About Inclusion Melbourne

Vision, Principles and Funding

What is Inclusion Melbourne’s Vision?

Inclusion Melbourne believes that each person with a disability should have a good life in their local community. Our vision is for full community inclusion which means:

  • Having meaningful and reciprocal relationships and spending time with friends, acquaintances, workmates, and people with common interests
  • Being known and recognised in a local area
  • Having valued roles such as employment, a volunteer, a hobby (‘I’m an artist)
  • Being welcomed in their local community
  • Being as independent and self directing as possible
  • Having meaningful choice and maximum control
  • Learning and developing over a lifetime.

What’s the difference between Inclusion Melbourne and other day services?

Currently, Victoria’s disability day services providers are in transition from traditional, centre based group activities to a more personalised approach. At Inclusion Melbourne, we’re different for the following reasons:

  1. We sold our centre so that we can really focus and listen to the needs of people with disabilities – we’re not simply looking to fill gaps in program rooms
  2. All of our activities occur in the community – the place where friendships and experiences are to be made.
  3. We individually itemise all expenses and regularly provide you with statements showing you how and where your government funding package has been spent.
  4. We understand that people and families are the experts in their lives. We believe in working in true partnership with people and their families.
  5. We learn from every day and every experience so that we can do better the next day.
  6. We don’t aspire to be the biggest disability service provider – rather the provider that will always know your name. In addition to knowing your name, we want our name to be known for the impact we have in people’s lives.
  7. We believe strongly that together, people create better lives. We achieve this through investing and supporting volunteering and community building activities.
  8. We are active participants in research and have strong links with researchers and universities.
  9. We have a strong values base that is lived everyday in all of our actions.

 What are Inclusion Melbourne’s practice principles; How do you do things?

Inclusion Melbourne implements the vision by ‘walking beside people’ and:

  • Increasing people’s personal control rather than ‘doing for’ someone or telling people what to do
  • Coordinating support around people not simply fitting people into what exists for everyone else
  • Challenging and extending people’s experiences and possibilities
  • Developing people’s skills and competencies
  • Creating friendship opportunities arising from common interests, education and employment
  • Continuously encouraging and extending people’s relationships and roles in the community
  • Emphasising opportunities and experiences in each person’s local geographic community. ‘It’s not about where Inclusion Melbourne is based – but where you live’
  • Working with family members to enable people’s preferences to be achieved. Family members’ ideas may not all be the same. Inclusion Melbourne will encourage everyone to talk about this to find out what is important.

These principles mean that support from Inclusion Melbourne aims to look like a typical life in the community and not a set program of activities. This is our approach for achieving practical community inclusion. Inclusion Melbourne recognises that people learn best by doing the ‘real thing’, not by practising somewhere else. The implications of this are that Inclusion Melbourne support arrangements:

  • Increase people’s independence in real life situations, not in artificial settings
  • Can be flexible and changeable, not static and unvarying
  • Involve family, friends and community members, as well as volunteers and staff
  • Take time and thought to get started, because they are not pre-determined
  • Help people change from being a ‘client’ to a person and are better for the long term.

Are you are a part of the government?

No. Inclusion Melbourne is a proudly independent charity, formed in 1950 by a group of families who were told to place their children in an institution. Their pioneering spirit still drives the board and staff in all that we do. As our founders said, “I don’t always know what I want, but I know I don’t want that. This phrase is commonly heard in staff meetings, where staff focus on avoiding the things that people don’t want and continue to work with people to explore and discover what is personally meaningful.

In addition to being an independent disability services provider in Melbourne, we are also a registered training organisation (RTO).

How are you funded?

In Victoria, people with a disability are eligible to receive an individual funding package. These funding packages are known by a number of names (Individual Support Packages, Futures For Young Adults, Individually Attached Funding, Direct Payments). In most cases, the funding cannot be accessed by the individual but instead serves as a voucher that funds a registered Disability Support Provider such as Inclusion Melbourne.

Didn’t you have another name in the past?

Yes. We’ve had a few! We were originally the Prahran & South Yarra branch of the Helping Hand Association, then Gawith Villa and now Inclusion Melbourne.

The name Gawith Villa was selected to honour the efforts of Charles Gawith, who in 1954, as the Mayor of the City of Prahran and inaugural chair, established the Gawith Villa Trust. The organisation changed its name in 2008 to reflect our journey and direction, focusing on people being part of a welcoming community.

About Our Support Services

Personalised support for people with a disability

What do you mean by “personalised support”?

Supports that are personalised to you – a service that makes sense specifically to you as an individual.

Personalised support means that we get to know who you really are and what really matters to you. Once we know who you are, we can work together to design a service that meets your individual needs. Custom made support arrangements are planned, reliable, flexible, supervised and coordinated by matching your preferences with you’re your funds and other personal and community resources available to you. Inclusion Melbourne doesn’t have an off the rack service – every support arrangement we make, we develop from scratch.

What is direct support?

Direct support is where a person we work with has someone working alongside them to help achieve his or her personal goals – whether it be to learn a new skill, help set up a market stall, change a car tyre or practice reading. Direct support can be provided by a paid member of staff or by a volunteer, generally on a 1:1 basis.

What is support coordination?

We believe that families should be able to enjoy time together as families, and so we created the Support Coordinator role to make this happen. The role of a Support Coordinator is to deal with all of the administrative parts involved in managing an individual support package, so that families can focus on the important bit – enjoying family life. As a guide, most people we support use at least 2 hours a week of support coordination to help them manage their community opportunities.

I keep hearing about planning – what does it all mean?

Planning comes in all shapes and sizes. What is important is:

  • Listening to what you really want; and
  • achieving what is in your plan

When people commence with Inclusion Melbourne, its important to us to know the things you want to achieve, your goals, aspirations and dreams. To do this, we often take time to sit with you and learn to ask the right questions so we can discover what really matters to you. Once we’ve asked the right questions, we write down the things you want to achieve and this is what we call your plan. This plan then becomes the basis for developing your tailor made supports and you will be involved in regularly discussing and reviewing your plan based on your experiences.

What is the scope of the services offered?

What is possible depends on each individual’s personal and family preferences, their current lifestyle, and the roles of family, volunteers and other community members, the roles of other providers and Inclusion Melbourne’s role within the available funding. Planning purposeful activities brings attention to each person’s interest and skills in relation to:

  • Personal development, education and learning
  • Maintaining and developing friendships and acquaintances
  • Involvement and access in the local community such as through hobbies and social events
  • Income generation, employment, volunteering and career development
  • Developing self advocacy/ personal control, empowerment, problem solving
  • Immediate and longer term safeguarding arrangements.
  • Developing and attaining valued roles as a person and in the local community, not simply attending activities.

What do I get in my support coordination?

Briefly the role of the support coordinator is to do the following things:

  • Case management: To handle all of the administrative issues, like recruiting and supervising staff, ensuring that your plan is current and accurate, speaking regularly with you and your family, developing a draft budget for your approval, managing that budget throughout the year, keeping regular notes and collecting feedback from important people in your life, and always looking to advance your interests and welfare. You receive someone who is dedicated to your needs, who will never ‘close your case’ and is always looking and thinking about opportunities that meet your needs – not fitting you into a ready made program.
  • Opportunity development: Encouraging you and the places that you attend to look for additional skills and activities that can be added to create a more rewarding and meaningful opportunity for you – whether it be supporting a soup kitchen so that you can volunteer more of your time, or take on additional roles and responsibilities in the time that you are there.
  • Community development: To seek and encourage opportunities for people in the community, whether it be encouraging a local business to offer a part time job to a person with a disability or helping a local sports team with strategies to make their  club more inclusive.

How do volunteers help me?

Volunteers bring many benefits that you cannot get from a paid relationship, like building your social network through introducing you to other people and activities. We find many volunteer relationships lead to long lasting friendships – which brings with it the offers of birthday presents, and sharing Christmases and family functions together. Our goals is that every person we support will have someone in his or her life who is there because they want to be there, not because they are paid to be there.

Typically, individually attached funding packages only provide enough funding to employ a support professional for between 5 and 16 hours of personalised support. If you require support to participate and enjoy activities, volunteers offer one way of creating a full week of activities.

Getting started and getting support

How do I get started with Inclusion Melbourne?

Getting started with Inclusion Melbourne involves initial meetings/s between you, your family members and our Program Manager. We’ll provide information about what Inclusion Melbourne can do, clarify what is being asked of us and make referrals to other services if/when its determined that we can’t provide everything that you may want or need.

What will I need to provide?

At this stage Inclusion Melbourne may need to ask more of the planner, family or others who know the person well. It is essential Inclusion Melbourne has information which will assist to ‘bring out the best’ in each person. Inclusion Melbourne needs to know what approaches have been successful in the past and when the person has been unable to continue certain arrangements due to health, behaviour, or other support needs.  Inclusion Melbourne needs to know about each person, their likes and dislikes, their supporters, friends and past successful or unsuccessful day activities. It is important not to repeat unhappy or unsuccessful experiences for someone! Inclusion Melbourne will ask for the following information:

  • Factual information for  ‘Getting to know you and your community’
  • Support needs (such as provided by SIS)
  • Needs analysis
  • Holistic plan (if available).

During this information gathering process,families will be asked to confirm in writing that the information provided is as accurate as possible.  How long this all takes depends on how quickly information can be gathered from individuals, families, other planners and so on.

How long does it take to commence receiving services after my application is accepted?

Following an enquiry from a new individual and their family, Inclusion Melbourne commences planning and developing an individual Support Plan. This involves several steps:

  • Getting started: involves initial information gathering for new people to be sure that the Inclusion Melbourne approach is right for you
  • Activity sampling: means discovering ‘what’s out there’ based on each individual’s abilities. Some community possibilities are tried out and sampled.
  • Getting to know you and your community: means understanding you and what suits you better; finding and establishing what activities are right for you now and developing the Interim Support Plan
  • Consolidation: finalising support arrangements and the Support Plan; ensuring arrangements are the right ones for you.

Initial Sampling occurs in the first 4 weeks, post approval of DHS funding, then as we continue to gather information from you and your family, and possibly other people in your life, we’ll develop an Interim Support Plan. It may take up to 12 months to develop the ongoing Support Plan.

What happens while my Support Plan in being set up?

Starting with Inclusion Melbourne is different from starting with most other day services. That’s because Inclusion Melbourne is not a set program. We wait to plan with you what you want to do. This means that some possibilities may not be immediately available and take time to get going. So at the start we’ll talk about what can happen while your plan is being set up. Everyone wants a good match between what someone wants and what is available. While this is happening some people may simply spend some more time at home, perhaps with friends or other family members. It’s a bit like going for a job and waiting for the right opportunities to be found. This process is really different for people coming from a traditional day program of five days a week. Our staff will discuss ideas with you about what could happen while you are waiting for Inclusion Melbourne support to be arranged as you want it to be. Our staff need time to set up for you all the new possibilities in your local community.

What is Activity Sampling?

Activity sampling means finding possibilities in the community to try, based on what you have indicated are your likes, dislikes and abilities.  Inclusion Melbourne commences this trialling stage at the completion of initial information gathering (getting started) and after you and your family have signed documentation confirming that the information you’ve provided is as accurate as possible.  Inclusion Melbourne gets started with what each person wants; whether this can be supported by family, volunteers and community members; and what funding is needed for staffing and program costs.  This process occurs in the first 4 weeks, post approval of DHS funding, and depends on accurate initial information from the individual, family members and other referring or involved service providers.

What is involved in an Interim Support Plan?

Developing an Interim Support Plan involves getting to know you and your community. It is really important that all relevant information is collected before we decide on the best Interim Support Plan.  Inclusion Melbourne always commences with personalised (also called individualised) planning in relation to what you want to do. Sometimes people will come to Inclusion Melbourne with a clear idea of what they want to do and what help they need to do it – but not always. It can take time to understand someone and arrange what is wanted or needed. It can be helpful to try some different activities as a way of deciding what is wanted, perhaps with another person.  The Inclusion Melbourne Support Plan may be based on wider holistic planning, if available during the earlier information gathering stage.

The Interim Support Plan is not like a placement at a day program. At this stage it may seem as if not much is happening. Though full time support won’t yet be available, you may receive several hours of support. That’s because extending the support depends on partnerships with other community settings. It takes time to set these up. It’s important to talk with Inclusion Melbourne staff about how the individual and family can manage during this set up time.

At the completion of the Interim Support Planning stage there will be:

  • A preliminary agreement developed with family/ individual about what Inclusion Melbourne can do with funds available at this stage, and
  • Preliminary protocols developed as needed with other providers in person’s life, then
  • An Interim Support Plan developed within the legislated 60 days following DHS funding approval

Implementing the Support Plan for New and Continuing People

How is the Support Plan implemented?

Inclusion Melbourne recognises that when people come to Inclusion Melbourne, they don’t always know what they want or what is possible. It can take time to develop support arrangements and these may change as people have new experiences and opportunities. Inclusion Melbourne therefore progressively develops Support Plan arrangements and fine tunes these at nominated intervals.  The development of each person’s Inclusion Melbourne Support Plan considers:

  • What each person wants to do (based on the preceding information gathering process)
  • Individual support needs
  • The complexity of support arrangements required (that is, how to implement arrangements for a successful Support Plan or a complexity rating). This includes consideration of relationships with, and roles of, family and other support providers. Roles needed for Support Coordinator, direct support staff, volunteers and others (such as family members and friends). Complexity of logistical arrangements, number of different activities, number and nature of ‘by exception’ aspects of plan. Training implications for support staff and volunteers; a
  • Unmet needs beyond what Inclusion Melbourne can respond to. Inclusion Melbourne usually provides day support and will not ordinarily support all aspects of someone’s life
  • Communication agreements between family members, other providers and Inclusion Melbourne. Everyone needs to understand and agree to ‘who’s doing what and when’

How are my Support Plan arrangements managed?

For new and existing people, the implementation of the Support Plan and coordination of support arrangements continues to involve the Support Coordinator who :

  • Check Support Plan requirements for staff and volunteer recruitment, training and supervision; transport arrangements; budget monitoring; and referral to other agencies if needed
  • Investigate, trialling or sampling possibilities with each person
  • Locate and connect people to other supports.
  • Develop Contingency and emergency plans. There is a need for contingency plans including a budgeting  for support coordination for many commonly occurring issues (for example, medical conditions which lead to temporary or longer term inability of the person to receive services in the usual way). Contingency plans also specify what to do if usual arrangements are not possible and who to contact. Finding a place to be between activities may be important (especially if people can’t go home). Contingency planning needs to consider possibilities such as more time at a known neighborhood house; joining with others; or spending time with friends.

Is there a formal process for monitoring and reviewing my Support Plan?

Yes. In addition to ongoing monitoring of support arrangements, Inclusion Melbourne undertakes a formal review of the suitability and success of Support Plans. The monitoring function is usually carried out by Support Coordinators and includes:

  • Ongoing development of existing activities to further personal outcomes
  • Problem solving particularly when issues (may) disrupt support arrangements
  • Updating information about support requirements
  • Involving family resources and networks
  • Referral to services beyond/ outside Inclusion Melbourne role
  • Ensuring direct support staff and volunteers are trained and monitored.

Anyone can initiate a review at any time if there are problems, new opportunities or circumstances change. Inclusion Melbourne will undertake a review if the support arrangements are not proving satisfactory for everyone involved.

Financial Questions


How much does it cost to use Inclusion Melbourne services?

The only out of pocket expense you will pay is the daily service fee. In 2013 this is $7.50 per day. The majority of costs in providing your supports are drawn from your individual support package and you are involved in developing a budget each year to show how this money is to be spent. In some cases, families provide ‘top up’ funds where the package does not meet all of your needs.

Why do I have to pay a service fee on top of my other fees?

The funds provided by government no longer reflect the true costs of providing quality supports to people. This is most easily seen in the Department of Human Services

Price Review Out of Home Disability Services prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers in March 2009. A copy of this report can be found here

Why do I have to pay a service fee when my child does not come into a centre?

Providing supports in the community results in higher costs than if we grouped people into one building. The service fees helps us to meet the costs associated with things like maintaining our high standards of quality, mobile computing and staff support and supervision.