Disability information service IDEAS has secured a $60,000 grant to help transport its portable toilet and change facility, known as Ezy-Dun.

The project aims to improve accessible amenities at local festivals and events, through the provision of a portable all-abilities bathroom facility.

IDEAS marketing manager Jenelle Becker said the service was thrilled to receive the $60,000 through the Visy Tumut Regional Recovery Fund for the universally accessible toilet project.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), in partnership with the Pratt Foundation, granted $649,150 to support 19 projects that will help Snowy Valleys communities recover from last summer’s bushfire disaster.

“We applied for these funds to assist with a capital purchase of a suitable vehicle for towing Ezy-Dun so that we could support the very important community events, celebrations and festivals that happen right throughout the Snowy Valley region, including Batlow, Tumbarumba, Adelong, Tumut and Talbingo,” Mrs Becker said.

“Specifically, having an accessible toilet for all people living with a disability, and our elders with mobility issues and others means that people can come out and be comfortable and extend their stay at an event.

“It is a great equaliser to be able to be just like everyone else and enjoy a festival or event by being able to manage medications and use a clean accessible bathroom. We all miss out if everyone is not included.”

While they knew the project and the application was good, IDEAS didn’t take getting the money for granted. 

“Well applying for grant funds is never a presumption,” Ms Becker said.

“We knew it would be very competitive, and we also knew that our idea would make a direct contribution to community rebuilding after the fires for events’ organisers across the region. We also had evidence of the economic benefits of dwell time at events increasing the spend time by visitors, and also had earmarked the capital spend for a vehicle to be Tumut-based, knowing that would benefit the local economy immediately.”

IDEAS had applied for a greater sum in an effort to ensure that Ezy-Dun could be supplied free to event organising committees throughout the region, but that has not been possible this time.

“We will search for more funds to support this aspiration,” Ms Becker said.

“We do want people to be able to hang out but not hang on!”

IDEAS have been in a precarious situation financially in recent years, and while this money is not a panacea for the broader financial issues, it is very welcome.

“The Ezy-Dun project is secure and separate to our ‘usual business’,” Ms Becker said.

“We look forward to attaining ancillary funds to design and deliver Ezy-Dun across the region in support of all local communities.

“Secondly, IDEAS' usual business delivers information services for people with disability and their carers and families about anything they need to know.

“We fact check and verify all of our information and have a high degree of trust across Australia in our work. We do this by phone, web, email, letters, texts, live chat, and face-to-face events.”

IDEAS' financial position has been precarious in the last few years due to being caught between state and federal spheres.

“The NSW State Government stopped our funding in 2018, and since then we have been funded federally for very short contracts,” Ms Becker said.

“We have been very lucky to have a loyal and expert workforce here in Tumut and other locations throughout NSW, the ACT and Victoria.

“Our operating model has engaged many of our team members in ‘remote’ practice over many years so we had very robust ways of working well before the COVID-19 responses were necessary.

“We have still had to be nimble and make changes, but we dance well here.”

At this moment Ideas and its staff are engaged in being at the front end of the Federal Government response to COVID-19 for people with disabilities and their families.

They assisted in the government website which has accessible resources on it for people with disability, and the National Disability Information Helpline will connect people from anywhere in Australia to IDEAS here in Tumut.

“Our information officers are answering dozens of calls each day,” Ms Becker said.

“Many of the enquiries have been quite straightforward so far, for our experienced team anyway, but it brings home to us a couple of common sense things; people like to talk and be properly listened to, not everyone has or wants to use the internet and people do really want to get information from a single trusted source.

“They know we are for people with disabilities, and we just ‘get’ the barriers faced in doing life, and that we can get on with answering their questions, no fuss, and accurately.

“We are delivering this as a focus for the coming months, and meanwhile work as hard as ever for sustainable futures in regional Australia.

“IDEAS is confident we will endure, survive and then thrive. We are consistently engaged in that forward work. We hope that persistence and innovation will be recognised and that we can offer secure high tech, empathetic services to people with a disability wherever they live and from Tumut and our other locations.”

Want to find out more about this project?

Go to Meet Ezy-Dun

MEDIA COVERAGE

Tumut & Adelong Times

MEDIA CONTACT

Diana Palmer, IDEAS Executive Officer
Mobile: 0407 419 737
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

IDEAS does information so you can do life.