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Disability Enhancement Fund

Last Call for Disability Enhancement Fund


The Disability Enhancement Fund (DEF) will offer its final grants for people with a disability in October this year.

Much of the equipment needed by people with a disability is custom-made, which increases its costs. DEF has supported people with a disability to purchase much-needed equipment they cannot afford themselves.

There have been four previous funding rounds which have allocated almost $58,000 to successful applicants across Whitsunday, Mackay and Isaac Regional Councils. Equipment funded includes a fence around a home to keep a child with autism safe, therapeutic shoes, wheelchairs, bathroom modifications, communication devices and specialised kitchen cutlery.

DEF was started in 2004 by a mother, Michelle Boles, whose eldest son is a young man with disabilities. Michelle was struggling to purchase expensive items needed by her son, such as a specially-designed bowl and an upgraded wheelchair. Assisted by the Regional Social Development Centre (RSDC), Michelle, other parents and interested community members worked together to address their concerns. They eventually established DEF, with RSDC as trustees.

“Volunteers and various sponsors have allowed the DEF (which has received no government funding) to continue providing equipment grants,” explained RSDC President Dr Shane Hopkinson. “Unfortunately, volunteer support isn’t a long-term option and funding applications for a paid worker have been unsuccessful. DEF and RSDC have therefore decided to hold a final funding round to expend all remaining funds.”

“The fund currently has approximately $45,000 for its final round,” said Paula Watts, RSDC’s interim DEF Worker. “Applications close on 1st October but we encourage applicants to apply by 10th September so we can review to ensure all information is provided. If applicants give us a call, we can also arrange support for them in completing the form.”


 Contact:       Paula Watts

DEF Worker

Regional Social Development Centre

4957 3088


Deb Rae

Social Development Director

Regional Social Development Centre

0448 573 078

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Please click on here to access the application forms.



  The DEF and what its about 


The Disability Enhancement Fund (DEF) is a trust fund that will enable people who have a disability or who care for a person with a disability to access the equipment they need to enhance their quality of life.  It is managed largely through the efforts of volunteers.

Who funds the DEF?

The DEF solely relies on donations from companies, organisations and individuals. Currently, administration and resourcing of DEF is provided by volunteers and workers from the RSDC, at no cost.











Who is eligible for DEF grants?

To be eligible to apply for a DEF grant, applicants must:

1. Have a recognised disability under the Disability Services Act 2006, Section 5, Part 2.  In this act, disability is defined as a condition:

a) that is attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or an acquired brain injury, or a combination of impairments; and
b) that results in substantial reduction of the person’s capacity for communication, social interaction learning or mobility, and the person’s need of support.
c) that is permanent, or likely to be permanent.
d) that may be, or may not be, of a chronic episodic nature.

2. Reside within the Mackay, Whitsunday or Isaac Regional Councils.
3. Be under the age of 65 years.
4. Meet the conditions of necessitous circumstances.  This will require proof of the applicant’s financial status and/or other special or unusual circumstances which have resulted in hardship.
5. Have, where eligible, and relevant in terms of range of available equipment, made an application to the Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme (MASS) Qld Health prior to applying to the Disability Enhancement Fund.

How are DEF grants allocated?

All eligible applications are assessed on the basis of need, and the capacity of DEF to meet that need.  This assessment includes prioritisation of each application, and all applications may not be funded.  All information provided to the Disability Enhancement Fund in applying for an equipment grant will be confidential in accordance with Privacy Act guidelines.

The assessment panel consists of:

• A person with a disability
• Disability Enhancement Fund member
• A medical specialist - if available (in relation to the type of disability identified by the application)
• A disability service provider
• A representative of the Regional Social Development Centre

When are grant rounds held?

The DEF is currently in recess and grant rounds have been suspended.

How did DEF evolve?

This initiative was started in 2004 by a parent of a young person with multiple disabilities. This mother and her family were struggling to purchase expensive items needed by her son, such as home and vehicle modifications, communication devices and wheelchairs. She approached the Mackay Regional Council for Social Development (now known as the RSDC) to assist her in connecting with other parents and community members experiencing similar difficulties. This group of people formed the Disability Enhancement Fund (DEF) as a sub-committee of MRCSD.  Research undertaken by DEF indicates that this initiative is an innovative, unique response to an identified gap in services for people with disabilities in Australia.

RSDC Partners

Old Town Hall, 63 Sydney Street, Mackay Qld 4740 Tel: (07) 4957 3088     

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