Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Celebrating 25 years of caring for adult disabled in Benalla

Three of the women who were involved with the setting up of Benalla Carers and Parents Support Group get together to promote the 25th anniversary of the group.

LIBBY PRICE August 28, 2014 3:00am

Carers & Parents Support Group Inc. (CPSG) AGM & 25th Birthday Celebrations on Monday 1st September @ 10 am - 2 pm. CPSG is a support group that provides information, referrals, advocates & supports carers & parents, who care for adults (18+ yrs) with an intellectual &/or dual disability living in Ovens Murray area.In the photo, Shirley McGill, Mary Ginnivan and Isabel Stephens. Mary was one of the original workers and Shirley and Isabel, parents of disabled adults.

Caring for a young adult son or daughter living with a disability can be an isolating experience.

As other teenagers move into study and careers, the parents of those with a disability are often still full-time carers with very little relief.

For the past 25 years, parents have been able to get support through the Benalla Carers and Parents Support Group.

Even though Isabel Stephens’ daughter Judy was born with an intellectual disability, it didn’t stop Judy from attending Swanpool Primary School.

‘‘She badly wanted to learn to read and write and the school was marvellous,’’ Mrs Stephens said.

‘‘She’s now aged 50 and reads and spells well, and can work a computer, which is better than me!

‘‘The CPSG was marvellous really as there was nothing in Benalla, no support groups.

‘‘Gwen Turner was the instigator of it. She said, would I help her and I said yes, so we went visiting every parent who had an adult child with a disability.

‘‘We just talked to them about starting a group to get together to talk and also find out a lot of things that you know nothing about.

‘‘Mary Ginnivan was our first co-ordinator, she had her fingers on all these buttons to find out what we knew nothing about,’’ Mrs Stephens said.

‘‘We had no way of knowing things existed with DHS (Department of Human Services). We felt isolated and we didn’t know who we could talk to, we didn’t know other parents we could compare notes with. It was a great help.’’

The Carers and Parents Support Group will be marking its 25th birthday with a special celebratory lunch on September 1.

Over the years, the group has been instrumental in supporting families through crisis and government changes, assisting people with an intellectual disability to lead a varied, fulfilled and supported life.

Co-ordinator Sally Martin said many families and carers had a hard time navigating the disability services system.

‘‘It’s such a minefield,’’ Ms Martin said.

‘‘It can be really difficult for families to understand and try and navigate.’’

She said the purpose of the group was to provide know-how and support for carers and families in similar circumstances.

‘‘It’s nice to have people who have been there and done that to help you out,’’ she said.

‘‘The carers also provide support for other carers.

‘‘The group operates as a peer support system.’’

Carers and Parents Support Group provides information, referrals, advocates, and supports carers and parents who care for adults with a disability living in the Ovens and Murray area.

The group’s AGM and 25th birthday celebrations will be held on Monday, September 1 from 10am to 2pm.

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