THE drive from Bulleen to Oakleigh once a month was long but worth it, says Emma Slaviero.
Between March and October last year Mrs Slaviero and her daughter, Melissa, travelled from Bulleen to Impact Social Services in Oakleigh. Melissa would learn about dating and relationships in the organisation's Social Impact program.
At times the topics, which included dating and safe sex, were foreign to Melissa, 41, who has Down syndrome.
" It was a little bit daunting at first, " Mrs Slaviero recalls. "She's not sexually active, so that was a little bit confronting for her."
But despite the awkwardness, Social Impact has made a huge difference to Melissa's life.
"She learnt a lot from the program," Mrs Slaviero says. "It was certainly worth the travelling for her development."
Mrs Slaviero embraced the opportunity for her daughter to be gently introduced to concepts of intimacy and relating to others.
'If there's anyone she does feel comfortable with and does meet, that's wonderful," she says. "I'm all for making sure she's out there, being given opportunities that my other two children were given."
Although the program has ended for this year, Melissa will continue to attend the social events in future. "It's extremely good to have programs like Social Impact where they can continue developing in a safe way, where they can meet and have fun and feel good and be safe.
"Melissa couldn't go to a normal disco on her own, so if she can go to programs like this and have a good time, that's wonderful."