Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability


1 Oct 2010Livewire, which is an initiative of the Starlight Foundation, is an Australian online peer support program, designed specifically for families who are affected by disability, chronic health condition or serious illness. There are estimated to be around 450,000 families in Australia that are touched by disability, chronic health conditions or serious illness.

Livewire, together with their major sponsor, Optus, and with the assistance of the Australian Government, provides a free and safe environment where all members of the family can chat and share ideas with other members of the community who are in similar situations to themselves.

Livewire's mission is to connect, support and empower young people living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability and their families, through online communities.

It's free to join and is available to young people, who are aged over 10 and under 21, living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability, it's also available to siblings, who are aged over 10 and under 21, that have a brother or sister living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability and parents and carers of people living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability.

Livewire works together with the Australian Federal Police, to ensure that their website, the sign up process, chat host sessions and volunteers meet strict guidelines that keep their members safe.

Members are only able to join once the Livewire membership team has received a signed parental consent form, or proof of identity for those over 18. The membership team also confirms details with a secondary contact, such as a doctor or specialist, to verify any potential member's identity. This is to ensure that the only people accessing Livewire are those who are affected by a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability, this gives peace of mind (especially to parents) to know that not just anyone can gain entry into the program without meeting the strict criteria.

Livewire is also available throughout hospitals in Australia, participating hospitals provide patients with a ‘Livewire on Wheels' trolley, where a laptop is hooked up to the net and enables patient use whilst they are recuperating during hospital stays. More hospitals are being added in 2011 to bring the total number of hospitals included up to 26, allowing more patients to use the ‘Livewire on Wheels' trolleys.

Parents of sick and disabled children experience social and emotional isolation due to hospital stays and caring for their children, they can endure a lot of stress as a result and often feel like they have no-one to turn to, Livewire offers parents a place where they can chat with other parents and share their knowledge, write a journal about their own experiences, and also do some online shopping through the disability shopping links, where there is access to a disability specific bookstore and a mobility store.

Siblings of sick and disabled children often feel left out, and can experience feelings of guilt, confusion and anger. Livewire is a great place for siblings to vent to other young people who are in a similar situation to them, through the chat rooms, blogs and forums. They can enter competitions and win great prizes, listen to the latest music, play online games and read news and reviews.

Young members of Livewire say that being part of this community is like a big family where everyone understands each other's problems. Every area of the site enables all members to enter competitions to win great prizes and to access chat sessions hosted by some very cool people, including the odd celeb guest!

Livewire is always looking for volunteers who are enthusiastic and internet savvy, so that the Livewire members are kept interested and up to date with the latest news and trends.

They are also seeking donations to keep this wonderful program growing so all young people who are affected by illness and disability can enjoy its benefits.

If you would like to join Livewire, become a volunteer, donate or just read more about it, go to – or call (02) 8425 5971.

I also have membership packs available so if you would like me to send you one out, feel free to contact me.



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