Two ACAP Social Work graduates have started their careers at Sydney disability service provider Windgap Foundation Ltd. It’s the first time in the organisation’s 60-year history that social workers have been included on the organisation’s multi-disciplinary team.
Welcoming Chana Eisman (pictured, left) and Amy Kearney (right) to its staff was the result of the students’ work placement achievements at the facility in creating efficiencies in assessing clients for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ahead of its July 1 roll-out.
The NDIS replaces lump-sum government funding of care providers with individual financial assistance based on clients’ personal needs and rehabilitation goals. Windgap is among thousands of nationwide allied health agencies working hard to maintain daily services while becoming ‘NDIS-ready’.
Pressure to meet NDIS deadline
Supported employment, accommodation, client training, community access and participation are the main services provided by Windgap, which was formed in a Coogee house in 1953 by a group of parents whose disabled children were denied access to the standard education system. The foundation recently expanded to service more areas of metropolitan Sydney.
The easing of its NDIS administration workload was welcome and timely, according to Nina Oygur, Flexible Support Services Manager and NDIS Transition Coordinator. She supervised the ACAP graduates during their placements, and was involved in their employment.
“Amy and Chana have been magnificent additions to the Windgap Customer Care team,” said Nina.
“The NDIS is one of the biggest government initiatives in history, so there was a lot of work to get done. Amy and Chana not only provided two extra sets of hands – they also provided fresh perspective and enthusiasm. They became subject experts in pricing and the NDIS scheme in general.”
Job offer emotions
Chana and Amy began their placements at Windgap during the third trimester of their Master of Social Work (Qualifying) in early 2017. The pair were offered paid roles after impressing management with their NDIS initiatives and good fit with the team and organisational culture.
“I felt proud, nervous and excited at being offered this amazing opportunity,” said Chana.
“It was exciting to know the foundations and groundwork that was so carefully executed as a student, was to be a continued journey with the customer care team and the NDIS Transition process. I was excited but apprehensive knowing that the research phase and introduction to the disability sector was over, and we were seen as having the knowledge and skills to do this in a professional capacity.”
Amy was also excited and proud to start in her paid role as NDIS Transition Coordinator. She will transition to Support Coordinator after July 1.
“I felt truly appreciated by the Windgap team,” she said.
“All members of the various levels and departments expressed their gratitude for the extensive research we had carried out which enabled us to develop projects, presentations and resource tools that broke down barriers to access and education and contributed to a person-centred and holistic approach to the NDIS transition.”
Social workers making a difference
Nina says change management is the greatest challenge to NDIS-readiness in the field, as the system conversion affects participants, families and service providers at the evolution stage.
She believes the scheme’s benefits will be a better fit to the needs of clients and their families, providing an opportunity for people to reach their personal goals. Qualified social workers will play an important role in matching recipients with appropriate support and networks.
“The industry is in a state of flux at the moment, and our customer care team is growing and adapting in response to it. Amy and Chana were doing great work and they really carved out a role for themselves as crucial members of the team,” said Nina.
“Windgap’s Customer Care team had been developing a range of tools to assist our families with the NDIS transition. However Chana and Amy identified this particular tool as priority and were the project leaders in developing it. It is now a big part of our transition efforts and is a large part of how we do things.”
Find out more
ACAP offers undergraduate and postgraduate Social Work programs at its Sydney campus, with work placement at respected agencies to prepare graduates for the field. Read about the Windgap Foundation’s history and expertise here.
Nina, Chana and Amy were interviewed in June 2017