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Update on The Dreamhouse

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Written by Justin's mum, Margaret Marshall.

It’s been three years since Justin, Kirk and Sarah packed up their bedrooms at home and moved into the Dreamhouse.

After production finished ten weeks later – Sarah having moved back home and buddy Sarah having moved in – it was a long slow process for Justin and Kirk to adapt to their new living arrangements in the ‘real world’.  Peta and I set up an extensive support network for our sons to allow this to work.  Buddy Phil became ‘house manager’, coordinating the boys’ activities and assisting with menu-planning on a weekly basis.  Subiaco Council provided Home and Community Care (HACC) support workers to cook a meal with the boys twice a week and help them with grocery shopping once a week.  Justin and Kirk each had their own support worker to accompany them on their chosen leisure activities.  And buddy Sarah was there in the background in times of need, e.g. to sort out squabbles, sibling rivalry issues, etc!

Just before Christmas 2014 Rachel moved in and the four housemates coexisted in harmony (most of the time).  The following April Sarah went overseas on a working holiday but it wasn’t long before it was evident that a replacement for Sarah was necessary.  Along came David, a university student who wished to live close to UWA, and shortly after his arrival Nick took the remaining spare bedroom.

David moved out again last week, after 10 months of sharing a house with people with disability, and we are again on the lookout for a replacement for him.

Justin and Kirk have come a long way since making the Dreamhouse their home and are much more independent now.  Although they still have HACC help with cooking a couple of meals, they are now very good atgrocery shopping and making simple meals by themselves.  A weekly cleaning roster was set up in the early days so housework is shared by all housemates.  Room inspection is carried out every three months and so far no complaints so they must be doing a good job!

It was an extremely exciting time when 'The Dreamhouse' went to air in Aug/Sept 2014.  With a viewing audience of 600,000, articles appearing in all major newspapers around the country, radio interviews, guest speaker requests and a large following on Facebook – no wonder Justin, Kirk and Sarah became household names!  They were recognised in the street (sometimes also us mothers!) and people would stop to express their joy at having seen the series – even when they went to Melbourne and Sydney!

It has been an incredible journey for the housemates and their families – in fact a life-changing experience for all involved.