One of the lucky ones: Family's NDIS experience 'fantastic'
A CASINO family have said the introduction of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has changed their life.
Hailing from Casino and the youngest of seven children, Samantha has just finished Year 12 and is keen to pursue a career in the beauty and personal care industry.
Born with spina bifida and paralysed from the waist down - relying on a wheelchair, Samantha has had more hurdles than most to contend with.
She also has a mild intellectual disability, but none of this prevented her from participating in mainstream education.
"She's always been a happy child," her father John said.
"She's never been able to walk but when she started school she still wanted shoes, just like everyone else.
"So we got some specially made for her and she still has them all these years later."
He and his wife Gail received some disability support over the years but he said it never met the family's needs.
"I had to work two jobs and Gail was a full-time carer - we never had a minute to scratch ourselves."
Then Social Futures Local Area Coordinator Gisela came along and helped Samantha develop her NDIS plan.
With NDIS funding for one-on-one support, Samantha now has a personal carer who can take her out for social activities, provide respite care if John and Gail want a night out together, and accompany her to TAFE for her studies.
Samantha also uses her NDIS funding to pay for a personal trainer at her local gym and is currently organising some physiotherapy.
John described the benefits as "just fantastic".
He said he often wonders, "Why didn't we have the NDIS years ago?."
"We've also used her NDIS funding to repair her old manual wheelchair and purchase a new motorised wheelchair.
"The new wheelchair has been life changing for Samantha because she can now raise herself to the same height as other people and do her own shopping at the supermarket."
Like most young adults, Samantha wants to carve out her own path and live independently.
John admitted initially he and his wife were "a bit nervous" about letting go their carers' role but now they're looking forward to taking the next step with Samantha's second plan.
"We're self-managing Sam's plan and with the progress she's already made, it just gives us a lot of hope that she'll be able to look after herself for the rest of her life, long after we've gone."