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Louise Robbins didn’t want her daughter Eliza to have a life governed by her disability, it was important for Eliza to get the necessary support that she would need while simultaneously getting some independence as a young woman and have experiences that were not defined by her diagnosis. She has developed a comprehensive NDIS plan for her daughter, and over the last five years Louise has created an amazing team of support workers with an allied health background.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Eliza Robbins and her support team took a break at the family holiday beach house, and that’s where they have been ever since. Surprisingly, the whole experience is giving Eliza access to the life that her parents had desperately wanted for her.

Eliza’s mum Louise has a strong appreciation of how overwhelming the NDIS can be, particularly for parents who feel like they have gone from having no choice, to having large sums of funding that needed to be used in such a tight timeframe.

“The NDIS let us down by giving us this choice and control – but not actually showing how to take that control,” Louise explains that you need to create an outline of what specific activities and services the funds will go towards to demonstrate why you need the funding you deserve.

Louise says that underlying all of this, parents need to think about what their child would be doing at their age (regardless of their disability) and try and let them live their best life – and not what you think their best life should be.

When Eliza turned eighteen, Louise had an innate certainty that she wanted her daughter to have the same opportunities that her two older sons had experienced as they entered adulthood.

There were staples of the everyday life that Louise feared Eliza wouldn’t be able to access unless the right supports were in place. “I went about trying to connect her to activities that any 18-year-old would usually have,” she explains.

“I started looking at the post-school options, and they were horrific. I just don’t like day centres – we went and had a look at them all, and it just wasn’t what I wanted for my daughter.”

Louise connected with La Trobe University, enrolling Eliza in their Lifeskills Program, an educational incentive that aims to give people with disabilities access to educational courses.

The next priority was to ensure that Eliza had a job – a place of employment that would not only provide some financial freedom but give her a sense of purpose that is so grossly underappreciated by the wider community.

Louise was first drawn to CPSN as giving her family the option to help Eliza choose her support workers, and Louise has taken a strategic approach to get the most out of this service. She decided to recruit support workers who had skillsets overlapping with her daughter’s daily needs on a deep and holistic level.

Using Eliza’s older brothers as a resource, Louise connected with young university students who were studying allied health. “Young people are such a good resource and we don’t put enough faith in them. If you give them a bit of responsibility, their initiative is amazing,” Louise explains.

Eliza has a total of five support workers, and Louise makes a point of taking a step back and allowing Eliza and her support base to schedule each day, “I love that she is getting more choice and control, and her mum’s not doing it for her,” she adds.

The five students working and living alongside Eliza include an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a psychologist, a social worker and a lawyer. This approach creates a positive flow-on effect, not just for Eliza but for the women who have become integral to her life.

Every week the support workers will meet with Eliza’s specialists and discuss recommendations and ongoing treatments, “The girls are empowered to incorporate those ongoing treatments beyond a thirty-minute session.”

“They’ve learnt how to communicate with specialists in their industries, so it’s helping them in their career paths as well as helping Eliza,” Louise adds.

Louise fundamentally believes that taking a step back and enabling her daughter to have personal space has given her a better life. “Parents sometime presume that because their child has a disability, they should be grateful for every little bit that they get – but it shouldn’t be like that.”

CPSN Innovative choice

Partner with the cerebral palsy specialists and choose your own support workers.

CPSN’s Innovative Choices program allows you to choose your own support worker while we help you manage their employment.

For more information, call 1300 277 600 and speak with our friendly team.

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