing people with disability for life in the workforce.

“I primarily handle the phone calls and messages for orders, dry goods and some freezer stuff. Usually, we start at nine in the morning, the truck comes around 10-ish and we have all the hampers done by lunch time.” The organisation of the food packing is something to behold. Every worker knows the part they need to play in the process and across the floor people are smiling as they busily get on with the job. When we visited, the team had finished their duties more than half an hour ahead of schedule. Their modest silver shed was housing a welloiled machine: efficiency and professionalism its hallmarks. Though enthusiastic about his current role, Aaron is also looking forward to what other workplace opportunities may open up for the future.

It comes as no surprise then that the Foodshare has gone from strength to strength in its two years of operation. “Organisations give us orders – some have standing orders, like the Salvation Army – and they take the hampers that we produce and distribute to people in need in the community,” says Aaron, a Colac Foodshare phone operator. Aaron has autism and while he’s only been here since the start of the year, his confidence in the role is unmistakeable.


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All products in The Otway Kitchen produce range are made by hand in small batches. We use only the freshest seasonal produce. All the hard work is done by a dedicated and passionate team of support employees who are learning new skills in our industrial kitchen and building confidence in a work environment.

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Katie Redfern, the Seasons Café chef at the Douro Street premises, shares her top tips for cooking in the warmer months. With so many delicious foods in season across summer and autumn, Katie says to keep it simple, focus on what’s in season and let all that fresh deliciousness shine. From salads to things to throw on the BBQ to healthy noodles, it really is an easy time of year for putting together healthy and delicious fare.

“For me summer cooking is all about simplicity and freshness, so, in the warmer months, you would find me preparing lots of marinated meats for the BBQ and loads of fresh salads, as I am sure lots of others do too.

Photography by Erin Gilhome, MyPath Photography

I love having my family and friends over for dinner and sharing these meals, because who doesn’t love a BBQ? It’s so easy to prepare and is a healthy yet filling meal. Most summer seasonal vegetables require little, if any, cooking, so just use them raw or steam/grill your veggies on the stovetop. Instagram: @katie_redfern

One of my favourite ingredients for the summer months is fresh corn on the cob, which, steamed or grilled, is delicious. Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable, I use it a lot to add to frittatas. I often make ‘zoodles’ which are a healthy alternative to pasta, plus zoodles [zucchini noodles] taste way better.” As for easy summer desserts, well – again, no cooking required. With cherries and blackberries and a gorgeous array of summer produce on show everywhere you find fresh fruit and veg, you can’t go wrong. My absolute favourite summer fruit is watermelon. I just can’t get enough... it’s sweet, crisp, juicy and pink. What more could you possibly want in a fruit?”


Makes 16

INGREDIENTS Crumb Mix: 6 chicken tenders 1 cup plain flour 1 cup Panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs) 1/2 cup shredded coconut 1 cup milk 1 egg Salt and pepper to season Oil, for frying Salad: 1 tomato, cut into wedges 1/4 red onion 1 avocado 250g snow pea tendrils 2 lemons (use to squeeze over chicken and salad as dressing)

METHOD 1. Prepare chicken, removing any fat off the tenders. 2. Whisk egg and milk together. 3. Combine Panko crumbs, coconut, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together. 4. Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip the floured chicken into the egg and milk mixture, then roll and coat the chicken in the bread crumb mixture. 5. Heat a frying pan with oil and fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through. 6. Prepare salad by washing and cutting the vegetables. 7. Place warm chicken on top of the salad then squeeze the lemon over the top.

Makes 30



1/2 teaspoon salt 4 cups plain flour 1 1/2 cups caster sugar 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda 4 eggs 250g butter 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. 2. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl with beater. 3. Add eggs one at a time. Mix as you go. 4. Add cream of tartar, bi-carb, salt and sifted flour, poppy seeds and zested orange rind. Stir to combine. 5. Weigh and roll into 30g balls and flatten by hand onto lined baking tray. 6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Rind of an orange


For 18-year-old Sky, a career in hospitality is getting closer every day. The Seasons Café supported employee is gaining valuable experience and insights towards her dream of working professionally in a commercial kitchen. Her bright blue eyes sparkle as she speaks of her passion for food and being in the industry. “My goal is to hopefully go into open employment and became an apprentice to a chef.” Sky is also passionate about vaulting (an equine sport with a feel of gymnastics and calisthenics), which is known for its many benefits in improving coordination, balance and even stress reduction. Yet, it’s come at a personal cost. After complaining of pain and swelling in her knee she sought out answers. She hoped it wasn’t a rare case of arthritis. Working with both a physio and a doctor, the problem was soon spotted. “So, we went to the doctors. Fluid has gone into my knees, so they put me on anti-inflammatories for ten days,” Sky said. “I just kept doing vaulting,” she said, until she realised that it was making her worse.


Despite her sporting injuries, Sky was determined to set clear goals during school. “I started a goal mid high school,” said the bubbly teenager. “I said to Mum that I wanted to start my own café and restaurant. “Mum goes, ‘You can’t be a chef straight away… you have to start from the bottom and work your way up’.” Achieving her dreams one shift at a time, Sky joined the Seasons team in January 2017 after finishing Year 12 last year. Nine months later, an invitation came to go full-time, which Sky happily accepted. She was no stranger to the genU Business Enterprises and Seasons businesses, which she believed has worked in her favour. She said her prior experience set her up well. “I did work experience and they offered me a job when I finished school.” Sky’s motivation to get into the hospitality industry was second to none, with a vast array of prior placements testifying to this proactive approach. She also spent time at Black Cup café in East Geelong and Chapel on Ryrie Street. Her current role, as café assistant, is a varied one, something Sky said she enjoys.

“I sort of do a little of everything. I’m based in the cafe and then I serve people… I do a little bit of baking in the kitchen. I make coffees.” Give her an oven and a mixing bowl any day and she’s in her element. True to her passion, on the day when REALISE visited her, she’d been busy in the kitchen baking some sweets. Whipping up delicious cupcakes and biscuits for those around her is one of her favourite pastimes. For now, Sky is working on improving her coffee making skills, while also ramping up her baking prowess.

Those who work in cafes know the morning drill well, and Sky is no exception. During her school years, her parents woke her; now she’s quite familiar with an early routine. “At the start, it was a little bit hard to get into,” she says. “I have to get up at 5:30-6:00am – I set an alarm on my phone,” Sky said. “I used to start at 8.00am and work to 3.00pm… now I start work from 7:30am until 2:30pm.” The routine has been further solidified, with a serendipitous connection. A family friend, who also works at the premises, drives her in the morning,

sparing her a long journey on public transport. Returning home from a busy day of work, there’s plenty of company around on the Moolap farm where she lives. Alongside her family, which includes her parents, siblings and foster children, there’s no shortage of animal companions either. We’re talking dogs, cats, chooks, a friendly Shetland pony and racing horses. As well as working towards her career goals, Sky has also been overcoming her personal barriers due to her sporting injuries.

She now does a series of exercises to regain strength. The physio suggested she undertake the exercises twice a day, but she negotiated for only once a day. Her diligence paid off. She’s starting to see successful results, with her physio agreeing that her knee is getting stronger. “It doesn’t give me as much pain,” added Sky. But every budding chef needs a holiday too, and Sky is only days away from taking a well-earned break. And in style too – cruising around North Queensland with her boyfriend, Jayden, and his family.


Avid traveller, Melissa, from genU’s Wallace Street shared accommodation in Colac recently returned from her first overseas trip. She shared with us her holiday highlights.

WHERE DID YOU TRAVEL? I went to Las Vegas and Hollywood in Los Angeles for 12 days.

WHO DID YOU TRAVEL WITH? I travelled with my friend Heather.

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN PREVIOUSLY? I usually have a holiday each year. This was my first overseas holiday. All my other holidays have been within Australia.




I didn’t sleep at all on the plane trip to the US. I watched movies the entire way.

My house staff helped me prepare. My support worker helped me finalise all my travel details with the travel agent and ensured they had all of my travel details in case of emergency.

WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE PARTS OF THE TRIP? • Wearing the wedding dress at the wedding chapel in Las Vegas and staying in the honeymoon suite. • I met Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood. • I went to lots of live shows - one of them was Cher. • I walked on the red carpet and saw all the stars names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. • I saw Tom Hanks. • I danced with the band. • I wore lots of pretty dresses. • I went on the Hollywood bus. • I had a ride in a police car. • There was a swimming pool at the hotel and I swam a lot.


For more information about genU accommodation services, please visit










“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” These were the words of Ansel Adams, photographer and environmentalist. Adams knew what it was to not fit in the world around him, but the world that he captured through the lens of his camera made him an iconic figure amongst 20th century American photography. Sometimes, it takes a different perspective to show us just how extraordinary our ordinary world can be. The MyPath photography program helps students express themselves through their art and, as their photos show, they see through the everyday ordinariness to reveal the light and shade, the simplicity, the complexity and the beauty all around us.



For more information about MyPath Plus courses, contact 1800 234 455


When it comes to enthusiasm and passion for magazines, Casey is well equipped. Working towards achieving her dreams, and carving out a career using her skills, this motivation runs deep. “I want to get a job,” she said. “I want people to be inspired with my work. “If people love my work, I might be paid for it.” Casey has an intellectual disability and attends the MyPath program regularly, having joined in 2008. During this time, she has honed her skills in desktop publishing, writing and bringing ideas to life. She explained how it all started: “We actually get very bored doing nothing, so we started doing magazines,” said Casey, who said that she first began to explore creating magazines while at high school. The ‘we’ includes best friend Mikaela, an old school friend, who is also attending the MyPath program. Their project gained traction. “We became the magazine team,” she said, with a smile. Highly motivated and passionate about her projects, it’s not uncommon to find Casey chipping away at all hours; both through the MyPath program and at home. “I’ve been working on this all weekend. I usually have the time to do it. If I’m not at work, I will do it at home… usually do both.” When REALISE visits her, she is hard at work finalising the next issue. Her document open on


the screen, the word count at the bottom tells it all: 6000 words and counting. It’s an activity both productive and soothing. While Casey said she can be easily stressed, her magazine work is beneficial for this. “I love making magazines, it relaxes me. I usually listen to relaxing music while I work.” Casey’s magazines are all different, and the themes reflect this. From special seasonal issues to pop culture references, there is an undeniably creative feel at play. The content of each issue typically explores themes, including Christmas, sea animals and even Minions – just to name a few! Mikaela’s role includes creating the back pages, while MyPath staff member Craig contributes his IT skills. Until recently, she was using Photoshop, but Craig suggested she switch to an online program called Gimp, which he’s been helping her with. He also assists with deliveries, while another fellow classmate, Steve, lends his help on the design front. When it comes to ideas and influences, there is a purity to her approach. “All the magazines I’ve been making has been out of my head,” Casey said. “It’s all from my imagination, I don’t copy from any books.” We have a feeling that we’ll be seeing more of Casey’s work in the not too distant future.

We caught up with genU participants to find out what they like to watch on the big screen and TV.






“It would have to be Lord of the Rings, just all the fighting scenes - it’s a bit like the Star Wars movies.”

“My first one would have to be The Nanny. It is funny. I like the butler. ”


Film fact:

Film fact:

Startup songs can add a sense of fun to a television series and this is Fans of Lord of the Rings can have definitely the case with the Nanny. their own Middle Earth experience over in New Zealand. Did you know Although there was a Broadway song planned for the pilot episode, that The Shire was actually filmed the show instead swapped to a on a sheep farm in Mata Mata, on the North Island? Tourists can visit catchy tune, which was written and performed by two sisters. We know and get up close and personal with it as, ‘The Nanny Named Fran’. hobbit holes and the like.

“My favourite show is Home and Away. My second favourite is Neighbours. ” Film fact: Neighbours takes out the prize for the longest-running drama series on Australian television, while Home And Away trails close behind, as the second longestrunning drama series. While both shows enjoy popularity in Australia, Neighbours is also very successful in the United Kingdom.



Before being involved in genU’s Winter Workplace Big Day Out (WBDO), Izzy Bartlett (3rd from the left in the photo above) had no experience volunteering. Now, after what she describes as two ‘life-changing’ occasions, she can’t imagine life without it. “Volunteering is definitely a passion of mine now,” she said. “It changes you as a person, makes you more aware of others, and how one small act of kindness can change everything.” The WBDO sees employees from businesses across the Geelong region take a break from the office to support people with a disability. “I had never really worked with people of all abilities,” Izzy said. “Last year I was worried and nervous, but pumped for the day. This year, I felt better prepared to adapt my activities depending on the clients we had.” The Year 11 Grovedale College student was one of 30 students who, for the second year running, designed a program of modified activities for 60


people with a disability to enjoy. As part of the school’s Sports Academy Program, the students held regular meetings over four weeks to decide on eight accessible activities, consulting along the way with their teachers and genU’s Adventure program coordinator, Dean Lobbe. “Dean gave us some ideas for how to effectively communicate with clients and modify activities,” she said. “In the end, every activity was amazing! All the students put a lot of effort in and worked really well with the clients, volunteers and staff on the day.” This year’s program included wheelchair soccer, dodgeball, wheelchair basketball, dancing, parachutes, netball, games sense and indoor cricket. At both years’ events, Izzy helped participants in the dance activity, hitting the dance floor to favourites such as the Nutbush, Macarena and the Chicken Dance. And, having been involved previously, Izzy took on a leadership position this year, running the warm up and lunchtime activities.


“It was an amazing opportunity taking on a leadership role in this setting,” she said. “It is never easy, I was super nervous, but the nerves went away once I saw the smiles on the faces around me. “I learnt a lot about thinking on my feet and changing things up to get the best out of the short time we had with each group of clients, so we could make their time with us the most fun and memorable. This year we even had some break dancing!” For Izzy the best part of the day was interacting with the clients and the feeling that came from the students forming lasting connections with the participants. “I personally was emotional when some of the clients remembered me from last year, and I could see they were happy that I remembered them, too,” she said. “You cannot help but become engulfed by their incredible, uplifting energy – it is contagious! It is a feeling that you just want more of.”

The WBDO opened Izzy’s eyes to the participants she worked with and how their abilities varied. “Most importantly, I learnt that people with a disability are, first and foremost, people,” she said. “They are just like me and that is how everybody should see them. “Now, after my experience at the Big Day Out I have the confidence to not only talk to, but interact with all kinds of people.” Izzy has advice for other people thinking about getting into volunteering. “Volunteering is life changing, you will love every minute of it if you put yourself out there,” she said. “It is an experience that cannot be recreated. A day that is full of fun, excitement and many unforgettable memories. “If you have never volunteered before I encourage you to get involved now, no matter your age or ability – you will not regret it!”


In October, 500 guests attended the genU launch held at The Pier in Geelong. Hundreds of cupcakes were enjoyed, as well as fairy floss, popcorn and delicious food from Seasons Catering. There was no shortage of entertainment, with rising star Isabella Khalife performing songs while the talented DJ Fuzzy Logic spun tracks on the dance floor. Eugene, the official mascot, made his debut appearance on the night and even performed in a special dance alongside genU staff.





DISABILITY AND LIFESTYLE SERVICES genU inspires and supports you to make the most of your life. And to give you freedom of choice. In real terms, this starts with us doing our best to co-design the support that’s right for you. So go on, give us a call today.

Phone Us

1300 582 687



REALISE magazine, No. 2  

REALISE is a bi-annual magazine which celebrates the incredible people connected to genU, and their own dreams becoming realised.