A microboard is a small group of people, typically committed family and friends of a person who experiences challenges in life. That group of people form an incorporated association for the benefit of that person.
The microboard works with the person to help them plan and achieve their goals for a good life. They put the persons goals, dreams, needs and desires at the centre of their decisions and actions (i.e. a person-centred approach). It also helps the wider community to have a relationship with the person and to benefit from their contribution.
Depending on a person’s particular needs, a Microboard’s role can include assisting with coordinating support services, finding and keeping employment, facilitating friendships & social community.
Why have a Microboard?
Safeguard your good life, even when parents are no longer around
When the main carers like parents or siblings are unable to support their family member due to death, old age or ill health having a Microboard means that the person with a disability still has people around them that know them really well and can support them to continue building a good life. The legal structure of a Microboard ensures accountability to the person with a disability.
Enable choice and control in decision making
Microboards embed supported decision making into their constitutions. So the person at the centre of the microboard is more likely to be supported to be in charge and have control over their lives.
Manage funding in a transparent and accountable way
Microboards like all incorporated associations must by law report on their financial management, improving the likelihood of funding being spent appropriately.
Reduce liability of members but ensure honesty
Incorporation protects committee members from most personal liability but leaves them with the responsibility to act honestly and prudently.
Keep the vision and knowledge of your good life alive
Microboards formalise the vision for your life by embedding it in the association objectives to which all members must work to. They also must keep records about your interests, likes, loves, pet peeves and needs.
Sets out rules about how the association shall operate
These rules are designed to ensure that the human rights of the person at the centre of the microboard are upheld and the association operates fairly, responsibly and accountably to its members. They also protect against dishonesty and manage matters such as conflict of interest.
Apply for grants
Incorporation allows organisations to apply for a much wider range of public and private funding. Many government and philanthropic organisations make it a basic requirement that applicants for funding are incorporated.
Tap into the creativity and networks of a group
Helping a person with a disability to create a good life can be very challenging. It can be difficult for families to think of ideas, make plans and implement them on their own. Having a Microboard means that you can tap into the creativity, skills and social connections of others to make your plans happen.
Use your NDIS funding in more creative and effective ways
While there are service providers available that can take on support coordination, their role is usually limited to financial management and the task of imagining and creating a good life still lays with the person with a disability and their family. Service providers also are constrained by their rules, organisational policies and limited resources so their focus may not always be on what is best for your family member. Having a group of people who are committed to freely give their time to help build a good life who are not so constrained is more optimal than soley relying on service providers.
Brings the community into your life
Having people in the community working together as part of a team to support a person with a disability is also good for the community as a whole. The community learns how to be more inclusive as Microboard members act as champions for the person with a disability. The community can see that it is not the sole responsibility of paid, specially trained people to enable people with disability to live good lives through the example of Microboard members.
History of Microboards
The first microboard was established in 1984 by David and Faye Wetherow to support a young man to leave an institution. Today in British Columbia, there are currently over 1000 microboards, supported in their establishment by Vela Microboards Association.