Stories - October 31, 2019
Tarah has a place to call home
The southern NSW town of Cootamundra has felt like home for Tarah Ross since she moved there six years ago. Now, after signing the lease on her own two-bedroom unit a month ago, it really is a place for her to call home.
Since leaving school 14 years ago Tarah has wanted her own place but it was always going to be more of a challenge for her than other young people her age. Tarah has a moderate intellectual disability and found the private rental market impossible to navigate.
However, with assistance from her disability employment provider Elouera Association and in-home supports funded through her National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, Tarah has finally cracked the code.
“I love it – I just couldn’t be happier,” she says. “There’s a few people from work living close by and it only takes me 10 minutes to walk into town.”
Now 32, Tarah was born in Sydney and moved to Junee with her family when she was three. She attended school there until Year 8 when she moved to a special school in Wagga Wagga. “The school in Wagga was amazing,” she says. “I made it all the way through to Year 12 and was school captain twice, in Year 10 and then again in Year 12.”
Since arriving in Cootamundra Tarah has been employed by Elouera full time in a variety of supported roles, mainly in its laundromat but also at the recycling facilities it runs in Cootamundra and Young. “I really like Coota, I’ve got good friends here now and it’s just a lot friendlier than any other place I’ve ever lived,” she says.
Paula Miller, Tarah’s Local Area Coordinator from NDIS partner Intereach, says that before Tarah got her own place she had the opportunity to participate in an overnight stay program run by Elouera at its independent living centre. “Tarah was doing two nights a week at the centre for a period of time prior to moving into her current accommodation and becoming independent,” Paula says.
Tarah was determined to prove her ability to live independently and over the course of a few months she did just that. With assessments and recommendations from an occupational therapist funded through her NDIS plan, Elouera also helped her learn how to save and budget properly. “When Tarah’s new plan came through in August this year one of her goals was to improve her daily living skills so she would be able to live independently,” Paula says. “We never thought she’d be in her own place so quickly – she’s certainly ticked that box!”
Elouera helped furnish Tarah’s unit and also helped her buy a fridge and TV, which she is paying back via regular deductions from her pay. Recently she bought herself an ironing board and she’s saving up to buy her own washing machine.
NDIS-funded support workers pop in after work every Tuesday and Friday to take her grocery shopping and cook enough meals to last her a week, and on Wednesday Tarah’s flat is cleaned while she’s at work. “They don’t have to do that much cleaning anymore, I’m a lot better at doing that myself now,” Tarah says.
Her NDIS plan also supports her to participate in a weekly cooking group and once a month she joins a group of Elouera participants to go ten-pin bowling or watch a movie. Each Monday she goes on her own to a drama group without any supports. Right now Tarah is saving for a week’s assisted holiday to Tasmania in February next year with a group of around 10-15. Her NDIS plan will part-fund the support workers accompanying the group and she will pay her own travel and accommodation expenses.
“I’m really, really looking forward to that,” Tara says.
And best of all, she’ll have her own place to come back to.