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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.

When did you start working at Scope? Was it called Scope then?

I started back in 1995, when we were called the Spastic Society.

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

I started out as a casual disability support worker at a house in Bundoora. I then went to permanent part-time at a newly built house in Coburg. Both houses are still there actually!

What was different when you started work at Scope?

When I first started everything was paper based. The first computers arrived at Scope just after I arrived, and there were no mobile phones.

When I became a coordinator, I had a pager for on-call shifts. It would go off and I’d have to find a landline to call back on. We used our home phone numbers back then too because that’s all we had.

There was also more physical work during that time. We carried out two-person lifts when we needed to. Thankfully hoists were introduced not long after that.

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

I think our name change from the Spastic Society to Scope was significant. The language we were using to describe people with disabilities had changed and “Scope” felt more fitting, more modern.

It was great because the people we supported had a say in who they wanted to live with and what the new homes should look like in terms of design. We’ve always tried to make Scope feel like home for our clients, but this was a new concept at the time, and it made a huge impact. I think that’s something we can be really proud of.

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

It’s exciting to see the three entities coming together, and I think it will be a great opportunity for us to learn from each other. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the outcomes will be for the people we support now that the final report from the Disability Royal Commission has been released. It will be interesting to see how organisations like ours go forward in light of the recommendations, how we change to meet the needs of the people we support.

Stephanie Schumacher

What do you love about working at Scope?

Definitely the people we support, and the way a small change can make a big difference. Seeing our clients becoming more independent and leading their own lives, the way they want to live them. And not only our clients, but our staff too.

Which Scope value resonates with you most and why?

Celebrate people. I love the way we put people at the centre of everything. It’s about celebrating the small and large things people do… because it’s often the small things that enable more agency and control in our clients' lives.

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

To listen. The people we support are the experts in their lives. They will let us know – either directly or indirectly – what they need. We need to be responsive to that.

Be interested in the people you work with too. We have some really passionate, interesting and creative team members who are leaders in their field. They come from diverse backgrounds and there is so much experience among them. Be open to learning from them as you work together to support our clients.

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

Although the NDIS has brought more freedom of choice for our clients, there is still a lot of fighting to get and/or keep that support. Things are often positioned from the point of what a person can’t do rather than what they can bring to a situation or a role. I would love to see the end of that struggling to lead a rich and fulfilling life

Scope 75 years

Scope’s story: A stroll down memory lane

From our humble beginnings in the garage of some concerned parents to becoming one of Australia’s largest service providers - Scope's history is a testament to its unwavering dedication to creating a world where everyone can thrive.

Scope 1981

Scope 75 years

Mary-Ann reflects on her 33-year career with Scope

As Scope marks its 75th anniversary, we are highlighting the many people who have helped make Scope the organisation it is today. We spoke to Mary-Ann Stares, Manager DLO West, whose extensive and varied career at Scope started at Shannon Park, one of Scope’s flagship Day and Lifestyle Options centres.