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  • Writer's picturePeta

Perspectives From A Participant, Support Worker and Founder. Buttons Support Services

In this episode, Peta brings you a diverse range of perspectives on Disability Support Services.

Meet Andre, a participant who shares his insights as someone with a disability and relies on the support; Sam, a dedicated support worker who loves his job, and David, the founder of Buttons Support Services sharing his vision and passion for creating a better support system for those with disabilities.

Connect with Buttons Support Services:


Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke



Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. I'm your host and I have Cerebral Palsy. Before we get started with the episode and before I give you a bit of background on how we got here, I want to remind you that you can always get in contact with me, suggest a question for future episodes of the podcast, or even exist by messaging me on my Instagram. I handle is @Petahooke or via email or via my website I was approached by button support services to do this episode, and when I'm approached by companies like this, it's not often that I say yes. But I said yes because I thought button services sounded different. And also the fact that they allowed me to not only speak to the founder of the organisation, David. A participant, Andre And a support worker, Sam. I felt it was very important to make sure all perspectives were included in this episode. So without any further ado, let's hand over to David.

David [00:01:45] Hey, thank you so much for having me. My name is David Bookman. Yeah. Excited to be here.

Peta [00:01:51] Hi, David. So you're here for a very special reason. Can you tell me a little bit about buttons, support services?

David [00:01:59] Absolutely. So Buttons is an organisation that connects people living with a disability to young support workers. So we try and match up age appropriate workers and participants so they can build an authentic rapport and connection and accessing the community with someone who can be your friend and ally I think is much more natural and easy and more fruitful. So yeah, it's been an amazing journey so far.

Peta [00:02:24] Who is buttons for? Tell me your customer.

David [00:02:29] So Buttons is really for any participant with the NDIS plan and main demographic and by virtue of us having young support workers, we then get asked from young participants. So most of our participants between 5 to 30.

Peta [00:02:45] Can you tell me why? What motivated you to start the organisation?

David [00:02:49] When I finished year 12, I volunteered for an organisation called Flying Fox, which is a non-for-profit that runs camps and social opportunities for kids and young adults living with the disability. I volunteered there that camps are like this amazing platform where young people are also hanging out with young people. I was just taught that you can be an advocate, an ally, and all you have to do is show up and have a good attitude and be yourself and have fun. It's not super formulaic. Ended up working at Fine Flux for four years or so. Now I'm with the school friend of mine who also we volunteered on the same camp together, and I guess during our time there we would do home visits with our participants and before they'd go in camp and we'd say that 15 year old, 16 year olds or whatever, their workers could be middle age. And that's not to say that that's wrong or anything like that, but wouldn't it be more fun if we were They work at it. They could go to the shops with or discuss getting a job with or discuss maybe challenges that they're going through. So I guess that was the catalyst for buttons that we saw. Wow. Young people are playing this amazing role on camps, but that's three or four days a year. How can we get them involved every day and into the lives of people with a disability in their families, relationships and connections? Like, that's the most important thing with us. Because if you're having someone come into your house, which is your safe place, you want that person to be someone you have a trusting relationship with. So our role is to really find the right people, transition in, in the right and safe way, take it slow, not be overbearing, not put on too many expectations too quickly. Let's just have fun and get to know each of the first and we can always build from there. So that's, I guess, our job and where we came from.

Peta [00:04:32] Andre, what do you look for when you're trying to find the right support worker for you?

Andre [00:04:39] So for me to find a way to support them means that they need to have the same interest as I do. And they don't have to be young or old as matter doesn't matter how old the age. I need to have a respectful personality and I need to have the experience of working with adults or teenagers or kids with disabilities as well.

Peta [00:05:04] How do buttons and the support workers buttons impact your life.

Andre [00:05:09] So very impressed. My life by helping may be really independent through living and helping me to do things that can get me out of my comfort zone and into places I've never been before. And going to different social events and making a variety of people. But Means is quite different because all of the people that work in that organisation are like still uni or post uni graduation. Students are there at a young age, which is really good because I'm young also, so that helps and they're just a really great organisation, a great bunch, great bunch of people and they just helped me in so many different ways in life and I'm just so glad that I have me in that corner.

Peta [00:06:03] And tell me, Sam, what's the most frustrating or maybe most challenging elements of your work?

Sam [00:06:10] Yeah, know, I think it's a great question. Look, I wouldn't I honestly wouldn't say there's anything frustrating about the role. But in terms of like challenges, remember, like, you know, in the early stages you can kind of get in your head and a bit anxious, as you know, whether you're a participant like you, whether you're able to actually make an impact on them. And I think that's something that, you know, like in the early stages, it does sort of cross your mind. But yeah, I do think that in terms of the challenges, it's the whole process of, you know, meeting the participant and, you know, finding common ground. It it flows really quickly. So that's kind of overcome. Sort of following on what Andre said, I think Bonds really emphasises that point of difference in the common interests like that really spend time, you know, pay. You are getting out both personalities to make sure that you can bounce off each other. Well, Andre and I, we love our sport, so we've been many times like that. I like soccer. We go for like walks and stuff like that and it's just great to, you know, the buttons really make sure that they focus on that common ground and and pair you up really well.

Peta [00:07:21] What's one thing you would change about the disability industry if you could?

Sam [00:07:27] Now? It's a great question. Look, I in my three years like working, I've really noticed that it's the trend is upwards in terms of the awareness and everyone sort of in the community being aware of the industry. And I think maybe one thing that, you know, could be done is, is stemming that awareness from a younger age, you know, as early as even like primary school, you know, having it in the school curriculum, even like guest speakers or sessions and just bridging that gap, which I do think spent paying trajectories upwards in terms of bridging that gap. But I think there is one thing I would change would probably be that just expanding that community awareness, just adding further.

Peta [00:08:11] Where did the name buttons come from? Because it's like I'm sort of thinking, Oh, I don't really understand the correlation. Can you help me understand?

David [00:08:19] Do you want to have a guess or should I, should I give you the answer?

Peta [00:08:22] Oh, look, I. Maybe I haven't had enough morning coffee today. David, go ahead.

David [00:08:27] Um, so, I don't know. It's just a symbol of connection. It's. It's what you, I guess, connect things with. And that's what our organisation really stands for. I think the sector has been bereft of that for a long time. It's usually been very clinical and medical, and a lot of the words around the organisations usually lack ability or care or like a play on those things and we just want to be different. Like let's come in here and have fun.

Peta [00:08:54] So obviously, you know, I would like to hope that disabled people have and it seems like we have had had a massive impact on your life, David. What have you learnt from disabled people?

David [00:09:08] I learned a lot from seeing well, seeing the world from a different place. And I think that's really valuable. And when we speak to families now with gardens, it's important to know that we're not necessarily right or always have to be right. We're here to serve and we're here to provide a quality service and be accessible and answer the phone on time and be kind and patient. Because families have been neglected and participants have been neglected for so long. So they've told me that you always. Right. And it's important just to show up. I worked with a lot of participants that were on the autism spectrum. So providing, you know, real clear communication and choice is not 100 choices or any three or four or one or two and. Big, goofy. Goofy. Goofy is good. Having worked and worked a lot with kids so, like, you know, play playfulness, you probably get the sense that a lot of it is around that, that our organisation like that's really important to us. So it's probably brought out a different side to me that maybe it wouldn't have come out if I wasn't involved in the sector or interacted with people with a disability.

Peta [00:10:11] What do you hope disability services will be like in the future?

David [00:10:18] I think from my experience speaking to families and participants, there's a real. Lack of authenticity and human qualities that they feel on the other end when they call someone or made someone for a coffee when they're speaking to providers. Families have been neglected for so long, they want to speak to someone. So we have relationship coordinators who are the point of call for our families. They're the ones that answer the first call that takes to the whole process and they oversee the relationship you have with the support worker. So when we get referrals for participants, we're really clear. If we don't feel like we can service them within 3 to 5 days or have that answer, we just tell the people, Hey, this isn't something that we feel like we can do quickly. Comfortable going through the process and knowing it might take longer like little things like that, because dragging it out, it doesn't bode well for anyone. So I guess just providing a real simple human experiences, I'd hope, and all of our work is to come on board. They're not career support workers. Some may be, but most often they're not. They're students. They're all going to leave veterans after 3 to 4 years and be more inclusive members of society wherever they go. So get more young people involved, give them the opportunity to actually have a great job. We can learn a lot of different things. I think we have the opportunity to provide some some human decency into into the sector and bring young people as well.

Peta [00:11:43] Just to finish up, I'm going to ask you the last question, Andre. I'm really interested to know what you wish people would better understand about living with a disability.

Andre [00:11:54] I just want people to understand that living with a disability is okay and there's nothing wrong with being different. To treat us like normal people and everyone needs to just accept people with a disability.

Peta [00:12:12] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it if you did. Can I encourage you to leave a writing review? If you listen on Apple Podcasts or follow the show on whatever podcasting platform you're listening on. Better yet, if you could share the podcast on social media, that also really helps more people find the show. Thank you again for listening and until next week. Have a good one, guys. Bye. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the pioneering people where this podcast was recorded.


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