Spectrum Support Coordination
Samantha Lawson is the brain and the driving force behind Spectrum Support Coordination. After leaving her career in the television and music industry after she had children, one with special needs, she and her husband decided to make a tree change which led them to Geelong. Feeling a pull towards shifting from the more commercialised industries led her to work in an area that more closely aligned with her growing and changing beliefs.
Spectrum Support Coordination supports children, adolescents and young adults with ASD and psychosocial disabilities, along with adults who have physical disabilities and complex mental health.
In your own words… What is Spectrum Support Coordination?
Spectrum Support Coordination is a boutique agency that provides Level 2 Support Coordination, Specialist Level 3 Support Coordination and Psychosocial Recovery Coaching. We’re a passionate and experienced team that loves working with people with disabilities and also working with their families to support them.
Tell us the story – your story – of how you came to be a specialist in Support Coordination helping children and young adults?
Like so many of us, it was my work and life paths that led me to Support Coordination. Earlier in my career, I worked in Publicity (television and the music industry) but after having children, one with special needs, my husband and I decided to make a tree change and so we moved to Geelong. I wanted to get away from the more commercialised industries and work in an area that more closely aligned with my growing and changing beliefs.
After a few years working in public housing with DFFH, I began to find it frustrating that I couldn’t help more. I’d talk to clients about all the issues they were facing and could see clearly how I could best help them, yet it just wasn’t in the scope of my role. It was when an opportunity to work as a Support Coordinator came along that I quickly realised my previous experience as a publicist, as a welfare worker, and of course with my own lived experience of disability, that it was a perfect fit to build a career as a Support Coordination.
What was your “lightbulb moment”? The moment you realised that Spectrum Support Coordination was going to be your footprint on the world?
For me, it has always felt important to do something in life that matters. A few years ago I was setting off on a family holiday and I found myself watching a documentary on the plane about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It really had a big impact on me. Ginsberg worked so hard to make a difference, balanced her family life with her professional life, and lived by the motto “hard work can get anyone to where they want to go”. I thought a lot about this during Covid and started working on my business plan and NDIS registration. The more things progressed, the more I felt confident that this was what I wanted to do. My husband, a talented designer, created the visual identity and website and my vision started coming to life. I finally felt like I knew I’d be able to do something meaningful – to help others and make a difference.
Everybody has something they love, what do you love about your ‘job’?
Some say, find a job that you love that doesn’t feel like work. This is true for me. I love how every day is different and every participant is different in their goals and their needs. There are little moments of triumph when someone reaches their goal, or there are challenges in moments of crisis. Many parts of the work are complex and confronting, but we enjoy the challenge of helping people navigate these moments. When you’re able to help deliver a solution for a participant, or have that lovely human connection with them because you can relate to their situation, it genuinely gives me joy. I’m also really enjoying creating a special culture at Spectrum Support. Spectrum Support Coordination really is only as good as its team – and so I want to make Spectrum the kind of place where staff always feel happy and supported.
What was your inspiration for bringing Spectrum Support Coordination to life?
Once I had the framework set up, what actually brought Spectrum to life was our wonderful team. Having such a specialised team of Support Coordinations on board, who were as excited as I was, really make it feel special. We all share the same vision for Spectrum and our participants. We’re a close-knit group that takes pride in their work and loves working with our participants. I also think a big part of the inspiration was my experience as a parent of a child with a disability. I wanted to bring my experience from my personal journey with the NDIS, to help other participants and carers.
What do you find is the main reason that keeps you getting up every morning, heading out the door and off to work?
The challenge of getting through the day and achieving results for our participants, whether it be supporting them in a plan review, finding them just the ‘right’ support that clicks with their special needs, and or helping them navigate a complex issue. Sometimes it’s just being able to have an empathetic chat, and share some experiences with them if they’re having a tough day.
There’s a responsibility that comes with helping people manage such an important aspect of their life, and so that’s something that we not only take seriously, but feel proud to be a part of.
Tell us your secret…
I’m so proud of the expert team we have on board, and our special partnerships with Wonderkind & Co Therapeutic Consultancy at Ariston House. Being part of the Wonderkind Therapeutic community has helped us forge relationships with over 40 specialised therapists, who we consult with regularly. We have access to not only amazing therapists, but also the bespoke group programs. The philosophy behind Wonderkind Consultancy is to explore alternative strategies for participants, and to creatively diversify therapeutic support. I think this brings so much more to our practice as Support Coordinators, and we benefit from having such a close relationships with so many independent therapists. Spectrum Support Coordination also proudly embraces a neuro-diverse workforce, which brings a deeper level of understanding to the work we do.
If we were to spend a day in your shoes – what would it look like?
Busy! I’m always at work early in the morning, and my day is filled with meetings, emails and chatting to new participants. As for many of us, it’s interspersed with managing the calendar of three teenagers who have their own busy school and social lives. My aim for the year ahead is to create a bit more balance and get to that yoga class!
What do you consider a good day at work for you?
When I hear a good news story with one of our participants it makes my day. It’s the little achievements that matter, sometimes it might be a goal in therapy that they’ve been working on for a long time, and all of a sudden they’ve been able to execute this in their school setting, community or home environment. Or, it might be that they’ve made social connections in a group setting. These are things that make you smile and you end the day feeling fulfilled about the work.
Tell us about ‘Support Coordination’ and how Spectrum Support Coordination differs from other companies out there assisting those with different needs and goals?
We’re a small agency that provides purely Support Coordination services at Level 2, Specialist Level 3 and Psychosocial Recovery Coaching. We have a highly experienced and qualified team who bring specialty expertise in ASD, mental health, disability housing and complex needs. Our Level 3 team are all qualified Social Workers and Counsellors, who bring specialist knowledge in complex mental health, Justice, DFFH and Child Protection. We also proudly embrace a neuro-diverse workforce at Spectrum Support Coordination.
Another thing we constantly strive to provide to all our participants (and carers) is a warm, personalised service. We use our extensive knowledge and relationships with local service providers, to really help match our participants with the ‘right’ supports for their needs. It’s about getting to know the participant and trying to paid them with supports that they’ll resonate with, and therefore make more progress towards goals.
Every business needs an adviser… Who do you turn to for help at Canny Group and with so many accountants Geelong has on offer, why Canny Group?
Amanda and Julie at Canny Group have been absolutely amazing to work with. They have such thorough knowledge of business set up, but you also get the benefit of their experiences with the NDIS through their NDIS Plan Management arm. I left my first meeting with Amanda feeling like Spectrum could be something that really works! Julie helped us set up the day-to-day accounting functions, and she’s always super patient and helpful. Also, a big shout out to Anthea in NDIS Plan Management who has supported us from the beginning.
What kind of support have you received from Canny Group since joining forces with them as your accountant?
It’s so nice to be a part of a community with Canny. Not only does Canny Group look after the accounting side of things, there are regular newsletters which are really informative, business forums and personal support whenever you need it with payroll, legal and advisory. Luckily for us, they also have an NDIS Plan Management arm, so we benefit from their expertise in this area. They’re also big supporters of women in business which is great.
Looking into your Spectrum Support Coordination crystal ball… What do you see the future looking like for you and your business?
We’re still in our infancy, so I really want to concentrate on refining our processes to make things smooth for our participants and ensure we’re providing the best service we can. I think this will just evolve with the ever changing NDIS landscape. Most of all, I hope to foster a happy and supportive environment for our special team, where work and life can be balanced, and where we are refreshed and equipped to give our participants the very best support.
How do we get in contact with you to have a chat about your services?
Or, give us a call, we all love a chat! Phone: 0431 258 150
Wonderkind & Co: wonderkindandco.com
Ariston House – 245 Pakington Street, Newtown VIC 3220