Customer Rights and Empowerment team wins Yooralla’s Excellence Award 2021

2021 Excellence Awards Highlights

In 2021, the Customer Rights and Empowerment (CRE) team won Yooralla’s 2021 Excellence Awards for Operational Goals and Innovation.

The Customer Rights and Empowerment team address systemic issues by working on various committees and projects. They also provide training, give presentations, facilitate mentoring and peer support partnerships with VALID and Disability and Diversity and working to build Yooralla’s culture towards greater LGBTIQA+ inclusiveness.

The Operational Goals and Innovation Award is for employees who exceeded expectations to provide a service for Yooralla employees, managers and/or customers that contributed to an operational outcome.

Fostering self-advocacy and choice

The two members the CRE team, Rebecca Feldman and Jeanette Lee, were nominated by Director, Quality and Safeguards, Jane Carter who notes their comprehensive achievements which reflect Yooralla’s values.

“The CRE Team consistently goes above and beyond to support customers to achieve better outcomes and reach their goals by respecting customers' rights to make their own choices and decisions,” said Jane.

Rebecca and Jeanette have been responsible for several projects including a program that provides mental health and wellbeing support for CALD customers in the Western suburbs, and a major project called ‘My Identity, My Choice’ empowering LGBTQIA+ customers.

“The My Identity My Choice project is some of the work I am most proud to have been involved in this year. To work alongside our LGBTIQA+ customers as they work towards change, by shaping training, contributing to articles as we celebrate significant days on the LGBTIQA+ calendar, sharing stories via our new resources and shaping the LGBTIQA+ work priorities at Yooralla via the steering committee, all of this has been a great privilege,” said Rebecca.

“I felt thrilled to have received this award for doing the work that I am passionate about—assisting people with disabilities to become more empowered, know their rights and make the necessary changes to live a life of their choice,” said Jeanette.

They also provide peer support and self-advocacy groups, including Yooralla’s internal ‘Your Empowerment Support’ (YES) group to further assist customers to advocate for their needs.

Commitment to customer rights

The CRE team have shown their commitment to customer rights by supporting people with disability to live the life they choose. They have supported customers take part in local community issues and projects and provided awareness training to internal and external stakeholders. Some examples of the support provided by the team in 2021 include:

  • Support and debriefing to customers during lockdown.
  • Supported two customers to participate in a national LGBTIQA+ disability sector awareness project, to guide the development of LGBTIQA+ resources for the disability sector.
  • Facilitated external LGBTIQA+ training to staff at one service to build an inclusive culture.
  • Supported a young person and their family with the NDIS to re-engage with support co-ordination, 1:1 supports and school.
  • Supported a customer to find an advocate to make a complaint about their residential service.

Representation for people with disability

Members of the CRE team continue to sit on several external committees to represent the issues experienced by people with disability. This includes the Metro Trains Accessibility Reference Group, Disability and Diversity Steering Committee, Yarra Trams Advisory Committee and the Victorian Electoral Commission Disability Advisory Committee.

“What motivates me to aim for excellence in this role is the positive outcomes for people with disabilities and making this society a more just and accessible place to live in,” said Jeanette.

“I am most proud of assisting a customer to make her long held dream of independent living a reality, by advocating for her to get the right supports, housing and government funding to enable her to confidently move out of a group home into her own apartment.”

The team’s focus on representation for people with disability is integral to Yooralla’s values.

“It was great to have our work recognised through this award and I look forward to what is next for Yooralla in this space in future,” said Rebecca.

Congratulations to Rebecca and Jeanette on winning the award. You have consistently provided a range of opportunities for customers to build self-advocacy and empowerment skills.

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