Two months ago, when Vernon joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and chose Open Minds as his service provider, he set himself what he thought would be a long-term goal – to live independently. But to his surprise he managed to achieve this goal within just two months.
The 33-year Townsville man, who is vision impaired with an intellectual disability, was determined to move out of his mum’s house and be his own person.
Now Vernon is living independently in a one-bedroom unit with Open Minds supporting him four days a week, in three-hour blocks, and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m in a one-bedroom unit. It’s very good. I’m loving it – It’s my own place and I’ve already purchased my own pots and pans,” he said proudly.
The flexibility of Vernon’s supports has surprised him too, with Open Minds adjusting his weekly hours to help him transition smoother into his unit, and adapt to the reality of independent living.
“Open Minds has been great at getting me a double shift. I had to drop one of my days but being able to have a double-shift (six hours of support) in one day was really helpful,” he said.
During the double shift, Vernon and Jordana, his Open Minds support worker, were able to visit an array of shops to buy everything he needed to set up himself up nicely in his new place.
“Buying things for my unit made me feel so happy,” Vernon said. “To have my own place, to do my own thing, and be able to pick my own furniture and stuff, was fantastic.”
Jordana, who has been working closely with Vernon for the past few months, said in the short time he has been with the NDIS and Open Minds, she has witnessed remarkable results.
“I’m just so happy for him,” she said. “Apart from achieving his long-term goal quickly he is also busy working on other NDIS goals.
“At the moment Vernon has funding to do his Certificate I in Numeracy and Literacy at TAFE, which he has nearly finished. His next goal is to do more study, a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting, so in the future he can start his own small business.”
Vernon said his family are proud with what he has been able to achieve too, especially his mum.
“Mum has helped me a lot,” he said. “She couldn’t believe I achieved my goal so fast. She is very happy for me.
“Sometimes she said she didn’t want me to go because she would miss me,” he said with a laugh.
With his goals becoming a reality, Vernon is comfortable taking all his newfound freedom in his stride.
“For now, I just want to settle where I am in my unit and get it all sorted and dusted away, then I’ll go from there.
“My very very long-term goal, maybe in the next six to 10 months, is to find a home and settle back in Palm Island, where I’m originally from. Then I will help my family build a tourism business there.
“I would encourage everyone to look into the NDIS and Open Minds because life is much better with funding and supports.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank NDIS and Open Minds very much,” he said.
The NDIS provides Australians under the age of 65 with a permanent and significant disability the supports they need to live an ordinary life and to increase their social and economic participation. The NDIS is now providing support to more than 300,000 Australians.