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Highlights from a day in the life of a Brotherhood of St Laurence Local Area Coordinator (LAC)

The role of an LAC at the Brotherhood of St Laurence is to support all people with disability and their families in the North East Melbourne area in Melbourne.

The main role of LACs is to support people with disability and their families to understand and navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). LACs need to build rapport quickly and communicate with compassion and clarify with people from a range of backgrounds.

LACs are required to develop a deep understanding of the local community. They engage in community capacity building to build a more inclusive community and linking people with disability and their families with supports in the community and other government funded supports.

LACs are required to understand and apply the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 in their work, particularly applying and explaining “reasonable and necessary supports”.

8.55am- Grab a coffee.

9.00am- Respond to enquiries.

LACs receive many enquiries from people in the community, participants of the NDIS and their families; and service providers about the NDIS.

One of the phone enquires today is from a participant’s carer who wants to discuss a plan that been approved few months ago. They are worried that there is not enough funding for a specific type support. The LAC resolves the enquiry by explaining and discussing how funds can be used flexibly with a NDIS plan.

Another email enquiry is from a service provider wanting to clarify In-Kind funding arrangements for a participant with a psychosocial disability. The LAC explains how In-Kind funding applies for this specific example.

11.00am- Planning meeting.

LAC meets with an eight year old participant and his parents in their home. The LAC is able to build rapport with the participant and observe the participant in the home environment.

The LAC has a conversation with the parents about their experience of caring for the participant, current support and goals. In addition to eliciting relevant information, having a conversation enables the LAC to connect and built rapport with the parents.

An advocate is also present at the meeting. LAC and the advocate is able to identify number of community supports the participant could link in with including a group at the local library. LAC agrees to contact the library to explore this option.

LAC also explains the NDIS pathway, pros and cons of different plan management options; and explain and answers questions related to “reasonable and necessary supports” that can be funded by the NDIS.

Additionally, as the participant has accessed the NDIS via the early intervention stream, the LAC explains the process of review and information required at the end of the plan period.

1.00pm – LAC thinks about having a healthy lunch.

1.30pm – Supporting a community member to access the NDIS.

Often people will drop-in with questions enquiries about the NDIS.

A potential participant drops in to check if they have filled out the access request form correctly and if the supporting documentation they have is appropriate. The LAC reviews the access form and the supporting documentation. The supporting documentation is from a medical specialist and is very clinical in nature. The LAC explains that the supporting documentation may not provide enough information of the functional impact of the participant’s disability.

LAC gathers consent to liaise with the medical specialist to discuss what kind information may be required for delegate of the National Disability Insurance Scheme to make an access decision.

This interaction also provides an opportunity for the LAC to discuss community supports and other government supports available for this person who may or may not become a participant of the NDIS. The LAC documents number of supports that the person agrees to follow up with.

2.30pm – Formulate the draft plan from the planning meeting earlier in the day.

There is an email enquiry from the parents of the eight year old participant about specific supports, including specific therapeutic supports that they would like NDIS funding for.

As it an unusual therapeutic support the LAC discusses this request with one of the other LACs who are knowledgeable in this area. Together they refer to the Rules of the NDIS Act that articulate Support for Participants to daft a response to the parents explaining how some supports requested meet the “reasonable and necessary” criteria and why some may not.

3.45pm – Contact with a community support – Play Group at the Local Library

LAC contacts the group coordinator at the local Library as this was a community support that was identified at the planning meeting. LAC discusses if the eight year old participant is able to access the activity group and what reasonable adjustments could be made for the participant.

The staff member at the library reports that many parents and carers at the play group would benefit from information about the NDIS. The LAC organises a time to attend the play group present information about the NDIS.

4.10pm – Informal chat with a peer LAC.

LAC has a quick chat about the planning meeting particularly to debrief about the challenges the parents have faced in attempting to get appropriate supports for their child in the past. Both agree that combination of community supports and funded supports under the NDIS is likely to be life changing for this family.

4.55pm- Reflect that it’s a privilege to be part of this significant reform!

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