Building Family Leadership – Culture and Process – a Provider’s View

Ms Prue Gorman1

1Community Living Project, Christies Beach, Australia

In the past, traditional models of ‘care’ often reflected an organisation’s needs rather than the individual’s needs. If service providers are to actively support people with intellectual disability, and their families, to develop their personal leadership skills and take on meaningful choice and control, providers must embed a service culture with underlying beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that support the effective sharing of power between participants, families and staff.

Through an Innovative Workforce Grant from the Dept. of Social Services, the CLP has refined a model of Self-directed Support that builds on workforce practices developed in CLP over 30 years. This includes but extends beyond the use of person-centred tools and practices, to a culture of partnering in ‘right relationship’ with people with disability and their families. Self-directed Support assists each person to identify what is important for them in their support, helping them to recruit workers aligned to their vision and to direct them in their day-to-day work. This is strengthened through the active support of family and friends in this process.

The work undertaken through the Grant provided the opportunity for the CLP to review and adapt its organisational structure and processes, taking the best of past practice and reshaping it to better fit in the NDIS environment. It provided an opportunity to explore ways to ensure sustainability of the model eg high intensity support from an Inclusion Coach at the start of new services, with decreasing direct contact with the person, family and workers as their self-directing capacity builds and develops.

Self-directed Support offers opportunities for people and families to build choice, control and flexibility with paid support. Family leadership fits well in the context of the NDIS as it:

  • Strengthens opportunities to create effective and sustainable support
  • Enables a focus on meaningful goals
  • Enables people with disability to have greater choice and control
  • Reflects the NDIS objectives of choice, autonomy and control


Prue Gorman is the Executive Officer of the Community Living Project, which focuses on family leadership and self-directed support. Prue previously worked in the Australian Government and community care across several non-profit agencies. Prue is a fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation and was a National Finalist in the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australian Leadership Awards.

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