Shared vision: Attending the Down Under Institute conference are (front, from left) Jack Pearpoint, from Inclusion Press in Canada, Multitask board member Naomi Serone and Lynda Kahn, from Inclusion Press; (rear) Myles McPhee and Liz Gehrig, both from Multitask.
Shared vision: Attending the Down Under Institute conference are (front, from left) Jack Pearpoint, from Inclusion Press in Canada, Multitask board member Naomi Serone and Lynda Kahn, from Inclusion Press; (rear) Myles McPhee and Liz Gehrig, both from Multitask. Cathy Adams

Lismore disability conference held

A FIVE-DAY conference for some of the world’s leading experts in disability services was held in Lismore this week.

It was the first time the Down Under Institute has come to Australia.

Multitask chief executive, Graham Mapstone, said the themes revolved around inclusion, diversity and communities.

“This was an offshoot of something that has been held in Canada for 20-odd years,” he said.

“We had 150 people from all over the place – Canada, the United States, New Zealand and every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.

“What we want to do is build communities.

“We’re a disability service, so we want to run a service that is inclusive and build links with the community.

“This was not a traditional conference where someone stands in front of you with a Powerpoint presentation.

“It has been philosophically driven, supporting the right of the individual, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

“It was a learning situation based on conversations and interactions.

“We had some really great presenters.

“These are people who are world leaders in their areas – they are modern day thinkers.”

Mr Mapstone said he hoped the event would ‘inspire people to be even more focused on the people they work with’.

“We (Multitask) have been here for 58 years, so we have a long history in this area,” he said.

“But we know there are plenty of challenges ahead.

“The future challenges will be for us to continue to improve and expand our service.

“Governments will never provide enough social housing, so that’s a gap we will have to try to fill.

“We’ve already started doing it.”

Mr Mapstone said that over time services like those provided by Multitask would become more and more important on the Northern Rivers.

“Go for a walk down the main street of Lismore,” he said.

“Look at the homelessness, look at the number of people who are being forced to live in crisis accommodation.

“A lot of those people have mental health or other disabilities.

“So we know that we’ve got an important role.”



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