It’s time to meet the man at Melba who has been on more than 100 holidays.
If you’re after an amazing supported holiday, then Davide Scagliarini, Melba’s Outcomes Lead - Holidays/Recreation, is just the person to send you on your way.
Supported holidays are incredible experiences. When someone with disability decides they want to go on a holiday – and it doesn’t even have to be someone receiving any other supports through Melba, either – they can choose a ‘small group’ or custom-made holiday. The groups are capped at six, to make sure that everyone has the freedom to see and do what they want to on the holiday.
As Davide puts it, “Even if it’s just a weekend, everybody deserves a holiday. Even if some people do not have much money, I always find a way,” Davide explains. He’s great at it too.
“For 15 years, I’ve been a support worker on holidays. It’s true - I’ve been on more than 100 holidays. I used to go on 10 holidays a year sometimes. I took this job as Outcomes Lead two years ago, but I still go on some supported holidays too,” he explains.
“The only reason I accepted to come and work in the office is because I was organising all the aspects of these holidays. I would never want to just come in and do a normal office job. If there is a trip, I still want to go. That’s important to me. I always like to participate in the meet-and-greet. I always like to go to the airport when they depart, and help when they get back as well to get the feedback. That’s so important.”
Davide loves to be hands-on. “I still like to see the smiling faces when we go on a supported trip. The last one this year was to Italy, and I’m from Italy. Lucas who went on that trip had a great time. He had researched all of the history of the places we went to and he knew more about it than I did.”
Supported holidays can be partially-funded through NDIS if they meet participant’s plan goals. People can choose a holiday with one-on-one support, or a small group holiday usually with a 1:3 support worker-to-holiday maker ratio. Either way, these guys are experts at helping create fabulous memories on great trips.
You don’t have to go for a big 12-days overseas holiday either. “Weekend trips are popular such as going to the Bellarine Peninsula, Lakes Entrance or Phillip Island. Music festivals are more popular now too.”
Each year, Davide puts together a booklet-style guide of holidays that people might like to choose from – and he also loves organising ‘ad hoc’ holidays, so that nobody is stuck with a holiday that isn’t perfect for them.
“You don’t have to book one holiday out of this booklet. We’re unique like that. Your holiday can be based on destination, budget, interests, goals, and desired travel dates. You might want to go somewhere on your birthday, and you can’t just fit in with picking something from a booklet for that.”
“Some participants just want to go on overseas trips. Then we have people who can’t afford to go overseas, or they just like more local trips, and they do that. That’s why I try to offer a mix. I always let people know that the book is just a guide, because people really like an ‘ad hoc’ holiday. So we’re creating something new and tailor-made for what they want to see and what they want to do, and that’s nice.”
Unfortunately most of the expected scheduled trips from this year’s program was cancelled because of the global pandemic. Davide is hoping to have a clearer picture of the travel industry early next year, to start planning more supported holidays and trips.
In the meantime, he’s willing to share some holiday planning tips.
If you’re flying, always notify the airline when you book if you’re travelling in a wheelchair. They have a set capacity for people using wheelchairs. If it’s full, you’ll be bumped from the flight.
Try to use public transport or taxis when you’re in a big city like Sydney or New York. Finding parking for a van or a bus is a nightmare. But it’s a good idea in somewhere like Cairns, where you can park easily but the public transport isn’t as good as other destinations.
Be careful when you book accessible accommodation. They say ‘yeah the shower is fine’ and then when you request a photo, sometimes there’ll be a little step. You want to check, and then double-check these important details.
Also, always allow plenty of notice for reasonably priced accessible accommodation. If you’ve got a limited budget, and you’ve also got a required element of accessibility, there are places for $500 a night, but who can afford that? You need plenty of notice especially during busy travel periods, otherwise you have to be very flexible with your destination.
Where possible try and book a big Air B&B house. They have big shared areas where you can have breakfast together, over motels which can have small rooms with small tables.