Hidden Disabilities Sunflower making travel easier

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower making travel easier

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower: A Symbol of Support and Inclusivity in Travel

Traveling can be a great adventure, but it can also be stressful, particularly for those with hidden disabilities. Hidden disabilities may not be immediately apparent but can significantly impact an individual’s travel experience. In recent years, a new initiative known as the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has been making travel more accessible and comfortable for people with non-visible disabilities.

Understanding the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a discreet yet powerful symbol that individuals with non-visible disabilities can wear when traveling. This sunflower symbol indicates to airport staff, colleagues, and health professionals that the person wearing it may require additional support, assistance, or simply a little more time during their travel journey. The Sunflower symbol invites understanding and empathy.

The initiative has gained widespread recognition and adoption, with over 220 airports around the world implementing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program. These airports have gone a step further by training their entire workforce to support individuals with non-visible disabilities, making travel a more inclusive and stress-free experience for everyone.

An Easier Travel Experience

A travel story from a Mid North Coast family was shared with Early Connections recently. Flynn’s family, embarked on an overseas adventure from Sydney. Seven-year-old Flynn and his family had great experience that highlights the importance of awareness and support in the travel industry.

Flynn’s mother shared their journey:

“We picked the lanyards up at Airport Information for free. Airport staff treated us like royalty and kept saying “sunflower” to each other. We were given separate security and customs. No rushing at all. And Singapore Airlines are boarding us first and have given us two extra seats!!”

The positive experience of Flynn’s family shows that small acts of kindness, understanding, and awareness can make traveling a lot easier for families.

For more information

If you have a positive holiday story like Flynn’s or want to learn more about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program, you can visit their website. Sharing stories supports improving accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities.

Pictured – Flynn wearing the Sunflower Lanyard with his sister Heidi.

Chatterbox Connection

Chatterbox Connection

The Australian Childhood Foundation has some wonderful resources for parents and families.

They work to share knowledge in practical and evidence-based ways that support children and young people. Their training, tools and resources draw on the Foundation’s 30 year history working with children and young people, as well as working with leading thinkers in the fields of neuroscience, trauma and safeguarding.

The Chatterbox Connection is a game to encourage and explore connection.

This chatterbox game invites us to play and learn more about each other. One person operates the chatterbox, while the other takes a turn at choosing from its options to make their way to the centre of the folded paper which has activity ideas to choose from.

How to Use a Chatterbox:

  • The Chatterbox operator holds the chatterbox on thumbs and fingers.
  • The player chooses from the four outside sides,then the chatterbox operator spells out their choice while moving the parts of the chatterbox.
  • The player chooses a number from the four inner numbers, then the chatterbox operator counts out the number, moving the chatterbox again.
  • The player chooses a number again and the chatterbox operator opens out the flap with the chosen number on it.
  • The player chooses from two activity prompts written beneath the chosen number.
  • Swap and repeat. Different choices will lead to different activity options in the centre.

Thanks to the Australian Childhood Foundation for this great resource. You can visit their website for more activities and resources. 

Chatterbox Resource

Download the Origami Chatterbox Australian Childhood Foundation

Speech Pathologist

Speech Pathologist


Currently recruiting a Speech Pathologist at Port Macquarie

Speech Pathologist

  1. Flexible, family-friendly work arrangements
  2. Support children and families in early childhood intervention 
  3. Join a leading Early Childhood Intervention Network

Full Time Position

If you are looking for flexibility and a supportive workplace with a diverse range of work opportunities, then this role is for you. Early Connections Alliance is a network of not for profit organisations working together to create a strong and connected Early Childhood Intervention Network on the Mid North Coast. All locations are Registered NDIS Providers working with a diverse range of children with a variety of needs and diagnoses. New graduates are welcome to apply.

Why work for us:

  • Six weeks annual leave per year
  • Salary packaging and financial incentives, including significantly above award rates.
  • Diverse range of clients with a variety of needs and diagnoses.
  • Preexisting caseload
  • Option for new graduates to work as an Allied Health Assistant (AHA) until qualifications are finalised
  • Regular supervision and mentoring by Senior Speech Pathologist
  • Highly experienced team of Early Intervention Specialist Teachers, Speech Pathologists, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapists.
  • Be a part of the Early Connections Alliance (from Taree to Coffs Harbour) and benefit from the knowledge and experience of a vast Allied Health and Education Team.
  • Work alongside our experienced senior therapy and teaching staff
  • Access to generous professional development opportunities
  • Flexible, family-friendly work arrangements

About the role:

  • Provide assessments, interventions and therapy to children 0-12 years with a diverse range of disabilities.
  • Visits to the home, child care and school environments to provide an inclusive model of practice. Early Connections has extensive relationships within the community.
  • Opportunity to be a Key Worker within a transdisciplinary model and to provide consultation to  Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Early Childhood Educators and families.
  • Educational sessions for parents, teachers and preschool staff.
  • Working between four sites in Lake Cathie, Wauchope and Port Macquarie.
  • Using CRM and iPad technology.

The successful candidate will have:

  • Tertiary degree in Speech Pathology or equivalent
  • Eligibility for membership of Speech Pathology Australia
  • Experience providing speech pathology services to children and families
  • Excellent communication skills and experience working in a multidisciplinary team
  • Driver’s licence as this position would require some travel between services
  • NSW Working with Children and NDIS Worker Screening Check
  • A commitment to Best Practice in Early Childhood Intervention, inclusive practice, family centred approach to service delivery
  • Ability to work independently and within a team environment.
  • Willingness to adopt and recommend routine based therapy strategies to facilitate child development
  • Demonstrated understanding of evidence-based practise.
  • Ability to organise time and set priorities.

Whist there is a work vehicle, some travel is required using your own car. A current driver’s licence and comprehensive care insurance are prerequisites for the position.
A current Working with Children Check and NDIS Worker Screening Check are required.
Part-time status will be negotiated on employment and may be dependent on the applicant’s level of experience.

Location: Port Macquarie/Hastings
For a confidential discussion or to request a position information pack please call or email Allison White (Manager): 02 6583 8238 or allison@earlyconnections-pmh.org.au.
Applications must address the selection criteria.

The next chapter for Debbie Fraser

The next chapter for Debbie Fraser

Early Connections Kempsey Manager Debbie Fraser recently retired after an amazing 23 years of supporting children and families in the Kempsey region. 

Debbie brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as an Early Childhood Special Educator. Her career in the early childhood sector spanned over 30 years, making her an invaluable asset to the Early Connections Alliance on the Mid North Coast.  

Reflecting on Debbie’s leadership, the Kempsey team shared the following messages of thanks:

“Debbie Fraser has been the most supportive, inspiring and empowering manager who has helped me transition into a role I love and the family that is Early Connection Kempsey. I will always be grateful to have worked with such a kind, caring and beautiful person.” 

“I could not have asked for a more caring and supportive mentor to have been under the wing of. Debbie has been the most inspiring and kind hearted member of our Early Connections Family. Her passion, commitment, and dedication she showed to not only her role but also our team is at uttermost amazing. We will miss her, but we wish her all the best with her adventures.” 

“There are no words to express the impact that Debbie has had on not just Early Connections Kempsey, but the Kempsey Community and families as a whole. Debbie has been an integral part of driving Early Intervention within the Kempsey Macleay shire over the past 23 years. Debbie has made wholesome connections within the community which will last a lifetime.” 

“Debbie has been a wonderful manager. The connections she has long established and maintained within our community have been vital in continuing to link therapists to those most vulnerable. The experience, knowledge and advice she has shared have been invaluable to me. I wish Debbie all the best for the future.”  

“Debbie has been extremely supportive and a genuinely caring individual during my time at ECK. She always has time for her staff and has been very flexible. She has shown great kindness and patience during her leadership. Her door was never closed to a colleague in need whether it was a professional challenge or a personal setback. Her knowledge of families and the local community has been very helpful. She was very dedicated to the job and did what she could to support our clients and families in the best way possible. Debbie’s genuine compassion and empathy created a supportive atmosphere that extended beyond work matters, making us feel more like a family, which is why we are often referred to as the ECK family. Debbie has been an invaluable part of the ECK team for many years and will be greatly missed. It’s not goodbye but a huge Thanks and all the best!!”

Early Connections Alliance acknowledges and thanks Beth for her leadership, support of the Alliance and commitment to the Early Childhood Intervention Sector (ECI). Everyone at Early Connections extends our thanks to Debbie and wishes her all the best for her retirement.


Winter Aquatic Therapy Lessons with Occupational Therapist

Winter Aquatic Therapy Lessons with Occupational Therapist

Winter Aquatic Therapy Sessions with Occupational Therapist 

Join Early Connections Winter Aquatic Therapy Sessions led by our Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistants. All our instructors are Autism Swim approved.

The aquatic therapy sessions are not swimming lessons but are provided by an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Occupational Therapist to build skills, safety and confidence in a water environment.

You can pay for aquatic therapy sessions using your NDIS therapy funding due to them being provided by qualified/experienced therapists/therapy assistants.  Sessions are run one-to-one so that the session is specifically tailored to the individual’s needs/skills. Often clients use part of their OT allocation funds for aquatic therapy, therefore a portion of their total OT is used for aquatic therapy.

Dive into the benefits for your child:

  • Safe entry and exit practice
  • Water familiarity (tolerance of water, ability to put eyes under water)
  • Breath control (ability to hold breath and blow bubbles under water)
  • Front and back floating
  • Propulsion to exit (ability to move self in the water in order to exit water bodies safely).

About the pool

The pool is enclosed via industrial café blinds, therefore has the versatility of being both an indoor and outdoor pool. This gives us the opportunity to continue sessions over Winter as we are able to heat the pool and keep the space warm during the colder months.

Make a splash this winter with Early Connections Aquatic Therapy

Currently we are offering the following sessions:
  • Fridays 9am to 2pm (ongoing starting Friday 23 June 2023)
  • One block in the holidays where participants can attend a session daily or just for one session one day
  • Holiday dates available 4th July, 5th July and 6th July. Sessions run all day.

Limited spots available!

  • Register today by emailing Paige@earlyconnections-pmh.org.au
  • Early Connections: (02) 6583 8238 earlyconnections.org.au