Community Participation Program

The Community Participation program at Waitara Family Centre, run by Centacare, provides opportunities for people with a disability to participate in their community.

Summary of Learnings

The Community Participation program is funded by the Department of Family & Community Services, Ageing, Disability & Home Care to provide opportunities for people with a disability to participate in their community.

The programs are run by non-government organisations. Centacare has been providing this program for about eight years. The coordinator Karley has been working with this program for the last five years.

The clients in the Community Participation Program are in two main groups, “high functioning group” is for clients who are not able to enter paid employment but may, through learning lifestyle skills, be able to do certain volunteer work. The second group, “high physical” is for clients who wish to widen their experiences, gain social skills and be involved in a community.

The programs can involve a wide variety of activities including cooking, gardening, creating and organising a social, visiting in the community or day trips eg. to the supermarket for the cooking ingredients.

There is a strong emphasis that the program is steered by the clients making it “person centred”. This is very important from both Centacare’s point of view that the “people are the program” that is what we do is especially tailored to the needs and wants of the participants.

Building a person centred program has also included inviting clients to provide input on design and décor selections for the renovation of the centre’s kitchen facilities.

The Community Participation Program at Waitara has 23 clients with moderate to high support needs. The ages of those participating ranges from 18 - 25 years old.

Each person has been assessed by the NSW Disability department, i.e. therapists, doctors, special need educators and agency staff.

The staff for this program consists of the coordinator, 5 full time, 4 – 6 casual staff and a registered nurse. Staff work closely with the government representatives and parents/carers, to regularly assess each client and the individual outcomes that they are achieving.

Students from the local schools are also involved in the program. One of the major challenges for people with a disability is the way that they are perceived by the wider community.

It is hoped through the involvement of school students in the program they may come to see people with a disability in a new light, and this may help to shape the way that they see and interact with people with a disability who they may come in contact with.

Centacare provides the facilities for the program which includes: - a kitchen, garden, social rooms, and transport for outings that form part of the program.

To successfully conduct a program such as this requires constant communication between the government department, Centacare, the parents/carers, therapists and doctors.

Working with the program involves both helping those who attend the program to participate in a variety of activities that engage them in the community and also requires working closely with parents who are often struggling to deal with the demands of caring for and supporting an adult with a disability.

Centacare staff endeavour to offer support to both participants and their carers in an environment of affirmation, care and inclusiveness.

Summary of Learnings

  • The program is person centred
  • Clients were involved in making choices about the design and décor of the kitchen at the centre



  • Students from the local school are involved in the program. This is one way to break down misconceptions that people in the community may have about people with a disability
  • Centacare staff endeavour to offer support to both clients and their carers in an environment of affirmation, care and inclusiveness.

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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