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As Scope marks its 75th anniversary, we reflect on the stories that illustrate the profound impact the organisation has had on countless lives. We sat down with Marie Byrne to hear about her career with Scope so far. Marie currently works as a Therapy Team Leader and Physiotherapist in our Barwon Office.

When did you start working at Scope?

I first started back in 1989 as a Physiotherapist, at what was then the Spastic Society. After 18 months in the role, I moved interstate, then returned to Scope in 1997 after I’d had my second child. I had really enjoyed the work at Scope the first time, and I was able to balance work and family life because they offered flexible work conditions – perhaps ahead of their time.

What role did you do when you started working at Scope?

My first (and second jobs) were with at Shannon Park in Geelong. I started work in the school there initially, mainly with very young children, from toddlers up to the age of five. I then moved into the Early Intervention team when I returned in 1997. Most of the children we worked with had physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, which meant inclusion in the local schools was a challenge. Most children attended separate, “special” schools like Shannon Park back then.

What was different when you started work in disability?

The technology – or lack of it! We had one small office shared between six therapists… with one computer and one email address. Everything we did had to be written by hand – reports, client notes, letters… everything. There was no option to snap a photo on your phone and upload it. It was all manual.

What are some of the changes you've seen during your career in the disability sector?

I’ve seen lots of changes in funding models over the years. When I started out there was “block funding” – where the government gave a set amount of funding for each service provider. We had limited funding for assistive technology, so I spent a lot of my time seeking funding for the equipment our clients needed.

Another thing that’s changed is the way we work with families. I think we work more collaboratively now. Every family is different, but they know our clients best and we’re able to work with them to support the client as an individual.

The introduction of telehealth and video consults has also been a welcome change, particularly for clients who live in remote areas or are unable to travel. That’s been wonderful.

What's one memory or story you can share about a time working at Scope?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ve really enjoyed prescribing mobility equipment for our clients. I remember years ago we did a trial for a powered wheelchair for a three-year-old boy, and he just took off in it! He had this look of joy on his face, he was having so much fun spinning around the room. He went on to go to school and became quite independent, so that memory really stands out for me.

What do you see changing in the future, either at Scope or in the disability sector?

The introduction of the NDIS has been a huge change, but we have a lot further to go. People with disability need to be able to access the funding when they need it.

I’d like to see Scope, and the sector as a whole, build the allied health workforce. I’d like to see Scope become an employer of choice.

What do you love about working at Scope?

I have loved working here over the years, seeing the same people and the same families. I’ve worked with some of our clients for many years, some of the children from my early days here are now attending our Social Connections – so I’ve loved seeing them again as adults and making that connection.

I also love that Scope has always been a flexible, family-friendly employer. I’ve been able to balance work and family, but at the same time been given new challenges. It’s been fantastic.

Which Scope value resonates with you most and why?

Excelling together. I love that our team strives towards best practice in everything we do. We’re committed to further learning and development, but also to supporting each other to learn and grow and give the best support we can to our clients.

If you had any advice for new support workers/people joining the disability sector for work, what would it be?

It’s a great sector to work in. Try to be open to learning, to trying new things. And to remember that the people we support know best. Listen to them and learn from them.

75 years from now, what do you hope life for people with a disability will look like?

I hope people with disability will have the same opportunities as others. I hope they can get the supports they need without having to wait long periods of time.

Scope 75 years

Now and then - Stephanie Schumacher

As we celebrate Scope’s 75 years of supporting people with disability, we put a spotlight on the people who make us who we are today. Each of our histories provide a strong foundation for our future as we support clients to belong and thrive. We sat down with Senior Manager - Northeast, Stephanie Schumacher to learn about her journey.

Stephanie Schumacher earlier in her career with Scope

Scope 75 years

I’m going to be Scope’s next CEO… 

While it might seem far-fetched at first glance, the progress Scope is making in ensuring people with disability have a seat at the table means that it won’t be long before those with lived experience become our executive leaders.

Zane mckenzie

Scope 75 years

From kinder to retirement: Peter’s journey

As Scope marks its 75th anniversary, we are highlighting the many people who have helped make Scope the organisation it is today. We met with long time Scope client Peter Abbey to understand his journey with Scope.

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