Addressing Stigma and Stereotypes – Schizophrenia Awareness Week

Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can be difficult to diagnose because it shares some of the same symptoms as other mental health disorders. It affects between 150,000 and 200,000 Australians.

There are many misconceptions about schizophrenia. Unfortunately, these misconceptions can be harmful to people living with the condition.

Part of the problem is that schizophrenia is still misunderstood. And there’s also a lot of misinformation. That’s why it’s so important to bust the myths about the condition.

We thought we’d debunk some of the more common misconceptions about schizophrenia during Schizophrenia Awareness Week.


People living with schizophrenia have split personalities

Sometimes schizophrenia is confused with dissociative identity disorder, a split personality disorder. This isn’t true. Schizophrenia has many different symptoms that affect thoughts and behaviours. People with schizophrenia may have trouble determining what’s real and what isn’t, but they don’t have a split personality.

People living with schizophrenia are violent

This is another common misconception. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than commit violence themselves. This is because they tend to withdraw from social life and may have difficulty communicating and defending themselves.

People who have schizophrenia struggle to keep a job

Another misunderstanding is that it’s hard for people with schizophrenia to keep a job due to its symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. This isn’t true. With proper support and encouragement from family and friends, people with schizophrenia can overcome barriers and find their perfect job. 

Schizophrenia can’t be treated

Many people believe there’s no treatment for schizophrenia. However, this isn’t true. People with schizophrenia may sometimes struggle to manage their condition, but the right treatments can help. These include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes such as stress reduction and regular exercise. People can also find support by connecting with others who have similar experiences.

How can we support people living with schizophrenia?

We can support people living with schizophrenia by being sensitive to the unique challenges they may face. Many people with schizophrenia experience negative attitudes and are stigmatised, making it hard to form relationships or participate in their communities.

Through education and rejecting harmful stereotypes, we can help foster an environment of understanding where people feel supported and accepted. We can create a world where people living with schizophrenia feel safe and valued in our community.

By sharing truths about schizophrenia, we can create a more supportive and inclusive society.

Meet the LiveBig Brisbane Team

We’d love to introduce them to you and find out how they can support you.


Amanda Lasco – Occupational Therapist


Clinician Qualifications: Bachelor of Occupational Therapy 

Area of Coverage: Brisbane South

Tell us about your work at LiveBig: I am a Consultant of Occupational Therapy.

I support NDIS participants with different diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Global Developmental Delay, Intellectual disabilities, Attention Hyperactivity/Deficit Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and many others, to achieve their goals through ongoing sessions as well as assessments. 

What is your experience as an OT:  I have more than 10 years of experience. My professional background includes working with a variety of diagnosis and needs being part of a Multidisciplinary team, and I am particularly interested in working with early childhood early intervention. 

What are you passionate about: I love working with children and supporting their families to become their child’s best advocate and helping them translate evidence into practical strategies to achieve everyday learning and therapy.


Allysa Lei – Behaviour Support Practitioner

Clinician Qualifications: Bachelor of Psychology; Master of Counselling 

Area of Coverage: Brisbane North, Brisbane South, Logan and Ipswich 

Tell us about your work at LiveBig: I am a Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner at LiveBig, I work with participants and their stakeholders to promote positive behaviour and improve their overall quality of life by making changes to their environment and building their skills, such as communication and social skills, and building their mental health, flexibility and resilience.

What is your experience as a PBSP:  I have 5 years of experience supporting people with disability across the lifespan spectrum; from early childhood to older adults in managing behaviours of concern and improving their quality of life.

I conduct functional behaviour assessments to find information about the context of behaviours of concern, the skills that might be needed to replace the behaviour and the changes needed to make them and their support network feel safe and supported.  

I also work closely with my participants and support network to develop behaviour support intervention plans and strategies to help them live a fulfilling life.

What are you passionate about: I am passionate about using a strength-focused model to help my participants learn new skills and knowledge to take charge of their own life to make a positive impact. I always have faith in my clients and have always been amazed by their resilience.

I genuinely love what I do and strive to work hard to achieve the best outcomes for my participants.

Our quality clinicians have appointments available now, so there’s no better time to get in touch with us and make a referral.

Make a referral with LiveBig today

Self-Care and Support over the Holidays: Juliet Middleton interview with Vision Australia

LiveBig Chief Executive Officer Juliet Middleton, featured on Vision Australia Radio to speak with Peter Greco on ‘Focal Point’ about the importance of self-care and support for people with disability over the holiday season.

Listen to her fantastic interview now:

As Juliet mentioned in her interview, there is a lot of information about the services we provide on our website, let us know how we can help you.

 Livebig provide services across NSW, Victoria, and Queensland for Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Psychology, Behaviour Support, Individual Counselling and more. Submit your enquiries and referrals through to our website, and our Livebig team will be more than happy to help you.

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%.

NDIS Update – 2022 Legislation Amendments

The following information has been sourced from the NDIS.

On 1 July, some changes to the NDIS Act came into effect including:

  1. Acknowledging the central role of people with disability in co-design and the need to recognise and respect the relationship between people with disability and their families and carers.
  2. Introducing plan variations to make it easier and faster for participants to have their plan adjusted in specific situations without needing to go through a full plan reassessment.
  3. Updating terminology including replacing ‘plan review’ with ‘plan reassessment’ to avoid confusion with reviews of decisions.
  4. Clarifying that ‘episodic and fluctuating conditions’ (including psychosocial disability) can be considered permanent for the purposes of determining if someone might be eligible for the Scheme.
  5. Adding protections for participants who want to use a plan manager.

These changes are designed to support us to deliver a better experience and outcomes for NDIS participants, their families and carers.

You can read more about these and other changes on the NDIS website.

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.

Making a Difference with Behaviour Support

What are Behaviour Support services?

 Behaviour support services can help you address, manage and reduce behaviour (actions) that may harm you, others, or your environment. Behaviour support is registered under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as Assessment, Recommendation, Therapy And/Or Training (Incl. AT) – Other Therapy.


When might I benefit from Behaviour Support?

Behaviour Support may help you if you have complex or unclear needs and need what is called a Functional-Based Assessment. If you need long term or intensive support services, your behaviour support practitioner will help you understand what is available.

Life can be frustrating. No one always gets what they want, gets their own way or always understands why they can’t have what they want. Sometimes, we are asked to change our behaviour. This is often the case when other people expect and want us to behave differently to the way that we do.


What is a Behaviour Support practitioner?

A Behaviour Support Practitioner helps people with their behaviour. They can look at why someone is behaving a certain way and develop plans that might involve using less restrictive practices to manage the behaviour. There are four levels of practitioners: core, proficient, advanced and specialist.

A Behaviour Support Practitioner will create an individual plan to address the needs of each person they support. The plan will work toward reducing or removing the need to use regulated restrictive practices.


What steps are involved in behaviour support?

A Behaviour Support Practitioner works on a guided plan to help people achieve their NDIS goals. The steps involved are:


Goal Setting
  • You can set goals to help you change your behaviour. We support you to focus on improving your behaviour one step at a time. We keep working with you to progress to the next step.
  • We help you to understand why people want you to change your behaviour and what they expect from you. We are on your side to live your best life.


Function-Based Assessments
  • Behaviour Assessments help us to better understand who you are and why you use certain behaviours.
  • We complete indirect assessments and review what you’ve tried in the past, what worked and what didn’t work.
  • We complete direct assessments by observing and collecting data for analysis.
  • Support Model Assessments provide recommendations about how your support needs could be addressed in a holistic way across all areas of your life.


Behaviour Support Plans
  • Behaviour Support Plans outline the Function(s) of behaviour and outline ways that your support team could intervene to help you improve. They outline proactive and reactive strategies.
  • Proactive strategies are interventions used regularly to reduce the likelihood of recurrence of the target behaviour.
  • Reactive strategies are interventions used after the target behaviour has occurred to help de-escalate a situation more quickly.


What behavioural support services does LiveBig offer?

We provide the following services that are either self or plan managed:

  • Early Intervention (0-6) that are either self- managed or plan managed:
  • Therapeutic Service (7+) With Restrictive Practices that are either NDIA managed, Self-Managed or Plan Managed.
  • Therapeutic Service (7+) that are either NDIA managed, Self-Managed or Plan Managed

We offer the same service to everyone. Whether you manage your plan, use a plan manager, or are managed by the NDIA. We also have flexible arrangements to help you get the most out of your NDIS plan. We want to make sure that you make the best decisions for yourself. We will work with you, your family and carers to make sure this happens.

We will support you to establish and achieve your goals.



New NDIS Guide for Employment Supports

Looking for work or thinking about changing jobs can be confusing. It can be hard to find information that is right for you. Knowing where to look and who to ask for help can be overwhelming.

The NDIA has developed a guide to help you find the right information.  This is known as the Guide for understanding employment supports.


What is the Guide to understanding employment supports?

The Guide to understanding employment supports was designed to help you understand the different employment supports available. It explains the support options available to you depending on your work goals.

The information in the guide is based on research, and other evidence about the different types of employment supports available. It can help you if you have never worked before or haven’t worked in a long time.

The guide is aimed at outcomes for people living with autism, intellectual disabilities, and psychosocial disabilities, and people with other disabilities may also find them helpful.


What does the guide for understanding employment supports cover?

The guide provides information to help you understand each of the six employment support categories available.

Each employment support section includes how the NDIS can support you, a list of service providers and links to other support options. They also offer suggestions of what questions you might like to ask, specific to your circumstances.

They also include information specific to each of the employment supports, as follows:


Developing a pathway to work

  • What you should think about when creating a pathway to work.
  • Who you can talk to when starting your pathway to work.
  • The different support options available to you including Individualised Placement Supports and Bridging programs.


Moving from school to work

  • The importance of getting a job as soon as possible after leaving school.
  • The people you can talk to about moving from school to work and how they may be able to help you.
  • A list of support options available to you when you are moving from school to work.


Getting a job

  • The benefits of getting a job.
  • Who you can talk to when thinking about getting a job and how they may be able to help.
  • The support options available when you’re ready to look at getting a job.


Thinking about self-employment

  • Why you should think about keeping your job.
  • Who you can talk to about keeping your job.
  • A list of options available to you when thinking about keeping your job.


Changing jobs

  • A list of things to think about before changing jobs.
  • Who you can talk with for support when you’re thinking of changing your job.
  • The support options available to you, such as Individual Placement Supports.
  • Ways the NDIS can support you in changing jobs and some questions you may want to ask them.


You can access the guide on the NDIS website. You can also access an easy read document here.

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