A man rests on a couch. He has his hands behind his head.

We want to share some of the ways our PossABLE Advocates have supported, changed lives and advocated for people with disability. This is *Thomas's Story.

*Name changed for confidentiality.

Thomas is a happy, easy-going 39-year-old man with an intellectual disability. After his parents divorced when he was 8, Thomas lived with his father, who also has an intellectual disability and is illiterate. His father has a history of alcohol abuse. This resulted in him physically abusing Thomas’s mother and is the reason for the divorce. Thomas would have been unaware of anything out of place.

A few years ago, Thomas got an NDIS plan. The plan included funding for a Support Coordinator to assist him with finding suitable supports to meet his needs. Thomas’s father, Joe, did not approve of the NDIS plan and saw it as an interference in the life they had. Joe was preventing Thomas from receiving supports, and he was aggressive toward staff when they came to pick Thomas up for outings. Few service providers wanted to work with Thomas because of the risk his father caused to their staff. Joe also controlled all of Thomas’s Disability Support Pension.

His NDIS plan opened up a whole new world for Thomas, and he started to realise that the life he lived with his father was no longer acceptable to him. Thomas asked his Support Coordinator if he could move into a group home like the new friends he had met through his NDIS activities. Joe was not at all happy about Thomas’s decision to move out, and he cancelled most of his NDIS supports, believing they were a bad influence on him. Thomas started to experience more and more aggression and violence at home. He became progressively more withdrawn from life. He even started having suicidal thoughts. Thomas did not give up, though. He continued to ask for help and was insistent that he be able to move out and be independent.

Thomas’s support worker worked very closely with the advocate for about a year. It was a very fragile situation. The advocate and support worker had to work very closely in order to protect Thomas from the abuse at home, but they also had to work closely with the father to understand his position so they could try and lesson the aggressive behaviours. Eventually, Thomas’s behaviour, as a form of acting out against his situation, became too much for Joe. Joe packed a bag for Thomas and called the police to come and pick him up because he couldn’t handle it anymore.

Strangely, this was the catalyst the advocate needed to place Thomas in emergency housing. The situation was made even more complicated, though, by COVID-19 restrictions. Group homes were not taking in new customers during the restrictions. Eventually, the advocate found the perfect place for Thomas to move into. The house had two other residents about the same age as Thomas. We immediately organised an introduction, which was a great success. By the same time the following week, Thomas had moved into his new home. The next day he was granted a Public Guardian and a Financial Management order, so he no longer had to do as his father told him.

Thomas is now happier than ever and loves his newfound independence. After the first night in his new home, the advocate visited Thomas. The first thing he said was…. “My new home is so peaceful. There is no one to yell at me and torment me”. Thomas is back to being his usual happy and easy-going self and is loving life again.

 

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