The Bridge was at the forefront of participatory practice, when they formed a ‘Centre Council’ at the Adult Unit in 1983. This ensured participants were heard, alongside parents, committee members and staff. As the 1980s continued, participant voice in the organisation was strengthened through programs like ’Speaking Out’, culminating in the development of the participant only ‘Workers Committee’, and their representation on the Committee of Management through two dedicated positions.
In 1988, in his first report for The Bridge, Phillip Toovey described recent legislative reform at a State and Commonwealth level:
‘(It) incorporates strong, clear principles to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities. These legislative principles and procedures also underpin the manner in which services are provided… a long overdue foundation needed to help ensure services are of the highest quality.’
Phillip Toovey, Program Director, 1987-1988 Annual Report
The Bridge also embedded a strong focus on individual planning for participants at this time. Driven by the need to create meaningful employment opportunities, The Bridge had taken an entrepreneurial approach to employment programs by engaging manufacturing industry clients in an ‘open industry’ program.
‘Our thanks to the Management of the Ashline Joinery for giving us the opportunity to show manufacturers and general industry that our trainees can successfully fulfill valuable tasks with industry.’
Graeme Duggan, President, 1988-1989 Annual Report