Disability Services Minister Ray Williams praises Ability Links NSW

Innovative program: Ability Links NSW linker Katelyn Williams and participant Mandie Young meet NSW Disability Services Minister Ray Williams.

Innovative program: Ability Links NSW linker Katelyn Williams and participant Mandie Young meet NSW Disability Services Minister Ray Williams.

WAUCHOPE’S Mandie Young is more confident and has a new direction in life thanks to Ability Links NSW.

Mandie shared her story on March 13 with NSW Disability Services Minister Ray Williams.

More than 73,000 people in NSW have benefited significantly from the groundbreaking state government-funded program.

Ability Links NSW coordinators, known as linkers, work closely with people with disability, their families and carers to support them to fulfil their goals, hopes and dreams.

For Mandie, with support from linker Katelyn Williams, that included further study and links with Endeavour Clubhouse.

“Through my connection with Katelyn, I’ve grown with my self-confidence and self-value, and being more assertive,” Mandie said.

The Endeavour Clubhouse connection led to a demolition and construction certificate.

Mandie has reconnected with TAFE and is studying massage at the Port Macquarie TAFE campus.

Linker Katelyn Williams said anyone could do anything.

“Dream big is my message,” she said.

“Dream big because it can happen.”

Non-profit organisation Mid Coast Communities delivers the Ability Links NSW program on the Mid-North Coast. 

Two independent evaluation reports show Ability Links NSW provides significant benefits to the community. 

The innovative approach to support people with disability returns three dollars in economic and social benefits for every dollar invested.

Disability Services Minister Ray Williams praised Ability Links NSW.

He said the program helped participants become better linked to the community.

“A lot of people with disability find they are disconnected with the community and that’s what we need to break down,” he said.

Mr Williams said extraordinary stories had come out of the program.

The minister also met Ability Links NSW Mid-North Coast staff when he visited Port Macquarie.

The program works with about 200 participants a month on the Mid-North Coast.

Ability Links Mid-North Coast program manager Anna Thompson said linkers listened and looked at what would work for participants.

“We find the connections or the good things in the community and encourage those,” she said.

“We find ways to make it work for whatever their hurdle is and we find ways around or over it.”

Linkers can help participants find ways to be part of the community, set goals and plan for the future, build confidence and develop existing support networks and create new networks.