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Left to Right: Ben Howard (Parkes Shire Council), Peter Guppy, Cr Louise O’Leary, Shellene Castleman (Ability Links NSW), Corey Rowbotham (Lachlan Area Health), Cr Ken McGrath, Steven Campbell (Parkes Shire Council), Lisa Martin, Jeffery Evans (Currajong Disabilities), Pam Symonds (Neighbourhood Central). Absent: Jodie Thompson, Sharyn Ware, Cr Ken Keith, Kent Boyd.

Council has re-established the Parkes Shire Access Committee with its first meeting convened on Tuesday June 26.

The role of the Access Committee is as an advisory committee to Council regarding access issues for people with disabilities across the community.

The committee has representation from across the community including Councillors, Neighbourhood Central, Currajong Disabilities, Ability Links, Lachlan Area Health and a number of individual community members.

Committee Chair, Cr Ken McGrath says access issues can relate to a wide range of lifestyle aspects, not just physical movement.

“The Parkes Shire Access Committee will address many issues of access including access to services, employment, events, communication, transport and building access,” Cr McGrath said.

The committee’s core functions are:

– To provide a forum for the discussion of matters pertaining to disability access

– To assist in the implementation of Council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan

– To promote greater awareness, understanding, support and positive attitudes on disability issues.

The committee will act as a conduit for consultation around Council’s major infrastructure developments and events to highlight potential issues and better plan for access, develop awareness campaigns, lobby government and agencies for better services and create meaningful conversations around access issues in the Shire.

“Council’s Disability Action and Inclusion Plan maps out strategies for Council to implement and measure to ensure we are making a positive difference to people with a disability,” Cr McGrath said.

“These strategies focus on four key areas including changing attitudes and behaviours, creating liveable communities, improving our systems and processes and creating greater access to employment opportunities with Council.”

Council has also committed $10,000 in funding to an Access Incentive Scheme which will be administered by the Access Committee on an annual basis.

Further details around the Access Incentive Scheme will be formulated by the Committee and shared via Council’s communications channels in the near future.

  • Story courtesy of the Parkes Champion Post

CAPTION – Left to Right: Ben Howard (Parkes Shire Council), Peter Guppy, Cr Louise O’Leary, Shellene Castleman (Ability Links NSW), Corey Rowbotham (Lachlan Area Health), Cr Ken McGrath, Steven Campbell (Parkes Shire Council), Lisa Martin, Jeffery Evans (Currajong Disabilities), Pam Symonds (Neighbourhood Central). Absent: Jodie Thompson, Sharyn Ware, Cr Ken Keith, Kent Boyd.

Team Leader Indigo Kriedemann (back) with Rhyse Forrestal, Ian Kaupke and Cherie Lovett (seated) being interviewed for Employable Me series two.
Team Leader Indigo Kriedemann (back) with Rhyse Forrestal, Ian Kaupke and Cherie Lovett (seated) being interviewed for Employable Me series two.

LAST Wednesday, clients from Currajong Disability Services were interviewed by Laura Grace, producer at Northern Pictures for series 2 Employable Me.

Employable Me was the unexpected hit on ABC last year when it tracked the progress and struggles of nine individuals battling disability (autism) as they sought to break the cycle of long-term unemployment and find a job.

Based on the successful UK series, Employable Me series 2 has cast the net wider by accepting more people with a range of disabilities as opposed to those only on the Autism Spectrum. This series will explore how a number of people with disabilities strive to find work while battling and managing their own unique challenges.

Northern Pictures held interviews with 150 people with disabilities across Australia including six from Currajong Disability Services. They were Cherie Lovett, Fiona McGonigal, Thomas Davis, Kyal Sauer, Ian Kaupke and Rhyse Forrestal. All six left a strong impression on the producers of the show and a final decision will be made within the next week or so.

“Filming will commence in September and we are hopeful at least one of our clients will be a part of the show however that is a decision for the series producers,” said Dane Millerd of CDS.

“As you can imagine, there are many worthy and outstanding candidates so the choice to narrow it down from 150 to 9 wouldn’t be easy.

“Our candidates did an amazing job and gave a great account of themselves.”

After shooting preliminary footage in September, Northern Pictures would then wrap production close to Christmas with the new series scheduled to be aired in early 2019.

“It would be incredible for any one of our clients if they were to be selected for the show,” said Dane.

“Getting selected is one thing, getting a job would be the icing on the cake for many who have been unemployed for years.

“For Currajong, the exposure for us and the Parkes, Lachlan and Forbes region would be enormous.”

For Fiona McGonigal being on the show is certainly a highlight but the need to work and one day run her own working farm was of fair greater significance.

“I’d love to one day have enough money and independence to have my own farm with horses, cattle, dogs and to do that I need an income,” Fiona said.

Currently, Fiona volunteers at the child care centre here in Parkes one day a week.

For Thomas Davis and Kyal Sauer, the tale is very similar to Fiona’s and both need work to gain their independence and build their confidence.

“I have a Cert 1 in Horticultural Studies and would love to work with Council outdoors,” said Thomas Davis.

“I have had experience with the Green Army but it was discontinued.

“I am really passionate about gardening and landscaping and being outdoors and if I was to get a job in that field it would allow me to get my own place and do things I am not doing at the moment,” he said.

Similarly, Kyal is keen to get his HR license and drive trucks for a living as he has a passion for the auto and motor industries.

“I already have my P2 car license so to get a truck license would be great,” he said.

“It is all I have ever wanted to do.

“It would then allow me to do more things I can’t do at the moment,” said Kyal, who has high-functioning autism.

Watch this space for more info and updates regarding the show and fingers crossed for our super six!

To view the season promo trailer of EMPLOYABLE ME click this link –

Ian 'Thorpedo' Kaupke with his historical haul of trophies.
Ian 'Thorpedo' Kaupke with his historical haul of trophies.

IAN Kaupke like most, has many chapters to his story. On the surface it would appear the Peak Hill native and CDS client is a typical country guy who loves the outdoors, wide open spaces and animals. Dig deeper and you’ll find he’s not just a good bloke and doting son but an outstanding sportsman.

From his days in Newcastle at Belmont High where he was coached by Brad Austin for gymnastics and trampoline to swimming, heptathlon and tenpin bowling. Ian is not merely competing, he is excelling and at one point was touted for the Paralympics.

“I only stopped because Peak Hill was a bit too remote and the training I needed couldn’t be done when we moved here,’ said Ian.

“I do hold out hope of being able to compete one day  – especially in trampoline or tenpin bowling but it would require a move if I am serious about it.

“I’m only 32 so some of those sports age isn’t a factor.”

Kaupke, who counts Ian Thorpe and Kurt Fearnley among his idols, hopes to one day eventually be an icon for the next person coming through.

“I love this stuff. Sport is a good way to not only learn new skills but also meet new people and grow confidence as well as help people,” said Ian.

“In the meantime I am concentrating on family and friends and who knows – maybe one day I’ll return to the sports I love,” he said.

We hope so too Ian.

Karen Willis had a ball at the SES Open Day
Karen Willis had a ball at the SES Open Day

THE Parkes SES held its annual open day and another large turn out of crowds was on display for the event.

For some CDS clients, it was a chance to learn more about the SES, what they do and how they work for the community.

According to Wikipedia and other online sources, The State Emergency Service (SES) is the name used by a number volunteer organisations in Australia that provide emergency help during and after declared (natural or otherwise) disasters, typically flood, storm or tsunami.

The SES also assist in other emergencies, such as vertical and road crash rescue and medical emergency. In other scenarios the SES may provide a support role to other agencies, particularly police and fire. The SES is operational 24 hours a day.

The SES is constituted as separate organisations operating in different Australian states and territories. Eight of the SES organisations co-ordinate through the Australian Council of State and Territory Emergency Services (ACSES).

During World War II the National Emergency Service was created on 1 February 1939 to provide air raid wardens with the organisation disbanded six months after the end of the war].

The Civil Defence Service began in Australia in 1955. It was formed as a precaution to any potential attacks on Australian soil. The name was changed to the “State Emergency Service” (abbreviated to “SES”) during the 1970s, to reflect a change of emphasis into providing emergency help related to floodsstorms and other natural emergencies. Every state and territory in Australia has its own State (or Territory) Emergency Service, and there are 43,000 volunteers spread across the country. Each state or territory is broken into regions, then units, and finally groups or teams.

Have you thought about volunteering?  The Parkes Unit is looking for keen, enthusiastic and dependable people. Whatever your fitness level, background, skills or training, you can always contribute in some way.  What about operations management, communications, logistics, community education, catering, maintenance or planning?  All valuable skills that support the more-visible field and response work.

Art Therapist Maralyn Nash with Sarah Bowkett
Art Therapist Maralyn Nash with Sarah Bowkett

FROM fledgling painter to in-demand exhibitor, Sarah Bowkett’s journey from canvas to display has been nothing short of incredible – so much so that she has attracted the attention of national broadcaster Prime7 on the eve of her maiden exhibition on Friday September 14 through to Friday September 21 at the Parkes Shire Library foyer.

Guided by renowned art therapist Maralyn Nash, Sarah has gone from strength to strength not only as an artist but also with her confidence and self-belief.

“She has come along in leaps and bounds,” said Service Delivery Manager Jodie Turner.

“From being apprehensive about pursuing her painting to producing some memorable creations Sarah has really thrived under Maralyn’s mentoring.

“It is testament to not only Maralyn’s amazing rapport and skills but Sarah’s willingness and dedication,” said Jodie.

Speaking in her art room sanctuary at Currajong before her first to-camera interview with Prime7 Central West, Sarah was jovial and relaxed about the exhibition.

“When I draw I feel free to express myself without anyone telling me what to do,” said Sarah.

“I really enjoy time with Maralyn.

“Being around Maralyn is as good as painting,” she said.

The results speak for themselves.

Sarah is currently working on a painting of Dolphins inspired by the famous Dolphin fresco from the ancient Palace of King Minos, Knossos, Crete.

“As background, all of Sarah’s paintings have been inspired by different periods in Art History,” said Maralyn.

“From Expressionism – Vincent Van Gogh, French Impressionism – Monet, Byzantine – Religious icons and Italian Renaissance – the Mona Lisa painting – Sarah has been trying it all.

“It is a very exciting time in her development and journey!”

Dane Millerd of Currajong with Forbes Golf Club Pro Simon Houston at Forbes Golf Club.
Dane Millerd of Currajong with Forbes Golf Club Pro Simon Houston at Forbes Golf Club.


MARK down Sunday November 4, 2018 in your calendars for the inaugural Currajong Disability Services Charity Golf Day at Forbes Golf Club.

The 10am shotgun start three-man ambrose event is open to non-golfers through to members with a flat cost of $20 per person for 18 holes and $14 for the 9 hole comp.

For Forbes Golf Pro Simon Houston it is a great addition to the local golfing calendar.

“We are thrilled to be partnering up with Currajong as they expand throughout the region and we are excited to be able to hold this event,” Simon said.

“All regular facilities will be operating on the day.

“It should be a tremendous day with an array of prizes on offer.”

For Currajong Disability Services Communications, Marketing and New Business Development Manager Dane Millerd, the day is important for Currajong who along with other NDIS service providers have had to look at a range of ways to fundraise and generate revenue.

“A percentage of the fees plus raffle and auction item proceeds from the day will go to Currajong Disability Services,” said Dane.

“We will also have a BBQ on the day and call upon members of the Forbes community impacted by disability to come down and participate.

“Whether you play or not or even want to volunteer or sponsor or donate – we will happily welcome you with open arms,” he said.

“Interested players, sponsors or volunteers can leave their details with the pro shop or contact Currajong Disability Services.”

Currajong Disability Services can be reached on 02 6863 4713 or

“Approximately 20 per cent of the population is affected by disability in some way and as the old saying goes – while it may not affect you now, your turn is coming,” said Dane.

“This is why we encourage everyone to participate because you never know when you or a loved one may need an NDIS service provider like Currajong Disability Services.

“We hope to see you there!”

Kim Chambers and Helen Huntly of the Parkes Painting Group donating a cheque for $1000 to Neil Unger, CDS Chairman.
Kim Chambers and Helen Huntly of the Parkes Painting Group donating a cheque for $1000 to Neil Unger, CDS Chairman.

THE Parkes Painting Group have kindly donated $1000 to Currajong Disability Services from their exhibition in late April 2018.

Kim Chambers and Helen Huntly, who has grandson Blake at Currajong, were on hand to present the cheque to Currajong Chairman, Neil Unger.

“We continue to be overwhelmed and appreciative of the kindness of the Parkes business community,” said Neil.

“From the Railway Bowling Club, Parkes Services Club and many more including the Parkes Painting Group.

“It is quite unbelievable the amount of donations and generosity we have received in the last 6 months,” he said.

“Parkes really is a special community.”

With demand on disability services rising 7 to 8% per annum in real terms for the past 20 years and continuing to rise, not to mention a swell of up to an extra 100,000 in the industry (to go with the 50,000 added since the NDIS roll out in NSW over the past year) means every little dollar counts.

“Services will be at a premium as demand grows and we, like other organisations, need to purchase new equipment, maintain current resources and infrastructure as well as add to our existing services,” said Neil.

“So this kind donation can’t be overstated enough.

“Thanks again to everyone at the Parkes Painting Group for their support and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

ROKFM dropped off some scones from the CWA for #dosomethingday to Currajong Disability Services clients and staff
ROKFM dropped off some scones from the CWA for #dosomethingday to Currajong Disability Services clients and staff

LAST Wednesday July 25 ROKFM dropped in for Do Something Day (#dosomethingday) which is an initiative that is Australia’s biggest celebration of giving back.

“It recognises the extraordinary contributions of everyday locals within our communities,” said CDS Direct Care Team Leader Indigo Kriedemann.

“Even the Penrith Panthers rugby league side participated today and raised $150,000,” said Indigo.

“ROKFM has come to to the party and today brought free scones made by the CWA to Currajong and we can’t thank ROKFM and the CWA enough.”

There are many charities and organisations that need your help. This DoSomething Day, please choose an organisation or cause that you can support throughout the year!

Volunteers are the backbone of Australia’s communities. This DoSomething Day, why not join them and make a real difference?

Check out the website and see how to get involved –


Deb Hewitt and Neil Unger of Currajong with Thomas Ellison planting trees. Last year Currajong planted 500 jujubes in addition to the carob trees currently planted.
Deb Hewitt and Neil Unger of Currajong with Thomas Ellison planting trees. Last year Currajong planted 500 jujubes in addition to the carob trees currently planted.

WITH National Tree Day being run and held at Akuna Road this Sunday July 29 from 10am what better time to partner up with Currajong Disability Services as they branch out into the Carob Tree business?

Not only would you be doing your part for the environment and providing fodder for cattle in these dry times but you could also potentially make a windfall.

It is the little known product that could create a great impact on the Australian agricultural industry and provide revenue for many groups that may not have normally benefited from it.


Carob is a beneficial type of shrub in the same family as peas that have a wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to boost the immune system, reduce the risk of cancerimprove digestion, slow down ageing, prevent cardiovascular diseases, and manage diabetes.

According to Ogranic Facts, Carob, also known as St. John’s-bread, is a member of the Fabaceae family, so the edible fruits are considered legumes, like peas. The fruit comes in a pod, much like peas, and they grow in a cylindrical shape supported by a thick trunk, from which the pods grow. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and Northern Africa, as well as parts of the Indian subcontinent and Asia, all the way to Macaronesia. Many cultures regularly use carobs like other nuts and seeds, and also as a substitute for chocolate!

The health benefits of carobs are mainly attributed to their vitamin and mineral content, like calciumzincpotassiumphosphorusvitamin Kriboflavin, and vitamin E, as well as its natural antioxidants.

Yet there’s only one problem – no one knows about just how useful they really are.

Neil Unger, Chairman of Currajong Disability Services who has spent his life on the land, is on a mission to change that and educate the masses on the numerous advantages carobs provide.

“The biggest issue facing the industry is getting the message out there,” said Neil.

“Carob is drought proof, can grow on free draining soil, slightly salt tolerant and feeds stock for free.

“Not to mention the numerous health benefits for people,” he said.

Yet for Neil and Currajong to take the next step in the carob production business they need your help.

“We are a niche NDIS service provider in Central West NSW and we see carobs as an investment to generate revenue for our not-for-profit organisation,” he said.

“To do that we need assistance from farmers who have some acreage to grow carobs.

“We can’t do it alone and we are happy to share the windfalls and successes that come with it,” Neil said.

The value of carobs doesn’t just lie in food and health but also seeds, pods and trees – something that every person who works on the land should take stock of.

“Carob is an amazing legume but the masses aren’t aware of just how incredible it is,” said Neil.

“My mission is to change that and to make carob a viable alternative in the agriculture and health industries.

“If I can do that not only will many benefit from it in the said sectors but hopefully it will safeguard the future of Currajong Disability Services well into the 21st century.”

To get involved with carobs or find out more info email

Make sure your provider addresses your needs
Make sure your provider addresses your needs

Whether you or someone you care for has a physical or mental handicap, you’ll likely need some help along the way. Hiring disability services, whether out of their own pocket or via government funding through programs like the NDIS, it is a big step both for the handicapped person, their families and anyone else involved with them.

Because of how delicate and sensitive some handicaps can be, there is a wide spectrum of different kinds of disability services that are appropriate for different care demands. It is as much of the responsibility of the handicapped person and their carers to find a good provider as well as the provider to deliver high quality disability services.

Finding a good provider of disability services is an important step for those with handicaps and gives them an opportunity to grow as well as develop greater levels of interdependence.  Let’s take a look at the following questions you should be asking before engaging professional disability services.

Do you know what you want and need?

The first step to finding the right choice of provider is to identify what it is you want out of them. Do you primarily want advice or someone who will be much more hands-on? Are you looking for someone to help reach specific goals or someone more grounded in daily care?

These questions need to be answered in order to filter out providers of disability services that may not be most appropriate for you. There are a huge range of different disability care providers with different approaches and philosophies, so it’s not hard to browse between several worthy options.

Are they flexible? Can you work with them logistically?

It’s great to have a provider that ticks all the theoretic boxes, but is working with them actually practical? Think about the distance you or they may need to travel, figure out if there are extra costs for re-scheduling or cancelling of engagements.

There’s no point finding the perfect provider only to realise you need to drive over an hour to see them. Remember, getting disability services is meant to make life more convenient for the handicapped person, not less so.

Are they personable? Do you get along with them?

Just like any job interview, you will need to assess if the candidate is right for you based on a lot of initial takeaways. You should be able to tell in your gut straight away if you don’t feel you can work with someone or they’re approach is questionable to you.

They should be able to speak your language so that there are no communications issues when they work with you. They should be good listeners who offer realistic suggestions based on training and scientific evidence.

Above all, they should be respectful and helpful at all times. They don’t patronise handicapped people but instead motivate and support them to achieve their goals.

This is why the disability services provider needs to build a meaningful rapport with their charge and be ready to meet them on their level. Every step of improvement and learning needs to be agreed with by the handicapped person and/or their carer.

Do they recognise your goals and want to help you reach them?

The provider of disability services is meant to be in an advisory and supportive role, not commander-in-chief. They should only make decisions when they are prompted for their expertise because they are being trusted to act as professionals.

At no point should they make decisions on behalf of a handicapped person in order to save time or because they think they know better. Disability services are designed to give handicapped people great freedom and choice, not to overtly dictate their lives for them.