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Belonging Matters holds a Community Vision Building Retreat for Families every second year. Participants at retreats are assisted to develop and hold onto a rich vision for their sons/daughters to enable them to live a rich, valued and meaningful community life. Participants also hear from other families about the practical ways they have created a vision for a meaningful life and how they made it a reality. It is an opportunity to create new friendships for mutual support. These retreats have been developed in response to families who have not found congregate, group, segregated or“specialised” services suitable to the needs and aspirations of their family member with a disability.

Image of morning tea at a retreat

Past Retreats

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a Image of workshop at a retreat
Image of workshop at a retreat

​​​​Community Vision Building: Weekend Retreat For Families

Darcy Elks
26th and 27th July 2014


A weekend away at picturesque Warburton, staying at Oscar's on the Yarra, this interactive retreat proved to be a truly unique, educational and rewarding experience for several families and the staff of Belonging Matters. The focus was on building a clear and coherent vision for family members with a disability, aiming to plan a future that is well intertwined with community and connection. Presenter Darcy Elks, all the way from Pennsylvania, shared her experiences as a mother of three children, one with a disability, on creating inclusive communities where all people are welcome and where each person can share their gifts for the good of one another.

Feedback: "Wow! What an extraordinary weekend we have just had at the Belonging Matters Family Retreat. Thank you to Deb and everyone involved in the organisation. Darcy Elks has shown us how it is possible to create and implement a vision for an independent, interesting and meaningful life for our daughter Morgan, free of programs and services. Darcy’s insight and lived experience is truly inspiring for those of us with young people with high and complex needs. Now there are ways of thinking, new ideas and approaches that we had never considered for us to explore and investigate and turn into a reality. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you! from all of us at:"

Image of workshop at a retreat


​​​​Community Vision Building: Retreat for Families​

Darcy Elks
20th, 21st & 22nd July
Phillip Island

This was a rare and exciting opportunity for families interested in assisting their family member with a disability to plan for, and pursue a diverse and meaningful life in the community. This retreat assisted families to develop and hold onto a rich vision by: Understanding the importance and power of creating a vision for a full and meaningful life; Exploring their son/daughter’s true and unique identity including gifts, desires, passions and fundamental needs; Calling forth and celebrating personhood; Pursuing pathways that are available to other citizens e.g. through living in ones’ own home, work, recreation, education and other options; Building community relationships, friendships and valued roles; Establishing natural authority thus enabling empowerment; Building safeguards for the future

Feedback: Thought provoking, Hope, Enlightening, Inspirational, Vision building, Very informative, New thoughts and ideas, Challenging, Expanding, Clouds lifting, Terrific, Thinking for the future, Valued roles, Learning to understand there is life...after day placement, Networking, Excellent – concise, Very easy to listen to, Would recommend to other families, Made me think outside the square, It has opened up so many new thoughts and avenues to explore, Throw away the attitude of “too hard”!, Sharing of personal stories and the huge range of solutions different people come up with for their son or daughter , Sharing the evenings with the group!

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