Innovative ways to support people with disability to gain independence.

On the Sunshine Coast the STEPS Group are finding new ways to create change and build independence through their extraordinary approach to their college.

Through the development of an intensive training course that helps students to build practical skills for life, STEPS Group Australia is finding creative solutions to help young people with a disability to gain independence.

For more than 30 years STEPS Group Australia has been providing opportunities for people with a disability. Working collaboratively with communities across the country, STEPS is a for-purpose organisation delivering services within the areas of employment, education and training, and social and community.

Determined to drive change in the disability sector, in 2017 STEPS Group Australia established an innovative program that creates a pathway to independence for young people with a disability.

STEPS Pathways College is an intensive learning program designed to prepare students for a life of independence, and offers a practical and empowering solution to the shortage of suitable living options.

With no option for government funding of the College, STEPS Group Australia instead found support from the community.

The construction of the college was enabled by community giving of $1.3 million of in goods and services, which has generated great community pride and ownership of the facility and program delivered.

Creating and maintaining the integrity of the program is key to delivering an alternative to what we experience today.           

STEPS has created a specialised curriculum and delivery that enhances students learning across a number of domains. Skills from cooking to budgeting, employment skills, maintaining a tenancy to accessing transport are taught in an integrated way that gives theory and real live practical experience to help them achieve their life goals and make informed choices in everyday life.

Located on the Sunshine Coast, the Pathways College can provide 10 students with accommodation on campus in modern, fully furnished apartments, with full care and supervision.

Managing Director of STEPS Group Australia, Carmel Crouch, was the driving force behind establishing this program so that boarding students have the opportunity to study in an immersive environment.

“Having our students live and learn on campus means that they are developing skills in the classroom for living independently in future, whilst actually experiencing that in our college apartments.”

Carmel said the college will shortly be introducing a day program for young people in the community.

“Expanding our course and offering this program to day students means we can reach even more young people with a disability, and support them on their journey towards independence.”

“We are dedicated to providing a flexible learning program that can be tailored to the individual needs of a student,” she said.

STEPS Pathways College boarding student Alana Pettigrew said by graduation she aims to have improved her money handling and budgeting skills.

Alana said after she graduates from STEPS Pathways College she plans on moving into an apartment with her college roommate.

“That’s if she would like to, I’d like to live with my roommate, Arianna – she’s fun and has a really good personality,” she said.

The STEPS Pathways College is taking enquiries now for 2018 enrolments and preparing to welcome more new students to its programs.