National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Highlighting the ability in disability

May 2019

Lutheran Services is one of the longest established community care providers in Queensland. Its origins can be traced back to 1935 with the establishment of Salem Lutheran Rest Home in Toowoomba.

Today, Lutheran Services provides care, support and accommodation for older people, young people and their families, people living with disability or mental illness, and families experiencing domestic violence and hardship. The organisation is a major presence in the many urban, regional and rural communities it serves.

As a diaconal ministry of the LCA’s Queensland District, Lutheran Services exists to serve, bringing Christian faith and love to life. As stated on its website, the organisation ‘walks together with congregations, individuals and communities to tend to human need in the spirit of Christian love and service’.

Lutheran Services, through its previous incarnations, established workshops, accommodation and support services for people living with disability and mental illness in the early 1970s. Many of these initiatives were the first of their kind in Queensland. Today, Lutheran Services provides disability support services at several regional communities throughout south-east Queensland. These include supported accommodation, in-home support, day programs, social support groups, community engagement and skills development programs.

The disability support initiatives are complemented by an array of creative engagement programs – activities and projects that promote personal development, wellbeing, collaboration and community. One such example is a mixed-ability cross-cultural performance project called ‘Confusion Inclusion’ – an innovative and ambitious idea that yielded spectacular results.

The project brought together performers from two disability services on opposite sides of the world – the Lutheran Services Keystone Centre in Logan, and Popeye from Nagoya in Japan. Employing music, dance and storytelling, Confusion Inclusion sought to ‘build a bridge from confusion to inclusion’. After much planning and rehearsal, the performers gave a public show at Butterbox Theatre at Logan between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It lit up the theatre. The audience cheered and sang along as the grinning Keystone Crew ‘busted’ their moves.

Keystone’s Boden Nicholson says inclusion is central to the project: ‘It’s a great community effort in the true spirit of inclusion, where we strive to make the world a more accessible place for all. And what a great experience! For those in the audience, it’s a wonderful show. For those performing, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.’

Confusion Inclusion provided Keystone participant Matthew the opportunity to try new things, develop new skills and make new connections. ‘It was my first time on stage’, Matthew beams. ‘I loved dancing to the songs. The Japanese dancers were great and are good friends. I can’t wait to dance on stage again.’

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