Robert Sully, Western Australia

“I’ve never had the freedom that I have now. It’s great that my sister Linda is just around the corner and the shops are close too,”

Becoming a homeowner for the first time at 47 may not seem like a major event for most people, but Robert Sulley isn’t like most people.

Robert became intellectually and physically disabled at the age of seven, spent the next 40 years in a group home for people with cerebral palsy, needs a wheelchair to get around and requires a high level of care.

As daunting as these challenges may seem they haven’t prevented Robert from getting a home of his own. Thanks to the Departments of Housing and Disability Services and a not for profit organisation called My Place, Robert recently rolled out of his Belmont group home and into a home of his own.

The three-bedroom brick and tile home was built by the Department on a strategically chosen block in Wanneroo. The choice was strategic because Robert’s sister Linda lives just around the corner and another sister, Rhonda is also not too far away. Registered Growth Provider Community Housing Limited has a 10 year head lease with the Department to manage the property in partnership with the WA Autism Association.

“This has been fantastic for Robert,” Rhonda told Snapshots. “It’s been absolutely life-changing for him. He’s already made friends up and down the street and he’s had Linda and I put out invitations for a ‘meet the neighbours’ get together later this month.”

Rhonda said the area is much quieter than Robert’s old neighbourhood and he happily tootles down to local shops in his wheelchair. “He loves music and there are quite a few concerts at the Wanneroo Showgrounds which are nearby. He’s also going to painting classes and aqua-fitness classes to build up his strength.”

My Place’s brief is to help people with disabilities live independently and although he still requires a high-level of care Robert’s life is now a world away from where it was at the group home. Robert’s carers, Barry and Clare say Robert’s life has changed and he’s changing too.

“We are like a family now. Robert’s sisters both say there’s been quite a change in his personality since moving in here,” Barry said.

For Robert’s sister’s Rhonda and Linda their brother’s move from the institution has brought additional benefits. “It’s great for Linda and me too as we live much closer than we did before and we can see him more often.

Robert says he loves the new found freedom that’s come with having a home of his own. “I’ve never had the freedom that I have now. It’s great that my sister Linda is just around the corner and the shops are close too,” he said.

“I’ve got good people –Barry and Clare looking after me and we held a barbecue on the weekend to introduce me to the neighbours, and this sausage sizzle went really well and I met some nice people.”

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