Farm-stay brings purpose, community for Matty
A NEW extension to a Tanawha farm-stay facility for children and adults with disabilities was greeted with delight yesterday by grateful parents.
"It's the most wonderful setup for someone with disabilities to come to," Fiona McGowan said.
Fiona's son Matthew (Matty) lives with autism and a rare form of epilepsy that mean the 24-year-old man functions with the abilities of a three-year-old boy.
His care was a full-time job that Fiona and his sister Hannah shared for 22 years before deciding he would benefit from a more independent life.
At Lifestyle Supports he is looked after by carers whose "blood is worth bottling", Fiona said.
While Fiona and Hannah missed having Matthew at home, his life at the centre had seen him grow into a much more independent person, Fiona said.
Hannah said it was as though he had come from one family - theirs - to another, when he moved in at the Tanawha facility.
"It's peace of mind and knowing that Matthew is happy," she said. "That's all I could have asked for ... is that Matthew is so happy."
Owner and director of the centre, Omar Suleiman, created it "from scratch" with the help of Coast families, after a chance experience working as a carer left him inspired.
Minister for Disability Services Coralee O'Rourke officially opened the facility yesterday and reaffirmed the state government's ongoing commitment to providing $600,000 in annual funding.
"This is really quite an amazing centre," she told the Daily. "I was saying to Omar earlier ... it really does feel like a home away from home.
"Also, I find it quite spectacular really with regards to accommodation, support and respite services...they're actually being offered here in a unique way that's quite different to the way that support and respite services have been offered in the past."
She said she had talked to families and understood that kids who came to the centre had the opportunity to engage with and take responsibility for the plants and farm animals. They were valuable members of a community and had a role as well as a place to belong.