Author: Jonathan Laloz

Accommodation Coaching Case Study 1

Last month, we had the pleasure of helping a participant move out of their student accommodation into somewhere more suitable for their transitioning lifestyle.  When they were referred to us, there was a level of anxiety around the whole process of applying for a rental property, especially given the way the market is in Canberra with low vacancy rates and a high level of competition.  The desired goal was to find accommodation before their current rental contract expired that was within their budget, had space to park their car and was reasonably close to where they worked and went to university.

After explaining the current nature of the market, the participant made the decision that it would be best for them to move into a shared house as soon as possible.  Our first session involved explaining the whole rental application process, what landlords were looking for in an application and what to say when making initial contact with someone advertising a property for rent.  The participant also came up with a list of features that were either desired or mandatory when looking for a property.

After our first session, the participant was able to book in two inspections for properties that suited them.  Prior to the first inspection, we met up to discuss the process and see if there were any questions or uncertainty.  During the inspection, we were discrete about our exact role saying we were a friend of the family helping out for morale support.  After being shown the property, it was decided that it wasn’t entirely suitable, despite the other tenants being nice.

We met up again just prior to the second inspection to go over the process and see if there were any question or concerns.  We then went through the second property and built some rapport with the existing tenants at the same time.  After the inspection, the participant decided they liked the place and wanted to apply for it.  We then guided them through the process of submitting an application, for which they were accepted, and provided advice afterwards on how they should go about ending their current contract.

In the end, our participant was relieved that they were able to find somewhere to live that met all of their requirements and was in a reasonably central location to meet their needs, despite a tight rental market.  While some compromises were made around the timeframe of the move, they were entirely driven and decided by the participant.  We were even able to help out with a couple of unrelated side-issues the participant was having, which led to one very happy participant.

Things to consider when looking for a job

Things to consider when looking for a job

Before looking for a job, you need to have an idea of what you’re looking for.  Any job you consider applying for should be fulfilling, able to support you financially and fit into your lifestyle.  Once you’ve discovered what you’re looking for, it’s then a matter of knowing where to look for a job that suits you.  There are several aspects of a job you need to consider before you even start looking.  These aspects can affect your lifestyle in a way that can either align or misalign with your values.


Much like real estate, one of the first things you need to consider when looking for a job is the location of the office.  Some of the things you may need to address include:

  • Is there suitable public transport readily available?
  • How long it will take to commute?
  • Do you have to pay for parking?
  • Is it close to other places you normally visit?
  • Can you work from home?
  • Does the office need modifications to accommodate any relevant disabilities?


When searching for a job, it’s important to know how much money you need to earn in order to cover all of your expenses, which can be achieved by creating a budget.  Another thing that needs to be considered is the market rate for the type of job you are searching for.  There are several websites that provide information about the market rates in different areas of the country, such as Seek and Hays (you may be required to sign up to view some of these).  Alternatively, you can run a Google search to get the salary for a particular job.

The market rate for the job you are looking for should be greater than the total of your expenses.  If this is not the case, you need to either consider reducing your expenses, changing the type of job you are looking for, or consider working more than one job.  If you don’t do this, you may end up in financial trouble in the future.

Employee Perks

A secondary consideration is what type of employee benefits does a potential employer offer.  Some employers may offer benefits, such as:

  • Subsidised health insurance
  • Ability to purchase extra annual leave
  • Salary sacrificing
  • Staff discounts
  • Employee Assistance Programs (counselling)
  • Penalty rates

Registered charities and non-profit organisation may also have access to more generous salary sacrifice arrangements through Fringe Benefits Tax exemptions.  Public service jobs (local, state and federal) also generally have a good level of employee benefits, such as an annual leave purchase schemes and employee assistance programs.

The Employee Benefits Concept Page has information about the different types of employee perks that may be available, and provides examples of how they can be used.

Workplace Culture

The culture of a workplace boils down to how people behave.  Signs of a workplace with a good culture include:

  • High employee morale (happy employees)
  • Excellent communications
  • Support for employees when they are having trouble (either personal or work-related issues)
  • A high level of drive and energy
  • Employees will speak well of their employer
  • Low level of staff turnover
  • A high level of organisation, where everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing

On the contrary, some things you should avoid in a workplace culture include:

  • Low employee morale
  • Bullying, harassment and intimidation
  • Low levels of energy and motivation
  • Employees speaking badly of their employer
  • High levels of employee turnover

It’s important to work for a company that aligns with your values, otherwise you may experience higher levels of stress and lower levels of fulfilment.  While you can ask questions about company culture in a job interview, you can do some research beforehand using the company’s web site, and workplace review websites like Glassdoor.

Field of Work

The field of work boils down to a few different things.  Firstly, is the industry you’d like to work in.  Some examples include:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Retail
  • Legal
  • Service
  • Health
  • Charity

Next, is the job you’d like to be doing.  This will be based on what skills you have, and should align with your values and Ikigai.  Some examples include:

  • Driver
  • Electrician
  • Carpenter
  • Retail Sales
  • Accountant
  • Cleaner

Hours of Work

There are three main types of employee when it comes to the regular hours worked each week:

Full Time

This type of employee works between 36 and 40 hours per week, usually to a regular schedule during business hours.  Some workers might do shift work, which while has a higher level of pay can be more taxing on the body.  Shift workers usually work overnight and/or on weekends, and may have a roster that changes over time.  Full time employees usually get leave entitlements, unless they are contractors.

Part Time

Part time employees work less than 36 hours per week, and may have rostering arrangements similar to a full-time employee.  Part time employees will usually get a fraction of leave entitlements compared to a full-time employee based on the number of hours they work, unless they are contractors.


Casual employees are a bit like part-time employees, however they receive a higher hourly rate instead of leave entitlements.  Casual workers generally do not have a set roster, and their hours may vary from week-to-week.

On Call

In addition to working regular hours, some employees, especially in the support and health industries, may be required to be on call overnight and/or over the weekend.  This means that they will be “on standby” in case something happens, and will go to work if needed to.  When an employee is on call, they usually receive an on-call allowance plus they will be paid for work they do when they are called upon while on call (often with penalty rates).

Type of Employee

There are four main types of employee, with each having different conditions of employment.


Permanent employees have the most stable type of employment.  These employees are employed on an ongoing basis, with no specific end date.  Permanent employees usually have full leave entitlements, depending on the “Hours of Work” category they fall into above.


Temporary employees are employed for a specific task over a set period of time.  Unless a temporary employee is granted an extension at the end of their employment period, they will have to find another job.  Often, the recruitment process for temporary employees is less formal than that of permanent employees.  Temporary employees will have similar entitlements to permanent employees.


Contractors are a hybrid of temporary employees working full or part time, and casual employees.  While contractors do not have leave entitlements, they receive a higher hourly rate for the work they do.  Like temporary employees, contractors are employed for a specific task over a set period of time, and will have a set number of hours they work each week.  Contractors are generally employed because of a specific skillset they have, such as Project Management.


Casual employees are a lot like contractors, except they might not be employed for a specific timeframe or have regular hours.  Like a contractor, they do not receive leave entitlements but will receive a higher hourly rate.


Once you’ve got a better idea of type of job you’d like to apply for, and the structure of employment, you can start searching for jobs via job search websites or agencies.  If you’ve found a company that you’d really like to work for, you could also approach them directly to see if they have any jobs that haven’t been advertised yet.

What are employee benefits, and how can they help me?

These days, employers are offering more than just a base salary to reward employees for their hard work.  Many employers offer their employees a variety of benefits, some of which we’ll go into below.  While most of these are optional benefits, you may want to talk to a financial adviser prior to making any decisions that could have an impact on your finances.

Health Insurance

Some employers may offer partially or fully subsidised (paid for) health insurance if they have an affiliation with a health fund.  This could include hospital only cover, extras cover or both.

Purchased Annual Leave

In addition to your normal annual leave entitlements (which is normally 4 weeks for a full-time employee), some workplaces offer the ability to purchase extra annual leave so you can go on longer holidays.  This works by the employer dividing the cost of the extra leave (the amount you’d be paid if you were working) over a longer period (from a month to a year, for example), and taking it out of your pay each pay cycle (when you get paid).

For example, if your normal pay is $1000 per fortnight ($52,000 per year), and you want to purchase 1 week of additional leave and spread the cost over the year, your pay would decrease by around $10 per fortnight ($500 divided by 52).

It is important you talk to a financial adviser prior to purchasing extra annual leave to ensure it is appropriate for your situation.

Salary Sacrificing

Salary sacrificing, or Salary Packaging, allows you to make purchases with your pre-tax income, helping you save tax.  Below are some examples of different things you can salary sacrifice, with the most common being cars:

  • Cars
  • Laptops
  • Mobile Phones
  • Superannuation

If you work for a non-profit or charity, you may also be eligible to salary sacrifice some general expenses without incurring Fringe Benefits Tax.

Of all the benefit types, salary sacrificing is the most important benefit to get financial advice for, in fact some employers will explicitly require proof that you’ve received financial advice, or will get you to sign a waiver saying you didn’t get it.

Staff Discounts

Some employers will give you a discount for products or services they provide (for example, supermarkets).  Other employers may enrol in a program where employees can get discounts at various businesses, or offer discounts through their suppliers.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs gives access to counselling and crisis support to employees and their immediate family.  Sessions are generally provided in-person or over the phone at no cost to the employee.  This can be beneficial as there is usually a very short waiting period compared to seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional.

Penalty Rates

Penalty rates are usually given to employees who work outside normal business hours, and consist of an additional percentage of the normal hourly rate, often called a loading.  Loading can range from 15% for weekday after hours work to 150% for Sundays and public holidays.

Employees may also be paid a flat rate for being on call, which is where an employee is available to work at short notice if required, but not actually working.  When an employee is called out to work, they may also receive a loading depending when they worked.  Some employers may also pay a minimum rate for a call-out, for example someone called out on the weekend may receive a minimum of two hours pay for work they’ve done, even if they worked less.


Employers may opt to pay for training relating to the job you’re in, or to further progress your career within the company.  This could be industry specific training or training through a TAFE or University.  It is quite common for employers of apprentices to pay TAFE fees upon successful completion of a unit.  Some employers may add a condition that the employee must stay with the company for a period of time, otherwise they may need to pay back the company for the cost of the training provided.


While not common, some employers will offer on-site parking for free, or will reimburse you if you need to pay for parking, especially if you’re visiting the site of a customer.


The list above are just some of the benefits employers are offering their employees.  Some places may also offer other benefits that we haven’t covered here, such as childcare or bonuses.  While some benefits may be automatic, your employer should give you information about how to claim extra benefits that aren’t (if they don’t, you can ask them).

What on earth is Ikigai, and how can it benefit me?

In last week’s blog post, I talked about purpose and values.  This week, I’d like to extend on those topics and talk about Ikigai.  What on Earth is Ikigai, you might be wondering.  Ikigai (pronounced ee-kee-guy) is a Japanese concept which roughly translates to “reason for being”.  It takes the concept of purpose and values and builds on it in a way that can be applied specifically to your career.  Your Ikigai is where the following four elements intersect:

What you love

This is where your values come into play.  As I mentioned in the last blog post, our values are things that are important to us, which is a key driver to helping you determine the things that you love.  To demonstrate this, I’m going to use my imaginary friend Jim (who I just made up).  A couple of Jim’s core values include being able to help people solve problems and thinking logically.  These values guide Jim towards his love for computers.

What you are good at

Generally, when you love something you want to spend as much time working in that field as possible.  Over time, you’ll build your skills and become very good at what you do.  Because Jim loves computers and solving problems so much, he’s spent a lot of time coding and creating lots of different little apps, which has made him a very good programmer.  Passion occurs when your love for something intersects with something you’re good at.

What you can be paid for

While it’s great to be able to do something you love, it’s very hard to do it all the time if you’re unable to pay your bills.  The next piece of the Ikigai puzzle is finding something you can be paid for.  In Jim’s situation, you can see through various job seeker websites that it is possible to earn a living by programming.  When something you can be paid for intersects with something you’re good at, that is your profession.

What the world needs

One of, if not *the*, most important parts of the Ikigai concept is doing something the world needs.  The key to being successful in business (and life in general) is the ability to help others solve their problems.  Since the world needs people like Jim to program computers to make life easier, he’s got this covered.  Your mission in life is where your love for something intersects with something to world needs, and your vocation (job) is where something the world needs meets something you can be paid for.

Bringing it all together

When you’ve identified the four previously mentioned elements, where they intersect then becomes your Ikigai.  People will often work in a job they hate just because that’s what they’re told to do, or told what they can do.  This leads to high levels of stress, which in turn leads to a decrease in mental and physical health over time.  The Ikigai concept aims to increase the level of personal fulfilment, resulting in lower levels of stress and better long-term health.

How can your purpose and values help you find a job?

Before looking for a job, you should have a rough idea of what you’d like to do. Any job you consider applying for should be able to earn you enough money, fit into your lifestyle and be fulfilling to you.

In order for a job to be fulfilling, the work you are doing must not conflict with your values.  Values are the things that are the most important to you, and define how you behave. Success, in your own mind, is defined by your core values, and aligning what you do with your values should create a state of happiness and fulfilment.

While your values may change over time as you move through the different stages of life, they don’t usually change too much. As you start out in your career you might value money above all other things and be happy to work long hours.  However, if you start a family these values might change, along with your career preferences. As you get older, you may also start to value your health more, making decisions based on leading a healthier lifestyle.

For example, someone who has family as one of their core values would benefit from working in a job that allows them the extra time to spend with their loved ones and the flexibility to take time out to tend to family matters when needed. In contrast, a job where they have to work long hours is likely to lead to a high level of stress and discomfort.

Everyone on this planet has a purpose in life, however many of us have not found that purpose yet, and some of us may never do so. Our purpose is what keeps us going when things gets difficult, and provides a beacon to guide us through life’s many choices.

Your life’s purpose is closely linked to your core values and passion, and should be the focus of any goals you set and decisions you make, including finding a job. The reason for this is that your purpose is what drives you, and the energy you get from being internally motivated is one of the most powerful things to help you be successful in life.

3 Super Fast LEGO® Remote Control Cars

When building things that move, I have the desire to make it either as big as possible, or as fast as possible.  In this article, I’ll look to satisfy this need for speed by showing you three of the fastest LEGO® Remote Control Car designs.

The first car we have is a very simple but quick design by Christoph Bartneck that incorporates the bare minimum for power and steering.  This design uses a Power Functions L motor and servo combo.

Next, we have a Rally Car design by ArsMan064, which uses a Power Functions RC Buggy Motor and a Servo.  This design is very fast and sturdy, and can even go down stairs.

The final design by Thomas technic also uses Power Functions motors and servos, and is quite zippy.

While most LEGO®-based therapy programs are aimed at small children, we run LEGO® build sessions for people aged 15 years and older with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.  During the 10 week program, we’ll be building cars like the ones in this article and racing them against each other.

Contact us for more information on our after school LEGO® build sessions, or click here for more information.

3 Cool LEGO® Catapults To Rule Your Kingdom

I’ve been into LEGO® castles since I was a child, having built many over the years big enough to take up a dining room table.  One of the cooler weapons I’ve built over the years to help defend my castles is the good ol’ catapult.  In this post, I’ll go through 3 different catapults that you can build to help defeat the evil king.


First up, we have a simple but cute design, involving a rubber band by 1tucan.  This design doesn’t require many pieces and can be made quite quickly.

The second design by Jarrod TY is a bit more complex, and builds upon the rubber-band design in the first video.  This catapult uses a winding mechanism to reset the launcher.

Finally, we have one of the more complex catapult designs I’ve seen, but one of the best performing – a Da Vinci Catapult by Sariel.  This design uses two axles to propel the launcher instead of rubber bands, and a ratchet mechanism to reset.  A word of warning, the axles used as springs in this design can be permanently bent.

While most LEGO®-based therapy programs are aimed at small children, we run LEGO® build sessions for people aged 15 years and older with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.  During the 10 week program, we’ll be building catapults like the ones (safely) in this article and pitting them against each other.

Contact us for more information on our after school LEGO® build sessions, or click here for more information.

3 Cool Rubber-band Powered LEGO® Cars You Can Build

I’ve been making LEGO® cars for quite a while now, and something that has piqued my interest for a while now is unusual powers sources for the cars I make.  One of the first things I came across were rubber-band powered cars.  In this article, I’ll go through a few of the ones I’ve found to be quite enjoyable, that you can also build at home.

The first car is a rubber-band car based on the LEGO® EDU Renewable Energy Set by The Technic Gear LEGO Reviews.  It involves a simple spring action lever design with gears that is quite easy to reset.

Next, we have a cute DIY Rubber-band car with a Batman theme by Toys”R”Us.  This simple design has a wind-up mechanism, as opposed to the lever mechanism of the first car.

Finally, we have a variation of the levered rubber band car by Yoshihito ISOGAWA.  This is a larger version of the first car, with more leverage and gearing to help it go further.

While most LEGO®-based therapy programs are aimed at small children, we run LEGO® build sessions for people aged 15 years and older with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.  During the 10 week program, we’ll be building cars like the ones in this article and racing them against each other.

Contact us for more information on our after school LEGO® build sessions, or click here for more information.

Coping and Living With Learning Disabilities: Above and Beyond

Coping and Living With Learning Disabilities: Above and Beyond

People living with physical, sensory or intellectual disability, in most cases, just require some help to allow them to perform everyday tasks like the rest of us.

On the first Ever episode of the Incre-mental podcast, I had the pleasure of talking to Doris Blowers, a mother of two sons – both of them are participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – and one daughter. Anyone in her position would have been through a lot. But just how much she has had to deal with is pretty hard to imagine. Below is the story of her experience and the difficulties she’s faced over the years…

Learning disabilities are more common than you think

Studies have shown that learning disabilities are more common than we think. One study even went as far as to say 1 in every 5 people has a learning disability. What I find more significant is the high percentage of cases that go undetected and/or undiagnosed until the individual reaches adulthood.

Early Signs

Doris had reasons to believe something was wrong with both of her sons. “My older son always had problems in general, wouldn’t sit still.” She told me. “But then, it was the younger one that was my main concern”. “…, He was a little bit smarter in the brain and he said things that made you think nothing is wrong or you don’t realise.”

Learning disabilities vary in children, and parents are encouraged to look out for some common signs or indicators. While noticing one or more of these signs can leave you suspicious, it does not necessarily mean the child has a learning disability. Ultimately, it is the doctor’s place to assess and diagnose whether the child has a learning disability or not.

Some early signs a child might show include:

  • dislike reading and/or find reading hard
  • have lots of trouble spelling common words
  • find it hard to spot the sounds and syllables in words
  • tell you lots of interesting ideas but find writing them down slow and difficult
  • have very messy handwriting
  • not feel very confident about schoolwork.

Learning disabilities are usually spotted during the first two years of school. By this time, the child is usually 7-8 years old. As for Doris, she herself got a hold of the situation early enough. She tells me they started noticing ‘problems’ when her younger son was only six years old.

Early detection, and where possible, diagnosis is important

It all comes down to potential. Children with learning disabilities may be first thought of to have lower intelligence than their peers. Whereas, they may even be more intelligent but have these ‘problems’. Doris talked about what was standing in their way and preventing them from reaching their full potential.

It’s important to reiterate that due to the way the brain works, problems manifest differently for each child and at different ages from one child to the next. Therefore, the role of parents or guardians in this regard cannot be overemphasised. As a parent, you know and understand your child better than anyone. If you suspect your child learning difficulties requires special needs, please, do not delay in finding the necessary support and assistance. Like Doris, a good place to start with is the child’s teachers at school. Much like their parents, children also spend significant time throughout the day under the care of their teachers. Both play a significant role in the growth and development of the modern-day child.

Look at the big picture

Early detection and possible corrections of a child’s’ learning difficulties go beyond academic success. Succeeding in life takes precedence at this point. Once we are aware of these ‘problems’, necessary steps have to be taken to provide the necessary assistance. Otherwise, the impact of learning disabilities will become more apparent. The child at this point develops low self-esteem and the frustration builds, perhaps caused by the poor performance in school. And there is only so much anyone can take before the frustration reaches boiling point and they start acting out. Doris didn’t hold back when she tells me; “… and things went crazy and he went crazy at school and no one wanted to help him.”

The picture doesn’t get any clearer. Unless there is a concerted effort to bring help to these kids that they need, learning disabilities do not just go away. Instead, they grow more problematic and the behavioural issues may soon start to develop. Doris provided a better perspective on such issues she experienced with her youngest son when she explained; “He started doing silly things and I can’t explain it, but he was starting to play with, not like weapons, but he was coming home with elastics and sticks and he was acting like he needed to protect himself. But I don’t know the full story behind that, and I still don’t think I ever will. But then there were situations where I would go to school and he wouldn’t want to go to class or he wouldn’t sit in class or, they couldn’t handle him.”

While early diagnosis increases and improves the child’s chances of doing well academically as their potential permits, the big picture is that it also prevents the child from developing low self-esteem and complicated behavioural issues that may further affect the child’s ability to learn the skills they need to have a normal, successful life as adults.

Testing and diagnosis for learning disability is a process

The testing and diagnosis of a learning disability is a process, and like most processes it isn’t straightforward. And that is exactly what Doris experienced when trying to get her younger son tested. She mentioned that “no one believed me”, as she tried to seek professional help.

While Doris’ experience may not be the case for everyone out there, that does not take away the fact that getting the relevant people to see things from your perspective as the parent can be a real pain and struggle. While having to struggle tooth and nail to get the relevant people involved shouldn’t be prerequisite in getting the required support, unfortunately it can be a necessary part of the process. From the moment you sense something is wrong with your child, as a parent, to when you eventually find some answers, you don’t stop. Like Doris, you keep asking and asking until you get a satisfactory response.

A reputable referral is important

And a good place to get one is your child’s school. Talk to the teachers and establish if they have observed anything out of the ordinary with your child. Speak to the school principal if need be. While you are at it, have it at the back of your mind that they may be unable to help you, at least to the extent that meets your expectations. Seek a professional opinion about your concerns. Raise them with your GP and hear what they have to say. You may also bring it up with your family and friends, some of them may have successfully dealt with learning disabilities and can provide valuable insights.

Diagnosing a learning disability involves testing, history taking, and observation by a trained specialist. Getting your child checked and examined by one of the following trained specialists is an important milestone in the whole process we have talked about. Your GP should be able to point you in the right direction of the appropriate specialists to meet.

  1. Psychologists
  2. Speech therapist
  3. Occupational therapists

Sometimes, these disabilities may be so complex that it will require several specialist teams working together to try and get to the root of the problems. Even after all this time, Doris tells me that one of her sons still hasn’t been accurately diagnosed yet. At least, the doctors have not been able to say definitely; this is what is wrong and put a name to it. And she is very much into the process of getting the necessary help both of her sons need, including enrolling them into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Following your gut feelings

Throughout my discussions with Doris, I couldn’t help noticing so many instances where she followed her instincts. Aptly signified by how many times she uses the phrase “…, no one believed me.” And every time, she had to keep pushing, keep trusting and following her instincts. Sometimes, you just have to follow your guts – Doris had to.

As a parent, I repeat, no one knows and understands your child as you possibly could. You are the expert when it comes to their affairs. Chances are, if you sense something is not right, its probably not right. If you’re worried, don’t wait. Don’t hesitate to do something, even if people tell you otherwise. In a situation like this, people may tell you “it’s nothing” or “just wait, they will grow out of it”.

Getting your child’s teachers to agree or share some of your concerns with you can prove difficult as well. Doris never got the expected response to the issues she raised with her son’s school. She recounted one of her meetings with the school where they suggested her son’s lack of social interactions skills was because “he was so trained to be independent and be alone that he was never, ever going to be able to be in a classroom again.” And that his previous school had taught him to be alone and independent!

In essence, if you feel your concerns are being ‘minimised’ – even by your doctor – seek a second opinion. The sooner you find your child the right support and assistance, the better your child’s chances for growing and developing to their full potential. There is nothing like too much help. Besides, look at the consequences if you do nothing.

Find support and help for your child with learning disabilities

As a parent, you must know where to look for help and support, and when to allow it to work for you. It can be tedious and you might not know where to start or what to do. But Doris’s experience may provide a few helpful pointers for you.

Doris was able to get both her sons into the NDIS, but not without some challenges. She wasn’t just referring to the eligibility criteria every applicant is required to meet. For three years she has been under the scheme, there was a lot of “back and forwards” as she describes it. She was basically having trouble with who to contact and what to do at every turn. She had no idea what a support coordinator was or how to locate one.

She agrees that maybe the problems she encountered were down to a systemic failure, as her experiences with the NDIS was nothing peculiar. Others have had, and are still having, similar stories to tell. She recounts, where can things get better? “Lots more guidance needs to be done”. Doris was sure a lot more can be done by adopting a more streamlined and coordinated approach in engaging with participants. If the relevant parties strive to improve their communication efforts and critically evaluate the helpfulness of the information they receive, we think a lot of those grey areas can be eliminated for Doris and the other parents or carer who may have had experiences similar to hers.

Still a lot of good done by the NDIS

In general, “it’s increased their quality of life” Doris says in a nutshell. “I can actually ask for more help or I can have other things done”. She thinks the help she is getting now is all worth the trouble. She has been able to find a support coordinator who she describes as “amazing”. Being with the scheme has allowed her sons to enjoy the expertise of behavioural specialists and occupational therapists in some capacity.

Supports provided under NDIS are packaged as a specialised plan according to each participant’s needs. While a lot of funding goes into these supports, thankfully Doris or anyone like her, needn’t fund it themselves.

Hope for a promising future

“My oldest son would like to become a mechanic. He’s looking into going back to CIT, which I’m very proud of him for that one. My younger one is flourishing, it’s amazing. He’s enjoying what he’s doing. I think both my boys will be good in the end. Well, I hope.”

Nobody knows what the future holds, but for Doris and her two sons, the present permits them to dream and aspire just like everyone else. It has given them a fighting chance of reaching their potential. And that is all anyone could truly hope for.

Incre-mental Episode 1 – Overcoming Obstacles with Doris Blowers

In this episode, I’ll be talking to Doris Blowers, a mother of two sons who are participants in the NDIS and one daughter who isn’t.  We’ll be discussing some of the difficulties she faced over the years and how she overcame them.


Jonathan: Hello and welcome to the first ever episode of The Self Plus plus incremental podcast, Improve your mindset to become more independent. My name is Jonathan Laloz and I’ll be your host. In this episode, I’ll be talking to Doris Blower’s, mother of two sons who are participants in the NDIS and one daughter who isn’t. We’ll be discussing some of the difficulties she faced over the years and how she overcame them. This podcast is brought to you by Self Plus Plus Mentoring program and online community. Where participants build the mindset they need to become more independent. Visit our website at

Jonathan: Doris, thanks for joining us on our first ever broadcast is called Incre-mental. So tell me a bit about yourself briefly.

Doris: Born, raised, have three kids. I have two boys with special needs. I have one with autism. And I have another one with that has a diagnosis that undiagnosed and was still trying to find out what it is. I guess I’ve always struggled with life with my kids. I’ve separated from their father. So there’s a lot to this and a lot of trouble I’ve had with the NDIS.

Jonathan: Tell me a little bit about the story about getting your sons into NDIS. Some of the difficulties you were having.

Doris: First and foremost, because of my oldest son, I found out he had the disability but actually didn’t have the diagnosis yet.

Doris: We were still able to get the NDIS, but I’ve had drafted that crap with the NDIS and I have to be honest.

Jonathan: So what sort of crap did you have to deal with?

Doris: From when I got, I got taken to a meeting and I met with like seven or eight people that helped and supported and everybody else from the background was amazing. But then I give you a bit of paper and they say you need to find your coordinator or you need to find your support worker. But then they don’t help you.

Jonathan: So you had no idea what a support coordinator is?

Doris: I knew nothing about that.

Jonathan: How did you end up finding your support coordinator?

Doris: A lot of work, a lot of back and forth. And somehow I ended up with community services and all that stuff. And I don’t know. I can’t remember how it affiliated together. But somehow I found them. And when I found them, I. I went on with some bloke come when he originally started and he was amazing and he just got the ball rolling with everything. But it took three years. Of NDIS plans with my oldest son to get this to work properly. And I’m still with the plan. They’re amazing, they’ve been great. My coordinate is amazing and yeah, everything good and everything that needs to be done she’s helped me with.

Jonathan: So did you have troubles with getting the evidence you needed to be accepted by the NDIS or was it more after the fact.

Doris: There was more information to my older son in his case that helped me get the NDIS. But it’s now we’ve got to fight for another diagnosis for him to see if we can.

Jonathan: What are some of the things you wished you knew back then, that you actually know now?

Doris: Who to contact, that when they give you when they give you the NDIS and they give you a local area co-ordinator, that local area coordinator helps you. Just doesn’t say, here’s the paperwork, here’s the email. Go, deal with it yourself.

Jonathan: Some more guidance?

Doris: Lots more guidance needs needs to be done. It was horrible what I went through for three years.

Jonathan: Three years? And that just going back and forth

Doris: Back and forwards. No one would help me. And every time the third time I went for a review, the person that did the NDIS review with me literally told me I was not entitled to anything again because we hadn’t used any of his supports. But no one told me how to use my support. No one instigated it. No one helped. No one. They told me I needed this, this, this, this and this. But it’s like, well, how do you do this, this and this and use this.

Doris: If no one will help you.

Jonathan: Do you put it down to a systemic failure overall, or is it just that particular people you were dealing with, do you think?

Doris: The systemic failures, it failed everybody apparently back then and it’s still failing people? I can still hear stories that people are saying that is still not right.

Jonathan: And the level of support before your plan was accepted, that was difficult for you as well.

Doris: Yeah, very difficult. There was no support. No one would help me. No one would do nothing. No one would believe me. No one would. Yeah.

Jonathan: Some of the bigger obstacles for you would be the financial obstacles getting that evidence.

Doris: Yes. Because we had to have tests done or we had to go have tests done. But because I ended up getting all the stuff done with Centrelink to do with a carers payment because I am his carer, because we’d done all the Centrelink paperwork, I then had the proof that it was the disability was there and that how the ball rolled with this.

Jonathan: So going back before even the NDIS came into play, what were the early indicators that you felt something was wrong with your sons?

Doris: Both my sons, my older son always had problems in general, wouldn’t sit still, but then it was my younger one that was my main concern. And yes, admittedly, I didn’t. He was a little bit smarter in the brain and he said things that made you think nothing is wrong or you don’t realise. But because I monitored my older one more than I monitored my younger one and we tried. Didn’t mean to do, but some parents do. I found out that when we wanted to get the younger one tested or wanted to get the younger one checked, no one believed me. So we had problems back when he was in year six and no one believed me and things went crazy and he went crazy at school and no one wanted to help him.

Jonathan: So there are behavioural issues?

Doris: Oh, behavioural but no one believed me. They all thought it was trauma of the separation from me and the partner. But then I found out later on it was the trauma of that. But the trauma triggered it. To come on quicker and harder, it was come up more visible. When the separation happened.

Jonathan: So what led you to believe there was an issue with your youngest while he was at school?

Doris: He started doing silly things and I can’t explain it, but he was starting to play with, not like weapons, but he was coming home with elastics and sticks and he was acting like he needed to protect himself. But I don’t know the full story behind that, and I still don’t think I ever will. But then there were situations where I would go to school and he wouldn’t want to go to class or he wouldn’t sit in class or, they couldn’t handle him.

Doris: But they wouldn’t put him in the special needs area like an independent learning area. So in the end, what they did is, as it is I don’t like what they did. They literally moved him from the, not like in the classroom, but where you meet where they have the class, where they have to class a little section. And behind it was a little table where the little table was, they set him there and sat him on his own. They’re still monitoring. They still watched him. So then he would learn to be independent, but he never actually had to be involved with the class. And they never encouraged him to be involved with class.

Doris: So that was like a six and then, you know, we had a lot. I had a lot of trouble. I tried to get him tested. No one believed me. No one understood me. So that went down. Then he went to go to high school and the problems continued even more, that he couldn’t cope. He couldn’t sit in class and he got into such a routine that someone actually told me when he went to one of the other special schools, because I finally managed to get him to a special school. But they actually told me at one of my meetings that he was so trained to be independent and be alone that he was never, ever gonna be I’d be able to be in a classroom again, because that’s what the primary school had taught him to do.

Jonathan: So that led to some social interaction issues?

Doris: Oh, he wasn’t going to associate with anybody, he wasn’t spending time with anybody. And he was actually meeting with boys that were being naughty. And doing stuff with them that shouldn’t have been done and make people realize that something was wrong. But no one believed me again.

Jonathan: And so that sort of behaviour is still going on as it stands.

Doris: Since all that stemmed, it stopped it. We managed to get his year 10 with a lot of grief and a lot of trouble. That a lot of that stopped. But at the moment, still a lot of independence, he’s will sit on the console.

Doris: If you could put him in a console all day, he’d sit there. But I’ve tried to pull him out of that, too.

Jonathan: What have you found to be some of the biggest challenges before and after the NDIS came in, so, start with before.

Doris: Oh there’s lots of challenges. No one believes you. No one wants to talk to you. No one understands you. They think you’re just a mother.

Jonathan: What about from your son’s perspective?

Doris: Older one I’m always going to have problems with because of everything. A lot of what he’s dealing with now to do with this disability, I suspect. I might have to. And it’s a genetic thing. And yeah, we found out that it was my brother and my mom and everybody else, but. All that. Yep. And my younger one, if I hadn’t affiliated him with one of my friends, I probably wouldn’t be where I am with him now.

Jonathan: So what are some of the challenges you’re still facing?

Doris: Still trying to get the boys organized or still getting the boys in a routine. Still trying to get him get the younger one up and showered and ready and motivated. Day to day tasks, but that’s day to day tasks with everybody.

Jonathan: And so since the NDIS has come into play, that’s changed them quite a lot?

Doris: Yes. Well, now the old one table to get shoes that I couldn’t really afford because they’re like three hundred dollars a hit and they’re not specialized shoes, they’re just just normal sneakers and boots or whatever? But, you know, they’ve got to be done to fit his foot and all that stuff, so. Yeah.

Jonathan: And so it’s in general, it’s increased their quality of life.

Doris: It increased their quality of life. They’ve increased their help. They’re more. I can actually ask for more help or I can have other things done. And and lately, with everything that’s been happening, they might even be able to get laptops. You know, we’re still trying to find that out.

Jonathan: Tell me a bit about that. You’re having issues with it.

Doris: Oh, yes. Yes, I am having big trouble with that. I think there’s a lot of how do I put it I could pick. I don’t want to say rudely.

Doris: I don’t like some of these situation, but it’s a case of they tell you that you’re entitled to this and you can have this, but then you go to this place and this to place the order for these laptops and they’ll tell you I can’t do it as a sales order, that it’s got to be done as a quote.

Jonathan: So there’s a lot of red tape.

Doris: Oh, there a lot of horrible red tape. But then a lady was standing behind me and she said, I have done this, my dear, and I did do this. And it was done as a quote. And then my plan manager contacted her to transfer it to a sales order. So then the bloke said to me again, I’m going to do a quote.

Doris: I said, no, you need to do the sales order. Yes, it finally did get done. But that was one hour of mucking around that I could have been spending with my kids. There’s a lot of red tape.

Jonathan: And so what what are some of the sources of information that you’ve found helpful in trying to overcome the issues that you’ve had?

Doris: Mine are, because I can contact my coordinator at any time. So you really got to find a coordinator that you can work with. And when I found out that my youngest son was having a review done in the next couple days, I contacted my coordinator and I said, what’s going on? This is going on. This is going. And she said, well, you don’t really have to do nothing. I’ll do all the paperwork. I’ll put all the report together. You just sit back and accept the phone call and agree to all of it. That’s how easy it is now. But it was never that easy before.

Jonathan: So it’s just a matter of you having to find that support.

Doris: Yes. And if you can find someone, it’s amazing.

Jonathan: So if it wasn’t for the intervention of the NDIS, where do you think your sons would be today?

Doris: Probably on a street somewhere. No, I don’t know. I’ve always been supportive of them. I don’t know where they would be. Just the NDIS has made things a little bit easier, made things a little bit harder in some way.

Doris: But in some ways it hasn’t, if you know what I mean. It’s just a small thing for them. We can have behavioral specialists invovled. We’ve had OT involved, but then it’s done. But it’s there. But then they’re working in the background, so you don’t really see them. But they’re training up with the workers that work with my kids.

Doris: So that’s where it’s all different.

Doris: And some of the money that I’ll be watching, going through my plan manager and some of that money to go through it, I think, oh, my God, where would I have found that one? You know, it’s like scary that. If I had to fund all this, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Jonathan: So what do you see your sons in the future? What what are their dreams and aspirations?

Doris: My oldest son would like to go into mechanical. He’s looking into going back to CIT, which I’m very proud of him for that one. My younger one is flourishing is amazing. He’s enjoying what he’s doing. I think both my boys will be good in the end. Well, I hope.

Doris: I hope they will be.

Jonathan: Well, thank you so much for your time, Doris, it’s been a pleasure to have you on our first ever podcast, incre-mental.

Doris: No problem. Thank you for having me.

Jonathan: Thank you for listening to the first episode of incre-mental. Please hit the subscribe button so you can get notifications when our new episodes get released. If there’s anything you’d like us to talk about on this podcast, please visit our website and get in contact with us. Until next time, see you soon.