The Buddy System follows the lives of two young friends with disability as they prepare to move into their first house together as roommates. Ben is a 21-year-old with Down Syndrome, he is colourful, passionate and very outgoing, the most important thing to him is his community. His friend Zac is a 23-year-old with Kabuki syndrome, quieter, responsible and a bit more serious than Ben. The two share a love of banter, practical jokes, and superheroes.
Both have never lived out of home before. Ben is taking cooking classes, learning how to ride a bike and building an apparel business. Zac is busy finishing up TAFE, and has just started a new job. Together they are learning about independence and trying to prepare themselves before making the leap, but with the house already in construction they’ll need a lot of support from family and each other to help achieve their goal.
They will share their struggles, their hopes, and their goals for the future as we watch them on their journey. The Buddy System is a documentary about the importance of independence, adult friendships, and community for people with disability. This documentary aims to provoke a discussion for young adults with disability about undertaking a similar journey themselves.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Moving out of home is an important step for every young adult, however it is a much more difficult one to take for people with profound intellectual disability. Societal preconceptions and systemic barriers are in the way of gaining independence for young adults with disability. This documentary follows two young men, Ben who has Down Syndrome, and Zac who has Kabuki Syndrome. We will follow their journey to shatter preconceptions and shine a light on the importance of independence.
As Ben and Zac acquire the supports and develop the skills they will need to live on their own, we will learn the value of community and friendship. This film will empower other young people with disability to undertake this journey and gain control over their lives. Similar to Love on the Spectrum, this documentary will tackle a universal human anxiety and show an uplifting journey that dispels that fear.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
We hope to challenge the common concerns about people with disability living independently and create an open dialogue about how support can be given to allow young people to make this journey. It is everyone’s right to have independence and agency in their own life; this documentary will empower people with intellectual disability to see moving out as an option for them and will dispel fears that parents or carers have about the person they’re supporting moving out.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
The immediate outcome we want from people watching this documentary is an increased understanding and empathy for people with disability, and the value of choice and control. When people watch this documentary and see Ben and Zac having agency in their own lives and choices, they will see the benefits this has.
If, going forward, people stop and consider their actions towards people with disability then this project will have achieved its goal. Independence is the priority, and by showing people how they can support that, we will provide greater agency for people with disability.
In the long-term we hope to see more people with disability taking control of their lives in a similar way. It may not be necessarily moving out of home, but instead choosing where they need independence in their lives and being supported to reach that goal.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
We plan to partner with The Growing Space to provide facilitated screenings of The Buddy System which will discuss the content of the film and how people can undertake the same journey themselves. Using this platform, we will engage directly with our audience and be able to gauge how the film has affected them. Additionally, we will provide the film to other support coordination businesses to share with their clients.
Getting The Buddy System onto a national platform such as the ABC or SBS will provide it with the audience that will provoke a dialogue around this issue. Using our connections with these platforms we will ensure it gets distributed and can engage with a wide audience.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
For people with disability, we hope that after watching the film they will be more aware of what supports they can use to reach their own goals of independence. We want to empower them and make them feel motivated to take control of their right to choose and understand the agency they are entitled to in their own lives.
For supporters of people with disability, we want them to see the value that choice and control has for those they care for. We hope that they will move forward ensuring that the people in their lives are given the space and support to make their own choices.
For a general audience we want to provoke a dialogue that makes people more invested and interested in the disability sector. We want them to promote independence and perhaps even become interested in undertaking more action themselves.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
We will know that the film has been successful when support coordinators are receiving more interest from participants and clients in independent living. We will contact and survey the support coordinators to see what the impact of this film has been on their clients and the directions they’re taking on independence.
On a national scale, an increase in media coverage of independence for people with disability is our aim. Seeing more dialogue surrounding this issue would be a clear indicator of the success of this documentary.