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Extended Families

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions or need information? You may find the answer’s here, under key topics.
We want to help, so if you have other questions please let us know by making contact with us.

  • Why is community participation so important for young people with a disability?

    Community participation is important for everyone. For children and young people with a disability it means experiencing connection and the feeling of belonging that we all desire. The experience of being active in the community contributes to social and emotional development, skill development and wellbeing. It creates opportunities for friendship. Extended Families utilises expertise and experience in providing social and community participation and inclusion to all their services.

  • What experience do your staff have with working with children or young people with a disability and supporting their families?
    Our staff are very experienced, all coordination staff have more than 3 years’ experience and many have more than 10 years’ experience working in Disability and Child and Family Services. We match direct support staff to your needs. We choose staff for their skills and experience, but also for their positive values and attitudes. But in the end it is your choice, we will work to find the support staff that you want.
  • Do you support carers or parents who have a child or young person with a disability?

    Extended Families is very family focus and see that supporting parents and carers is the best way to support the child or young person with a disability and the whole family.  We facilitate carer specific groups, link people to resources and work to ensure carer needs are met, alongside the direct support of the person with a disability.

  • How will the current support I receive from Extended Families Australia change now NDIS exists in some areas?

    If you live in an area that does not yet have the NDIS, you will continue to receive and have access to the current range of services.

    Once you have an NDIS plan you will need to include any current services you receive from Extended Families in that plan to continue to receive them. Once NDIS comes to an area, our current block funding form DHHS will cease, so services will not be available without an NDIS service agreement with Extended Families.

    With the flexibility of NDIS, Extended Families has developed a range of new individual and group programs focused on community participation and support, skill development and peer friendship support. We also provide Support Coordination to help you manage, implement and make the most of your NDIS Plan. Talk to us and let us know what you want and we will do everything we can to make it a reality. Our strength is in our responsiveness and creativity.

    Please note if you have been waiting for a volunteer to support community participation, under NDIS we can know provide community participation and inclusion support through paid inclusion support workers. A volunteer can still be introduced down the track when we find the right one.

  • I have an ISP but not sure what services I can still access before I have an NDIS Plan?

    Anyone with an ISP can purchase services from Extended Families, including inclusion support, recreation programs and Case Management.

  • Does Extended Families provide Case Management?

    Extended Families does provide Case Management for people with an ISP and Support Coordination under the NDIS. Our experienced staff will work with you to assist you make the most of your funding package and support you to link to needed services and resources.

  • I am preparing my NDIS plan how can Extended Families help?
  • How do I get assistance with creating a plan under NDIS?
  • Will getting support coordination for my NDIS plan mean that I will have less funding for other areas of support?

    Service Coordination is identified as a separate category of support outside of other services that can be funded in a plan. If you require support coordination it will be allocated in your plan and the funding available for this will only be available for support coordination.

  • Are your new programs ready to begin in my area?

    Some of our new services require funding to participate, they are new or extended beyond what we have historically been funded to provide. Funding can be from the NDIS, through an Individual Service Plan (ISP) or can be self funded.

    Will will be increasing the range of services in specific areas to match the roll out of NDIS; however participants with a funding package from any area are welcome to access these services.  Please discuss with us. 

    We will also offer trial of some recreation activities in areas prior to the NDIS roll out.

  • I am already registered with Extended Families what do I do to maintain the support I already get?

    The NDIS plan is based on goals.  Our programs help people achieve goals for increased social and community participation, social skill development, developing recreational interests, developing friendships and more. You will have funding available to help you reach your goals and can purchase existing and new supports from Extended Families.  Talk to us further to help you specifically ensure your needs are met.

    If you have a volunteer match (or want to have one), make sure it is included in your plan.

    The NDIS may not understand this particular service. We can provide you with further information to help that process.

  • Do I need to be a member of your organisation to access Extended Families programs/services?

    No, programs and services are available to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria and for whom to service is targeted.  As an Incorporated Association, membership refers to membership of the association, which is open to anyone who supports the purposes of the Association and pays an annual membership fee.

  • How do I register for services?

    You can register by completing an online registration form, or email intake@extendedfamilies.org.au or phone 9355 8848 and speak to our intake worker.

  • Is there a cost to register with Extended Families?

    For people who do not yet have an NDIS plan, there is no cost to register to receive services from Extended Families, although specific programs may have activity costs associated with them. Funding is currently provided through block grants from DHHS. For people who have a NDIS plan all services (apart from our Family Fun Days) will need to be funded from your NDIS plan.

  • How do I pay for services/programs offered by Extended Families?

    If there are specific activity costs associated with a program, you can pay online or over the phone by credit card, or by direct bank transfer. For services as part of NDIS or ISP, we will enter into a service agreement and submit invoiced to appropriate holder of the funds.

  • Is the Volunteer Match program open to people over 18?

    Whilst our volunteer Match program was traditionally for children and young people up to 17 years, if you have an NDIS plan or individual support package we are now able to cater for young people with a disability up to 30 years of age.

  • I would like to stop participating in the programs (or services) with Extended Families.

    Families have the right to leave our programs at any time should circumstances, goals or needs change.   We endeavour to work with each family and volunteer (if relevant) to ensure the farewells are done in a planned way and all parties can be prepared for the change. 

    Families are welcome to re-join our service/programs at any time and we are always here to assist if your needs and goals.

  • What geographical areas do you support?

    We support families across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria,  Australia. 

  • What areas do you need volunteers?

    The Volunteer Match program and Recreational Programs operate throughout Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula. When registering you can let the Family and Volunteer coordinator what areas your preferences are. 

  • How is quality maintained to ensure the programs are accessible and safe for all involved?

    Quality at Extended Families involves providing person centered, accessible and safe services for children and young people with a disability. It is also about continuously improving our services and being compliant with the standards that govern us. Extended Families is compliant with the Human Services Standards, the National Disability Standards and the Common Community Care Standards as well as meeting in principle the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. In May 2015, following an external audit by HDAA, Extended Families was re-registered as a disability service as legislated

  • What is a typical volunteer in the Volunteer Match Program? Am I what you are looking for?

    Our volunteers come from all walks of life. There is no ‘typical’ volunteer - they may be single or married, with or without children, mature aged or young, retired, working or undertaking studies. We recognise the variety of roles needed, so value having a diverse group of volunteers.

    We are seeking individuals or couples to volunteer together who can commit to a minimum 12-month period and can spend at least 2 hours a week or fortnight.

    We would love you to join us if you have an in a sport or leisure activity too. Many of our children or young people want to join in and participate with their peers. By having you be there by their side can provide the motivation and confidence to join in.

    It doesn’t matter what your interests are – we will work closely with you and our families to create a great ‘match’.

  • Do I need any particular experience, skill or training to volunteer with Extended Families?

    You do not need any specific level of experience or training with children, young people or those with a disability. We provide you with training and ongoing support while working with us to ensure the experience is positive and productive for all involved.

  • What official checks completed during the Volunteer accreditation process?

    We undertake a national police check, working with children check and if you have spent extensive time overseas relevant overseas police checks prior to being accredited or matched with a family. 

  • What training and support do volunteers receive from Extended Families?

    We’ll provide you with ongoing support and want you to feel safe, and have fun while you’re volunteering with us. This will include:  

    • Information and access to resources about your role and the needs of the child or young person you’re matched with.

    • Health and Safety awareness such as first aid, emergency and medication.

    • Public Liability insurance whilst involved in activities for Extended Families

    • A small reimbursement per visit is available so that volunteering doesn’t leave you out of pocket.

    • Further training and professional development if required

    • Annual volunteer and match reviews to check how things are going for you and the family and provide an opportunity for feedback

  • What is the process involved to be a volunteer?

    First Step: Unertake our introduction training via ‘Get Involved’ to provide you a strong sense of what it means to be a volunteer with us. This will give you the opportunity to work out whether volunteering with us is right for you. At the end of the presentation you will be asked to confirm your interest.

    Next Step: You will be sent an email inviting you to take part in a more detailed information session online which provides further information of what is involved and how to get involved.

    Final Step: Once you have completed step 1 and 2 you will speak to an Extended Families Volunteer and Family coordinator and invited to participate in our Accreditation Process which can take between 4-6 weeks. This allows us to do all the relevant checks and helps us to know which child or young person you would be best matched with or what recreational role would suit you. It also indicates how we can best support you in the role.

  • What do the changes with NDIS mean to me as a Volunteer?

    New opportunities to engage in a wider range of services and activities in addition to your 1:1 match.

    Your current matches and the service will continue. We do not expect any significant changes, but you will be informed of any if any changes will affect you. 

  • What do the changes under NDIS mean for the family I am matched with?

    Each eligible person with a disability will be given a plan and an associated budget. The plan will outline service types to meet agreed goals. It is a consumer driven model where families have choice about the services they purchase to meet the child or young person’s goals.

  • Who do the volunteers support?

    We support a range of children and young people with a disability. Here are some examples of the people we support. (note the names have been changed to protect their identity)

    Ethan is eleven years old. He has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He attends a mainstream primary school, and has assistance from an integration aide for part of each school day. He has difficulty with forming friendships and is generally alone in the playground during breaks. Ethan has two older siblings who are busy with their own activities and social lives and he finds it hard that he does not have the same.

    His parents would like him to have a volunteer who could take him out on weekends so that he feels more independent. He loves travelling on public transport, and enjoys activities such as bowling and ice-skating. Ideally a volunteer would encourage him to become more confident with managing public transport and coping with busy, noisy environments, which make him feel anxious.

    Sara is thirteen years old. She has a mild intellectual disability and a mild hearing impairment. She functions more like a ten-year-old. She tends to talk over other people and does not listen to them. The other children at school get very frustrated with her. Sara loves looking at shops, going to movies, having a treat in a café and is passionate about various singers and bands. She and her parents would like a young female volunteer to take her out and enjoy some of these activities together. Sara’s parents would like a volunteer to help Sara learn conversation skills (e.g. each person takes a turn to talk) and behave appropriately in public (such as not being so loud and eating in an appropriate way).

    Simon is nine years old. He has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He attends a mainstream school. His parents feel he would cope better at school if he could participate in playground and sporting activities. His parents would ultimately like him to join a sporting club of some kind e.g. cricket. They hope that Simon can be matched to a volunteer who can help him with developing some ball skills and then support him to join a cricket club. Contact could begin with the volunteer taking Simon for outings to the local park to play. One option is for Simon’s younger brother (aged eight) to join in these outings, as he and Simon get on well and both boys could potentially join the club together.

    Eloise has been diagnosed with a Global Developmental Delay. She is four years old and has an older sister, aged seven. Eloise’s mother is a single parent and has no family support. She would like a volunteer to visit and spend time with her in the family home, or take Eloise out to the park or shops close to home, so that she can take her older daughter out to activities. Eloise has limited language, but communicates quite well and can understand what is said to her. She needs someone to be firm with her and set clear limits.

    Dylan is seventeen years old. He has an intellectual disability and autism and attends a special school. Dylan is verbal but not very conversational and functions more like a younger child. He does go to some recreational programs for teenagers with disabilities. However, his parents would like a young male volunteer who could spend some 1:1 time taking him out into the community on a weekend day. This would give his parents a break and focus on Dylan’s interests. Dylan loves anything to do with trains so outings could be focused on this interest e.g. train rides out of town, to Miniature Railways, etc. He enjoys doing anything active and would also like going for simple outings such as walks along the beach, river, or in parklands.

    Charlie is twelve. He has Down Syndrome, as well as sight and hearing issues. His parents would like him to have an older role model/mentor. Their families all live overseas and they feel he would benefit from a relationship with an older male or couple to take on a grandparent role. Charlie is a chatty, happy, very social personality. He is interested in maps, train/bus/tram rides and animals. He would particularly enjoy going to the museum, outdoor concerts, farms and zoos. Charlie is part of a busy family of four children and sometimes his needs can be a bit swamped by everything else going on in the household. Ideally his volunteer/s could be special people in his life who give him the extra attention and focus he needs.

  • What are the benefits of volunteering?

    There are great rewards from undertaking volunteering. We have found over 38 years of working with volunteers that our programs help volunteers achieve the following:

    • Support their personal goals

    • Build social networks & connectedness

    • Provides flexibility to undertake volunteering in a places and at times that suit

    • Provides a sense of purpose & empowerment

    • Provides a sense of satisfaction, pride & accomplishment

    • Develops new skills and interest; and

    • Provide a pathway to economic participation

  • I would like to stop being a volunteer, who do I notify?

    Please contact your Family & Volunteer coordinator if you are considering leaving Extended Families as a volunteer. Many of our Volunteers are ‘matched’ with children, young people and their families and we need to ensure all participants are informed and are given a chance to say ‘goodbye’. Often those involved with need extra support and coaching during this time to limit and negative effects on those involved.

  • How is my privacy protected?

    During the initial intake and assessment, we collect information from you to enable us to offer the right programs/services that address your needs. The information we ask for includes your contact details and information about your child or young person, as well as your needs.

    We are committed to confidentiality and take care to protect any information about your family. At times we forward non-identifying data to the Department of Health and Human Services. Personal information collected is not shared with any person or service without your consent unless we are legally required to provide information or we believe there is a threat to someone’s safety or welfare.

    You have the right to request access to your information and ask for it to be corrected if necessary. For more information on our privacy policy please ask your Coordinator for a copy or visit our website to download a copy for your reference. 

  • What are my legal rights and responsibilities?

    An overarching principle of the Disability Act 2006 is that people with a disability have the same rights and responsibilities as all other Victorian’s. Extended Families policies and practices reflect the rights of people with a disability. 

  • How do I provide feedback or make a complaint?

    We welcome feedback on how our programs help you achieve your goals. We always strive to improve our programs and encourage you to pass on any feedback to your key worker.

    If you would like to make a formal complaint about any aspect of your experience with Extended Families, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience.

    • Call 9355 8848
    • Email
    • Write to us at PO Box 275, Coburg VIC 3058

    Your complaint will be dealt with promptly and you will receive feedback as to the outcome. All feedback and complaints will be discussed by our Planning and Quality team to ensure we can improve our service and immediately address any dissatisfaction. Should you feel that the matter has not been resolved to your satisfaction or at any stage of the complaints process you can make an external complaint to:

    The Disability Services Commissioner

    Level 3, 456 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

    Phone: 1800 677 342

    A full copy of the Complaints Policy and process is available on request.

  • What does my donation go towards?

    People living with a disability and those who love and care for them, are some of the most isolated in our community.  Extended Families Australia exists to challenge that - We believe that having joy in your life and being a part of your community is for everyone.

    Donations from individuals are directed to child and family recreational activities, volunteer recruitment and training, and to overcome barriers for peoples meaningful participation in the community. Funds are directed to these areas where they are not covered by the current government funding or the NDIS and we are reliant on external funding and donations.

    This ensures that all children and young people with a disability have access to opportunities to develop skills, gain new interests, develop new friends and feel a part of the community and that more people can enjoy the special relationship with a volunteer.

  • Can I sponsor or support a specific event or activity?

    Yes you can choose for your financial support to be directed to a specific event, activity or program.  From time to time we seek funds to enable specific projects, you can choose to contribute to these via Become a Sponsor..

  • What are the benefits of becoming a member of Extended Families?

    Membership is another simple way of showing support and being involved. If you are an individual who would like to be involved, membership is $15 per annum. As a member you will be eligible to vote in the Extended Families Association and you will receive regular updates on the organisation via our quarterly newsletter and annual report and be invited to occasional member events.  

  • I would like to be involved in the Committee of Management, how can I apply to get involved?

    While there are no vacancies currently on the COM we would love to hear from you.  Please let us know how you would like to be involved. 

  • I work for an organisation that would like to provide pro bono support, collaborate or sponsor a program – who do I contact?

    We are currently seeking corporate partners and event sponsors who can assist us to continue our work and develop new responses to identified need. Please contact us and let us know in what capacity you would like to provide support – eg program sponsor, corporate partner, collaboration to expand our fundraising or programs.

    We would love to hear from you and discuss how we can build your profile in the community as a company that is committed to creating an inclusive Victoria. 

  • What is the NDIS?

    The NDIS supports people with a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities. It is a big change to the existing human services system and how those with a disability access services and aims to improve the lives of people with a disability in Australia.

    It is underpinned by principles of:

    choice and control – when, where and by whom supports are provided
    early intervention
    - where getting early supports can reduce the impact of disability on a child or care


  • When will the NDIS operate in my area?

    Following some trial sites which began in 2013, the NDIS began to progressively roll out to all areas of Australia from 1 July 2016. In Victoria this began with the North East Melbourne area.

    Find out more about when the NDIS will be phasing in in your area here. Note: even when the phase in begins in your area, it will still be a gradual process over a period of months.  

  • Am I or my child eligible to access the programs under NIDS?

    To be eligible for NDIS the person with the disability needs to meet the following requirements:

    • have a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities

    • be aged less than 65 when they first access the scheme

    • be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen who holds a Protected Special Category Visa

  • How can Extended Families support me to prepare for the NDIS?

    Being a Melbourne metro wide service, Extended Families now has valuable experience supporting people in the North East Melbourne area (NEMA), the first Melbourne area where NDIS rolled out. We have an experienced team of Support Coordinators and are sharing our experience and learning to help people make the most of your NDIS Plan and the opportunity it presents. 

    We run regular group sessions during the NDIS phase in - moving to different locations around Melbourne based on the NDIA roll out schedule. You can attend any session you like, we suggest that about 3 to 6 months prior to roll out in your area is a good time to attend. All welcome! You can book into our group sessions via the website events (bottom of home page) or here.

    We can also provide one on one support to help explore and prepare NDIS goals, support needs and gather evidence. Further information about this is available at the group sessions or contact us if you have an urgent need for support.

  • What is Extended Families doing to prepare for NDIS?
    • Developing a range of new services that can respond to children, young people and family’s needs.

    • Providing information and support to families.

    • Working to clarify how volunteer services will be funded under the new model.

    • Improving key systems to be more efficient and effective.

  • How will the current support I receive from Extended Families Australia change now NDIS exists in some areas?

    Extended Families supports children, young people and families to promote wellbeing, facilitate community connection and social inclusion and help people reach their goals. Our vision of a community where children and young people with a disability experience full community inclusion and participation and their families are strong, resilient and connected in their community is consistent with the direction of the NDIS.

    As NDIS is introduced we will transition our services to the NDIS, with small modifications as needed.  We expect our current and new programs will be able to be accessed through individualised NDIS funding. Some programs may fit better with non individualised NDIS support through 'Information, Linkages and Capacity Building' (ILC) and we will continue to explore how we can access this to ensure continued service access.

    Extended Families anticipates that some families may not be eligible for NDIS individualised packages and will work hard to ensure continued service though advocacy for continued government funding, exploring NDIS support through ILC.

  • If I have a volunteer provided already by Extended Families do I need to include that service in my NDIS plan?

    Yes to continue the Volunteer match, it will need to be purchased as part of your NDIS plan.  The current Government funding we have for the service is not expected to continue once NDIS is in place.  Your NDIS plan will outline participant goals, your volunteer match service is one way to help participants achieve their goals.  The volunteer match program helps achieve goals of social and community participation.  

    The relevant NDIS support item is Life transition planning including mentoring, peer support and individual skill development (09_006_0106_6_3) or it can also be managed under Core Supports - Assistance to access community, social and rec activities - individual if needed.

    Please talk to your Extended Families Coordinator to obtain our detailed information sheet about the Volunteer Match Service under NDIS and to confirm the number of hours of volunteer coordination you will need.

  • I haven’t been contacted by the NDIA yet – what do I do?

    Make an access request directly to the NDIS via ndis.gov.au or email nationalaccesssteam@ndis.gov.au or call 1800 800 110

  • I live in an area that has NDIS already and I don’t have a plan, what do I do?

    Make an access request directly to the NDIS via ndis.gov.au or email nationalaccesssteam@ndis.gov.au or call 1800 800 110

    As part of preparations for the implementation of the NDIS throughout the North East Melbourne Area from 1 July 2016, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is making contact via phone calls with prospective participants who are either currently on the Disability Support Register or in an existing DHHS programme such as Shared Supported Accommodation.

    The contact from the NDIA is to ascertain a participant’s eligibility for the NDIS and seek their consent to enter the NDIS. The NDIA are also gathering some key information such as the person’s home address and their CRN number from Centrelink. At no stage however will be the NDIA be seeking people’s bank account details. Following this initial contact, the NDIA will be in touch again to start the development of the participant’s first plan to enter the NDIS. 

  • How do I become a member?

    You can apply for membership by completing an online form or call 9355 8848 and request a membership form to be posted.

  • What geographical areas do you support?

    We support children and young adults with a disability and their families from Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. 

  • What credentials do your staff have?

    We have experienced staff in with the following qualifications:

    • Disability Support Workers
    • Welfare Workers
    • Social Workers
    • Community Development Workers
    • Special Education Teachers

    Our staff generally have more than 3 years’ experience and many have more than 10 years’ experience working in Disability and Child and Family Services. 

  • How is quality maintained to ensure the programs are accessible and safe for all involved?

    Quality at Extended Families involves providing person centered, accessible and safe services for children and young people with a disability and their families. We do this through continuously improving our services and through:

    •  careful and thorough staff and volunteer selection
    • well-developed policies, practices and systems
    • being open and transparent and valuing feedback
    • being compliant with the standards that govern us 

    Extended Families is compliant with the Human Services Standards, the National Disability Standards and the Common Community Care Standards as well as meeting in principle the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. Our external quality and standards audits are conducted by HDAA.

    We are a child safe organisation, accredited by the Department of Health & Human Services Victoria. We a registered Disability Service as legislated under the Disability Act 2006 and a registered NDIS service provider. NDIS provider registration number 57244261

  • How is my privacy protected?

    During the initial intake and assessment, we collect information from you to enable us to offer the right programs/services that address your needs.  The information we ask for includes your contact details and information about your child or young person, as well as your needs.

    We are committed to confidentiality and take care to protect any information about your family.  At times we forward non-identifying data to the Department of Health and Human Services.  Personal information collected is not shared with any person or service without your consent unless we are legally required to provide information or we believe there is a threat to someone’s safety or welfare.

    You have the right to request access to your information and ask for it to be corrected if necessary. For more information on our privacy policy please ask your Coordinator for a copy or view or download a copy.

  • What are my legal rights and responsibilities?

    An overarching principle of the Disability Act 2006 is that people with a disability have the same rights and responsibilities as all other Victorian’s.  Extended Families policies and practices reflect the rights of people with a disability. 

  • How do I provide feedback or make a complaint?

    We welcome feedback on how our programs help you achieve your goals. We always strive to improve our programs and encourage you to pass on any feedback to your key worker.

    If you would like to make a formal complaint about any aspect of your experience with Extended Families, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience. 

    • Call - 9355 8848
    • Email
    • Write to us at PO Box 275, Coburg VIC 3058

    Your complaint will be dealt with promptly and you will receive feedback as to the outcome. All feedback and complaints will be discussed by our Planning and Quality team to ensure we can improve our service and immediately address any dissatisfaction.

    Should you feel that the matter has not been resolved to your satisfaction or at any stage of the complaints process you can make an external complaint to:

    The Disability Services Commissioner
    Level 3, 456 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000
    Phone: 1800 677 342

    A full copy of the Complaints Policy and process is available on request.

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Living with a disability can be difficult. We support people aged 0-30 and their families in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula to build friendships and connect with their community.

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Suite 1, 95 Bell Street
P.O.Box 275
Coburg Victoria 3058