Saffron is a, vivacious young woman with a warm smile and a friendly demeanor. She loves being social and spending time with her friends and like any 23 year old she wants to be in charge of her life.
While today Saffron is in full command of her busy schedule that involves sports, activities and hanging out with friends, that wasn’t always the case.
“Saffron has Down Syndrome”, says her mum Gabrielle. “We used to have lots of constraints on us as to who would come from an agency to give Saffron support, when they would come, what happened, when the person didn’t turn up. We were in a situation that had no flexibility. That didn’t reflect what our lifestyle was and it didn’t reflect what Saffron wanted to be doing,” she adds.
Thankfully, nine years ago that all changed when the family was introduced to Individualised Funding (IF) to help manage Saffron’s disability-related supports.
This transformed what Saffron was able to do on a day to day basis. “
IF has allowed Saffron to have the life that we have and to have choices. She is able to access and experience as many different things as possible with as many different people as possible and making these choices that wouldn’t have necessarily been given to her beforehand,” explains Gabrielle.
Saffron employs a Personal Assistant, who aids her in various tasks and accompanies Saffron to different activities.
“Her PA allows her to access things that are happening in the community. For example on Tuesday, she will go walking with her friend Jenna. From there they often go to a café. She also goes to a community group and does art there,” says Gabrielle.
While a bit shy about her talents, Saffron has produced an impressive collection of arts and crafts. Each piece is highly imaginative and has a lot of personality. One of the pieces is a pillow fashioned into an adorable fluffy creature with bright pink buttons for eyes, salmon-coloured lips and colourful pom poms sewn to its head.
Saffron’s personal style is just as sharp as her artistic vision. Dressed in a retro polka-dot sundress with white leggings, and her blonde hair carefully styled and sleek, she takes great pride in her personal appearance. “Saffron loves going to the local hairdresser and getting her hair done, she loves going shopping, she’s quite girly,” says mum Gabrielle.
Saffron also enjoys sports and regularly goes swimming at the local Aquatic Centre. She likes cooking and often makes dinners for the whole family.
Saffron’s mum Gabrielle credits Individualised Funding for improving the quality of life for the whole family. “We wouldn’t be without Individualised Funding. It has changed her life and our life as a family and the quality and the worth that is given, you can’t replace it, you can’t put a value on that,” she says.
“Up until last year Saffron also worked at the police department in town. Often a policeman or policewoman comes up and talks to her on the street, and I’m not even quite sure who they are,” laughs Gabrielle.
“Saffron is known in the community and has roles within it, which is important to her. Our long term goal is that she continues to have flexibility in what she does and be part of the community or communities that she is involved in. Her life is pretty full now.”
Individualised Funding is a form of funding for people needing disability support. It can give people more choice, control and flexibility, as they decide how, who and when provides their support. IF is based on a philosophy of person-centred control, in which people should be empowered to live ordinary lives and have choice and control over that life.