Katie Bullen’s enthusiasm for the NDIS is infectious.
As a speech pathologist and key worker for children with disability and their families Katie embraced the NDIS when it was launched in the Blue Mountains and Nepean areas in July 2015.
In that time, she’s seen it transform the lives of children and their families.
“Seeing the difference it’s made, I just think it’s the best thing,” Katie says.
Through Lifestart and the NDIS Katie supports children with disability in their homes, at school and out and about taking part in every day activities.
She’s there to support families to make choices, have access to the right information and set priorities – and communicate with fellow team members if need be.
Only last week she went ten pin bowling with one young teenage client – helping him use his communication devices to buy tickets, choose the right shoes and navigate the game – a great example of how the NDIS supports inclusion.
Katie says the individual nature of NDIS funding has transformed the lives of the children she supports and their families.
“Giving people choice and control of what they want for their child makes them much more invested in their supports – it’s made a world of difference,” she says.
“It’s taken away the old medical model and given our clients much more of a voice in what they want and what they expect – often it’s the first time they’ve even had a voice.
“Often they knew what their child needed but didn’t have a choice or way of making it happen.
“The NDIS has also made it easier for people to articulate their needs and provide direction – and that makes our job as therapists and workers much easier.”
However Katie says it has been difficult for families from non-English speaking backgrounds to access the right information about the NDIS and what it will mean for them. And she says navigating the system can be difficult for many families, particularly at the beginning.
It’s her job to support them through.
Katie says the NDIS has transformed her professional life – for the better.
Replacing the old block funding model, with new individually funded packages has meant Lifestart has had to become more efficient and better at communicating with families.
She’s now busier than ever, and more organised.
She understands the anxiety those not yet part of the NDIS may be feeling.
“The NDIS is a really big change and until you are part of it, you really have no idea what it will mean. I felt exactly the same before I was working in it.
“It’s also changing as it goes along so it’s hard to prepare for it. My advice is to be open to change and roll with it. It’s not until you are in it that you know what it is, and also understand it its limitations, as well as the incredible difference it can make.”