Welcome to DRC’s new peer support program!

For many Victorians with disabilities the last two years have been really tough. The stress of dealing with the NDIS, the rationalisation of the mental health sector and the age-old battles of stereotyping, discrimination and stigma has been compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including fear of the virus and the complexities of vaccination. With many support services closed for months on end, more and more of us have felt lonely and socially isolated.

One thing is clear – wrestling with NDIS, Centrelink or trying to find any other form of support that you need is particularly hard when you do it alone.

And that’s where the Buddy Network comes in.

What are Buddies?

Buddies are volunteers with disabilities living anywhere in Victoria. They support others who are going through difficult times by allowing them to feel heard and understood. Buddies are not advocates or counsellors, they are more like companions who listen to those they support with kindness and solidarity. Because no one in the disability community needs to feel alone.

Would you like to do more to help other people? Are you a good listener? Do you want to make new connections in your community?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ and you are interested in joining the network, we would love to hear from you.

Becoming a Buddy

When first joining the program you will be offered the opportunity to complete a series of induction workshops designed to support you to become a Buddy. These are online, confidential, and packed full of useful tools and information. For instance, you will be learning (or re-learning) about the art of companioning, how to foster connection, maintain boundaries and cultivate compassion. You will also be introduced (or re-introduced) to mental health trainingsuicide awareness and emotion regulation. And we will be discussing the key systemic issues that people with disabilities face today.  Once your training is completed DRC will match each Buddy with someone who has asked for support. Living nearby to one another and having a similar lived experience of disability are important factors in the pairing.

Matched Buddy pairs meet once a week or each fortnight, either online or face to face, for one-to-one support sessions. These are usually 60 – 90 minutes long.

What’s in it for you?

Once you have completed the workshops you will be invited to join the Buddy Network’s on-going fortnightly peer support group. This group exists to support the wellbeing of the Buddies and to enable relationships within the network to flourish.  Through your involvement in the program you can also inform DRC’s campaigns and there will be opportunities for you to help DRC’s systemic advocacy work.

DRC will listen to you too and schedule further professional development workshops focused on issues that you identify through your work as a Buddy.

Buddies also benefit from the human connection brought about by meaningfully supporting one another. Research shows that people who are engaged in the support of others develop a strong sense of purpose and wellbeing.

Considering Joining the Network?

Please complete the form below.

Our next intake of volunteers will start up in the week of 23rd May 2022. We can schedule a call anytime before that to discuss the program in more detail and respond to any questions you may have.