At Distinctive Options, we are committed to supporting service users to exercise a full range of decision making and independent living options. We offer group and individual support with a friendly and user-centered approach. Family members are encouraged to work alongside our professional staff to be part of the support network via regular communication and feedback.
Our mission at Distinctive Options is to provide real life choices for people with disabilities, their families and supporters.
Respecting diversity, knowledge and well-being
Trust and empower people to succeed.
At all times be open, honest and act with integrity.
Recognise and celebrate successes and innovation.
Constructively challenge ideas and express opinions.
Ensuring service user human rights are understood and respected
Freedom of choice, thought and expression are encouraged and actively supported.
Ensure equality of opportunity and participation for all service user is promoted.
Every individual is treated with respect.
Achieving more by working together
Identifying and developing partnerships to achieve best practice outcomes.
Commitment to sharing knowledge and resources.
Working with stakeholders to define direction.
Lead and influence by positive example.
Being the best we can be
Learn from experience by review to improve what we do.
Challenge boundaries to achieve quality outcomes for service users.
Be accountable and responsible for our decisions and actions.
Think, live promote and practice excellence in everything we do.
We pride ourselves on communicating and working with your preferred support networks. We continually liaise with families, guardians, group home staff and advocates to create a personalised community to support program participants. We also offer assistance to significant others and carers, and can provide resources for further support where necessary.
When Stephanie left school after spending her whole school life in the safe environment of the Sunbury Special School, I was apprehensive of what Stephanie would do, or even be able to do, once she graduated from school. I enrolled her at DO full time and hoped that she would settle in, continue to develop and make new friends, and rekindle old friendships with friends that had finished school the year before.
Not only did Stephanie settled in quickly, she grew in confidence and developed skills that have given her freedom to become more and more independent with the ability to access various services in the community. DO has worked with Stephanie to ensure she has a productive and social life style and have given her opportunities to represent DO at VALID meetings and actively participate in the yearly Having A Say Conferences at Geelong. Stephanie has mastered using public transport which has allowed her more independence, ie travelling to football matches at the MCG and Etihad Stadium, going to Watergardens with friends for dinner and a movie and even going to North Coburg to have lunch with her Grandparents. Things that I was unsure would be possible for Stephanie when she first left the safe secure school environment.
When I met Distinctive Options C.E.O. Murray Dawson-Smith last year, and he discussed the plans for changes to D.O.’s operating hours and plans to develop new respite options, I was so excited.
That meant there could be a chance that my husband & I could now take a holiday or short break together with minimal disruption to our daughter’s routine. This could mean that she could continue to attend D.O. Monday-Friday, stay at home, stay in her familiar surroundings, and not have to stay a week at a relatives’ home or at a “Respite House” just so that my husband & I could have a break without our adult children!!
So within a few months, we had our holiday planned. And discussions with D.O. regarding the respite care we would require for our daughter begun. It was relatively simple in our case. As our daughter is quite self-sufficient in most things, she only needed support in the mornings preparing for the day – making sure she was out of bed on time & beginning the morning routine: showering, dressing, breakfast, medication, preparing her lunch and snack for the day and out of the house on time to be at D.O. by 9am.
Jane visited our home for the “safety check” & to take notes for the Carer’s instructions a few days before the respite care was to begin. It was all very simple for us. And we holidayed without worry, knowing that our daughter was continuing her normal daily routine and we phoned her daily to check how she was coping in the afternoons/evenings. She loved the independence this gave her. After our holiday and feeling rested and fantastic, a quick chat with the Carer reassured me that our daughter coped wonderfully, and in fact, behaved just the same for the Carer as she does for me!!
Over the past 5 years Simon has adjusted well to living without his parents and becoming a member of a shared house. He continues to attend DO daily and talks regularly to his family about what he is doing and who he sees each day and who he likes best this week.
It is a great source of happiness for me, Simon’s sister, and the rest of his family, to see him happy and confident and secure in his daily life.We feel very fortunate that Simon has caring, supportive and familiar people in his life, who watch out for him and most importantly bring him enormous joy and happiness.
Hannah has been a valued member of the Distinctive Options team since 2011. Her qualifications include Education Support (Cert III), Disability (Cert IV) and Auslan (Cert II). She has previous experience in working both as a nanny and photographer.
Tracey has a background in aged care and disability. Tracey has been training in Occupational Health and Safety. Tracey’s passions are family, crochet, candle making and shopping.
Elena has a background in fitness, aged care, running a small business and disability. Elena passions are Crossfit, healthy living and shopping.
Sharon has been in the disability sector for 35 years and in many different roles.
Sharon’s passions are Collingwood football team, fine dining, traveling and a love of animals.
Bachelor of Psychological Science, Masters of Child and Adolescent Welfare. I am currently studying Speech Pathology part time.
Special interests: Spending time with family and friends, animals and baking.
Jane has a background in business administration. She has been with Distinctive Options for over a decade.
Jane enjoys watching the Geelong football club, dining out with friends and travelling.
Sarah has a passion for networking people in to community.
Special interests are Essendon football club, health and fitness.
Cathy is the Coordinator of Extended Hours.
She is organising extra services for people who would like to attend D.O. outside of our traditional opening hours.
Her background is in art, small business and disability support.
I have been at Distinctive Options for nearly 4 years and I have been the Communication Coordinator since 2015. At Distinctive Options we believe that communication is the key in creating greater capacity for understanding, self-advocacy, choice and true social participation and inclusion.
I support individuals by creating specialised communication aids that support their communication choices and community participation.
Catherine coordinates the Community Connections program in Bendigo.
Catherine also oversees the production and screening of participant made films, from Speak Up – which has been highly commended by the Disability Service Commissioner – to creative short films for festivals including The Twilight Film Festival and The Other Film Festival.
The Community Connections Program aims to deliver supports in small group settings in localities across the region. The program focuses on connecting participants to the community via their special interests and abilities. This model allows for truly individualized and self-directed small group supports.
I ensure local coordinators of our Community Connections’ services are highly skilled, act with integrity, empower and increase the independence of participants and deliver supports which meet the needs of service users and their families.
Murray has many years experience in leading organizations in disability, community and health sectors. He is an avid football fan who supports the bulldogs, and enjoys spending his time with his family, sailing and at the beach.
Richard (Rick) has a extensive background in education, business and community services. In his spare time he enjoys singing and wood-craft, and has a special interest in politics and social justice.
Carolyn has 30 years in the experience in the disability sector in both residential and day services, and has been a part of the Distinctive Options team since 2013. She loves travel and eating out with family and friends.
Tony has served on the Board since June 2012 after retiring from full-time work in Supply Chain Management positions with several large manufacturing organisations. He is also a volunteer with the Small Business Mentoring Service.
Terry Rodrigues has Advanced Certificate in Business and was formerly employed in the Public Service. As a first generation migrant, Terry strives to make a positive contribution to the society that has so warmly welcomed him.
Darren specialises the fields of accounting and law, and is a chair on the finance and risk committee. He is also a black-belt karate instructor with over 30 years experience, and volunteers for the Sunbury State Emergency Service.
Anthony Aboud joined the board of directors in 2013 and currently serves in an executive role within the Banking industry. Anthony has an extensive range of experience in management, sales, customer service, project management, strategy and planning. Anthony has lived in Sunbury for 9 years.
Avril Winduss has been on the Board of Distinctive Options Since 2009 and is currently on the Finance sub committee. Avril has a background working in Education in both Secondary and Specialist School settings. Recently Avril completed the “Leadership Victorian Program Board Orientation” Her interests include promoting well being of People with a Disability.
Ryan D’Lima joined the board of directors in 2009 and is a member of the Governance committee. Ryan has served at Executive levels in the private and public sector and has extensive experience in management, compliance, governance, risk mitigation, strategy and assurance,including stakeholder management with government and industry.