FINDING genuine, reliable support co-ordination for her teenage son felt like an endless battle for Williamstown mum, Maraid.
As she sought to make the most of Duke’s National Disability Insurance Scheme plan, Maraid tried out several support providers unsuccessfully and was left feeling overwhelmed.
She said it wasn’t until she met Gateways Support Services support co-ordinator Ashesh that she finally felt supported.
“If you don’t have someone like Ashesh, it’s just so overwhelming,” Maraid says.
“He’s taken the time to get to know me and my family and especially to get to know Duke.”
Outside of school – which is his favourite thing – Duke, who has Angelman syndrome, enjoys dancing around the house to blaring music, motorsport races and loud engine noises, or swimming with his dad.
Maraid says reliable support co-ordination has been vital to ensuring Duke can fully participate in daily living and activities with his family in a meaningful and enjoyable way.
“Having Ashesh means that I’m not constantly Googling to search for activities or carers. It means that when I’m at home I can focus on Duke and my two other kids,” she says.
With Ashesh’s support, Maraid was able to double Duke’s funding, enabling the family to modify their home and purchase specialised equipment.
Asked what makes a good support co-ordinator, Maraid says that creativity, trust and a good relationship are key.
“You need to care about the kids and take time to get to know families; you can’t just know them by looking at a computer screen,” she says.
“Ashesh is very good at knowing people well and recognising if a particular program would suit different participants. It’s always in the back of his head: ‘who else would like this? Who else can I recommend this to?’”
Working among western Melbourne’s diverse and multicultural population, making sure families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds understand their plans is a key part of what Gateways Support co-ordinators do.
“NDIS plans are intimidating for a lot of families, and language barriers make it even harder for them to understand,” says Ashesh.
“If we’re working with a Vietnamese family, for example, we have a Vietnamese support co-ordinator here at Gateways who can interpret the plan with the family. We also have three support co-ordinators from Indian backgrounds, including myself.”
For Ashesh, no matter which family, it comes down to caring deeply about helping them to get the best possible support. And the positive experience of Duke and his family is testament to that focus.
“We know Ashesh is 100 per cent behind us and making sure we have everything we need,” says Maraid.
“He is always there. He’s always got your back. We’ve been so lucky.”
Gateways Support Services is an NDIS registered and quality accredited not-for-profit organisation supporting children, teenagers and adults with autism, intellectual disabilities and complex behaviours and their families.
Gateways Support Services, 77 Droop Street, Footscray. Enquiries: 9396 1111 or visit