Living remotely away from crowds was good for Andrew's mental health, but it did present its problems with the NDIS. Unable to see a local area coordinator face-to-face and with no wi-fi and poor phone reception, communication was difficult. When Andrew received his first NDIS plan, it failed to reflect his goals. He didn't understand his plan or funding and he had no-one to turn to for answers or clarity.
I live in Binnu, a township of 4 people in remote WA. I haven’t always lived this remotely. I used to live in Perth where I ran a successful mechanic business employing twelve people. Then I got a bone marrow infection and was in a wheelchair within a year. I guess life doesn’t always go to plan.
Back then, I relied on my wife for support. But when my marriage broke down, I didn’t want to rely on anyone again, I wanted to live independently. So, one day - money being tight - I googled ‘cheapest property in Australia’, withdrew my super, and used it to buy the first property that came up. This is how I ended up in Binnu.
The property I bought is the town’s old Post Office. Of course, I didn’t realise when I bought it off the internet that it didn’t even have a ceiling over the living room! It did, however, come with its own windmill, workshop and power generator, which is perfect because I love to restore vintage cars.
Living in Binnu is good for my mental health, but living this remotely has had its challenges with the NDIS. I couldn’t get a local area coordinator to come and see me face-to-face and so communication wasn’t the best. When I received my first NDIS plan, it made no sense to me. Nobody explained to me what my plan included or what I could get with it. I didn’t even know I had support coordination in my plan – or what support coordination was, for that matter!
Then someone I trust referred me to Plan Partners. The first person I spoke to when I called them was Dianne (my current support coordinator). I clicked with her instantly because she was so easy to talk to. After everything I’d been through with the NDIS, I needed face-to-face contact. Other organisations have treated me like a number, a way to make money.
“The thing about Plan Partners is you get that face-to-face, personalised contact.”
When I caught up with Dianne for the first time, she took me through my plan and explained how it all worked and which supports I could access. Nobody had taken the time to help me understand my options like Dianne did. She even managed to get James (my support worker and best mate) paid by the NDIS, before this he was just volunteering.
When I look back over the years, it’s been a fairly harrowing journey if I’m honest. At times, I’ve been incredibly low. I even spent six weeks in a psych ward. But I’m no longer in that frame of mind. The quality of people out here in Binnu - they care. And thanks to the support of people like James, my support worker, and Dianne at Plan Partners, my quality of life is so much better.