Meet Joel and Ben
Most parents can look forward to a time when their kids are able to go out independently. That's not the case, however, for Joel, 19, and his 17-year-old brother Ben, both of whom live with autism and will always need constant supervision.
"Both boys have moderate intellectual delay," says their mum, Di. "Ben is still at school – he has needed behaviour support in the past. Joel has finished school and goes to a day program, but he has no money skills and gets easily confused.
"He's also very good-natured, so there's a high risk that people could take advantage of him if he didn't have someone with him."
Joel loves the cinema and theatre — especially musicals — but is now at an age where he is charged adult prices, so having a NSW Companion Card eases the financial burden for Di and husband Greg.
"We've taken Joel recently to see The Addams Family musical, and to Grease," says Di. "We often use his Companion Card, and Joel's, to take them to movies at Event Cinemas, and we've been to the Royal Easter Show and the Camden Show.
"We're planning to use the Card at the Gold Coast theme parks. We've been to Jamberoo on the South Coast — my boys love all that sort of thing.
"With the Companion Card, the boys are the cardholders. So if they are in respite and their carers take them out, the carer can still use the Card for free entry."
Many NSW buses, ferries and trains — including Intercity and the entire Sydney public transport network — accept the Companion Card. "This has been a great help," Di says.