Until recently, 62-year-old Campsie resident Ming Zhong was one of the many Australians struggling to provide care to family members with a disability. Besides being a sole carer for his wife, who has a physical disability and mental health issues, and for his mother, diagnosed with dementia, Mr Zhong’s family also includes his daughter and her two young children.
SSI Linker Li Hua Chu and Ability Links participant Ming Zhong.
When Mr Zhong met SSI Ability Linker Li Hua Chu, his family of six lived in a small two-bedroom unit and the situation had become unsustainable. The lack of space at home added to the increasingly violent behaviour of Mrs Zhong and was having an effect on all of them. Mr Zhong felt lost and didn’t know who to ask for support.
As an SSI Linker in the Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) program, Ms Chu had experience in similar situations. ALNSW helps people with disability, their family and carers by linking them to activities and services that move them closer to achieving their goals.
After her meeting with Mr Zhong, Ms Chu identified the issue of living in a crowded house as one of the main issues in the family. To solve this, Ms Chu connected Mr Zhong’s daughter with a counsellor at Transcultural Mental Health Centre, an organisation that works with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and health professionals across NSW to support good mental health.
The counsellor assessed her case and found her circumstances made her eligible for a social housing unit in Burwood, not far from her parents place. In just two days, the family completed the move and the overall situation immediately improved for everyone.
However, Ms Chu knew her job as an Ability Linker wasn’t finished yet. In further meetings with her participant, she learned Mr Zhong had never accessed any services available for people with disability and carers due to lack of knowledge about them. His low level of English language also made it difficult for him to understand what was available for people in his situation.
Ms Chu has continued supporting Mr Zhong to understand how to access the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the possibilities it offers for his family. Following his Linker’s suggestion, Mr Zhong has attended an NDIS focus group at Metro Assist and he feels now much more comfortable in his role as a carer.
"I’m incredibly grateful to SSI and to Ability Links, especially Li, for the help I received in the last months," Mr Zhong said. "The situation at home has improved a lot and now I know there is someone out there to help me, which is a great relief."