How Microboards began
The first microboards were established in 1984 by David and Faye Wetherow to support 3 people to leave institutional care. Circles of Support had been established around each of these people, however there were roadblocks to moving them out of the institution and into their own homes in the community because the government at the time would only fund disability service organisations.
David came up with the idea to incorporate the Circles of Support to become not for profit organisations who provided support for just the one person. He worked with the Manitoba government to develop a pathway for individualised funding with these three Microboards being some of the earliest examples of this model.
Two of the first three Microboards developed by David are still operating today, with the one which has ceased only doing so because the focus person passed away. You can read more about the early history and development of Microboards here.
Today in British Columbia, there are currently over 1500 microboards, supported in their establishment by Vela Microboards Association under the leadership of Linda Perry, who retired in 2022.
How Microboards Australia has engaged in systemic advocacy
In the process of supporting the development of Microboards since 2008, Microboards Australia recognised gaps in practice in the disability sector in Western Australia and nationally. We strategically became involved in learning about and developing better supports for all families. Since then Microboards Australia have become known for their systemic advocacy for better understanding and supports for people with disability, partially people who are often viewed as not being able to advocate for themselves.
In 2013, Microboards Australia partnered with the then Disability Services Commission in Western Australia to develop the Is There a Better Way (ITaBW) program which was designed to support families with a member who experienced behaviours of concern. ITaBW now runs online several times a year, and has been evaluated by the School of Business at the University of Western Australia twice as having a lasting positive impact for people with disability and their families. You can find out more about ITaBW here.
Initially the lack of robust support for people with Complex Communication Needs drove Microboards Australia to request funds to develop a post - graduate certificate in Complex Communication Needs at Edith Cowan University which commenced in 2014. This course was the first of its kind in Australia and has helped to educate hundreds of adults and students across Australia out the communication rights of people with disability.
In 2022 Microboards Australia are developing two new Post Graduate Certificates in Complex Communication Needs and Positive Behaviour Support at Curtin University in Western Australia.
Microboards Australia continues to have a voice nationally in the promotion of the Human Rights of people with disability, particularly in the areas of communication access, understanding behaviour through a human rights and quality of life lens, health access and social inclusion.