Yooralla opens new home for people with disability in Benalla

A celebratory opening ceremony was held on Monday 2 March to officially mark the completion of Yooralla’s new purpose-built, accessible home for people with disability in Benalla.

Yooralla worked in partnership with BeyondHousing to construct the new home, one of the first of its kind in the Ovens Murray region.

BeyondHousing, the largest community housing organisation within the Goulburn and Ovens Murray regions of Victoria, 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.

Local media attended the event to showcase the new property to the wider community. The opening was featured in Benalla Ensign, Wangaratta Chronicle, Border Mail and ABC Radio, with Nine News and WIN News also televising the story during their evening broadcasts.

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

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.

Celia Adams, Chief Executive Officer of BeyondHousing, 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.

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.

Yooralla provides many supported independent living options for people with disability across Victoria. View Yooralla’s current vacancies.

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