Finding strength and building confidence

09 May 2018

“When we hit difficult times, we discover so much about ourselves – our strengths, our purpose, our meaning.” Alison Bills, our new workshop facilitator, has hit the ground running.

Alison Bills has a lot of experience as a support worker and facilitator in mental health and the disability sector. Before joining Council for Intellectual Disability (CID), she was a support worker with One Door Mental Health, taking groups on nature and exercise trips to engage in life and also provide respite for carers. Before that, Alison facilitated workshops for CREATE on decision-making for young people in out-of-home care.

A personal connection shapes professional choices

Throughout her career, Alison has often supported people with disability. But her experience with disability is also deeply personal: her brother Michael has an intellectual disability.

“Michael has recently moved out of our family home, which has involved a lot of change, and challenges to overcome, but also many positive experiences. The transition has been complicated, but he is living a good life based on his own choices and preferences.”

“Michael is in the first year of his NDIS plan. The flexibility of individual funding has worked well for him. He now has a lot more freedom to do the things he loves, such as going to see live music and theme parks. He’s definitely a thrill-seeker – he loves motorbike rides and rollercoasters!”

If it wasn’t for Michael, Alison wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing now. “The experiences I’ve shared with Michael have influenced my career choices.”

Finding strength in difficult times

When Alison encounters problems in either her personal or professional life, she recalls a poem she loves called ‘The Real Work’ by Wendell Berry (read the poem below).

“The Real Work is a beautiful poem. It’s so short but it says so much. It reminds me that when we hit difficult times, we discover so much about ourselves – our strengths, our purpose, our meaning.”

Whenever Alison reaches a point where she feels stressed or doesn’t know what to do, she thinks about this poem. It gives her extra strength to deal with whatever challenges she’s facing.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry, Standing By Words, Counterpoint Press 1983

Building confidence

Alison will be facilitating our Get More Skills workshops about living a good life and the NDIS, and supporting people who take our Become a Leader course.

Although she has only been with us since April, she has already attended four Get More Skills workshops, including one with a live translation into Farsi.

“I was really energised by the workshops,” she says. “The facilitators were so knowledgeable about the NDIS. But more than that, they also understood the stress that many people are feeling about the new system. They were able to ease the fears many in the room had about their NDIS plans.”

“Although I know there have been many difficult stories from many people, I was struck by how positive the workshops were. The facilitators focussed on how we can work together to make this new support system the best it can be for everyone.”

Alison also enjoyed hearing the first-hand accounts of guest speakers at the workshops.

“One guest speaker, who had had an NDIS plan for some time, described how nervous she felt before her planning meeting. I think people at the workshops were reassured that someone so experienced with the NDIS could feel the same way they were feeling: anxious, nervous, and apprehensive. But of course the lesson from the speaker was that these feelings can be overcome. With the right support and knowledge, you can create a plan that works for you, one that supports you to live your best life.”

“I also think that the workshops’ focus on living a good life gives people a valuable broader context for making decisions about their future. The workshops are about transforming your life, not just transferring your funding.”

“I would like to bring all the things I have learned from my career and my family life to make CID’s workshops even better. My hope is that I can support people with disability to better understand their rights and be more confident to speak up.”


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