Investment and innovation in the disability sector
David Clarke, 2007 John Monash Scholar, with InLife client Cameron and team members
Conversations around disability are gaining momentum and all for significant reasons, and one of those reasons is InLife, a passionate not-for-profit organisation determined to break down everyday barriers and positively transform the experience of disability support. David Clarke, 2007 John Monash Scholar is CEO of InLife, founding the organisation back in 2015.
Earlier this week, a celebration of Team InLife was held at the MCG – one of the most accessible venues historically in Melbourne – to pay tribute to the contribution of the InLife community. To celebrate this special event, we spoke with David to learn more about the history and purpose behind InLife.
InLife began back in 2015. What motivated you to kickstart a not-for-profit organisation supporting people with disability to live fulfilling lives?
I have always been passionate about social inclusion and economic development, e.g. prior to my Monash studies I was working with indigenous communities in Cape York, Far North Queensland. When the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was announced, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to contribute to improving the lives of people with disability. The NDIS is all about giving people choice and control over their services and creating a proper marketplace to stimulate innovation and improvement in the sector. I started InLife to deliver on that promise, and I made it not-for-profit to ensure our #1 focus is quality service.
The community event this week saw a range of community members and supporters of the organisation. What were the key elements of the celebration?
Well firstly we've launched a new brand and website, so we're celebrating that! We wanted to better communicate how we're different from other providers, with a real focus on teams. Our model is to provide a dedicated team of support workers for each of our clients that is tailored to their individual needs. The new website tells that story much better and gives lots of information about how we provide a really great service. And how we make InLife a great place to work for our team!
We're also launching an exciting technology innovation, to improve how our client teams work together. We call it our client teamspace - each client gets their own space for teams to collaborate and communicate with each other online, and a place to store training materials to help the team understand how best to support them. It's built on Facebook Workplace, so it's familiar to most people, easy to use and optimised for mobile, which suits our team's needs. We think it's a pretty great innovation for our sector.
Ten years before InLife launched, you were a 2007 John Monash Scholar and completed a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. You have also been a board member of the John Monash Foundation and have remained a supporter ever since. What have you learned from your experience as a scholar and involvement with the Foundation that you have used to support your work at InLife?
One thing I've learned from those experiences is the amazing diversity of life and human experience, and how there are so many different ways that people can and do contribute to make Australia and the world a better place. I've been constantly exposed to the passion for change and achievements of people from all walks of life - the new crop of scholars each year is always a highlight! Through this, I am constantly inspired to continue my journey and make my own contribution in my way
As of late, it has been a difficult time in our society with the global pandemic, multiple lockdowns, floods, the list goes on. What is some words wisdom you share with InLife staff and volunteers to encourage them to continue doing the best work they can to support those in need?
For us at InLife, a positive energy and outlook is essential. We're down to earth, like to share a laugh and also work hard to do the very best for our clients. Many of our clients face really challenging circumstances and, while our team can face difficulties and stresses at work, nothing beats a positive attitude and working together to help get through.
It is through these important and significant initiatives, we can be hopeful that Australia is on a progressive trajectory of improved inclusivity and equality. To learn more about InLife and David’s work, you can visit the InLife website here.