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Vincent Smith, Michael Suter, Guiseppe Pancho and Ben Raymond have just moved into their new digs at House 4, Balyana.

The four men previously shared another house at the facility, however under the previous disability funding model they felt like they didn’t have enough money for living expenses.

“There was no room at the house and we couldn’t plan things like meals or cleaning. We’d end up ordering take-away and just doing our own thing,” Guiseppe said.

However, when the NDIS was introduced, Balyana was approved to become a SIL provider (Supported Independent Living) and that meant all residents were now eligible to receive significantly more funding.

Residential Services Manager, Sheryl Kightley said it was a game-changer.

“The men now access a suite of services so we decided to upgrade a home for them with new flooring, furniture, appliances, a beautiful kitchen and robes built by the team at Bedford,” she said.

The make-over has clearly received the thumbs up from all four housemates.

“The transition has been really good and everyone here is a lot calmer these days and getting along with each other,” Vincent said.

“This house is brilliant, and my partner likes it too. There’s less clutter than before and we’ve got Wi-Fi now so that helps us save money on mobile phone bills,” Ben Raymond added.

The increased funds also paved the way for increased staff ratios and even external consultants. As a result, the men now have access to a nutritionist to help them cook and plan healthy meal options.

“We work it out as a team. One might cut the onions, the other might set the table or clean up and I might cook,” Guiseppe said.

“And now that I can finally save some money, I want to take some holidays this year and visit my relatives in the Phlippines for the first time.”

While the men occasionally have their disagreements, they said they always work things out and usually end up having a laugh.

It doesn’t matter what colour skin you are, doesn’t matter what culture you come from we can always find a way to get along.

— Michael Suter