by Sandy Masayko
This is Sandy’s seventh post in a series from Australia
Perth is considered to be one of the most remote cities in the world, but life in the city seems remarkably similar to life in the western US. The ranch style houses with their red tiled roofs and beach front properties surrounded by Eucalyptus trees remind me of California. It’s a wonderful place to visit, but even many Australians do not make the cross-country trip to see this region.
Services for people with disabilities are part of the fabric of the community in Perth. Rocky Bay is an agency that started out as the Western Australia Society for Crippled Children about 80 years ago. When the location of the center moved about 25 years ago, it adopted the name of the location where the main offices are. It now serves all people with disabilities. As with Northcott, Rocky Bay provides an impressive array of services for people with disabilities. I was warmly welcomed with a tour by the CEO Michael Tait and enjoyed morning tea with the senior executives of the organization. I had met many of the folks at the staff celebration on Saturday night, but on Monday morning everyone was back in work mode. Here are some of the highlights of my visit:
Accommodations for people with disabilities are a rapidly expanding service at Rocky Bay. Facilities at Rocky Bay include spaces for recreational programs including woodworking, crafts, community dances, and a sensory room open to the public for a small charge. The living arrangements vary from group living with nursing support to individual adapted apartments for one to four people located in the community. The wide-open spaces and universal design promote accessibility. Several apartments contain height-adjustable sinks and stoves that are changed by using hand cranks, something that I had never seen before.
Rocky Bay is experiencing rapid growth due to the changes in funding and the merger of organizations. I met with members of the HR Department and later the Strategy Team to discuss how the agency is managing recruitment and retention of staff, professional development, quality assurance, planning for future growth and communication. Communication Manager Rachel Horton edits a weekly e-newsletter that staff uses to share programs and issues. This is important because staff members can work in consulting roles throughout Western Australia, an area approximately as large as one third of the US.