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    Our housing is available to people with disability only

    Interview with Dr Melinda Smith OAM

    Dr Melinda Smith OAM: I am looking forward to feeling safe in my environment with better supports in place.

    I am Dr. Melinda Smith. I come from a background of mentoring and consultancy in the disability and education sectors and I live with Cerebral Palsy. Since 2008 I have worked to promote the health and wellbeing outcomes of dance and movement for people who have disabilities. Currently I am collaborating with the Women’s Circus working as a Board Director and a member of the Inclusive Ensemble, as well as working with Deakin and Melbourne Universities. I am also a passionate artist and I currently have a residency at VCA to further my research work into the intersection of music making, dance and technology.

    What drew you to a Guardian Living Australia property?

    I actually knew a bit about Guardian Living Australia from one of my Support Workers, who also supports someone living in a GLA property.  When my Support Coordinator emailed me about a property that had come up in Cheltenham, I was happy to see that it was managed by GLA. I was warmed by the communication directly and I was able to ask more questions about the property before doing a viewing.

    Where are you living now?

    I live in a Public Housing unit. I have found it was really lacking in the safety and support elements. It was my only option thirty years ago and I have had some great times but moving forward I am excited to see that there are many more options for people with a disability.

    What are your thoughts on the technology our properties offer?

    I’m excited to see what technology I will have access to at my apartment. I am a tech- savvy person, so naturally I will take on board whatever I need to learn.

    What nearby amenities are you excited about?

    The flat area, which will give me so much more freedom of mobility. Currently I live at the top of a large hill, in a hilly area. I am looking forward to being closer to the Bayside since I have always been a mountain girl. I am looking forward to feeling safe in my environment with better supports in place. Hopefully I will find some good coffee in the area and start to connect with the community.

    Can you tell me about your journey to get the correct eligibility?

    It is HUGE and overwhelming. I have been through a process which has lasted about a year and a half now. I really didn’t expect it to take so long. At the same time, the outside support to make it happen has been incredible to try to break through the system.

    What would you say to someone wanting to move into an SDA property?

    Be prepared for a long, hideous journey. But always move forward and believe in a positive outcome. When the system gets too complex, remember that this is a good time to activate your support network.