Sylvia Jeffreys writes exclusively for 9Honey

Yesterday morning on Today Show, Stevie Jacobs knocked on the door of a red brick house in Glenorchy, Tasmania.  He was there to deliver good news to a couple who desperately deserve a silver lining.

“How did you meet?” Stevie asked Trent and Amy.  It was a classic Australian take on love at first sight.

“I seen her across the servo and she fell head over heels for me,” Trent explained matter-of-factly.

So, they fell in love and the rest is history.  Well, not quite.

One year after they locked eyes over the bowser, Trent was involved in a motorcycle accident.  He was paralysed.  A steel fixer by trade, he could no longer walk, let alone work in a physically demanding job.  Amy also gave up her career to act as a full-time carer for the man she plans to marry.   Amy admitted this morning that some days it’s more than they can handle.  But they get on with it.  Because that’s what you do when you’re in love.  There is no other option.

While their story is truly special, many of our viewers would have related to much more than the familiar red brick setting of yesterday morning’s ‘Knock of Love’.  700,000 young Australians with high care needs are being cared for at home by loved ones, often receiving very limited support.  7000 Australians under the age of 65 are currently living in aged care facilities.  Anyone who has visited a relative in aged care would be well aware that this is no place for a young person with a lot of living left to do.  There is no dignity.  No independence.  Little reason to hope or dream.

This is where Youngcare comes in.  It is the Donald Bradman of non-profits; a relatively small organisation punching well above its weight in the disability support sector.  Youngcare’s mission is simple: To keep young Australians with high care needs out of aged care.  The landscape upon which they operate, however, is becoming more complex.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme has presented great opportunities to address the critical issue of funding for people with disabilities.  However, the NDIS, which has been plagued with problems and complaints, is now under review as question marks hover over how it will be funded in the long-term.  The big headache for them appears to be that they’ve grossly underestimated the number of Australians in need of support.

The original aim of the scheme was to reach 500,000 Australians by 2019.  As I mentioned earlier, 700,000 young Australians with high care needs are receiving limited support in the home.  Their families are crying out for funding.  They need high-low beds.  They need modified doors.  They need simple things that can make an enormous difference to every day tasks.   The need is great, and despite the obvious urgency, we are not likely to know the outcome of the NDIS review until September at the earliest.

But, just like Trent and Amy, Youngcare gets on with it.  Through their own fundraising and partnerships, Youngcare has built accommodation in Sinnamon Park and Wooloowin in Brisbane, as well as apartments at Coomera on the Gold Coast.  Building projects are also underway in the Brisbane suburb of Albany Creek, and at Auburn in Sydney.  Last year alone, YoungCare distributed more than $1.1 million in At Home Care Grants and Home Soon Grants; this is the equivalent of one person exiting or avoiding aged care every three days.

I’m sure you’re getting the picture.  Youngcare is a necessary organisation providing crucial support to disadvantaged Australians.  It is filling a gap created by inadequate government funding.  And it is well placed right now to advise and direct the National Disability Insurance Agency on how to effectively implement the desperately needed NDIS.

This morning, I announced that I’ve taken on an expanded role with Youngcare as their first National Ambassador.  This is something of a promotion for me after years of involvement in the organisation.  I couldn’t be prouder to work with this team and I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages I’ve received on social media today.  Parents, carers, nurses and social workers have reached out to express their support for Youngcare and admiration for their volunteers.

Youngcare has many fans, but I might just be their biggest.

Please visit the website for more information on how to support Youngcare or get involved.  700,000 Australian families are counting on it.

Sylvia Jeffreys is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company.

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