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SupPort Macquarie puts participants in the driving seat

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

SupPort Macquarie is a disability support and education programme in Port Macquarie that meets participants where they're at and supports them in progressing towards their goals.

SupPort Macquarie is a disability support and education programme catering mostly for young adults. Run by husband-and-wife team Alice and James, SupPortL Macquarie has been providing individual support, small group support as well as a suite of group programmes that are mostly based on creative arts and self expression.

Husband-and-wife team

Alice and James are the ones running this family business, and they also have a team of amazing support workers who provide individual home support through the week, taking individuals out in the community into different programmes.

James is an additional needs teacher from the UK who came over to Australia and found that his qualifications could not transfer. It did not stop him from doing what he felt was a strong pull to work with people with disabilities.

That was how he got into the support game. This meant attending lots of different programmes and working with a variety of participants. It was through his experience and getting into the very midst of it all that he could see where there was a gap in the market. That was how SupPort Macquarie was born.

James started off as an independent support worker, working with people with additional needs in their homes, building up their daily life skills, and helping them to access the community. What makes SupPort Macquarie stand out is how their service is truly personalised. The focus is on whatever the participants need to help them progress in their lives.

James prides himself on catering to all abilities and as such, SupPort Macquarie does not cater to only certain types of people. Everyone is welcome here and the focus is on each individual. You can find young children there as well as young adults. Everyone is here to build up their social skills. SupPort Macquarie provides a safe and nurturing space where they can come together with their friends and build up their skills towards their own individual goals.

Alice is also a teacher who has worked in additional needs. She was a primary school teacher before she went on maternity leave with their second baby. Now she is doing the administration for SupPort Macquarie.

What does SupPort Macquarie do?

SupPort Macquarie's logo is the Combi and it is how they like to see what their participants are doing - they are in the driver's seat! It's an empowering position to be in, where it's all about what each individual participant needs and where they want to get to.

There are group programmes on Wednesdays where participants can do drumming, aptly called To the Beat of Your Own Drum. They incorporate big Swiss balls into the programme so it's as much about music as it is about physical activity. That starts in the mornings followed by awareness drama in the middle of the day where participants are guided into self expression or work through different emotions.

SupPort Macquarie is currently doing workshops at the Sea Scouts Hall, and is a mobile business at the moment. Most of what they do is in the community and in homes. On Wednesdays, they are at the Sea Scouts Hall and on Tuesdays they are with Round and Round at Roto House with their social group which is open to anybody who wants a cuppa and a chat. Alice and James hope that one day SupPort Macquarie can have their very own base to call home.

Connect with like-minded people at Roto House
Connect with like-minded people at Roto House

Tuesdays at Roto House is free and simply a chance to connect with other people in the community. One of the participants, Alistair has been working there for over a year and he has the support of Chris, one of the support workers at SupPort Macquarie. There is a theme most weeks, so people can have some fun and dress up! The team at Round and Round have been highly supportive of them and so it has been a wonderful experience for people to simply enjoy some lovely beverages and meet people. Swing by if you are in the area on a Tuesday and enjoy a friendly chat there!

Follow their Facebook page to see the activities they have been doing with Round and Round!

Home is where the music is

Everyone takes part in the creative process, whether it is behind the camera, doing the video, the lighting, or the acting. Everyone draws on their different interests and motivations. SupPort Macquarie is proud of the awesome band they have created and the band is doing the first performance at the Tortuga Festival. Tanisha is the bass, and she's only just started learning and is already doing an amazing job. Matt is one of the singers and he also plays the guitar. Julian is on the drums.

Everyone came in with an interest in music, though not necessarily with the knowledge or skill to use the instrument properly. James is bringing in his magic touch here as he has great musical talent as well as the gift of working with people with additional needs. The aim is for their musicians to not just learn to play an instrument with relevant support provided but to be able to play independently on their own for different performances in the future.

SupPort Macquarie's music group offers not just music but also a more physical side to it. The music gets participants jumping on big Swiss balls, the energy gets people going and helps them to open up and connect with other people. They listen to music that interests them and develop motor skill coordination and a range of other skills.

Diving into drama

They also have drama in the middle session and while participants learn the actual skills of behind the scenes in drama, they also build confidence and delve into self expression activities. Right now they are creating a play that brings in all their different aspects. It's all quite quirky and you never quite know what you're going to find - perhaps a bit of Mary Poppins, a dash of Michael Jackson and a dose of Aladdin in there as well. It's about allowing participants and the music to just flow and lead the way.

Be a "SupPortive" character, SupPort Macquarie featured in Brilliant-Online
Be a "SupPortive" character

One of the greatest benefits here is there is no pressure to achieve. James guides participants to set their goals and progress, and he works with them until they are ready to go out there and present what they've got. And when they're ready, there will be a performance to showcase their skills but the key point here is when THEY are ready. After all, the participants are the ones in the driving seat of their own individual journeys.

Through SupPort Maquarie's educational programmes, participants are learning to use the instruments and develop their skills in both music as well as emotional education. Whether it is delving into music or drama, a lot of it is also about delving into different emotions and talking about their experiences of them. They learn how to manage that and also listen to other people share their experiences.

SupPort standing out

While there are many support groups and social groups in the area, SupPort Macquarie's small team of six brings its own unique offerings that make them a support group you´d want to go to.

With SupPort Macquarie, participants do not have just one fixed person with them always, but they will always know who is providing their support and who is at the end of the phone.

SupPort Macquarie is also focused on offering a progression in their group programmes. There are many group programmes for people to socialise and enjoy connecting with people, but these do not necessarily take participants from a starting point towards an objective.

SupPort Macquarie activities

With SupPort Macquarie, progression is key to show participants where they are heading, so it's not just about coming together for the enjoyment of music and connecting with people, it's also about giving them that motivation to keep going and the confidence they can fully savour when they see their progression.

James has a gift for working with, listening and talking to participants to help them understand what their progression and goal is going to be. Initially, people come because of their love for music and they want to get active and connect with others. James finds out what each participant wants to do, as well as their different skills and then he builds on that. There is a strong sense of connection and friendship here as well as meaningful engagement. Everyone is here with their own individual goals to achieve a purpose and it's wonderful to see everyone going on their individual journeys together.

SupPort Services

James is proud of the fact that SupPort Macquarie caters for all abilities. He meets participants where they are at. He makes sure that what he provides caters specifically to what participants need, regardless of their physical, emotional and social needs. Everyone is welcome in that sense and there is a wide range of adults here.

SupPort Macquarie has a Combi van which you may recognise when they are out and about. They offer mostly support in the home as well as education through their group programmes. Services vary depending on the needs of each individual participant. It could be helping out with chores in the home in the morning and then taking the participant out in the community to the groups. These could be groups that already exist in the community such as a music, art or drama group. Sometimes it could also be meeting participants and helping them out while they are at groups with their friends.

SupPort Macquarie's individual and small group support run on the NDIS price guidelines, and their Wednesday groups is $25 per participant, or $60 for the whole day.

SupPort's dedicated team

SupPort Macquarie's dedicated team of six support workers are truly passionate about what they do. Each person offers something different and brings their unique set of skills to the table. Some have a real interest in fitness, others in art and music. The beauty of it is everyone comes together to make a rock solid team.

It started with James, and Alice stepping in to help out with the administrative side of things, and the team has since grown with Chris, Grace and Nick joining in. Matt is doing work experience with SupPort Macquarie and currently doing his Certificate III in Community Services and Individual Support. Matt and James have known each other for a while and Matt has been coming along on Wednesdays to help give a bit of support to facilitate the groups. It is also helping Matt provide his placement for his course.

Where to go from here

For James and Alice, this is a small family business and they are happy running with their groups and spending time with the participants. And not forgetting their own family of course! It hasn´t been easy juggling a business and a family. James and Alice dream of finding a home in Port Macquarie for SupPort Macquarie where people can come and feel welcomed.

They want to have a space where people come not just to participate in groups, but also for support, advice or simply connection. Their aim is for everyone to be able to access the community when they want to, and to have the opportunities to be involved in social groups. James and Alice do not want to limit what they do to business hours, because people need support round the clock and that is not tied to whether SupPort Macquarie is open or not.

Until SupPort Macquarie finds their Forever Home, they will continue to keep their business a small, personalised, friendly and safe space where the doors are open and everyone´s ready to make music and drum up for a good time!

SupPort Macquarie as featured in Brilliant-Online

Contact SupPort Macquarie

Instagram: @SupPortMacquarie


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