OC Connections’ Participant Reference Group (PRG)

The OC Connections’ Participant Reference Group (PRG) is an established committee comprised of OC Connections’ participants with a focus on empowering and advocating for all participants at OC Connections. Established in 2019 the PRG consists of 6-8 participants, an independent chairperson – disability advocate Tricia Malowney OAM, deputy chairperson – Board Member Sara, a secretariat OCC Administration Officer, Jules Rogers.

The PRG is an important channel through which participants can develop a sense of belonging, independence and contribute to the operations and support they receive at OC Connections.  It also provides a sense of connection to the organisation and the board, through the attendance of a Board representative.

As a disability and human rights advocate with extensive experience across disability rights and inclusion, Tricia was the perfect candidate to chair this committee and was delighted to be approached by OC Connections’ CEO, Therese. “This is where I get my joy from” she says.

Tricia goes on to say ”the PRG is very important because it allows participants to raise issues, to contribute and feel important at OC Connections. Being a part of the PRG is a cherished role for these members”.

Supported employee and PRG committee member, Mark, says “the PRG brings everyone together and allows different areas to speak to one another”.

Michael is also an OCCE employee, and he said that he likes to be a part of the PRG committee, more specifically because “I like to help OC Connections with the business aspect”.

The PRG feeds into a variety of subcommittees, delivering decisions, suggestions, and action plans to these committees via its members. The subcommittees consist of the Day Support Committee, OCCE Committee and the Supported Accommodation Committee. These committees are also attended and run by participants of OC Connections with the assistance of support workers.

The PRG committee meets once a quarter to discuss and address any issues that require attention and range from COVID updates to the OC Connections Co Achieve fund.

In the past, members expressed their interest in the waste collection from local council. An action plan was put into place and last meeting a representative from the waste department of Monash City council attended to discuss any questions the members wished answered. This information was then passed onto the subcommittees who would then pass this along to all associated to that area -effectively bridging the flow of information between the board, PRG committee, subcommittees, and OC Connections participants.

At the conclusion of each meeting, the minutes and action plans are collated and presented to the OC Connections board. This is a vital instrument in ensuring that OC Connections serves their participants to their full capabilities. According to Sandra, a PRG committee member and supported employee, “when the PRG committee makes recommendations, I have always seen OC Connections take action and deliver”.

The PRG is just one of the ways we work with participants to ensure that our services and programs are co-designed with an ongoing, open feedback process so that we can adapt support to participants’ ever-evolving lives.

Over the next few months, we will be profiling each of our sub-committees and members, so you can find out more about the ways in which we work with participants to build services and programs that support them to live with confidence, fulfilment, and self-determination.