Lleyton Clark, 22 and Jayden McCowan, 23 are best mates who participate in community activities like the Men’s Shed, playing card games, Geocaching, learning life skills such as cooking and budgeting, and going on boy’s trips away together.

They live on Norfolk Island, located around 1600km off the east coast of Australia, which until recently did not have any qualified disability support workers on the island despite around 30 residents becoming eligible for the NDIS in 2018, including Lleyton and Jayden.

When disability service provider Life Without Barriers, based in Newcastle NSW, became aware of this they worked with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Social Services, who were able to provide scholarships to five locals to do the training to become qualified disability support workers. Another two Island residents heard about this and arranged to do the training themselves.

Although the new support workers completed their training in 2019, their graduation ceremony was postponed due to Covid, and held in March this year, with Norfolk Island administrator, Eric Hutchinson, presiding over the ceremony.

One of the proud graduates is Chat Pettet, who, with thanks to the scholarship was able to do the training to become a fully qualified disability support worker and is now working for Life Without Barriers. He has been supporting Jayden and Lleyton for two and a half years and over that time have formed fun working relationship together.

As well as their activities connecting with the community, Lleyton and Jayden have gone on annual trips together supported by Chad, all the while working on their goals like budgeting, connecting with the community and healthy eating. Most recently they took a supported trip to Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Lleyton described what a good time they had including visiting Gold Coast’s theme parks. “We went to Seaworld and Movieworld and had a couple of rides, pretty giant rides, 100 miles an hour, in a cart, it was insane! I loved it!” he said.

Jayden explained that they were supported to do a budget for the trip. “Before we went, we made a budget of what we could spend. Shopping, food, clothes, knickknacks…and spent almost all of on our first day!” Chad said the boys then rejigged their budget, saved in other areas, and even managed to take themselves out to a “posh dinner”. They did some shopping and made sure they got good deals on their new phones and accessories by building good relationships with the shopkeepers.

According to Chad the boys understand he is there to support them and does not tell them what to do. Initially it was ‘What are we doing, Chad?’ Now it’s, ‘This is what we’re doing, Chad.’ They have learnt to take the lead and supporting them to make choices and go from there.”

“As a career it’s just so rewarding and encouraging that I’ve got the knowledge base to be able to I guess go beyond the barriers,” Chad said.

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