STEPS expand Pathways College with six figure Federal grant
More young people living with disability on the Sunshine Coast to get ‘the skills they need to thrive’ as STEPS expand Pathways College with six figure Federal grant
Many more young adults with a disability on the Sunshine Coast will be given a unique opportunity to learn the skills and confidence they need to live independently following a Federal grant of $190,000 to locally based STEPS Group Australia. The grant, announced today by Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace, will pay for the construction of new residential units at the STEPS Pathways College in Caloundra and ensure the college is sustainable into the future.
Mr Wallace said “Over the past two years I have seen what a life-changing difference the STEPS Pathways College can make for young people in our community. I am delighted to be able to support that work and ensure that many more Sunshine Coast residents living with disability, and their families, will be able to benefit from STEPS’s innovative approach.”
The grant, under the Coalition Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, will pay for the construction of an additional pair of two-bedroom units and a recreation room at the College’s Murphy House.
Mr Wallace said “The pilot project that STEPS have been running since 2017 has demonstrated how eager young people living with disability in our community are to be part of this program. However, with just enough space for 10 residential students, the pilot has also shown that the program would not be sustainable. This grant will allow four more students, from throughout Australia, to reside at Murphy House for each course and will ensure the College continues to be viable in the years to come.”
STEPS Pathways College, open since May 2017, offers an intensive training course designed to provide young adults living with disability with the opportunity to further develop the skills needed to experience a life of independence. In addition to developing important social skills, students learn how to maintain a tenancy, access health and local services, effectively bank and budget, utilise technology and stay healthy and well.
STEPS Group Managing Director Carmel Crouch said this is a significant boost for young people with a disability seeking to learn the skills to live the life they choose.
“To be able to live and learn within a boarding college that’s safe and in a controlled environment that’s as close to living independently through daily real-life experience is a rare opportunity,” she said.
“We welcome young people of varying needs and abilities from across the country to come and live and learn with others in our College, making life long friendships while they learn a range of skills to shape their own future – this funding boost will make a huge difference, enabling more young adults to join us and their families to share in this extraordinary experience,” Ms Crouch said.
Pathways students reside in pairs in self-contained units specially designed to reflect an independent living environment. There are presently 5 such double units in Murphy House, where each student has the privacy of their own bedroom, bathroom & patio.
Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sunshine Coast assisted STEPS in its BBRF grant application by providing it with a Letter of Support and access to RDA’s new grants support resources.
RDA Sunshine Coast CEO Paul Fisher said the not-for-profit organisation was thrilled to see STEPS Group Australia and STEPS Charity secure the Federal Government funding.
“We love seeing vital community organisations like STEPS Group Australia and STEPS Charity receive invaluable funding to allow them to continue to make a difference by providing opportunity. This Murphy House extension will be of great service to even more disabled young adults, allowing them to reach their full potential.” he said.
The Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to ensuring Australia’s regions remain strong, resilient and prosperous in the long term. The Government is investing $641 million over five years from 2017–18 to 2021–22 in the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).
The current Round Three, from which the grant for STEPS was drawn, received 915 applications. 330 new infrastructure projects and community initiatives were funded as part of a $204.3 million investment in this round.
Mr Wallace said “The Building Better Regions fund was highly competitive and I’m grateful to the Federal Government for recognising the value of the STEPS Pathway College to our community. This fund is a great vehicle by which I and the Coalition Government can help to make the Sunshine Coast the place to be for education, employment and retirement and I’m excited to see the positive difference this grant will make for local residents.”
Details of funding rounds and programme guidelines for the BBRF are available at www.business.gov.au/bbrf.