Our regional companion service pilot program in the Latrobe Valley and a day trip for the residents from Rushall Retirement Village – how our Companion Service is building confidence by providing companionship and practical support.

Travellers Aid has begun a regional companion service pilot program in the Latrobe Valley to support people with disability to access health services. The six-month pilot will see volunteers accompany residents to medical appointments via public transport. The service includes trips within the Latrobe Valley as well as into Melbourne.

Travellers Aid Service Development Manager Sara McDonald says it is well established that people with disability experience barriers to accessing reliable transport. 

Sara says community consultation by the Latrobe Health Advocate reported that people with disability in the region are less likely to have access to personal transport and therefore rely more on public transport. 

“As well as physical barriers, the use of public transport is marked by the anxiety of navigating unknown and complex routes or from previous negative experiences,” she says. 

In our program, a one-on-one volunteer will provide physical and psychological support by accompanying the service user on their journey as needed. 

Types of assistance include:
• journey planning
• navigating different modes of transport
• navigating unfamiliar locations
• building confidence to travel independently
• wellbeing support.

Once the pilot is complete, we will evaluate the program to see if it is a viable ongoing service for the Latrobe Valley. We will also look at the possibility of expanding the service to other regional areas in Victoria.

Find out more or book the service.
Call 1300 700 399 or email companion@travellersaid.org.au

A group of 15 residents from Rushall Retirement Village stand on the balcony of an old 1888 cream and burgundy building in Ballarat.

Residents from Rushall Retirement Village in Melbourne used Travellers Aid’s services for a day trip to Ballarat in March.

Five Travellers Aid volunteers met the group of 23 residents who arrived at Southern Cross by train, then took them via buggy to meet their V/Line connection. The volunteers travelled with the group to offer companionship and extra practical support.

In Ballarat, the group visited the Old Colonists’ Association building and enjoyed lunch at The George Hotel. The Rushall Park group has used Travellers Aid’s services for
other outings, including a day trip to Portarlington on Port Phillip Ferries.