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Participant and Family Feedback

Lilly’s Story

We are blessed to have a beautiful, 10 year old daughter Lily, who happens to have Down Syndrome and Autism, however that doesn’t define her or stop her from achieving all she can do to the best of her ability. She goes to school, does dancing, and Riding for the Disabled.

It does however, mean that during her life she has endured multiple hip surgeries to enable her to walk and various hospitalisation stays at the RCH for infections like pneumonia. This has meant extended periods away from home for myself and Lily leaving my husband, Adrian, and daughter Gabrielle back home. It also means it has been a challenge to have quality time with Adrian and Gabrielle.

All families face challenges when they have a child with a disability. There are constant restraints on family holidays when one child needs constant one on one care. That’s where organisations like Interchange can bring much needed respite. So often we try to soldier on by ourselves.

After gentle coaxing we gradually got the confidence to give Lily an opportunity to go on a camp. Off they went in their little mini bus all smiles. Adrian and I went to Sydney for a long awaited, much needed holiday. All day we were wondering how our little possum was faring! That first night we got a phone call to say that Lily had had a lovely first day and all was well. It was wonderful to receive such a call.

On pickup we were greeted by a busload of smiling, happy faces. Everyone, both kids and adults all looked like they had had a fantastic trip.

It was such a great experience for Lily, it broadens her horizons and for us as a family. We all feel we overcame a huge personal hurdle too, for Lily to go on this camp. Since then, I have also taken Gabrielle away to Sydney to see the sights and the Lion King. To have that quality time one on one has been priceless!

Christine Byrne

Chill on the Hill Feedback

“I like this group. My favorite part is cooking and walking to town”. Aileen

“I like going on the playground and gardening. I like that there are two TV’s. I like helping with cooking”. Mitch

“I like drawing. I like to colour and watch movies. I also like going to the playground”. Cherie

“I like cooking and playing connect four. I am great at puzzles”. Emily

“I like everything! I like that I have made new friends and I enjoy cooking the most”. Chris

“I like going to the playground. I do not like cooking but I do like eating the food cooked. I like craft and Lego”. Laura

Various participants

Feedback from the participants & families from School Holiday Programs

“All the things we did I enjoyed. It was fun to have a day out during the school holidays”. Anonymous (Kids School Holiday Program)

“We all made friends with each other and staff. We all had a fun time and had some things in common”. Kai Arber. (Kids Camp)

“Things were organised very well. I can’t thank everybody enough as I have never had that much help before. Thanks” Ellen Creely. (Kids Play Day)

“It really was well organised and more of them more often” Ged Keogh (Adult Camp)

“Especially enjoyed the sleeping over, meeting new friends and the Go Karts” Anonymous (Swan Hill Camp)

“My daughter came home very happy which is a good indication that she enjoyed herself. Thank you once again” Anonymous (Swan Hill Camp)

“The staff had a great rapport with the kids and parents. Absolutely wonderful staff – Thank you so much” … “I felt very confident in their care and attention to my needs” Anonymous & Anonymous (Heathcote School Holiday Program)

“It was the best holiday ever! I had so much fun and the staff were great” Rodney Fisher (Tassie Trip – Adult Holiday)

Various participants & families

Teens Camp

Emily has been very fortunate to have been selected to attend School Holiday camps.

Interchange have been able to provide age appropriate activities in a safe and relaxed environment.

Emily has always returned with only positive stories regarding her experience.

We as parents feel very comfortable in the care and opportunities provided by interchange in enhancing Emily’s independence, confidence and opportunities for fun.

The staff / volunteers are always friendly, approachable and competent.

Ken & Louise Spofforth

Kelly’s Story

This letter serves to highlight the positive experience I have had as a client of Interchange Playgroup.

Before receiving support from the Interchange playgroup I was experiencing significant marginalisation accessing services for my children. Both myself and my son were socially isolated, which impacted my mental health and made me feel greatly disempowered. My son had diminished opportunity to interact with other children thus limiting his ability to learn social skills with peers.

The Interchange Playgroup has empowered myself and my son in numerous ways. I am able to leave my son safe in the knowledge that he is cared for by skilled staff who understand his complex needs. There is a high adult to child ratio and carefully selected resources aimed at enriching my son’s opportunities for gross and fine motor skills, social and emotional development.

While my son is cared for at Interchange Playgroup I am able to access programs to support my own role as a carer. I have been able to network with other parents of children with special needs and this has vastly improved my feelings of social isolation.

In the time since my son has been attending Interchange Playgroup he has shown improvement in his ability to leave me for short periods of time. He has learnt new ways to communicate with others and has an increased confidence being in public environments.

Interchange Playgroup has empowered me to access resources, services and networks in my community. I have had a very positive experience as a client of the Interchange Playgroup and I believe it is a vital service for the Bendigo region.

Kelly Hartigan

Joan’s Story

As a parent/carer of a person with a disability I, like others, want our young people to experience social outings, outside of family gatherings, in a safe way. Interchange has consistently provided that. The Interchange Adult Social Group provides my 21 year old son Daniel and his peers with the choice to attend age appropriate social activities within the community. Dan had enthusiastically attended the Interchange Youth Social Group for some years and the transition to the Adult group was very smooth and anxiety free for both Dan and myself.

The support workers who attend with the group are always aware of individual requirements and mindful of increasing participant independence where appropriate. For Daniel this has meant support and guidance in. paying for meals/drinks, encouraging conversation and building friendships. Dan enjoys going out “”with my friends”” which means being in a social environment with people he already knows from other programs/work he does during the week. Social outings include pub/music nights, pizza/movie and indoor bowling.

The Interchange Social Group provides the vital link between individuals who benefit from socialising, but who find facilitating this very difficult. We hope these important and affordable opportunities for people with a disability and their families continue.

Joan Brewer

Maria and Chris Kelly

It is with much pleasure, as this first year of OUR CHOICE draws to a close, to pen some thoughts on the success of this program for Adam.

Any change for an autistic person is often met with some trepidation (along with their parents or carers). However, the wonderful support we have received as a family to ease Adam into some exciting and stimulating new activities has made the transition so very worthwhile.

The fact that myself and Chris have felt listened to, and that staff were always available and ready to communicate with us to make this a happy change for Adam is invaluable. To have Adam picked up and dropped off at home has also been so helpful, and for the first time in a very long time we have felt totally supported and less exhausted!

Our sincere thanks to all the staff and yourself. Well run Organisations with empathetic and dedicated people help to make all of our lives a little easier. We wish you and all the great people at Interchange many more years of involved and caring success.

Maria and Chris Kelly

Hamish’s Story

Our son Hamish is so comfortable with both of his support workers and loves having them and we feel comfortable with them also.

But specifically, Jo has gone out of her way on a number of occasions to make ‘Hamish’ specific learning opportunities and these activities are so appreciated. We can see the special effort she has been to to meet Hamish’s learning and social goals. Some of these include making a puzzle that was of interest to Hamish, and also a look and find activity that included things to find in our area and where Jo and Hamish have been having walks. We feel pretty special that Hamish has such good support workers and just wanted to feed back to Interchange what great employees you have working for you.

Jess Denney

NDIS Pre-Planning

Interchange go far beyond their duties to help. Their pre-info on the NDIS planning is fantastic.

Thank you Interchange Loddon Mallee Region.

Nicole Mooney

Support Coordination

Oh sweet, thanks heaps for helping with that, made the whole process a lot more transparent.

Stu Timms NDIS participant accessing support

Stu Timms

Social Inclusion and Life skills

Staff have always been friendly, respectful, supportive and empowering. We as a family unit could not recommend them highly enough.

Claire K

Anthea’s Feedback

Hi Bridgette thank you so much for all you are doing for us. You have all been amazing. We were with (another provider) for ten years and they never really
helped us. They never returned calls or answered questions or found other carers. For that whole time they told me they would train up someone else
but it never happened. I do feel overwhelmed to have you guys helping us so much. Sorry I do not mean to put them down but that was our experience.
Thank you doesn’t seem enough but it’s all I can say. You are all wonderful”.

Kindly Anthea.

Ben, with the help from Bridgette as his NDIS Support Coordinator, was able to access the services he needed to receive quality support for his community
access participation.

Ben and Community Facilitator Lauren out on a session.

Anthea Ruiter

Support Coordination Feedback

To the Support Coordination staff: It is not only me but the other providers that you have helped that also speak highly of your professionalism and grasp of NDIS.

John and Libby Robison

Volunteer Feedback

I have nothing but high regards for the Interchange Volunteer program and would have loved to have helped out more if I had more time!

I think your organisation does a fantastic job & I have felt nothing but warmth, support and friendship each time I have volunteered with your programs and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this opportunity to others.

Molly Gallagher – Volunteer

Molly Gallagher

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