Safeguarding the future conference - Canberra, 23-24 May 2024

Registrations close at 5:00 pm AEST on Thursday, 16 May

Jack’s Circle of Support

Jack's family recognised the importance of creating a Circle of Support to help him reach his goals. These notes were taken from a presentation about Jack's Circle of Support.

A group of people gathered in a circle in a living roomWhat Is a Circle of Support?

  • Intentional
  • With committed and trusted family members and friends
  • Regular and purposeful conversations about vision and plans
  • Each Support Circle is different

Source: Marg Ward

Why Is a Circle of Support a Good Idea?

Many of us have friends or informal networks that we rely on when we need advice, when we are in crisis and when we want to share our triumphs.

Yet for many people with disability, these ordinary community connections don’t necessarily exist automatically – they may require facilitation. Circles can help this to happen.

Circle Gatherings

The following list is intended to provide ideas for circle gatherings. It is not exhaustive.

  • Thinking about the strengths and qualities of a person with disability and helping to build on those
  • Having a plan for the future that is likely to lead to a good and secure life for the person with disability
  • Identifying areas that are less positive in a person’s life and how that may be changed
  • Identifying and developing interests
  • Identifying areas for skill development
  • Thinking through life after school
  • Moving out of home
  • Developing relationships and connections
  • Developing valued social roles
  • Considering work and/or volunteering opportunities
  • Thinking through obstacles to achieving goals
  • General problem solving

Source: Judith Snow

The Art of Asking

Asking is… “the deliberate and conscious act of approaching others and in so doing seeking an involvement that previously wasn’t there” – Ric Thompson

Tips on who and how to ask

Jack and his Circle at a restaurantThere are so many people who could be invited to your circle meeting. Consider family, friends, people you know in your community and from places of shared interest.

Consider people you don’t know yet, but who may have shared interests, skills you require, or who could contribute to the purpose of your Circle. For example, if you’re interested in computers you may invite an IT expert.

Think about people who

  • Meet the purpose/goals of your circle
  • Hold similar values and ideals and fit the vision you hold (e.g. culture, beliefs, high regard for the person, positive views, belief in inclusion etc.)
  • Have shared interests
  • Have skills that could contribute to the person’s life
  • Are of a similar age and can be a good role model or
  • An age that suits the purpose
  • Could safeguard the vision, person, future and values. For example, think about how younger people/children could be involved
  • May bring new/fresh ideas in
  • Could contribute positively to the culture you uphold and want to create
  • Are not just family
  • Are connected to the person and/or community

Cautions to consider

  • Don’t just invite people so you have a large group
  • Don’t just rely on family
  • Don’t forgo your values to suit others
  • Don’t ever assume someone won’t want to participate!

Thinking About Asking

  • Who is the most appropriate person to do the asking?
  • The attitude with which you do this e.g. “no one will come or have time” or the attitude with which you would like to do this e.g. “people love spending time with my daughter, she’s a positive person, she has skills to contribute and gives back”
  • Any barriers or fears to asking you have and how you might move through them
  • Solutions to overcome fear or to assist you to ask
  • Being real and taking action

The Focus of Jack’s Circle

PurposeAn example of a printed update for Jack's Circle

  1. School inclusion
  2. Meaningful employment


  • Family, friends, Jack’s first OT, old sports coach, older school peer


  • Meet twice a school term


  • A Circle member’s house


  • Take minutes and remind about actions
  • Send an update if we cannot meet

Jack Takes the Lead

  • We support Jack to think about what he wants to share with the Circle.
  • He is usually present for the first half of gathering.
  • Jack then goes to hang out with his mates his age involved in the Circle while adults continue the conversations/discussions
  • Aim for kids his age to continue to run with his circle while adults fade out

The Circle’s Support for Employment

We brainstormed interests and what we think Jack is good at:

  • XboxBrainstormed ideas about Jack's interests written on butchers paper
  • Soccer
  • Baxter
  • Squash
  • Lawn mowing
  • Bike riding
  • Friendly/encouraging/laughing
  • Enthusiastic
  • Imaginative
  • Focus/determination
  • Follows rules
  • Music/drumming
  • High pain threshold
  • AFL/cricket
  • Animals
  • Movies
  • Swimming/water
  • Jujitsu
  • Sales
  • Good memory
  • Fashion
  • Listens for cues well/drama/presenter
  • Problem solver
  • Strong
  • Certain/decisive
  • Curious

Work Ideas

  • Usher – Movies/AFL/theatreA brainstormed list of work ideas for Jack written on butchers paper
  • Soccer Referee
  • Questacon guide – X
  • Native wildlife rescue
  • Delivery service – X
  • IGA employee at Ainslie/Lyneham
  • Australian Interactive Media/Academy
  • for interactive Media
  • Farmers markets – X
  • Food co-op – X
  • Clothing/retail shop – X
  • Modelling – X
  • Grill’d employee
  • Real Estate – open house welcomer

Work Conditions for Success

  • Visual/tangible progressJack's work conditions for success written on butchers paper
  • Knows what is required to do the job
  • Routine, but a bit of variety
  • People around
  • A boss
  • Get paid $$$
  • Regular, schedule of work
  • Get feedback/celebrate success
  • Uniform/well dressed
  • Close to home
  • Not long hours in one go
  • No rushing required
  • Morning/day is better
  • Work friends/social
  • Something new