Yooralla staff across residential services supported customers to exercise their right to participate in the 2019 Australian federal election in May.
Ruth Crespin, Service Manager of two residential accommodation services at Yooralla, said that her team has been supporting customers for many years to not just vote but also to prepare for the election.
“We want to make sure we support our customers to vote for a party whose policies are aligned to their personal views. Learning about different policies and how your personal views relate to them is a mammoth task and can be confusing. To support our customers prepare for the federal election we use Vote Compass, as well as other resources,” she said.
Vote Compass, a collaborative project between The University of Melbourne and the ABC, is a voter engagement tool developed by political scientists. Through a questionnaire, it allows users to see how their views compare to the parties' policies.
“Every election, our customers, as well as our staff, look forward to learning about different parties and policies,” said Ruth.
Kim Egan, Service Manager at another residential accommodation service at Yooralla, said her team has created a system of using photo prompts, signs and gestures to support their non-verbal customers to vote.
“For example, one of our customer’s, Lisa, who chose to go to a polling station, was supported this way this election. When onsite, Lisa’s support worker asked her about which party or person she wanted her to tick, and used photo prompts to assist her choices. Lisa blinked ‘yes’ to her preferred box, which her support worker ticked in front of her,” said Kim.
The support worker confirmed three times with Lisa to ensure she ticked the right candidate.
“Each time, Lisa confirmed ‘yes’ by smiling and blinking her eyes. The support worker then assisted her to fold the papers and put them in the right ballot boxes,” said Kim.
At some residential sites, all customers chose to vote in this year’s election.
Ruedelle Long, Lead Support at another Yooralla residential accommodation service, said all their customers participate in every federal and state election.
“This election was no different with all of our customers voting. We make on-on-one information sessions available to all of our customers to go over different candidates, parties and policies and discuss how our customers’ individual views compare with different policies,” said Ruedelle.
Some residents chose to vote independently and others were supported to fill out a postal vote, which they posted themselves.