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Tanya talks the talk and walks the walk

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Now the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is rolling out in full across the country, NSW Disability Sector Worker, Tanya Darwin saw an opportunity in this rapidly expanding market, so she opened her own business, Ethical Coordination of Supports (ECOS).

Taking a leap of faith, the former NSW St Vincent De Paul NDIS Local Area Coordinator felt she could better assist NDIS participants, who had Coordination of Supports funding, to make the most of their plan, offering them a more personalised boutique-style service.

"I've worked in the disability sector long enough to know what works well and what doesn't," she said. "That's why I decided to become a Coordinator of Supports. It's where my expertise lies, and so far it's been a perfect fit."

As an NDIS registered provider, Tanya helps Coordination of Support funded NDIS participants and/or their nominees to understand how their NDIS plan works.

"We sit down together and I explain how their funding and budgets work. I also teach them how to use the NDIS online myPlace portal and how to navigate the NDIS marketplace to find suitable providers to help them achieve their goals," she said.

"If they are experiencing any service delivery issues, I help to address them, along with any social or economic barriers they may face around participating in the community."

Tanya said Coordination of Supports is a time-bound capacity building support the NDIS may include in a high needs participant's plan.

"It allows them to engage a Support Coordinator, like me, to support them, and work with them until they feel confident enough to manage their plan independently," she said.

"For example, in a participant's initial plan, they might get allocated 100 Coordination of Support hours. Then in their next plan, the funding reduces because they don't need as much help from me. I've shown them how to do it and they feel more confident in managing it. Then in each subsequent plan, the funding reduces until the participant and/or their nominee can manage the plan confidently on their own.

"It's a bit of a Support Coordinator's rule of thumb, if you do your job well, you do yourself out of a job," Tanya said with a laugh.

While not everyone gets Coordination of Support funding in their plan, Tanya suggests if you feel overwhelmed and you feel your needs are high, there's no harm in asking about whether or not it could be included in your plan.

As for starting up her own business in this unchartered disability sector environment, this NSW trailblazer said, "A lot of people tell you it's hard, overwhelming and daunting, dealing with the NDIS but it's not. It's just time consuming so give yourself a decent timeframe to get yourself started.

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