This summer is packed full of great, accessible events. Don’t miss out!

The summer period is a beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy the weather. While it isn’t always easy to find accessible venues, we’ve done the hard work for you! This summer, make sure you are ready to get out and enjoy the sun with our great advice below.

Summer fun inside and out

If you’re looking for some great accessible options this summer, there are places all over the country to enjoy everything Australia has to offer. Below, we have a list that will suit anybody.

  • Beaches and Parks – A huge part of the Aussie lifestyle, beaches and parks during the holidays are a huge day out! More locations become suitable every year. You can find great accessible beaches and accessible national parks and trail advice here.
  • Playgrounds – Always a fun outing for children, the number of accessible locations is growing quickly. Plus, many are installing wheelchair-friendly ‘Liberty Swings’ and other great fun. You can find a list of them right here.
  • Sporting and Cultural Venues – This time of year is always a great chance to get out and see museums, sports, and cultural events. No matter what event you look at, large venues now have great provision and support for patrons with access needs.
  • Major sporting codes are making in-roads for full diversity access across major venues and are worth checking out – especially the Big Bash League with constant games. There are heaps of accessible sporting options for those looking to play as well! Check out Disability Sports today!
  • There are some fantastic accessibility initiatives hosted by a huge range of museums, aquariums, and activity centers around the country. Options such as Sealife in Sydney or Melbourne, Museums Victoria, and Village Cinemas Sensory Events exist, with more available at Independence Australia.
  • Holiday Camps – Councils and groups across the country are providing more holiday camps and social events all the time. MyCareSpace.com.au provides a list of places across the country for sport, social, educational, and welfare activities. Check the list out here on the MyCareSpace website or get further help from your national

Music in the sun

During summer, Australia shows the rest of the world just how great our music scene is with some amazing venues and festivals with the world’s biggest artists. If you’re looking for options, make sure to check out some of these:

  • Ability Fest, launched by the Dylan Allcott Foundation, is aiming for another huge music and cultural event in 2023. Keep an eye out at their website and linked social media for upcoming details!
  • If you’re looking for something locked-in, check out Laneway Festival for all of the info related to their events across the country this year. With accessibility options and support available across most of their stages and venues, it’s a fantastic chance to see some local music talent on a huge scene. Contact them for more help and advice!

We hope you have a brilliant summer because there is nothing better than being active during these beautiful Aussie summers. We cannot wait to hear about it!

Accessibility Series – When Accessibility is Music to our Ears

You can’t stop the music – but sometimes a lack of access can stop us getting to the music, especially if it is outdoors. Thankfully a host of music festivals now cater to people living with all sorts of disabilities. If you love your music, here are some events to check out.

Ability Fest

Easily the top of the list is this one-day music festival designed for people (age 18+) living with disability.

Ability Fest aims to promote diversity and inclusion and raise money to empower young people with disabilities to achieve their ambitions.

It was launched by the Dylan Alcott Foundation and the Untitled Group. Wheelchair sports star and 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott is a big music fan who has even been known to crowd surf in his wheelchair.

The festival features specifically designed infrastructure for all levels of ability – including elevated viewing platforms and accessible pathways, ramps, and bathroom facilities – plus Auslan translators on stage, quiet zones for sensory sensitive patrons, support dog accessibility and free tickets for carers. All event staff are provided with disability inclusion training.

The 2021 event at Melbourne’s Alexandra Gardens featured high-profile artists Alex The Astronaut, Ebony Boadu, Inkrewsive and Peking Duk who all donated their time – along with the venue and organisers – to raise $400,000.

Another festival is planned for Melbourne in 2023. 

Check out Ability Fest’s Website.  

Falls Festival

The annual Falls Music Festival is held in various locations around New Year and caters to people living with a disability. It recognises Companion Cards and provides disability amenities along with accessible parking and wheelchair access in some parts of the venue. Specific access arrangements can be made with organisers.

Falls Festival will be held in Melbourne on December 29, 30 and 31; in Byron Bay on December 31 and January 1 and 2; and in Fremantle on January 7 and 8.

It features headline acts including Arctic Monkeys, Lil Nas X, Chvrches, Ocean Alley, Spacey Jane, G Flip, Pink Pantheress and Amyl And The Sniffers. 

Learn more at Falls Festival’s Website.

Tamworth Country Music Festival

A regular fixture on the calendar for any country music fan, TCMF is running from January 13 to 22, 2023 with plenty of access for people living with a disability.

The event features an accessibility map on its main program, with disability transport and parking facilities and accessible toilets throughout the Festival precinct.

Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre, Tamworth Town Hall and Capitol Theatre have designated accessible viewing areas for patrons, while Toyota Park main stage features two large screens.

Find out all information on CMF’s website

Mitchell Creek Rock ‘N’ Blues Festival

Over three days from 15-17 September 2023, this blues festival features more than 120 artists on a private property at Mary Valley in the Noosa Hinterland.

It is a disability friendly event with designated access and viewing areas in performance venues, along with camping areas with disability access hot showers and toilet facilities.

All you need to know can be discovered on there website.

We can help

At LiveBig, we are all about helping people with a disability live their best life. Find out more about the many ways in which we can help and support you to do whatever you want to do.

Accessibility Series – Cheering On Your Favourite Team!

Australia is a nation of sports lovers. There’s no denying that! Our last article provided tips to help you plan a trip to the snow. This month, we look at the different sporting events people with disability can get involved with.

If you’re a person with disability looking to get a little more active as we approach spring, it may be worth checking out Disability Sports Australia (DSA). DSA is dedicated to enabling people with disability to be more active. You can look for a new sport you may like to try or find service providers that offer your favourite sport. Or you can use the NDSP National Referral Hub (NRH) to help you find a sporting club or activity right for you.

If you’re more a spectator than a participant, that’s ok too. You can enjoy your favourite game in many ways, whether you’re passionate about Premier League netball, Australian Football League (AFL) or the National Rugby League (NRL).

So, grab your favourite Guernsey, beanie and scarf and head out to cheer on your favourite team.

Supporting your favourite AFL team

With finals season underway, there are an exciting few weeks ahead. If your team made the finals, make sure you head to the ground to cheer them on!

Several clubs are leading the way in removing barriers and making AFL games accessible for all. St Kilda, Hawthorn and Geelong have sensory rooms at their home grounds. The quiet, dimly lit rooms allow families to escape from the noise and overwhelm of the crowd and sirens. This enables the family to remain at the game and enjoy the atmosphere in a calmer environment.

A sensory room is planned as part of the Docklands Stadium upgrade, and the AFL is considering sensory rooms for other venues.

The AFL website has a complete list of stadiums with links to each stadium for you to confirm accessibility features.

Cheering along at the NRL

As with AFL, finals fever is upon us. If your team is in the finals, Austadiums list each club’s home ground with links to the individual stadium.

If you’d like to play rugby league, the NRL All-abilities program runs competitions for all abilities.

Shooting for goals at netball

Though the Premier League season finished in August, there’s still an opportunity to support state-based competitions. If you’re in Victoria and not ready for the season to end yet, you can cheer on the teams in Netball Victoria’s State Finals, including mixed all-ability teams.

The finals are played from Friday, 30 September, to Sunday, 2 October, at the State Netball Centre, Parkville.

A-League saves you from winter sports withdrawal

If you suffer sports withdrawal over the summer off-season, don’t be sad! Football Australia has announced the A-League 2022/23 dates, starting in October. You can view the match calendar here. Austadiums list the match venues with links to each stadium to check accessibility.

 

Check back with us next month for the next LiveBig accessibility segment.

What Is Microaggression and How Do We Overcome It?

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way in terms of how society perceives disability – but there is still further to go.

We know the importance of focusing on the person first, not just their disability. We understand the negativity that comes with stereotypes, and we work to remove such barriers and assumptions to create a more inclusive society.

Which is why a recent LinkedIn post by Employ For Ability principal neurodiversity consultant Kate Halpin struck a chord. She raised the issue of microaggressions – indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against a marginalised group.

 

The problem with microaggression

Kate says microaggressions are everyday reminders of common stereotypes, especially relating to mistaken assumptions about people living with a disability. She says often it can be unintended, yet still “devalues and limits the potential” of people with disability – and that many deep-rooted beliefs about disability must change.

She shared a graphic from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society website showing examples of disability-related microaggressions – which prompted us to look at ways we can overcome this.

 

Turn the table on microaggression

Here are some suggestions for positive attitudes and behaviours to help create a more inclusive society for people living with disability:

  • Accept that a person with a disability will likely need some supports, or concessions, to achieve their full potential – they are not just being “difficult”. Ensure they have the right support they need to fully participate as an equal.
  • At the same time, understand they are often more capable than they might seem. If someone who relies on a wheelchair for mobility says they don’t need your help, believe them.
  • Forget the stereotypes and approach someone with a disability with an open mind – find out who are they as a person, and what are they capable of.
  • Speak to them in the same manner as you would any other person. If they decline a handshake or avoid eye contact, don’t make a fuss – simply carry on your conversation.
  • Treat them the same as anyone else in the room. Because they are.
  • Give them time to speak and make their point when needed.
  • Include them in work projects and seek their input. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so do people living with a disability – often they are more skilled in many ways.
  • Accept not everyone is good at speaking in front of a crowd.
  • Focus on what they are good at.
  • Include them in meetings with senior management or clients if their position, experience or skills warrants them being invited.
  • Give people with intellectual impairments enough instruction, guidance and time to learn new tasks – people with intellectual disability are capable of being learners.
  • Understand that not joining in the office birthday celebration may mean that your colleague doesn’t like crowds or noise – not that they don’t like you.
  • Choose a disability-friendly venue for a gathering – such as a wheelchair-accessible restaurant – to ensure they are not just included in your invitation but able to attend. If they were vegan, you would choose a restaurant with appropriate menu options.
  • Make sure any equipment that is designed to assist a person with a disability is always available to them – and that includes not using disability access parking spaces or bathrooms even if “no one needed it at the time”.

 

We are advocates for enabling people with any form of disability to live life to the best of their ability – and having the right environments in which to thrive. Contact one of our friendly experts to find out more.

What the Latest NDIS Report Means For You

The NDIS recently celebrated its 9th birthday by welcoming almost 20,000 new participants in the quarter ending 30 June 2022. The latest National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) quarterly report shows 534,655 people in Australia are receiving individual funding packages for disability-related supports.

That has grown from just 29,719 participants in 2015-2016, after three years of a trial NDIS.

National Disability Insurance Agency acting CEO Dr Lisa Studdert said the scheme has reached a significant milestone. The data demonstrates the NDIA’s progress in working with participants, their support networks, and the disability sector to overcome challenges and support participants across all aspects of their NDIS experience, she said.

“I’m pleased today’s NDIS Quarterly Report shows the NDIS is supporting 534,655 participants,” Dr Studdert said in releasing the quarterly review on 1 August.

“It highlights the important work the NDIA is doing to continuously improve the experience for participants.”

Over the past five years, payments for supports have grown from $2,238 million to $28,661 million. More importantly for individuals, on average payments per participant also increased from $32,300 in 2016-2017 to $55,200 – which is good news for anyone on an NDIS plan.

What’s new?

The report revealed of 19,291 new participants who joined the NDIS in the last quarter of financial year 2021-2022:

  • 44% (8,419) were children, taking the total of NDIS participants younger than 7 to 82,863;
  • 1%, or 1,762 new participants, identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people for a total of 38,846 participants; and
  • 3% (1,792) identified as being from a culturally and linguistically diverse community, taking that total to 49,201 participants.

The report shows participant outcomes have continued to improve under the scheme. More children are now able to enjoy  support for friendships, including at school, while older children report feel a greater sense of choice and control in their lives.

More people with a disability aged 15 and older are also becoming increasingly involved in community activities, learning new things, and becoming a part of their local communities. They also report improved access to health services.

 

Coping with COVID

One of the key elements singled out in the report was the NDIA’s continued work to support the disability sector deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As well as helping facilitate vaccinations and rapid antigen tests, the NDIA supported additional measures to ensure providers could continue to maintain services amid staff disruptions caused by the illness and the need to isolate.

 

Weathering the storm

The report also details how the NDIA helped ensure essential care could continue in the middle of devastating floods in NSW and Queensland.

“The NDIA and partners worked alongside disability support organisations and support workers to provide essential care to participants affected by floods,” Dr Studdert said.

 

Working together

A recent amendment to the NDIS Act enshrined a commitment that “people with a disability are central to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and should be included in a co-design capacity”.

In the June quarter, the NDIA said its Co-design Advisory group continued to meet and provide advice. “The NDIA remains committed to working closely with participants, their families and carers to co-design improvements to the NDIS,” Dr Studdert said. 

 

Other changes

On 1 July 2022, several changes also came into effect including:

  • Updated terminology, including replacing “plan review” with “plan reassessment” to avoid confusion;
  • Introducing plan variations to make it easier and faster for participants to have their plan adjusted in specific situations;
  • Adding protections for participants who want to use a plan manager; and
  • Price limits for supports delivered by disability support workers increased by 9%.

Everything You Need to Know About Getting the Flu Vaccine as a Person With Disability

Just like during the earlier stages of the pandemic, it is vital to ensure you are vaccinated against the flu to give yourself the best fighting chance against the illness. The vaccine can help you avoid it, or reduce your chances of getting serious and often debilitating symptoms should you catch it.

After more than two years of isolation and restriction – when keeping Covid at bay also meant we were less exposed to the usual winter woes such as influenza – people are out and about again. Sadly, not everyone is taking the proper precautions to limit the spread of diseases.

 

Is the flu dangerous?

Influenza is a very contagious infection of the airways. It affects people of all ages. Although it can be a mild disease, it can also cause grave illness in otherwise healthy people – it can even be deadly.

7NEWS.com.au recently reported Australia has had its worst May on record for flu cases – with about 65,770 confirmed influenza cases, more than double the previous May record set in 2019.

Some people with disabilities or medical conditions – including cardiac, respiratory, chronic neurological or immunocompromising conditions, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, renal disease or haematological disorders – are more susceptible to severe symptoms if they contract the flu.

 

How do I protect myself?

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from serious disease caused by influenza. For the best protection, you should get your flu vaccination as soon as possible.

You can have a flu vaccine at anytime but keep in mind that the highest level of protection occurs in the first three to four months after you receive the vaccine – and the influenza season runs from June to September.

Influenza vaccines can be given on the same day with a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

What are the side effects?

Just like the Covid vaccine, there are possible side effects from the flu vaccine but these are usually minor and don’t last very long.

Typical reactions include

  • pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
  • fever, tiredness, body aches

If you have concerns about possible side-effects because of your disability or condition, talk to your immunisation provider.

 

Where do I get a vaccine?

Your local GP or regular health care provider is usually the best first option to try to book a flu vaccine, or vaccinations will often be organised for people with a disability living in care facilities or supported accommodation.

You can also try a local pharmacy, immunisation centre, or community health care centre, or use use the Health Service Finder  to find the nearest GP clinic or pharmacy.

If you are unsure where to go, or even whether you should get vaccinated, reach out to our friendly team.

 

I am looking for a simpler way to access information about Covid-19 and Influenza. Where can I find this?

For those concerned about getting a vaccination and looking for a simpler way to access information, the NDIS has a variety of Easy Read resources on their website. 

Access them below:

How Asking for Home and Living Supports Under the NDIS Has Changed – And How We Can Help.

Recently, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced it was improving the process for requesting home and living supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

From June 9, these sorts of requests can now be made as part of your overall plan. The NDIA said it changed the process to make it more “timely and consistent”, while respecting everyone’s individual and often complex needs.

So, what does this mean for you? Let’s start at the beginning:

 

What are Home and Living Supports?

The NDIA says it may fund reasonable and necessary home and living supports such as:

  • Capacity building to help people to improve their living skills, their money and household management, social and communication skills, and behaviour management;
  • Capacity building support to help people develop skills to improve their independence;
  • Home modifications to a person’s home or a private rental property, or case-by-case basis in social housing;
  • Assistive technology to allow a person with a disability to remain independent;
  • Support for day-to-day tasks or personal care, such as help with showering and dressing, or around the home such as laundry and cleaning.

The NDIS may also contribute to the cost of accommodation where a person’s disability means they need specialised accommodation.

 

What has changed?

Anyone who needs to request a new support, or change their home and living supports, can now do so as part of their regular NDIS plan reviews.

The new Supporting Evidence Form – Home and Living can be submitted in one of three ways:

  • Within 100 days of a plan end date, so it can be considered during a scheduled plan review;
  • As part of a change of situation or change of details, along with the relevant change form; or
  • As a request for a decision review, with the relevant review request form.

The new Supporting Evidence Form – Home and Living replaces the old Home and Living Supports request form. If you have recently submitted a request using the previous form, don’t worry – it will still be processed the same way. Just use the new form next time.

The new form will also help participants choose the correct option for their needs. You will, as usual, need to include any other relevant information such as any assessments or recommendations from your treating professionals.

 

What does this mean for people with disability?

The NDIA said it had made the changes after speaking with people with a disability, their families and carers, and organisations and stakeholders in the disability sector.

The changes are designed to:

  • Speed up the process, to make sure that the people who need supports are getting them as soon as possible
  • Meet the NDIA Participant Service Guarantee time commitments
  • Simplify the process, but also ensure it is consistent – so that everyone can expect the same level of service.

In essence, what it means for you is: You should still be able to access all the same supports you need, but hopefully the process will be easier and more straightforward.

 

What if I have a plan review coming up?

If you are unsure about how to approach this – especially if you having a review pending – then get in touch with our team of experts at LiveBig. We can assess your needs and help you to work out incorporating the appropriate Home and Living Supports in your plan review.

Stretch It Out this International Day of Yoga

The International Day of Yoga is celebrated across the world on June 21.

The theme for 2022 is Yoga For Humanity. The UN’s Yoga Day website explains that, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the world, there was an urgent need to address its ongoing impact on both physical and mental health.

The UN said, at the height of the pandemic border closures and lockdowns, many people around the world embraced yoga to stay healthy and fight depression. It says the “essence of yoga is balance – not just balance within the body or that between the mind and the body, but also balance in the human relationship with the world”.

Which sounds wonderful, but how does that apply for people living with a disability?

Exercise and disability

We all know that exercise is good for us, with or without a disability.

Doing any sort of exercise within our abilities helps improve our health and wellbeing, including our mental health. For anyone, but particularly for people living with a disability, being in the best possible physical condition – whatever that means for each person and their level of ability – can help us better cope with some of the challenges we face each day.

But is yoga a stretch too far?

Not necessarily. In fact, for many people with a disability, yoga could be just the exercise regimen they need.

What is yoga?

The Yoga Australia website explains yoga is generally recognised as “as an ancient system of philosophies, principles and practices derived from the Vedic tradition of India and the Himalayas, more than 2500 years ago”.

It involves more than just exercises and stretches such a “downward dog” and “warrior pose”. Its techniques include postures and movement, breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-inquiry and meditation.

Yogability Australia believes that the benefits of yoga should be shared by all, particularly people who are living with a disability. It is a mobile and online service providing yoga, meditation & personal development to people on an NDIS plan.

It is designed to help people with a disability be happier, healthier and more self-reliant.

Sounds good. Where do I sign up?

There are some things to consider first. While yoga can be an ideal exercise for people with a disability – helping to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing – it is not for everyone.

And like all exercise, when you have physical limitations – through disability, illness and injury, or age – it is always wise to seek professional advice before starting something new, no matter how good it might possibly be for us.

Which is why you should contact us at LiveBig, where our team of experts – including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists – can assess your needs and abilities and help steer you toward the right yoga program for you.

Our team are NDIS registered and can provide individual advice about the right exercise program to help people with a disability improve their overall health and wellbeing and be able to live more independently.

Why not contact us now, and see what you might be able to try on International Day of Yoga.

Flood Relief and Support for People Living with Disability

The saying goes: It never rains but it pours, and that is certainly true in parts of Australia right now with one flood emergency followed by another in NSW and Queensland.

A combination of La Nina and a Madden-Julien Oscillation system has brought extremely heavy rainfalls to most of eastern and northern Australia, with forecasts of more wet weather to come.

Which is not great news for anyone, let alone someone living with a disability who needs support.

So, what do you do if you are affected by flood?

Are you in danger?

Of course, the first thing you should do if you are caught in a flood and your life may be in danger is to call Triple-0 for emergency help. That applies to everyone, whether you are living with a disability or not. If you are at risk and need help to evacuate, do not hesitate to call.

You should also monitor your local State Emergency Service (SES) updates on social media for the latest updates affecting your area – especially evacuation orders. You can find out more on the websites for NSW SES or Queensland SES or, in either state, call 132500.

People living with a disability who are affected by floods can also call the NDIS National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and press 5 for flood-related issues.

What help is available?

If you have had to evacuate and need temporary access to assistive technologies, supplies or services you had to leave behind, call the NDIS National Contact Centre (1800 800 110 and press 5).

If your need is urgent – particularly if your health is at risk or you are feeling unwell – contact the nearest hospital or medical centre for assistance.

You can also contact our team at LiveBig to find out how we may be able to help you. LiveBig is a specialist allied health and assessment services provider for people with disability, including those on an NDIS plan. We can help you understand what support is available, and how to access it.

The NDIS National Contact Centre can also help you get funding authorised over the phone for repairs or replacement of assistive technology lost or damaged in the floods. If your NDIS plan includes assistive technology, then repairs and maintenance are all part of the package. However, there are limits to the costs of repair or temporary hire. You can find out more on the NDIS Urgent AT Repairs page.

What about disaster payments?

The Australian Government has also announced one-off payments to help people who have been significantly affected by floods. The government’s Recovery Connect website can also help people who find access to recovery centres, food and essential services when they have to evacuate, and ongoing help and support is also available via Services Australia.

What about my job?

Unfortunately for many people, the floods have affected their livelihoods with many businesses forced to close. For people living with a disability, finding a new job can sometimes be harder than for others. Our sister company AimBig Employment are specialists at achieving the right employment outcomes for people with a disability. 

Make an enquiry
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