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Simon

Simon Lewis

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Victoria Community > Social Change
Social Welfare > Children Care And Protection
Social Welfare > Disabled And Disadvantaged
To explore short term live-in intensive models for intellectually disabled students - Canada, USA, Peru
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The chosen itinerary for my study deliberately targeted three key subject areas, i.e. (1) innovation and technology, (2) leading evidence based research and (3) models based on family and community participation. These key study areas led me to parts of Canada, U.S and Peru where I had the opportunity to tour advanced research institutes and an array of innovative advanced community based service models. These diverse environments also provided a unique balance of first world government policy, cultural diversity and innovation with non-first world initiatives that are cleverly marrying the family unit and local communities through innovative service programs.

What I hoped the study tour would confirm was that, amid all the modern day advances, complex governmental regulation and community diversity, there can be a simplistic approach to designing a sustainable and efficient living skills training model for people with disabilities, i.e. an approach that brings back the essence of true self-determination and harnesses family and community partnerships.

It is envisaged that findings from the tour will be disseminated throughout the various disability support networks, advocacy and facility support agencies of which I have the good fortune to be an active member. These include the National Disability Services (both State and Federal), the Eastern Region Social Issues Council, the Eastern Region Disability Network, local government, schools and family advocacy networks. For the organisation I represent, it is planned that learnings from the tour will inform establishment of an intensive living skills model that is endorsed by quality assurance accreditation agencies and can be duplicated across multiple settings through franchising.

The model aims to facilitate change by leading ‘consumer appetite’ via education and options other-wise not previously experienced. Ultimately, this would be best served if actively demonstrated and the sector adopts versions of the model based on shifting the balance of power to the consumer and addressing the crisis driven model which is currently the case.

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