Lizzie Hunter

Unique grant program available at ATSA Canberra

Children’s charity, Variety NSW/ACT is to make its debut at the first Canberra ATSA Independent Living Expo next week, as it seeks to build awareness in the community of its unique grants program.

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Speaking to F2L, Variety’s head of kids support, Marisa Turcinskis said the ATSA Independent Living Expos are well respected in the space and seemed an ideal place for Variety to meet key players in the field.

“This is the first time in a long time that Variety has participated in an expo and we’re excited as a team to see what’s happening in the space and to learn from those who work directly with the end user,” she said.

“Attending ATSA Canberra is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the work we do, which involves enabling kids to access mobility equipment and technology when their circumstances may not have otherwise allowed them access. A key aspect of our work is building networks of people who are able to connect us with kids in need, ensuring the funds raised by our incredible Variety family get to where it can do the most good.”

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Variety offers a range of grants to suit an individual’s particular need. These cover mobility equipment, vehicle modifications, education supplies, communication technology, medical equipment and supplies, nappies and feeds, therapy and wigs as well as a number of community grants.

“Variety grants are somewhat unique, so a professional, such as an occupational therapist, can apply on behalf of one of their clients or can refer clients on to us for support,” Turcinskis said. “Our grants program is about providing practical support to kids in need, helping them to achieve their full potential when they are unable to access the support from anywhere else.”

Turcinskis said Variety regularly receives requests for support from those with NDIS plans who require additional pieces outside the scope of their plan. For example, a second wheelchair, a myoelectric prosthesis or technology equipment.

The ATSA Expo is taking place alongside the i-CREATe conference on August 27-28.

Welcoming the i-CREATe conference to Australia for the first time, Assistive Technology Australia CEO, Robyn Chapman said rehabilitation and assistive technologies are vital for people with disabilities and the ageing population.

“They help people to live as independently as possible; to participate fully in their communities and to lead lives of choice,” she said. “Assistive technologies are important for our current and future health care services, with the technologies preventing early admission to care, facilitating earlier discharge from acute and subacute health care, and allowing more people to live at home for longer.”

A highlight of the i-CREATe conference is the annual Global Student Innovation Challenge (gSIC), where students from all over the world compete to develop creative and innovative devices or solutions that improve quality of life for people with disability and the elderly.

“We’re excited to be able to showcase the talent and abilities of the students participating in the challenge, including a student from our own shores who has created a ‘DIY’ lower-limb prosthetic solution, targeted at low income regions, which aims to give amputees independence and control over the construction of their own prosthetics,” Chapman said.

During i-CREATe 2019, members of the Coalition for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology, Asia (CREATe Asia) will also hold their annual meeting. The Coalition membership extends to 11 countries — Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.

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