New home for people with disability in Benalla celebrated

DATE: 2 March 2020

A celebratory opening ceremony was held today to officially mark the completion of a new purpose-built, accessible home for people with disability in Benalla.

BeyondHousing and Yooralla worked in partnership to construct the new home, one of the first of its kind in the Ovens Murray region. BeyondHousing built the home and Yooralla provides the disability supports to the residents.

Named Wattletree Grove after its Benalla location, the home has been built to meet the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Specialist Disability Accommodation standards, designed to provide people living with disability with greater independence.

The opening event featured the planting of a Wattletree to commemorate the partnership and the placement of a time capsule containing specially chosen belongings of each of the six residents.

Celia Adams, Chief Executive Officer of BeyondHousing, said it was important to celebrate the innovative partnership and project, which had added to much needed affordable housing for people living with disability in the regional centre.

“BeyondHousing believes that housing is a fundamental human right and that all people should have access to safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing. This project delivers on these values and we are pleased to partner with Yooralla who have been committed to upholding human rights and equality for people with disability more than 100 years,” she said.

Dr Sherene Devanesen, Chief Executive Officer of Yooralla, said that it was important for Yooralla to ensure the residents were involved in the decision making process from the very beginning, as it would be their home.

“The customers provided input on design, layout, colour scheme and amenities for their home,” she said.

The residents of the new property, all Yooralla customers, have moved from another Yooralla residential site in Benalla.

Ms Adams said it was fantastic that the residents could maintain their existing friendships and community, and be empowered to live their own lives with the stability of their new high-quality long-term home.

“We are excited the residents are enjoying both the communal spaces and their own rooms, which reflect their individual style and personality, and to know they are gaining new confidence and independence,” she said.

Ms Adams said BeyondHousing had invested over $1.7 million to build the architecturally designed property as the organisation recognised that people with disability have a right to expect access to accessible housing that is affordable, safe and secure and meets their needs.

Dr Devanesen said the project would not have been possible without the support of Central Access Limited (CAL), a community based organisation that provided accommodation, employment and community activities for people with disability. CAL merged with Yooralla in 2011.

“It was a momentous decision by the CAL Board to gift Yooralla the land at Wattletree Grove, where the new home has been built. The Board also donated capital funds towards the project,” she said.

The progressive building design includes six personalised rooms, spacious shared living spaces, tailored outdoor areas, and individualised technological supports in two independent living townhouses. Consideration has been given to environmental and financial sustainability of the property through solar power systems, low-water gardens, water tanks and passive solar design.

Dr Devanesen said that given the significance of the project to the organisation, Yooralla was thrilled to have former CAL Board members Gwen Turner, Marg Attley, Barbara Alexander and Tony Smith, former CAL Board Chairman, attend the launch.

“As outgoing Yooralla Board Director, Barbara deserves a special note for her invaluable contribution to the organisation for the past six-and-a-half years. I would also like to acknowledge the late Bill Hill, former CAL Board Chairman and Yooralla Board member, who played a pivotal role in this project,” said Dr Devanesen.

The ceremony was attended by residents and their families, Benalla Mayor Cr Danny Claridge and other representatives of Benalla Rural City Council, members of the Benalla community, neighbours of the property, as well as Yooralla and BeyondHousing management and staff.

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Email: marcoms@yooralla.com.au

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