By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
I recently sat down with one of our Cooee participants to discuss how she was finding the group, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy and fulfillment as she opened up about her experience.
Cooee is an arts and crafts group for women who are living with a mental health condition or have a NDIS plan.
The ladies meet twice a week to make everything from pot plants and dream catchers to paper lanterns and hot meals, and plenty in between.
But it became overwhelmingly clear during this conversation that it wasn’t the crafts these ladies came for; it was each other.
Each story this woman told came back to togetherness.
To friendship. To healing.
Research shows that when we use our hands on a task that doesn’t demand much cognitive capacity, it gives the mind a chance to relax.
As our hands busy themselves, the cogs in our brains get a break from everyday thinking, and this is when we start processing less demanding tasks.
“The Breakout Principle” suggests that when we engage in a repetitive task, completely taking our minds off the issues we have been struggling with, the solution will often appear.
The Cooee program provides this for our participants, because we’re in the business of improving lives.
These women have overcome various personal hurdles, and the thing they credit most is the time spent with others, sharing a coffee, and being able to voice whatever might be on their mind.
A safe space; a listening ear; an understanding nod.
I started to think how, in our own busy lives, we often overlook that cup of coffee at a friend’s place.
In a world where many strive for perfection, or the appearance of perfection, I wondered if perhaps we had forgotten how to be vulnerable, and in doing so, overlooked the importance of vulnerability.
We choose to meet out for coffee so our friends don’t see the messy lounge room or the laundry yet to be folded.
We apply filters to our photos to look a little less tired.
We don’t share that old memory to social media because we’ve certainly gained weight during those additional years living.
Our mental health starts with us, and is supported by those we hold closest.
So invite that friend into your home and forget the mess, because everyone’s got mess, and simply focus on connection.
While you’re at it, give the filter the flick, because everybody has imperfections, and share the moments that make you happy.
After all, your happiness is what really matters, and it starts with vulnerability.
By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
The National Disability Insurance Scheme provides Australians under the age of 65 with a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary support they need to enjoy life.
Under the NDIS families and carers have access to the help they need to support people with disability so they can participate in a life filled with community and employment opportunities.
IMPACT Community Services has been providing disability support services to the Bundaberg community for 20 years.
The disability sector has evolved significantly over this time, and IMPACT prides itself on its ability to continuously adapt with the climate.
After assessing and reviewing the needs of people with a NDIS plan in the Bundaberg region, our NDIS department has put together some new programs to better meet our community’s needs.
We are eager to have our mental health recovery program begin in the next few weeks, which will offer one-on-one mental health support to NDIS participants.
Research shows many participants require mental health support however few have access to appropriate services.
Support coordination will also become available shortly at IMPACT, which will involve a dedicated staff member who will work with participants to assess their goals and find complimentary and beneficial services.
Lights, Camera, Action is another new program which will be group-based and teach participants how to shoot and edit video content to make short films.
Our fourth and final new addition to our suite of NDIS services is a Dungeons and Dragons group.
Another group-based program, the D&D service will provide a space for likeminded people to meet and play the fantasy game in a safe space, topped with a Dungeon Master (Support Worker) leading the way.
We are also thrilled to welcome two new NDIS support workers to our IMPACT family who will host these new programs for our participants.
These fantastic new additions join our already popular suite of services; the Cooee arts group, Manga drawing class, Fitness for Fun, Rob’s Shed, Community Access Group, and the famous IMPACT Community Choir, which will be singing once again this Wednesday, April 21.
If you or someone you know might enjoy or benefit from our inclusive and welcoming programs, please reach out by phoning 4153 4233.
It is such a joy to see our NDIS community engage in rewarding activities that allow them to reach their goals.
IMPACT is in the game of improving lives; let’s work together to make a difference.
Jannene Thorn knows a thing or two about lending a helping hand to those in need of support.
Jannene is IMPACT Community Services' Manager of Mental Health Services and has worked at IMPACT for 10 years across at least four different programs.
Jannene loves the work she does and the reputation IMPACT has in the community.
“I work here because the mission, vision and values align with mine,” Jannene said.
“And I work here because I enjoy empowering vulnerable people so that they become independent and no longer need support.”
Jannene said that IMPACT was great because of its diversity, scope and wrap-around services.
“Someone will come as a jobseeker and wind up in parental support, or one of our other programs which is right next door,” she said.
“People are being referred across programs all the time – it's a one-stop shop here.”
Jannene was a chef before entering the community services field, but after 19 years she felt “burned out” and needed a change of career.
She has a brother with disability so had plenty of experience in caring; it seemed natural to work in that sector. Jannene started working eight hours a week at IMPACT as a casual disability support worker, but soon became full time.
“My lived experience with my brother made me stronger as a support worker,” she said.
“You already know what standards of care are needed to look after someone properly.”
Jannene spent three years as disability support worker before moving to early intervention in parenting as a Team Leader.
She then worked in supported employment at our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), looking after our workers with a disability.
“I really loved it and almost didn't want to leave,” she said.
But then Jannene found her calling as Manager of Mental Health Services, looking after a vast area of the Wide Bay. She now manages nine programs and organises the collaboration with other various support services.
“We collaborate well with the community,” Jannene said.
“We partner with other services, all with the end view of a better outcome for the client.”
Jannene manages a staff of 10, all mental health experts with vast experience.
“We use a strengths-based recovery approach,” she said.
“It’s whatever works well with the client.”
Jannene's plans for the future involve co-designing mental health programs and trying to establish a wider footprint across Queensland.
And of course, helping more people to improve their lives.
IMPACT Community Services has been providing disability support to the Bundaberg community for 20 years with a mental health and goals-oriented focus.
The programs provided have changed with time and continue to grow with feedback from IMPACT’s NDIS and disability participants.
Arguably the most popular service at IMPACT, Rob’s Shed invites NDIS participants into the building and construction environment.
Here, students are guided in woodworking and craftsmanship, from creating bird boxes and toolboxes to pallet furniture and dog houses.
Woodworking is known for its positive effects on mental health and function.
This course, which runs on Monday and Thursday, is also a great way to meet new people who have similar interests and learn new skills along the way.
New participant Mannan joined Rob’s Shed a few months ago for one-on-one sessions, having an interest in sanding.
“Being sensitive to noise and finding it hard to concentrate, we are so happy to see him using different tools like the drilling machine, circular saw, nail gun and planer safely with assistance and following Rob’s instructions,” Mannan’s mother said.
“He is very excited for the small projects he works on. He looks forward for the sessions.”
IMPACT’s NDIS Coordinator Roz Blood said woodworking was great therapy for people with anxiety and mental health issues.
“And it's perfect for NDIS participants,” she said.
“Rob's Shed is more a social format and participants work on group projects… the skills you learn in this course you can replicate at home on your own.”
The service is run by experienced tradesman and namesake Rob Wallace who is big on workplace health and safety and prides himself on the fact there’s not been anyone injured during the three years his shed has been running.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Rob said about the role.
“There are a few of the people here who have been with me now for a couple of years.
“They really enjoy the work. We have quite a few projects going at any one time to make sure people don’t get bored.”
“It’s all about skilling people and making sure they know how to use the tools safely.”
Rob’s Shed now has two female participants who also enjoy the activities.
Other services on offer at IMPACT include the Cooee arts group, Fitness for Fun, Manga Art and the Community Access Group.
The monthly excursions and monthly Friday night outings were put on hold due to COVID but will be back and better than ever very soon.
While not exclusively run by the NDIS department, the IMPACT Choir is a big hit within the community and will also be returning next month.
The choir offers an inclusive environment for all people to sing along and perform together.
For more information on IMPACT’s NDIS and disability services phone 4153 4233.
By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
For 20 years IMPACT has offered disability services to the Bundaberg community, and we are thrilled to see the return of our Community Choir after it was put on hold due to COVID restrictions.
On March 17 we will hold our first choir group since February last year.
It’s sad to think it’s been 12 months since we’ve heard the joy of our choir, but to know it’s coming back better than ever warms my heart.
This year marks the 10th year of operation for the IMPACT Choir and our staff and participants could not be more eager to hit the stage once again.
Our Choir members are people with a disability or psychosocial barrier, support workers, volunteers and IMPACT staff who meet each Wednesday to rehearse and learn new songs.
Other community organisations are also welcome to attend and bring their clients along.
Previously members from Community Lifestyle Support, Endeavour, Carinbundi and YMCA have regularly been involved in rehearsals and performances to provide further social interaction for participants.
The Choir is supported by support staff who bring their own music accompaniment, expertise and love of music to assist each week.
Research has found singing reduces stress, improves breathing and posture, and provides cognitive stimulation to help memory function.
While our choir members have formerly excelled in more traditional genres, this new chapter is looking to introduce modern hits from artists we all know and love.
The choir used to perform on alternate Wednesdays at venues such as aged care facilities, community groups and events, which we hope to begin again soon.
The smiles and delight our choir bring are such a pleasure for everyone involved.
If you haven’t treated yourself to an IMPACT choir performance yet, I urge you to keep your eyes peeled for the next public announcement; you’re sure to be overcome with a happiness only our choir can foster.
If you love to sing and would like to join in, or if you would like to volunteer your expertise, get in touch by phoning 4153 4233.
Tiffany Kelly began her training course at IMPACT Community Services with hopes of finding a career in disability support, but had no idea how quickly her dreams would become reality.
Tiffany is about to complete her CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) at IMPACT and has managed to secure a job with Local Personalised Services (LPS), a provider of community support services to people living with a disability.
Tiffany said she was excited at the prospect of working with such a great organisation.
“Our trainer Elise said they were hiring three people,” she said, “so I went down there and they signed me up. It's casual to begin with but after three months (there is) the option of continuing on a more permanent and regular basis.”
Like many others, Tiffany became interested in disability support through personal experience. She has extended family members with a disability, one on the autism spectrum and one with cerebral palsy which has provided her with a unique insight into the challenges they face.
She would watch how their mother cared for them with great interest and would help when she could.
Tiffany is enjoying her training, making several good friends among the 19 other students and has one close friend who has maintained contact outside the course.
“The staff are really good and very helpful, very approachable about any difficulties you're having and how to find the right info,” she said.
Tiffany, a young mother of two, said she benefited from being able to study in the classroom with face-to-face interaction with Elise as well as the e-learning supports provided. She said having sessions recorded and available for review was beneficial.
“I just find it easier,” Tiffany said.
She's looking forward to her new career and helping her clients find their place in the world.
“I get to help them lead fulfilling lives and see they can be doing the things that everybody else does,” she said.
By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
At IMPACT we pride ourselves on our inclusive culture.
Our ethos is based around helping people realise their potential and providing avenues to assist them in reaching their goals.
Our services range from family support, training, employment, mental health and disability support, just to name a few.
But one area of our organisation I am deeply proud of are the opportunities we have created for assisted employees.
The Material Recycling Facility (MRF) employs 23 NDIS participants, and our New Image Laundry is another avenue for supported staff.
Many of our supported employees have not held jobs prior to working at IMPACT and found it difficult to become employed.
Yesterday, December 3, was the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD), with this year’s theme being “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in one way or another, and now as we focus on returning back to “normal”, I would urge people to consider what “normal” should look like.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018 almost 50% of employed people with a disability reported experiencing unfair treatment or discrimination due to their disability from their employer.
Two in five reported that they experienced unfair treatment or discrimination due to their disability from their work colleagues.
This data shows Queenslanders have a long way to go when it comes to acceptance and inclusion of all people not only in the workforce, but in everyday life.
The conversation about the benefits of hiring people with a disability needs to be highlighted.
Our NDIS participants bring a mountain of life and joy to our organisation, and their happiness and willingness to learn is contagious.
Some of our staff have been working at the MRF for over 30 years and their dedication is second to none.
Just like diversity in age and culture is important, so is a range of abilities in a workforce. It exposes people to a different “normal”, encourages greater understanding and generates acceptance, which benefits our entire community.
So have the conversation, do some research and encourage others to engage with disability awareness. We all deserve to be accepted.
Sarah Sturrock is a well-known face at IMPACT Community Services’ Material Recycling Facility and knows a thing or two about skip trucks and recycling.
But lately Sarah has been working with a different kind of material – timber.
One of IMPACT’s most successful NDIS programs, Rob’s Shed, teaches participants how to safely and effectively use power tools and materials to construct a range of different items.
Sarah’s hearing aids are so impressive that they not only amplify sound to help her hear, but they also mute noise for her automatically when she is working with machinery.
Sarah knew her nephew’s birthday was coming up so set out to build him a set of timber blocks to play with.
“I had learnt from my grandfather, he was in woodwork, and would make different types of things,” Sarah said.
“I learnt (woodworking) from high school and liked it, so thought I would try again.”
Her nephew was so excited when he received the gift that he hopped in the trolley and started wheeling himself around.
Sarah began making the blocks some six months ago and is thrilled to finally have them finished.
“My family said, ‘great job Sarah, about time’,” she laughed, as her nephew’s birthday had passed some months ago.
Sarah had spent three hours every fortnight for the past six months creating the blocks for her nephew.
NDIS Support Worker Andrew Lloyd said Sarah had been incredibly dedicated to the project.
“It’s a legacy to her pop and her dad and I think that’s beautiful,” Andrew said.
“She’s always here 15 minutes early with her tools and gives 100% in the workshop, she’s got a real passion for it.
“She had pictured in her head what she wanted to make and then it was just a matter of finding the time and staff to help her.”
Sarah is never short of ideas, having constructed a bookshelf from the slats of an old timber bed she had pulled apart and brought in.
“I’m really proud of what she’s achieved,” Andrew said.
“Everything that I’ve taught her, to make her a better woodworker, comes back to her as she’s working. You can see her confidence in using the machinery has really improved.”
Next on the construction agenda is a timber toolbox, made from recycled materials, to put her drill, sanders and other equipment in. We can’t wait to see the finished product.
By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
As the year begins to wind up, many of us are looking forward to some well-deserved time off from our jobs and what is often referred to as the “daily grind”.
For most, the word “Christmas” conjures images of family lunches, cricket on the tv and sun-soaked beach trips that end with an ice-cream and an afternoon siesta.
But other members of the community rely on this period to gain seasonal work to help get them and their families through the financial demands associated with the holidays.
Fortunately, there are services available to help link people to employment opportunities that can lead to full-time jobs.
Our Transition to Work team are an important arm of the IMPACT organisation that are dedicated to assisting job seekers aged 15-24.
Over an 18-month period TtW offers free coaching, pathways to education and employment, and mentoring to help job seekers sustain employment for the long term.
Young people can also participate in a group-based workshop run by our Youth Coaches that focuses on building resilience, mindset, character, positivity and support to make finding and keeping a job attainable.
Participants have found the social aspect and connecting with others in similar situations incredibly beneficial to their wellbeing.
Bundaberg has been identified as a region with a high unemployment rate, but there are jobs out there, right now, ready for the taking. The hospitality, retail and farming sectors are calling out for workers at the moment, and our TtW team are eager to help fill those positions.
With high school students and university graduates wrapping up their studies, now is the time to gain experience before pursuing plans for 2021.
Applying for seasonal work can sometimes be met with a “why bother” attitude for young people, considering the employment period has an expiry date. But it’s important to remember that all experience is valuable, and a short stint of seasonal work could provide an advantage over other applicants down the track, not to mention the added value of having a reference on your resume.
For those young people looking for work, there are jobs out there, and there is support available. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of giving up a few days of summer – it could lead to sustainable employment.
Leanne Rudd has replaced David Batt as Board Chair at IMPACT Community Services.
On 19 October 2020, IMPACT held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) where former long-standing Board member and Bundaberg MP David Batt resigned from the position of Chair in accordance with constitutional legislation which limits Board members to no more than three three-year terms (9 years).
Following the departure of Mr Batt, former Treasurer and respected businesswoman Leanne Rudd, who has been on the Board for three AGMs, has moved into the position of Board Chair.
Leanne brings her passion for finance and business to the role, having specialised for many years in business advisory and financial services. Her decision to join the Board in 2018 was made with intent to give back to the community.
“When I first joined the Board, I did have knowledge around the employment services and the laundry, but I didn’t know the nitty gritty,” Leanne said about the organisation. “I didn’t know about the other great services and the help they were providing the community until I was on the Board.”
Leanne said she was surprised to learn the depth of services offered at IMPACT.
“The different aspects of the organisation is quite broad, so getting an understanding of it all, that has taken a little while,” she said.
With programs tailored to varying sectors including employment, training, family and parenting support, mental health, NDIS, health care and the running of commercial businesses such as the laundry and recycling centres, IMPACT services the region in many ways.
As Chair, Leanne hopes to bring the organisation’s strategic plan to life with the help of her fellow Board members. She believes Managing Director Tanya O’Shea and the team at IMPACT are doing amazing things and it is her goal to assist and support the great work the organisation is already doing.
“IMPACT can help anyone who needs support, whether that’s developing life skills or training to get a job, IMPACT can help anyone who is willing to come and have a chat,” she said. “There’s always someone there to talk to, to find opportunities.”
From her time sitting on other boards and finance committees, Leanne has developed a tactical approach to governance.
“One thing I am passionate about is finding different ways of doing things,” Leanne said. “I like to challenge the status quo, whether that’s finding alternative ways of problem solving or just looking at things differently through innovation or simplification.”
With Leanne moving into the role of Chair, Vanessa Fryer will now step into the Treasurers position. Neil McPhillips will remain Deputy Chair and Dr Talitha Best will continue her role as Secretary.
Managing Director Tanya O’Shea said 2020 would be remembered as “a year of possibility”, having recorded many extraordinary milestones.
During the year 2019-20 financial year IMPACT helped more than 5000 people across 25 programs, pivoted to online e-learning to deliver training courses and introduced two new programs (Community Navigator and COVID Connect).
One of the more significant achievements was IMPACT's jobactive team scoring a five-out-of-five star rating from the government. To receive five stars, a provider’s success in securing people sustained employment must be 30% above the national average. Furthermore, the team achieved this during the devastating bushfire period when compliance requirements were non-mandatory.
In a year of uncertainty, IMPACT will remember 2020 as a year of possibility. Through times of struggle, our people committed to an approach of adaptability and growth and have pioneered new ideas into exciting possibilities. We look forward to what can be achieved in 2021.
'Rob's Shed' is one of the most popular NDIS workshops at IMPACT Community Services, so much so that in order to accommodate a growing interest in woodworking IMPACT has created a new course.
The new woodworking group will be open to NDIS participants who will be able learn the basics of woodworking in a friendly, social environment.
Woodworking is known for its positive effects on mental health and function. This course, which runs on Wednesdays over an eight-week period, is also a great way to meet new people who have similar interests and learn new skills along the way.
Sign up now: Click here to register your interest
“We know woodworking is great therapy for people with anxiety and mental health issues and it's perfect for NDIS participants,” IMPACT’s NDIS Coordinator Roz Blood said.
“The course will teach beginner's skills and the basics.
“Participants will get to build three projects; a cheese board, planter box and garden bench.”
The course will be run by Andrew Lloyd who also helps in the shed.
Andrew is an experienced tradie who made a career change into disability support and loves the work he's doing.
“Rob's Shed is more a social format and participants work on group projects like dog kennels, chairs or large benches,” Roz said.
“The skills you learn in this course you can replicate at home on your own.”
At the moment the course can only accommodate three people with current staff-to-student ratios but if it proves popular that could change in the future.
The course starts Wednesday, October 28 and will run each Wednesday for eight weeks (ending December 16).
The sessions will run from 9am to midday.
For enquiries go to www.impact.org.au/contact or call IMPACT 4153 4233.
With a background in marketing and disability services, as well as formerly being a carer, it’s safe to say Scott Torcetti is well and truly qualified for his new role as Disabilities Manager at IMPACT Community Services.
Scott grew up having a brother with spina bifida and mental deficits which allows him to connect with NDIS participants with a lived understanding of the challenges they face.
“The family shared the caring load,” Scott said, “but he was my older brother so he was closest to me. I've been doing it all my life.”
There are many IMPACT support workers who have first-hand experience of someone living with a disability or mental health issue and, like them, Scott has a special insight into their challenges and needs.
“I really look for the best client outcome that I can get because I know what it's like,” Scott said.
Scott has worked in the disability support industry for 20 years. He has engaged in various roles at companies in Bundaberg and Cairns and his former employment history has allowed him to hit the ground running at IMPACT.
“It's good to come with that front-line experience so you know what the staff are going through and what they face,” he said.
After his brother passed, Scott left the industry and became a carpenter, but he couldn't stay away from his core passion for helping people for too long. He then became a youth worker in a Youth and Combined Community Action program, and then became CEO and manager of Dalby Community Centre.
Scott has also completed a bachelor's degree in business marketing and operated his own marketing company, bringing a depth of knowledge to the strategic business aspects of enhancing IMPACT's reach in the NDIS sector.
Before beginning with IMPACT Scott said he was surprised to learn of the wide reach of programs the organisation delivered.
“Everyone's been really great, so supportive,” he said.
It seems Scott has found the perfect fit. To find out more about IMPACT's NDIS services, click here.