Meet Jake Chatfield, Managing Director of Koiop Connect
In a snapshot, who is Koiop Connect?
Koiop Connect is an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander owned and operated NDIS Approved Provider of culturally safe and respectful disability support services.
Tell us about the origins of the business? What moment led to action; in creating a disability support service which was culturally respectful for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
In 2017, Tareka and I came to a crossroads in our careers where we felt we could no longer make a difference in the work we were doing. We always had a passion for working with our people and communities to make a difference, and we wanted to continue doing so. I started doing some casual work with a mainstream disability support service in Newcastle and was really impressed with the model they had created. Their support model focused heavily on family and community involvement and created opportunities for people with disability to live as inclusively as possible in the community. It was at this point, Tareka and I realised that, this type of support model could be really beneficial to our families and communities. We developed a support structure that included kinship responsibilities; and provided an opportunity to deliver responsive supports to families (as a whole unit) in a family like environment, that is culturally safe and respectful to the individual support needs of the client.
Whilst we had planned to move forward with our concept, we realised that it may take some time due to the start-up capital required. However, in 2018, we were extremely fortunate to secure a start-up grant under the NSW Governments “Making It Our Business” grant. A program that was designed to enhance existing Aboriginal NDIS businesses and/or support the establishment of new Aboriginal NDIS businesses and community organisations. This program gave Koiop Connect the kickstart we needed to get our organisation up and running quicker than previously expected. Therefore in January 2019 we opened our doors and Koiop Connect became live.
Fast forward 3 years and we have 10 supported independent living homes, provide approved NDIS supports to over 60 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, have over 100 employees and provide service in three locations, Newcastle, Dubbo & Moree.
Out of the services you offer, are there any which are in higher demand?
To be honest all services are in high demand however our most needed service would be Supported Independent Living (SIL).
SIL is support and assistance with daily tasks to help people with disability to live as independently as possible, while building their living skills.
If anyone wanted to support Koiop Connect and the work you are doing, what are the ways they could do this?
If people want to support Koiop Connect, please contact us for a catch up. We have so many avenues for growth and partnership, that we would welcome any support available to us.
What are some exciting things to expect from Koiop Connect this year?
With a big thank-you to WOTSO, we have been given the opportunity to open our 1st cafe, One Tudor in the Newcastle space. The cafe will provide a training platform for Koiop Connect clients, and give them a practical work environment to learn and develop work skills in hospitality and customer service, all the while incorporating confidence building and soft-skill development. We hope this will be one of many mainstream retail/business outlets, that we aim to launch this year – so watch this space.