Achieve in Action – Rob Price
Being part of an inclusive community is more than just about going out. It’s also about the real connections and interactions we make with people outside of our usual support networks.
Early in his career, Achieve Australia’s Regional Manager for the Inner West, Robert Price, gained an understanding of what social inclusion really means.
“Many years ago, I had a client who could be supported in the community but he was playing his favourite sport, which was lawn bowls, inside at home,” explains Rob. “With his wheelchair, it may have seemed out of reach to others to play on a green.”
Anyone who has played lawn bowls will know that the green is very important to the people who play and to the local clubs. This set Rob a challenge and he was inspired to see how he could help find opportunities for the client to play the sport he loves in the community.
Rob began working with the local club to explore some options. Soon they agreed to the client using his motorised wheelchair on the green to play. This small gesture, to have access to a green to play his favourite sport, was really important. Rob’s client then also got the chance to have regular conversations with members, enjoy meals at the club and use its facilities, just like everyone else.
“The experience helped me realise that integration into the community is not just about doing fun things,” says Rob. “It’s about having those conversations with people in the community and doing things that everyone else has the opportunity to do.”
Over the years, Rob’s experience working as a Diversional Therapist, and as a leader in leisure and recreational therapies, has seen him help many more people with disability.
Rob says he is driven by helping clients, and his staff, do things that others did not think was possible. “Being told no, drives me to succeed and I enjoy helping others do the same,” says Rob.
Today, Rob leads a dedicated team at Achieve Australia, providing supported accommodation services for clients at North Ryde and Dundas. Rob’s team also run an ongoing program of recreational, leisure and sporting activities in the community, to help clients connect with people outside of their current support networks.
However, due to COVID, many community activities have been put on hold to keep everyone safe. This time has also been particularly hard for clients and families, with many missing the routine of regular visits and family time. But the team have been getting creative to keep connected through regular calls, video chats and safe visits.
“For a client who used to visit his family every Sunday for dinner, we did a drive-by take away option and everyone got to say hello from a safe distance,” says Rob. “Everyone was really pleased. The client still had their home cooked meal, and the family were so happy to see that their family member was safe and well.”
Both clients and staff have also been enjoying the My Life at Home program, which has a list of new activities each week to get involved in. “We are really looking forward to getting back out into the community when it’s safe to do so, but for now everyone is staying connected and active at home,” says Rob.
While being part of the community might be difficult right now, in future there will be many more opportunities for people with disability to be included and connected.