EMPOWERability Incorporated (previously known as Hawkesbury Penrith Respite Service – HPRS) was established in April 1993, following considerable lobbying from carers and parents in the Hawkesbury and Penrith Area over many years.
The initial demand was for a residential respite cottage in the Hawkesbury area, however following prolonged consultations with the Department of Community Services, the establishment of a brokerage system of respite service delivery was decided upon and the area to be covered expanded to include both the Hawkesbury and Penrith Local Government Areas.
From April to August 1993 an independent Steering Committee of local service providers and a consultancy team assisted in our establishment.
Then in August 1993, a community based Management Committee was elected and the service commenced operations. Approximately half of the original HPRS Management Committee members were people with disabilities, or Carers of people with disabilities.
Over the years EMPOWERability (EAI) has been successful in obtaining additional funding from both the State and Federal Government either through a tender process or direct allocation which has led to growth in the service.
In early 2013 HPRS commenced employment of Disability Support workers. Prior to which HPRS brokered all care out to external agencies. Since HPRS began the employment of Disability Support Workers we have been sought by external disability services to carry out and manage brokered respite, emergency care and community participation programs.
In March 2014 HPRS launched its new name EAI. The change was inspired by the potential new direction our service will undertake as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is rolled out and service choice and delivery will become more person centred and tailored to suit individual needs, and thus the range of services we provide will expand greatly.
EAI has received funding from Family & Community Services – Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) through the Home and Community Care Program (HACC) and the Disability Services Program (DSP) to provide flexible planned respite to young people (0 – 64 years). The Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) funds respite care and social support for our clients 65 years and over. EAI was also brokered by external agencies, to provide services.
For direct funded services all our clients had to live at home with a primary carer, be it a parent, family member, friend or partner. Currently all direct funding is for families that live within the communities of Penrith, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains.
In July 2015 the rollout of the NDIS commenced in the Penrith, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury areas for participants less than 18 years of age. EAI proved to be a crucial part of the rollout assisting many families with their transition into the scheme. Support was provided to current clients and non-clients as this transition was a daunting and overwhelming process.
July 2016 marked the start of the full scheme rollout in our local government areas, with all participants now gaining entry into the scheme. Again EAI provided substantial support to all families through this process and by June 2017 all current eligible clients had been transitioned. With the commencement of the rollout, EAI underwent a rapid expansion as the NDIS allowed the participant to actively chose there preferred provider.
EAI still provides support to clients over 65 through the DOH program, and there are still some limited brokerage clients accessing our services.
In November 2017 EAI’s second property was approved by council and our daily group program started operating in early 2018. This has been a long process for EAI to expand and offer a wider variety of services to the community.