Music therapy, work placements among opportunities lost in Radius closure

SOUR NOTE: Albert Skipper's mood is sombre while sitting inside the music studio frequented by Radius clients. Picture: DARREN HOWE
SOUR NOTE: Albert Skipper's mood is sombre while sitting inside the music studio frequented by Radius clients. Picture: DARREN HOWE


Radius employees and volunteers say they are devastated the organisation is entering administration, believing its absence leaves a gap in support for members of Bendigo’s disabled community.  

For five years, Albert Skipper has run a weekly music therapy program for a group of Radius clients, teaching them scales, breathing exercises and even how to play the drums. 

He said those lessons had a profound impact on the participants’ wellbeing and he was upset the classes would have to stop. 

“I've seen them go from not speaking at all, to actually getting words out – just from music,” Mr Skipper said.

“All of a sudden, their eyes would light up.

“The enjoyment they get out of it is undoubtedly priceless.”

The learning was mutual, Mr Skipper said, explaining he was also changed by his time spent alongside people with a disability. 

“For me, it was always about the connection. People say to me, 'Oh, they can't sing,' but if you listen in, you'll hear amazing things,” he said.  

But he remained hopeful something could be done to keep alive the opportunities offered by Radius, worrying other services could not cope with an influx of new clients. 

“All I know is we need bigger eyes and ears looking on this situation,” Mr Skipper said.

“As much as Bendigo wants to get behind it, it's sad no one has yet.

“It is a small organisation, but it's a worthwhile organisation.”

A Bendigo TAFE student completing a work placement at Morley’s Emporium as part of her Diploma of Community Service is another person affected by Radius’ closure.

She was told of the organisation’s fate at the end of her Monday shift and does not yet know where she will be able to complete her workplace training.  

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had seen the value of the service to its clients.

“It wasn't just about a job; it was their social life, their independence, their everything,” she said. 

“Even just the responsibility of catching the bus, getting to work and getting home every day.”

Having suffered debilitating epilepsy during her childhood, she was keenly aware of the need for services that integrated people with a disability into the broader community.

“I understand how judgmental and hard it can be in the real world,” the student said.

“But a lot of the public who went into the gift shop and cafe (Morley’s Emporium), it was teaching them that these people are normal.”