Meet Our Neighbours: Melissa Ryan, Inclusive Volunteering in Mitchelton

Meet Our Neighbours Melissa Ryan, Inclusive Volunteering in Mitchelton

People with disabilities are often seen as passive recipients of services or charitable efforts, who are unable to be contributing members of society. Inclusive Volunteering has been developed to challenge this notion!!

Despite having a physical disability myself, I have had a strong connection with volunteering for quite a number of years. During this time, I have had a number of volunteering roles including working as a “companion” in a large residential facility, a “School Librarian” at a special school, doing some research for Boggo Road Gaol Historial Society, volunteering with the Golden Valley Lioness Club and The Queensland Victims Homicide Group.

As well as formal volunteering efforts, I have been on numerous committees throughout the years. These committees having ranged from supporting families who have a family member with a disability, campaigning for more personalised care for people with disabilities, to planning and writing policies and dealing with issues related to service provision for people with disabilities.

In 2014, I began volunteer work at Mitchelton Special School, initially assisting with administrative tasks. Early in 2015, my role at the school changed to researching and developing volunteer roles for students who either were in there final years of school or who had recently left school. This project was reasonably successful and provided me with a lightbulb moment-Why couldn't I establish my own business-linking people with disabilities up with volunteer opportunities within the community- Inclusive Volunteering was born!!

Extensive research revealed that there was a great need for someone to find volunteer roles in our community for people with disabilities. Young people with disabilities who have just left school or older people with disabilities who were interested in volunteering had no source of information on how to negotiate a volunteer role suited to their particular needs within the community.

Inclusive Volunteering provides a highly personalised and responsive service to potential volunteers with disabilities and/or their families, by finding volunteer opportunities within the community that suit the unique needs of each individual volunteer with a disability.

Inclusive Volunteering has two main programs, our School Leavers' Pathway Program- is a supported internship type program specifically designed for young people with disabilities who are just about to leave or who have recently left school. This program involves the participant working with a mentor ( provided by Inclusive Volunteering)- to develop the skills they will need in the workplace, Workplace Placement: Role matching and workplace orientation, Skill Development: conduct training Needs Analysis and provides on the job experience.

Our Adult Mentoring Program is for people with disabilities aged between 25 to 40, who wish to make a valuable contribution to their community. This program runs along similar guidelines as the School Leavers' Pathway Program.

We welcome individuals and businesses to get involved by volunteering in one of our programs.

For further information, please contact Melissa Ryan

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