The Oakleigh Centre, house for children with disabilities, was opened in 1978 and at the time of filming was one of the last institutions of its kind in Melbourne.
Founded by parents who had no other support at the time, many of the residents have lived most of their lives inside the centre.
After more than a decade of working towards redevelopment, OC Connections are closing the institution. Five blocks of land have been purchased in nearby suburbs and 29 residents are moving out to live in the community.
Leaving Allen Street introduces us to the residents, all who have intellectual disabilities and follows their journeys as they embark on their new lives.
There are some great characters highlighted as well as an insight into the relationships between carers and residents and the residents with each other. While there is some trepidation and concern from some residents and their families about such a significant change, the overwhelming feeling is that of excitement.
I like documentaries that I can learn something from, feel connected to and am uplifted by. Leaving Allen Street provided all of these things.
I learned about the progress being made in caring for people with disabilities, not just in moving from institutions to more home-like environments, but the changing perspective of doing things for people to doing things with them. Rather than just meeting their basic needs, working with them to achieve life goals, and work towards greater independence.
The individuals we learned about in the story were such great characters and it was hard not to smile and laugh along with them, as well as cry every so often. It was so heartwarming to see them being given choices and empowered to be more connected to the community and do things on their own.
Finally, I think we are all a little more aware of the importance and power of freedom in our lives. This really was a journey towards freedom for individuals that it was hard not to feel a connection to along the way. So valuable to see first hand what it can do for individuals to be listened to and gain the same rights and opportunities as others.
I highly recommend Leaving Allen Street for contagious happiness and inspiring hope when we need it most.
The virtual festival will take place online from 30th June until 15th July 2020. The VOD experience means you can binge any or all of the documentaries online 24/7, check out the website for more details and pricing.