VALID – The beginning….
In 1987, Brian and Lee Johnstone dedicated themselves to making a major contribution to improving the lives of people with intellectual disability in Victoria. Having established the Yungaburra Foundation, a philanthropic trust with extensive resources, they decided to support the development of the 10 Year State Plan for Disability Services by engaging the expert services of Gerald Provencal, Director of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Centre in Detroit, Michigan.
Yungaburra Foundation funded Gerry to help assess the status of Victoria’s disability services, and to make recommendations on how to achieve world’s best practice. The contribution of Gerry Provencal and the Yungaburra Foundation made a decisive impact on the policy framework of the 10 Year Plan, in particular the commitment to the closure of institutions and the development of community-based services.
One of Gerry’s key pieces of advice concerned the need to establish a strong and professionally managed advocacy body in order to “keep the flame alight”. Kevin Stone joined with Yungaburra Foundation in 1988 and spent that year working with advocacy bodies to explore ways in which they might work together in order to maximise their impact and effectiveness.
Funded and guided by Brian and the Yungaburra Foundation, the blueprint for establishing VALID was gradually formed during 1988, supported by the hard work and passion of some “true believers”, including Tibor Mihally, Coordinator of the National People First Self Advocacy Kit Project, Silvana Scibilia, Manager of ADEC, Graeme Williams of the Public Advocate’s Office and Frank Hall-Bentick, of the Disability Resource Council.
By the end of 1988, with a better appreciation of the diverse and sometimes competing outlooks and positions of different advocacy groups, it was concluded that the best way to make a positive difference was to get on with the task of providing strong and vigorous advocacy on the issues that most greatly concerned the founding members, and to trust that cooperation and support would follow.
VALID was launched at the Melbourne Town Hall on May 9, 1989. The founding members were a group of parents and people with disability who wished to build an advocacy organisation which brings people together in the effort to transform disability services and build community support.
By 1990, VALID had already established itself as a force to be reckoned with. VALID gained financial support from the Community Services Department to fund VALID’s advocacy activities on behalf of people with intellectual disability and their families. Two years later, when the State Government cut support to the community services sector, VALID was de-funded along with other advocacy groups. Thankfully, Brian and Yungaburra continued to support VALID’s activities, until it succeeded in winning a public tender to establish a peak advocacy organisation representing adults with intellectual disability and their families. In 1993, as VALID was now able to stand on its own feet, the independent incorporated association of VALID was formed.