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Austin Health’s Disability Liaison Officer program has had a busy year since its inception a year ago, with 682 referrals received.
The program aims to address and improve barriers faced by people with disabilities when accessing mainstream services and to help build a culture of disability inclusion in the organisation.
Austin Health Occupational Therapist within the DLO Program, Isla Jackson, says she signed up to learn more about the disability sector, but it’s been much more than that.
“The best part of my job is working with people one on one, whether it is to get vaccinated, or to access the right services at Austin, or even just to listen,” she says.
“Our patients are so thankful because the hospital system is confusing for most, and with an added layer of difficulty with having disability, it can make the hospital system seem daunting.
“Having a direct contact means so much to our patients.”
There are five Disability Liaison Officers in the organisation and the work this year has been heavily focused on ensuring the community is vaccinated, with 607 referrals related to assistance with COVID-19 vaccinations.
The program has tailored individualised programs for patients who have been unable to attend a vaccination clinic, including Hayden McClean, a local artist.
His safe space to get vaccinated was in his van at home, which the program was able to assist with, and it also improved his experience within the health service.
The DLO Program has also organised large group in-reach efforts – with approximately 350 participants – which saw consumers coming together to get vaccinated in disability employment services across the organisation’s community.
International Day of People with Disability is on Friday, 3 December and Austin Health is working on various initiatives within the sector, including its Disability Action Plan, planning for a new outpatient clinic to reduce readmission rates of people with disability who have complex needs, and education initiatives with staff to help break down barriers.
Visit the DLO Program for more information.