The Just Live! Hunter Disability Expo will be held on May 12 and 13 at the Newcastle Jockey Club.
The event will showcase how far the Hunter has come as the trial region for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and will feature local community business demonstrations and exhibits as well disability-specific businesses.
Expo highlights will include interactive opportunities like Wheelchair sports, Key Word Sign, eye gaze communication (think Stephen Hawking!) and meet and greet with people who have disabilities who are achieving awesomeness.
“The NDIS reform is the biggest to happen to the disability sector, ever, and the Hunter region was the largest and most comprehensive NDIS trial site,” said Expo co-organiser Chantelle Robards, founder of espyconnect, a ground-breaking online directory for the disability sector.
“There have been challenges over the last three years, and businesses and organisations have had to be agile.
“We have seen an explosion in the Hunter, especially the private sector, with innovative and individualised services emerging, and this is what the Expo shines a light on.”
The NDIS has changed the way that people with disabilities are funded, with resources allocated directly to the person with the disability rather than doled out to agencies who offer a one-size-fits-all service.
“The necessary cultural change, particularly for non-government agencies and staff, has been enormous,” said Carly Stewart, founder of Beyond Boundaries Rehab based in Maitland, who conceived the idea of a Disability Expo with Chantelle.
“The free-market model initially caused organisations who traditionally collaborated openly to hold their cards close to their chests.
“This seems to be paring back as organisations realise that great services, staff and customer service will attract and retain clients.
“If this means collaborating with another business, most are now engaging in that practice again.
“As a result, the Hunter has emerged with a booming disability sector, which the Expo will showcase.”