Hundreds of people from across Coonabarabran have indicated their support for the establishment of a local overnight disability care facility by signing a petition organised by two mothers and full-time carers.
Annette Roach and Debbie Taylor have amassed close to 1000 signatures of support, which they hope to bring to the attention of several politicians.
Mrs Roach said the response from the public had been fantastic.
“There are so many needs in Coonabarabran. There are so many needs in people’s lives. So to have this support is overwhelming, but very positive,” Mrs Roach said.
“People can obviously see the need for a facility like this here in town.
“Some families have left the district because there hasn’t been adequate services - now that’s not just three disabled people, that’s three families - so you are losing a lot of people from the community to go somewhere else to get their disabled needs met.”
It is believed that up to 30 people, ranging from young children through to 55-years-old, would greatly benefit from a local disability respite facility.
Presently, local people with a disability must travel to Dubbo or Narrabri to access respite accommodation, placing a further burden on families in terms of both time and expense.
A number of families do not even have resources, such as a wheelchair accessible vehicle, to transport their dependent to facilities out of town.
Mrs Taylor, whose son, Mitchell, was the first person in the world to be diagnosed with Mowat- Wilson syndrome, said families needed rest too.
“I’m buggered,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Mitchell is 25 now and has been in respite a number of times during the past five years.
“It gives me a good night’s sleep. It gives me the time to go and visit other friends, to go and see my grandkids out of town.”
For Mrs Roach, who cares for her 43-year-old son, Graham, respite would allow her to take care of her personal and emotional needs.
“If you are not living with a disability, if you have not become a carer, you have no idea what it’s like,” she said.
“A lot of people understand, they see what we do and where we come from, and that makes a difference, but a lot of people are really unaware of what it’s like to actually be that carer, 24/7.”
Trust is a big issue for families when considering respite, particularly in a different town.
Mrs Roach said she had been disappointed with other respite facilities in the past.
“These were hospitalised situations.
“Graham has cerebral palsy and he may not be able to talk or say anything verbally, but he has emotions and feelings and he knows.
“I don’t want him in an aged care situation.”
In addition to this, many carers themselves are also becoming older.
“The concern is what happens to them if something happens to us,” Mrs Roach said.
“Where are they going to go? What is going to happen to them?”
Both women agree that a group home would also be beneficial for the local community later down the track.
“We need both, but the first priority is to get an overnight care facility up and running.
“Break Thru provide a fantastic daytime program, and also help transition kids from school, but there’s no overnight respite for the disabled.
“At the moment we are seeking interest from people to help us form a steering committee.
“Going on the support we have had from the community, I am hopeful for a good outcome.
“So let’s push on and make this a reality...sooner rather than later.”
Local women, Debbie Taylor and Annette Roach, have been busy canvassing support for an overnight disability respite facility in Coonabarabran, and are thrilled with the support shown by the community.