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Disability Not a Deterrent at Serendip

Thursday 30 November, 2017

Serendip Sanctuary is a great example of Parks Victoria’s policy of including and connecting with people who have a disability, with two special volunteers currently part of the Serendip team.

Rob and his carer Carlos make the long trip from Daylesford every Thursday to work in the Sanctuary, where Rob hops onto his electric buggy and sets off on his round of duties; raking leaves, helping with feeding and cleaning bird hides.

Rob started volunteering earlier this year and, except for some winter weeks, both he and Carlos are there every Thursday. “I really like animals and enjoy contributing to them in this way,” he says.

“I feel really relaxed and happy after a day’s work here.”

Dutchy, a Karen refugee with a learning disability, also spends a day at the Sanctuary most weeks, away from his volunteer role at Werribee Park. He has a real affinity with the many different birds and creatures, as well as the resident python, and loves being involved in their care and feeding.

Matt Wills says involving people with a disability in the daily work and management of parks is a great way to dissolve general misconceptions about disability.

“They are definitely a help, not a hindrance, as people mistakenly think, and bring a very positive vibe to our team. They enjoy the same opportunities to work and be involved with nature as others, and get a great deal of satisfaction from that.”

Serendip Sanctuary also has an online Social Script designed to prepare children with autism for a visit there. The script is a simple description of what they might see and do in the park, and makes them much more relaxed and confident, which greatly increases their enjoyment.

Media enquiries
Sally Nowlan

Parks Victoria media centre