Imagine a future where people with a disability experience limitless social and economic inclusion, and then building on that vision. That’s the ultimate dream of Australian not-for-profit organisation Fighting Chance.
With the motto A Limitless Future for Disability, Fighting Chance builds social business to create a truly inclusive economy, where people with disability have unbridled access to opportunity, dignity and prosperity.
Non-profit organisation Fighting Chance exists to build social enterprises that move the dial for people with disability.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider works with people with disability to identify the barriers they face in their everyday lives and then design, build and empower sustainable social businesses to bridge these gaps.
They ask ‘“What if” – to imagine and build a future quite different to the present, where people with disability experience limitless social and economic inclusion.
Categories of support that Fighting Chance can assist with through the NDIS include:
Fighting Chance has an amazing back story and a history built on lived experience, passion and relentless motivation to empower change in the disability sector.
Co-founders Jordan and Laura O’Reilly also founded Hireup.
When the siblings founded a disability support startup Fighting Chance with their mother Sue Corrigan in 2011, they had no idea it would one day transform services for thousands of Australians.
Laura and Jordan have a close bond, thanks to their childhood shared with brother Shane, who lived with a disability.
Their brother was among the 34,000 Australians living with cerebral palsy. Those, like Shane with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, also have both arms and legs affected.
The O’Reillys struggled to find good support, which left Jordan and Laura wanting to do more for Shane - and 4.5 million others people living with a disability.
Growing up, they also confronted many of the challenges families face when it comes to booking disability support – and vowed to do something about it.
So they then started Hireup in 2015 with the online disability service platform now supporting 10,000 families, helping to connect participants and support workers who share common interests.
Their father, David O’Reilly - a former political journalist and relentless carer of all his children - died in 2006 and Jordan, aged only 19, realised he had to step up to be Shane’s primary carer, so he embarked on an occupational therapy course.
By 2008, Shane was desperate to finish school, but David’s widow, Sue, was appalled at how poorly served the disability sector was in Australia, compared with the opportunities in the UK where the family had spent a large proportion of Shane’s life.
She wrote publicly about a radical insurance scheme for people with disabilities, coinciding with a rising tide of lobbyists demanding the government implement a system that would eventually become the NDIS, putting funding choices into the hands of those with disabilities.
Then, in 2011, Corrigan, and her remaining children, launched a not-for-profit in memory of her late husband, called Fighting Chance.
Around three years later, the newly-minted NDIS started its first trial site, in Tasmania, rolling out to the rest of the nation in 2016.
Fighting Chance raises money to fund therapy and equipment for people with a disability.
“The disability system in Australia was still so bad and there were desperate people everywhere without funding for even the basics,” Sue said.
“So I was just raising money and handing it out to anyone I came across.”
Shane died in 2011, when he was 21. Although he desperately tried to find work after finishing school, the employment situation for people with disabilities in Australia at that time was almost non-existent.
Hireup and Fighting Chance co-founder and CEO Laura recently told the Australian Disability Service Conference in Sydney that despite working for more than a decade in a sector where she sees huge opportunity for innovation, for service improvement and reform across the board, the sector has generally struggled to seize the opportunity of the moment and rethink traditional service models which so many people with disability reply on.
“Under the Fighting Chance umbrella we have built three social enterprises - Avenue, Jigsaw and Base - which are working to transform the day program, transition to employment and Supported Indepent Living spaces respectively,” she told conference delegates."
“From the most humble beginnings in our mum’s garage, today FIghting Chance has grown to be supporting over 1000 people with disability, across 14 sites in four states. We strive to align what we say, and what we do."
“And of course Hireup, an online platform we founded in 2015, which exists to put people with disability at the centre of decision making about their support workers."
“Hireup harnesses technology to enable our clients to find, choose and manage their own support workers, without having to negotiate the rosters or middle-man role of the agency."
“Hireup today has over 150,000 registered users right across Australia and has facilitated more than 72,000 support connections, provided more than 9.3 million hours of 1:1 support, and has saved Hireup clients over $87 million in their NDIS funding, funds they can redirect to more and better supports.”
Last year, Laura was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for outstanding service to the disability sector.
Watch this video to find out more about Fighting Chance and keep up-to-date with them on Instagram and Facebook.
Find out more about Fighting Chance at https://fightingchance.org.au/