When Najmah Alkhameesi and her family arrived in Australia from Iraq in 2013, they knew they had reached a safe haven where they did not face the constant threat of danger. However, life in a new country, with a different culture, an unknown language and a family member with a disability didn’t turn out to be easy for this family of five.
ALNSW supports people with disability, their carers and family
Their situation started to improve the day she was referred to the Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) program by her case manager at Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, Mrs Alkhameesi said.
ALNSW is a free program delivered by SSI that supports people with disability, their family and carers to live the life they want as valued and equal members of their community.
By using a flexible approach, it taps into people’s unique potential, and helps to promote genuine inclusion and opportunities within communities to drive real change.
With her husband suffering from mental health issues due to the trauma experienced during war and with his mobility restricted after undergoing major surgery, Mrs Alkhameesi had become his full time carer. Mrs Alkhameesi also had some physical health issues and restricted mobility after several surgical interventions to solve her chronic health problems.
She contacted her local SSI Linker Zaidoon Rassak, whom she could speak with in her native Arabic and who coincidentally was also from Iraq.
ALNSW ‘Linkers’ work closely with people to support them to develop and realise their goals. Many SSI Linkers are bicultural and bilingual, making it easier for people with disability from all backgrounds to access the resources they need.
After discussing Mrs Alkhameesi’scurrent situation, they decided to tackle the most urgent needs affecting the family – the lack of social and financial support.
The first step was to apply for Mr Alkhameesi’s Disability Support Pension and Mrs Alkhameesi Carer’s allowance at Centrelink.
Over the following weeks, Mrs Alkhameesi received information about other services she could access, finally acquiring a Companion Card that entitles her and her husband to improve their participation in the community with low or no cost.
However, the main turning point for the Alkhameesi family was when their Linker’s efforts resulted in obtaining an electric scooter to overcome Mr Alkhameesi’s mobility issues. After approaching loan programs to purchase mobility scooters, Mr Rassak contacted government and community organisations until the scooter could be purchased from a scooter provided, who was happy to offer a discount to ALNSW participants from that day onwards.
“I couldn’t believe that we were entitled to all these great services and we didn’t know about them,” Mrs Alkhameesi. “It would have impossible for us to access them without Zaidoon, we couldn’t be happier.”