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Jujube truck stacked and packed

IN a pleasant sight for what has been a hard month for many, the first batch of jujubes have been freighted from Orange down to the markets in Sydney.

Despite drought, thunderstorms and then COVID-19 all playing a part, the jujubes have finally been picked, sorted and packed.

For Wayde Kriedemann and the dedicated staff, board members and participants who have helped it is a welcome relief.

“For most of the time we were worried about not enough water,” Wayde explained.

“The drought was long and hard and there were (and still are to some extent) challenges with water.

“Then by the end of the cycle we were mindful of how much water we were getting because of the rain,” he explained.

But in the end it didn’t matter as Wayde along with Neil Unger and Ray Nielsen pciked the jujubes just in time for the first 100 boxes to be freighted to Sydney from Orange and another load about to go.

“There’s another load ready as well,” said Wayde.

“Both batches are about 800kgs.

“It is a great start to the jujube business for Currajong,” said Wayde.

It certainly is!

Donna Apps with some of the umbrella bag designs

THE Currajong Disability Services Sewing Group continues to come up with creative and innovative ways of staying afloat with umbrella bags the latest edition to the range of items they have produced. With more rain predicted, there’s no better time to bring out the new umbrella bag.

“We’ve gone from drought to rain and with rain comes umbrellas and umbrella bags,” said Deitre Jackson of Currajong Disability Services Sewing Group.

“Our participants have decided to come together and make some umbrella bags.

“When enough have been made we will make a decision on what will be done with them,” said Deitre.

“We are currently going through a number of ideas at the moment,” she said.

Recent rains have seen around an eighth of the state now out of drought but a lot more is needed especially out in the Central West.

“There are predictions of more rain,” Deitre said.

“This week and next so watch this space for your umbrella bag.

“And well done to our group for their great effort!”

Latest NDIS advice for participants/providers – 25 March

The NDIA is making some changes to the plan review process in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

If a participant has a scheduled plan review, the NDIA will contact them by phone or email to undertake their review.

As part of this plan review process, a participant can discuss having a new plan in place for up to 24 months.

In addition, the NDIA will be making changes to NDIS systems over the weekend to make sure participants have the funding they need during the
coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

To ensure participant plans don’t end, on the day a plan is due to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 365 days.

Previously these automatic plan extensions were for 28 days but will now will be 365.

Participants who have plans that expires soon, do not need to do anything to have their plans automatically extended by 365 days.

For more info go to –

Message to the Currajong Disability Services Community about COVID-19

 COVID-19 has impacted our world and transformed the lives of so many people, our thoughts are with all who are affected by this global outbreak.

Currajong remains focused on supporting our NDIS participants, their families/carers/support networks and the wider community. This unprecedented crisis has concentrated our efforts on ensuring the safety and protection of our participants and staff while remaining proactively compliant with the Australia Government regulations/recommendations and still providing the high-quality service and support Currajong is known for.

Currajong has implemented all the personal hygiene recommendations and social distancing regulations of the Australian Government and will continue to comply with any future directives to minimise the spread and risk of infection with the Coronavirus. Currajong has implemented several changes in its day to day operation, endeavouring to ensure we can continue to deliver necessary supports and provide the essential services that people with a disability require throughout this time of global and national crisis. These include:

Providing increased 1:1 Support Services rather than group-based activities.

Temporary closure of the Day Program group activity schedule.

Ensuring continuity of support to high-risk vulnerable individuals in their home.

Monitoring access to our Supported Accommodation Services.

Personal consultation with participants and families on how Currajong can best support them through this unfolding crisis.

Ensuring surfaces and equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected frequently each day and in between use.

Limiting the amount of non-essential travel for Participants and staff.

Allowing office employees who can work remotely from home to do so.

Currajong is committed to supporting individuals with a disability during this challenging time and is continually exploring how we can provide the necessary supports you require. Our team is available for any questions or to discuss your concerns.

Stay safe and well

Jeffrey Evans


Scott Salter, one of Currajong's most experienced support workers with Karen Willis and Jay Crouch reinforcing proper hygiene

COVID-19 or the Coronavirus as it is known by many, may have changed how we do things but it hasn’t changed the quality service and care offered at Currajong Diability Services.

With disruptions to everyday life showing no signs of abating anytime soon, Currajong will continue to offer top quality care for all of our participants and ensuring all precautions and duty of care are taken to protect the rights, health and safety of our participants, staff and families.

Already steps have been taken that adhere to government requests including a greater emphasis on hygiene, social distancing via smaller groups and minimising acitivites, education of staff to fast track their COVID-19 knowledge base as well as having staff available to answer any questions about Currajong and our new processes.

“Vigilance and strict application of the recommended precautions are our only weapons against this virus and while it appears we are in an area that is currently virus free we cannot afford to slacken off if we hope to come through this period of upheaval with minimal disruption,” said Currajong Disability Services CEO Jeff Evans.

“My priorities continue to remain the health and well being of our participants, our employees and our families.

“May I please express my thanks and appreciation to the overall way that staff have responded to the significant disruption to our normal routine. I would also like to commend you all on how you have embraced the more rigorous hygiene, cleaning requirements and social distancing particularly in light of the high risk and vulnerable individuals we support in the community,” said Jeff.

Jeff and the Currajong team have been working on contingency plans and strategies to multiple scenarios so that they are prepared (as best as they can be) for whatever the next few months throws up.

“At the moment, I believe we are well placed if we remain vigilant and continue implementing the recommendations as we currently are,” said Jeff.

“Again, thank you for your efforts and commitment.”

Wayde Kriedemann and Deb Hewitt with some little helpers at Jujube HQ

AMIDST the doom and gloom there has been some good news this week with Currajong gaining a record haul from the jujube farm at Akuna Road in Parkes.

The haul, approximately a 100 x 4 kilogram boxes worth, at market is roughly $3000 for Currajong with up to another 100 still to be filled.

“We are very happy with the result and hope to get the next hundred boxes filled before it rains later this week as rain has been forecast,” said Wayde Kreidemann of Currajong Disability Services.

“It’s taken a lot of time and effort from many including participants, staff and board members Ray Nielsen and Neil Unger.

“It’s that great sense of spirit, effort and dedication that has seen us in this position,” said Wayde.

With rain forecast for this evening and later in the week the race is now on ton pick the remaining jujubes as excess rain will split them and render them not suitable for sale.

“We got rain at the right time over the last month or so but we just need to pick these this week and hope it holds off a bit for us,” Wayde said.

“These jujubes look great and the size is tremendous.

“They are becoming extremely popular and hopefully we can continue to meet that obligation,” he said.

Everyone at Currajong does too – well done Wayde and everyone who helped! Great effort!

Fiona McGonigal of Currajong participating in the World's Greatest Shave

LAST year Fiona McGonigal took on the challenge to raise $1000 for The World’s Greatest Shave and to help blood cancer research. In 2020, she did the same thing again in front of a parochial Currajong crowd.

“I am rapt to be able to help do my bit for cancer,” said Fiona.

“So far I have raised about $300 towards this important cause.

“I hope to reach $1000 again like last year,” Fiona said.

This time last year Fiona McGonigal was battling kidney cancer, and sadly, despite beating it last year, she has received the unfortunate news that the disease has returned on the left side of her adrenal gland.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol.

“They are found above the kidneys,” said Fiona.

“I am hoping everything is okay when I see the specialist and I can concentrate on getting well and raising vital funds for cancer research.

“After such a great response last year, especially from everyone at Currajong, I felt compelled to give it another go,” she said.

While Fiona has her up and down days, nothing she says, will stop her trying to beat last years fundraising effort of $1000 which was her initial target.

“The funds are vital make no secret of it but so too is awareness of cancer and different cancer types,” Fiona said.

“Every day another 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer. That’s one Aussie every 41 minutes.

“Although research is improving survival, sadly an Australian loses their life to blood cancer every two hours.”

Venise Cruickshank working on her first fantasy novel

FOR as long as she can remember, all Venise Cruickshank wanted to be was a writer. In a field where so many have tried and failed and only a small percentage are actively working at any one time, Venise with the help of her mother Maureen has taken the plunge.

Now the Currajong Disability Services participant from Lake Cargelligo is taking her first enormous strides as she turns her childhood dream into a reality.

“Venise has always wanted to write,” said Maureen.

“She has a particular interest in fantasy and fiction.

“She reads and writes religiously,” Maureen said.

So Venise, who has autism, began taking some significant steps on her path into the literary world of fiction writing.

“She’s getting better on the computer and piecing together stories every day,” Maureen said.

“With the right supports around her she has improved her writing and planning which is so important when you want to get a novel published.

“Hopefully within the next year she has her first novel published,” said Maureen.

While Venise remains tight-lipped about what her novel is about it has been inspired by a number of her favourite fantasy books and films.

“I have always loved fantasy and all the worlds and people in it,” said Venise.

“It’s something that interested me from a very young age.

“And it’s all I have wanted to do since,” she said.

With support from Currajong and the NDIS, Venise has already written a draft of her manuscript and is currently editing and re-writing a new draft.

“Currajong has helped me enormously and given me a chance,” Venise said.

“It really is a life with opportunities and I am happy as they give people with autism and all their participants the things they need to achieve their dreams.

“It’s all I can ask for.”

We can’t wait to see all your hard work culminate into your first book either Venise!

It may not be an Aussie Biscuit but Dave Ryan knows how to make them and he's got a lot more time now to eat them

WHEN a then 39 year old Dave Ryan started at the Aussie Biscuits factory with House With No Steps, Dances With Wolves was the Best Picture winner at the Oscars, the Canberra Raiders had shaded Penrith in the 1990 grand final 18-14, Liverpool would begin a three decade top flight drought, Guns N Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers were top of the music charts, Steffi Graf was the Queen of women’s tennis and the Berlin Wall had only just been knocked down.

Today, 30 years later, 69 year old Dave Ryan hangs up the apron, mittens, toque blanche and tongs for the last time at the Aussie Biscuit Factory. With Dave’s departure goes a big piece of history too not just in Forbes and House With No Steps but in disability in the region. Yet instead of focusing on endings Dave Ryan is excited to be moving onto the next chapter of his life.

“I enjoyed it but it’s time to call it a day,” Dave said.

“It was a big part of my life but it’s done now.

“Time to do other things,” he said.

For Currajong Residential Team Leader Donna Little it’s a day filled with pride for how far Dave has come and all he has achieved.

“Dave has always liked having a go and made friends everywhere he went from House With No Steps/ Aruma to Currajong and everywhere in between,” Donna said.

“I know they will all sorely miss him at the biscuit factory.

“He was a big part of the history there,” Donna said.

While Dave has remained a little coy about his future plans he will still remain a participant at Currajong and now have more time to enjoy a range of activities.

“I will be able to do many things now I never had as much time for before such as puzzles and the odd Monte Carlo,” Dave said.

“I’m sure there’ll be other things too.

“I just want to thank everyone – it’s been great!”

The winning 2019 Live Better team from Orange will be back to defend their title in 2020

IN only three short weeks the annual Currajong Disability Services All Abilities Swimming Carnival will be held at the Parkes Aquatic Centre.

Participants from as far afield as Orange, Temora, Trangie, Dubbo, Cowra, Forbes, Bathurst and Parkes will converge for the flagship event.

The 2019 event had 120 entrants and already interest is showing that this year will be bigger and better.

With an emphasis on fun, camaraderie and building new relationships as well as a chance to exchange ideas, the Currajong Disability Services All Abilities Swimming Carnival has become one the big features on the disability calendar.

“We are rapt with the growing interest in the event and the burgeoning relationships being formed between providers across the region,” said Dane Millerd of Currajong.

“It is such a tremendous day on a number of fronts.

“It’s great for participants and vital for providers,” said Dane.

Organiser Indigo Kriedemann said that the day was a real highlight on the regional disability calendar and many were already looking forward to it.

“It’s a great event that brings together people far and wide within the disability community,” Indigo said.

“The day keeps growing and going from strength to strength.

“This year is already looking like a bumper carnival!”

Over the previous editions of the event, Currajong has often dominated however last year, Live Better from Orange got the chocolates despite sterling efforts in the pool by Ian Kaupkee and Tim McDonald. Yet, as Indigo points out, it’s not about who wins but “having a go” and “everyone coming together to connect and meet new friends and old ones”.

“It really is a special day because we all don’t get together that often,” Indigo said.

“It’s also a real social outing.

“I know many of us get a buzz out of it!”

The Currajong Disability Services Annual All Abilities Swimming Carnival will be held at Parkes Aquatic Centre on March 4.

To register, email

Alternately you can call 02 6883 4713 to confirm your organisation’s place in this blue chip event.