After many years working in disability services, Frances Kupke-Smith didn’t expect to ever require such support herself.
But rheumatoid arthritis a decade ago saw the Albury woman in and out of hospital, medically retired and then unable to find further employment.
“After being rejected for more than 50 jobs, I started to feel like I’d never find work again,” she said.
Joining the National Disability Insurance Scheme assisted Mrs Kupke-Smith’s return to the workforce and now she uses both her professional and personal experience to help others.
She will be part of the Albury NDIS and Community Expo on May 1, a free information session that aims to answer NDIS questions and allow people to meet service providers and businesses.
“I’ve worked both here and overseas developing similar schemes, so I understand the importance of building people’s capacity to be able to do the things for themselves,” Mrs Kupke-Smith said.
“This allows people to have a bit of choice and control and challenges services to actually meet people’s needs, not what they perceive as their needs.”
As a plan partner and support co-ordinator at Plan Management Partners, she works with clients like Thurgoona’s Kristiana Bacani-Palmer, 24.
“Supporting Kristiana to develop the skills to put the care arrangements in place,” Mrs Kupke-Smith said.
For example, Miss Bacani-Palmer, who has learning disabilities and a spinal cord injury, phoning to arrange services rather than others making the calls.
“I was a bit nervous, but I’ve gone ahead with it,” she said.
Mrs Kupke-Smith said her own health varied day by day, but her employer accommodated her disability.
“I can work from home and I can work part-time,” she said.
“I can stagger my appointments and make it more accessible.
“I had a fall and hurt my shoulder so I had someone typing for me last week while I couldn’t do that.
“If I’ve got to drive long distances, someone drives.”
Her own experience helps her understand the situations clients may face.
“It still amazes me at times even now, I can ring up and be treated one way as a support co-ordinator,” she said.
“Then I’d say while we’re here I’d like to deal with my NDIS and I’m treated totally different, like you lose your mind, you no longer have a brain or intelligence.
“Society’s still got to move with the way they perceive people.”
- The Albury NDIS and Community Expo, organised by Plan Management Partners, will be held from 1pm to 6pm on Tuesday, May 1, at Commercial Club Albury