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07 Nov 2022


SSI NDIS participant reclaims independence

Sonita Zainal was happily working at a local real estate agent and caring for her elderly mum when tragedy struck.


The Bonnyrigg woman contracted meningitis, then developed a rare inflammatory disease that put her into intensive care and left her with impaired motor function, cognitive ability and memory.

It has been a long road back to health from that low point, with Sonita now in work and able to continue the care of her mum thanks to critical support from the SSI Local Area Coordination (LAC) program and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

LAC caseworker Ayman Alhaboub, who works in SSI’s Liverpool office, said he remembers meeting Sonita two years ago after she was discharged from hospital. She struggled to speak and had difficulty taking in information. When she started walking again, it was with the aid of a walking stick.

SSI plays a critical role in helping eligible people access the NDIS. The process can be complex, requiring evidence from medical professionals and various other documentation. The SSI LAC program works with clients and health experts to gather the information and make recommendations to the NDIS in relation to the type of support required. This is then reviewed by the NDIS and a determination made.

“We were able to get Sonita NDIS funding for a support worker to attend to her personal care, take her to the shops to buy groceries, and cook for her, as well as take her to appointments,” said Ayman.

“We also got her working with an Occupational Therapist and other medical specialists.”

As Sonita started to improve, she wanted to go back to work, but needed to be able to drive for her job.

“With the support of NDIS and the health professionals who helped her improve her independence, Sonita was able to get her driver’s licence back – and now she is driving, working and able to continue the care of her mum,” said Ayman.

“This is a great result, and we are so happy to have been able to support Sonita through this.

“Sonita will continue on the NDIS as she now has a permanent disability, and we will continue to help her to gain services through the scheme.”


Sonita with her mother, Halimah, upon her mother's admission to hospital.
Sonita with her mother, Halimah, upon her mother’s admission to hospital.


Sonita says she was determined to get well, not just for herself, but for her mum, who suffered a stroke a few months after Sonita was admitted to hospital.

“If I didn’t have this support, I would not have been able to go back to paid work or my caring duties,” Sonita said.

“With NDIS and SSI support I was able to get back on my feet and get on with my life.”

SSI delivers services in partnership with the National Disability Insurance Agency in a number of local government areas around Sydney and outer Sydney.

The services provide a person-centred approach to support people with disability, their families and their carers to pursue their goals, exercise choice and control, and connect with community.

For more information, visit the SSI LAC webpage or call 1800 960 975 to speak to the SSI LAC Intake Team.


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