Welcome to the first OC Connections (OCC) newsletter for 2020.
2020 will be an exciting year for OCC. We have many innovative and inspirational things planned that will increase our support offering for participants. I look forward to sharing these with you as they are unveiled over the coming months.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is very much a part of all of our lives now and as a disability services provider, it’s business as usual. As with any new significant system change, the implementation of the NDIS has meant that we have all been required to manage unforeseen things that crop up. This system will continue to be adjusted as it evolves and matures.
A big change this year will be a new model being implemented by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to fund supported employment. Implemented from July 2020, OC Connections Enterprises (OCCE) staff will be able to increasingly focus on the individual and their employment goals. Support will be tailored to the person, with the aim of better employment outcomes for people. The team at OCCE will work with supported employees and their families to explain these improvements.
The 2019-2022 OC Connections Strategic Plan developed by the Board of Directors emphasises the importance of increasing our impact by extending our reach into new areas. This includes working with younger people 15 years and up and extending our services beyond Oakleigh and nearby suburbs to the City of Casey where we already have a car wash business.
The very exciting OC Connections Towards Employment transition to work initiative commenced in January. The program aims to work with young people to support their transition from school to work, to build confidence and skills in a safe but inspiring environment.
Towards Employment provides young people with the opportunity to build the skills required to gain meaningful employment. It also provides a number of work experience opportunities to sample different occupations and work options to assist people to identify what they may like to do at the completion of the program.
Opportunities will be available for people 15 years and up to participate in short term accommodation or respite. In the coming months, we hope to offer live-in and day programs to build capacity and independence for young people.
The well patronised Family Focus Forums will continue this year focusing on topics that you have told us you want to hear about. The first forum will be held on Tuesday 28 April. More details will be sent in the coming weeks.
We are very excited about a new OCC Participant Reference Group that was established in November last year with representatives from across Day Supports, Community Living and OCC Enterprises.
The group will meet four times a year and is chaired by Tricia Malowney OAM, an independent advocate, and includes Board Directors to discuss the issues that participants want Directors to hear about. OC Connections believe that it is important for participants to have a say in the direction of the organisation and its services. There are a number of mechanisms we use to ensure that people’s voices are heard - this is a very important one.
I would like to thank all of you who contributed to our 2019 Christmas Tree Festival fundraiser through volunteering, making a donation or buying a beautiful Christmas tree. This year’s fundraiser was very successful thanks to your patronage.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that the always-popular OC Connections’ Annual Dinner Dance will be held on Friday 1 May at Merrimu Receptions in Murrumbeena. Tickets will go on sale in the next couple of weeks so please keep a lookout for full details and be sure to book your spot early. It is a great night and a very important event for our OC Connections community.
I hope you enjoy reading our first newsletter for the year. We look forward to providing you with our newsletters in 2020 to keep you up to date with industry events, provide inspirational stories from within our community and updates on the activities and innovations that OCC continues to make, to assist people to achieve their goals.
CEO OC Connections
Feature photo: Therese Desmond, CEO OC Connections with Steve Dimopoulos MP, State Member for Oakleigh District and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, volunteering at the OC Connections Christmas Tree Fundraiser, December 2019.