Our stories

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World Hearing Day

5 Mar 2018

To mark World Hearing Day this year, Ability Links Hunter Central Coast and partners have launched ‘Listening In’, a communities-based research effort to improve opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  It starts with an online questionnaire and ends with a call to action – to help find more about what hearing assistance and supports are working, and what’s not. 

One in six Australians are affected by hearing loss, nearly four million people nationwide. 

By 2050, that number is forecast to reach one in four Australians, making it the second most common condition nationally – more common than asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. 

The theme for this year’s World Hearing Day (March 3, 2018) is “Hear the future … and prepare for it”.


Cinema Captioning

1 Mar 2018

Vinnies Ability Links Cinema Captioning project started in early 2017 with Sutherland Linker Mark Burgess approaching the GU Film House Cronulla with the aim of securing an open captioned movie every fortnight. The primary target audience was the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. 

There are benefits to open captioning beyond making the cinema experience accessible for people who are Deaf/Hard of hearing. For example, open captions also help people learn English. 

GU Film House Cronulla was supportive of the project and by July 2017 had committed to one film a fortnight being shown with open captions. 

The project was then picked up by a Linker in eastern Sydney, Michael, who approached the Ritz Cinema in Randwick about starting captioned screenings. In August The Ritz Cinema started weekly open captioned screenings.

Mark and Michael worked to promote the captioned screenings online, including through Deaf networks. Audience numbers continue to grow and The Ritz now has two open captioned screenings a week. 


Read more

With Grace

2 Feb 2018

Grace came in contact with Vinnies Ability Links after a recommendation from her husband’s doctors.

Grace’s husband has had a stroke and is now unable to work or drive. He does not speak much English and relies on Grace for all of his communications with doctors, physios and so on. 

Grace is currently her husband’s main carer, however she is working with the NDIS to have him engaged in some social activities so she can get out of the house more.

Grace worked with her Ability Linker, Katie, to find ways to gain independence. One thing she wanted to do was get her driver’s licence. 

“It was very difficult to get my licence because I don’t often use computers. But Katie encouraged me to use the computer and explained things to me very slowly and clearly. This helped me a lot.

Katie has been so supportive for me. She encouraged me for months to practice for my learners drivers licence, and when I got my learners licence she helped me find insurance and register my car.”

Katie and Grace also worked together to find a course in computers, and Grace has now started studying at TAFE. She is also considering finding a job to earn some money. 

“Katie has made me feel much more confident in myself and I feel like I am able to do the things I would like to do.
I am excited to learn to drive and get my licence to drive on my own.

It will be very great when I get my licence to drive on my own because it will give my husband and I so much more freedom, and we won’t have to catch the bus anymore.

I am excited to be more confident and not be scared anymore of not doing things right.”


Taking the Anime Lead

18 Dec 2017

When Will first met his Ability Links Linker, he had been going through a tough time with severe anxiety and depression. Will was struggling to build friendships and wanted to be linked to a group where he could share his passion for anime and video games.

Through discussions with Will and other participants, the Linker saw that there was a gap in the community for people Will’s age and that met his wants and goals.

Through discussion with Will, the Linker he had an idea to start a pop culture group and asked Will if he would like to lead the group. Will said leading the group was out of his comfort zone but he wanted to give it a go. He liked the idea of showing and teaching other people about his passion for anime and video games.

Since then Will has grown into the role of club and has set up a club Facebook page, Skype to engage people from rural towns, promoted the group across the community, developed meeting agendas and identified anime movies to watch.

Click here to read the full story


A Turning Point for Linda

17 Dec 2017

Linda is a 61 year old woman with disability, and a carer for her daughter. Linda identifies as a proud Koori woman, and before she rang Ability Links, had never used a service for help.

Linda stated that, ‘I felt that my life was overwhelming and that I was drowning with no lifeline.’

While working with Linda, her Linker discovered that, due to helping her family, Linda was occasionally short on food or personal items which were sacrificed so she could pay her bills on time. Ability Links worked with Linda to organise for Centrelink back payments, and to arrange for her daughter to receive Abstudy, and travel assistance for the school bus.

Additionally, Ability Links connected Linda with a St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Conference, who gave her assistance with food items. 

Linda’s Linker also encouraged her to meet up at Turning Point- a local drop-in hub, which provides food relief, women’s support and craft and activities in a safe space.

Linda was so pleased to find support in a safe, non-judgemental place that she agreed to attend the social group. 

Linda is also being supported to move house and to learn about doing Welcome to Country, as she has always been keen to share her experiences as a Koori woman of the stolen generation. 

Linda now says, 'I am more confident, and am starting to believe I am as strong and capable as my linker tells me I am.’

Read all the details here

The joy of learning new things

17 Dec 2017

Julie originally wished to be linked with a variety of activities so that she would have more opportunities to be active in the community.  Julie’s physical disability posed a challenge to being able to have regular involvement in anything other than medical appointments.

After surgery, Julie got back in touch with Ability Links. She expressed interest in signing up for the Spanish course she had held off from previously, but also wished to participate in some form of gentle exercise to help with her mobility.  Together with her Linker, Julie discovered both a local martial arts gym that had qigong classes for adults, and also signed up for a Spanish course at the library. 

After a few weeks of attending both the Spanish course and the qigong class, Julie stated to her Linker “It’s been such a long time since I felt this happy”.  

Read the full story

Maitland Park Bowling Club

13 Dec 2017

Maitland Park Bowling Club

Living in the communities they serve often means that Linkers are ideally-placed to help those communities identify barriers to access and inclusion, and facilitate capacity building in those areas.

In Maitland, for instance, a Linker who was on maternity leave had trouble accessing the local bowling club with a pram.
That is how a conversation started between the Maitland Ability Links team and the Maitland Park Bowling Club and Sporting Complex.

The linker talked to other club users about how they access the club, and whether they, too, experienced access issues.
Some of the older club users, as well as those living with disability, said they did have access concerns and had experienced difficulties accessing the club. A few people said they had stopped attending the club as a result.

Ability Links worked with the club’s president, Phillip Penfold, to coordinate a “conversation day” aimed at club users, and members, to talk about what more they thought could be done to improve accessibility at the club, and what more could be done to include people with disability and others with mobility challenges.

Through many conversations it was decided that the club needed a new entrance, incorporating a ramp and double glass sliding doors.

Armed with that information, Mr Penfold arranged for builders to visit the club and provide a quote on the works identified – their estimate of the costs involved was $50,000.

Another meeting was held to give club users and members a chance to throw around ideas about how to raise some money towards that cost. They volunteered to hold several fundraisers - a Family Fun Day, and a ‘Christmas in July Trivia’ event.

Different user groups of the club volunteered to conduct specific activities or complete certain jobs and roles. At the Family Fun Day, for example, the women involved with women’s bowls ladies volunteered to hold a cake stall; the men’s bowling arm  of the club volunteered to run a BBQ.

Ability Links supported the club by receiving donations for the raffle, and donations of meat and bread; and coordinating entertainment (such as a photo booth, music, jumping castles and a face painter).

Ability Links also supplied staff to assist with the running of the day and to help out where needed. 

The Family Fun Day was held on the 19th of March 2017 was a great success - the club raised a total of $8000.

Ability Links then, in consultation with Maitland Park Bowling Club, set off to prepare for the Christmas in July Trivia on the 15th of July 2017. Linkers supported the club to source prizes for their auction and assisted the club with setting up and packing up on the night.

Maitland Park Bowling Club have since been in contact with Ability Links to let know that the club still has roughly $10,000 left to raise for the ramp and doors. 

Ability Links is continuing to work with the club to reach their goal to become more accessible and inclusive by means of installing a ramp and double glass sliding doors.

Overcoming Setbacks

30 Nov 2017

Overcoming Setbacks - Another great story about how our Linkers can help people to overcome challenges.

Natasha is a 35-year-old woman who has long struggled with her mental health. Due to her anxiety and depression, she found herself becoming increasingly socially isolated over time.

When she met with a Linker, Natasha identified a number of goals she wanted to explore to help her re-engage with her community, including volunteer work, possibly in an administrative capacity, and doing more exercise.

Natasha took a few weeks to consider details provided of the volunteer program offered by the Belmont Neighbourhood Centre. She was disappointed that the neighbourhood centre already had a full contingent of office volunteers, and so she asked her linker to look into the possibility of volunteering at a local medical centre.

Unfortunately, the linker found that there was no need of a volunteer receptionist or administration assistant at the local medical centre, however, Natasha managed to turn her disappointment around.

She did connect with the Belmont Neighbourhood Centre afterall, and committed to volunteering at their “Habitat in Harmony” community garden. She also came up with her own list of organisations she thought might welcome a volunteer. Together with her Linker, Natasha explored volunteering opportunities at schools and real estate agents.

Natasha also took charge of her exercise goal. When she and the Linker first met, Natasha mentioned that she enjoyed bike riding. One of her goals was to investigate social cycling clubs. While the Linker was researching cycling clubs in Natasha’s local area, Natasha decided to start cycling on her own, which she now does twice a week, with the support of her Mum.

Natasha still struggles with her health but she is volunteering and cycling her way back into her community.

#abilitylinksnsw #inclusivecoffee #socialinclusionweek #IDPWD

Mary meets the NSW Premier!

30 Nov 2017

Griffith poet Mary Catanzariti has been able to achieve one of her lifelong goals with the assistance of Intereach Ability Links.

Mary Catanzariti, who launched her first book ‘Mary’s Voice in Poetry’ in September, met with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday 30 November and presented her with a copy of her work.

Intereach Ability Links worked with Mary to publish the volume, which contains more than 30 poems.

The Ability Links NSW program is a way of connecting people with disability, their families and carers in the community. Linkers work closely with people with disability, their families and carers to support them to fulfil their goals, hopes and dreams. Ability Links Coordinators, known as ‘Linkers,’ work to help people achieve their dreams and goals.

Filter coffee, not people

21 Nov 2017

To mark Social Inclusion Week, Ability Links has designed coffee cups featuring quotes from people with disability which will be seen at cafes across NSW during the week. The quotes highlight how people would like to be included.

Over 100 cafes across NSW are taking part. Click here for a full list. 

Share your stories of inclusion, or upload a picture of your bright coffee cup, to social media with #inclusivecoffee. 

To read more, including the quotes used on the coffee cups please click here

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