Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) has heralded a new approach to supporting people with disability, their families and carers, and is making a significant economic and social impact across the state, according to a newly released independent report.
An evaluation by consultants Urbis prepared for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services found that ALNSW contributed significantly to improving peoples’ lives and returned an economic benefit to the community of $3 for every dollar spent.
ALNSW is delivered by Settlement Services International (SSI) in partnership with Uniting and Vincent de Paul across 44 Local Government Areas by 60 ‘Linkers’.
SSI Chief Operations Officer Stephen O’Neill said ALNSW was contributing to a significant shift in attitudes towards inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
"Our bicultural and bilingual Linkers are accessing communities that have long been underrepresented and under utilising the support services available to them – both within the disability sector and other mainstream services," Mr O’Neill said.
The Urbis report found that linking people to community and services has a profound effect on the quality of people’s lives and that people who have come into contact with the program are now actively engaged with and contributing to the community.
It also found that people from CALD communities have responded very positively to the program’s flexible, person-centred approach.
"So many of our participants tell us that having a Linker from the same cultural background or who speaks the same language has really helped them out of difficult and challenging circumstances, and facilitated the support they’ve needed," Mr O’Neill said.
Since its launch in 2014, SSI Ability Links NSW has supported over 8,000 individuals and families across Metro North, Metro South and Southern NSW, and made over 80,000 community connections.
Mr O’Neill said given the reported success of the program, he hoped Ability Links would continue into the future as part of, or alongside the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
"With such strong evidence that Ability Links provides value for money and generates significant social and economic benefits for both the broader community and Government, we see a strong future for this program," he said.
"The work of Ability Links is already diverting some people away from funded supports and improving the capacity of individuals and communities; this will help support the sustainability of the NDIS."
Ability Links NSW is a State Government program that supports people with disability, their families and carers to connect with their local community, achieve their goals and aspirations and live enriched and fulfilled lives.
Rekha Sanghi 0422 304 578
Anna Vilalta 0488 680 240