Illawarra Family Care for Disabled Persons Inc, now Interchange Illawarra Inc, was established in 1981 with the express purpose of providing temporary care, or respite care for adolescents and young adults with a disability.
The Department forYouth and Family Services approved initial funding enabling the establishment of an office (on the premises of Illawarra Handicapped Persons Trust– now The Disability Trust). The first placement occurred in October 1982.
In its first 15 months of operation, the organisation provided 16 consumers with 4,760 hours of care utilising the services of nine family carers, or ‘substitute parents’ as they were then known. From there growth and expansion of services has been continuous, often resulting in a waiting list when demand for respite support exceeds supply. In 2005-2006, its 25th year of operation, Interchange provided a total number of support hours close to 230,000 with 422 consumers receiving support from over 253 volunteer/support workers. The expansion of service has, of course demanded an increase in staff from one part-time co-ordinator in 1982 to three full-time and three part-time staff in 2006.
In the initial years Illawarra Family Care for Disabled Persons included the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee districts. The organisation became a member ofInterchange NSW in 1990 and changed its name to Interchange Illawarra Inc. in 1992. During 1993, both Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee incorporated and became separate entities.
Funding comes from both Commonwealth and State governments and over the years has enabled us not only to provide invaluable services but to purchase a bus and two houses. One of these houses is used as our office and administration centre with a peer support recreation area at the back. The other, right next door, is a respite house used for overnight stays by our consumers, their families carers and other agencies in the region.