Jono is discovering both his independence and the power of technology at Mission Australia Housing’s Lardner Road facility in Victoria.

Mission Australia Housing has partnered with Monash University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, the Summer Foundation and disability service provider Yooralla to create a tech-savvy unit block that can be controlled using a smartphone.

The plans for the innovative project were developed in 2015 with an aim to reduce the number of young adults with a disability living in aged care nursing homes.

The new accommodation at Frankston in Victoria has six purpose-built units that have been designed specifically to allow ease of mobility and encourage independence and security.

While Mission Australia Housing built the property and manages tenancies, Monash University provides occupational therapy clinical placements, physiotherapy and nursing. This allows residents to access additional skilled supports for rehabilitation programs, community activities, and skills development.

Jono is a current resident of Lardner Road and this is his story:

I am a 26-year-old man with cerebral palsy. I am wheelchair-bound and I rely on a tablet with a specialised trackball mouse and keyboard shortcuts to access a computer for all expressive communication.

My type of cerebral palsy is Spastic Quadriplegia. This means that the movements of all parts of my body are reduced due to muscle spasticity which causes increased stiffness, making it difficult for me to move my limbs and speak.

Even though I've had my challenges, I live a full life. I have won an International Poker Tournament, travelled and been on a cruise. I have been working for almost two years at Marillac Employment Services and I recently moved out of home and into my own unit for the very first time.

I love my parents and dearly value the support they give me, but moving out of home has been the best decision I've ever made. The move has given me more independence, and has helped me to become a better man.

Last year, my dreams came true when l was approved for a unit at Lardner Road in Frankston. After four months of waiting, I finally moved in. The main delay was installing the hoist, which is like a walking sling. Having the walking sling means I can walk around by myself at home. I also bought a bed which I operate using my Samsung tablet.

My house is amazing. I can live independently and use all it has to offer. Using an app, I can open and close doors. I can control heating, access emergency buttons, operate the blinds and even speak to staff in the office through speakers.

I send a text to staff when I require assistance and they are available 24/7. Monash students also work with me to assist with my further independence. My social life is amazing! I can invite over who I want, when I want, without bothering others.

In 2014, I decided I wanted to get a job so I started going to an employment service. I am now the Assistant Administrator at Marillac Employment Services. I am enjoying the work and it has given more meaning to my life.

I also started a motivational speaking business. As part of this new career direction, I saw the opportunities offered by digital media, and the need to build on my digital skills. I have set up my own website and I made a video with the Summer Foundation about technology I use.

To top off a great year, I was awarded the Learner Award at the 2016 National Year of Digital Inclusion Awards. This award recognises digital learners who have taken significant steps to improve their skills and online confidence.

In the last couple of years I can’t believe how everything has fallen into place perfectly. Sometimes I cry to myself in happiness of what my life is today. I am living the life that I want to live.

Jono is one of six residents living in the Lardner Road housing, which is being evaluated by Monash University for its effectiveness in transitioning young people with disability from aged care back to community living.

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