Neurological, physical, sensory and cognitive impairments
What do you do with your time?
I spend my time studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in chemistry at Deakin University and contributing to organisations such as
- Barrabool Hills Landcare Group
- Corangamite Youth Advisory Group
- Geelong Landcare Network
- Youth Affairs Council Victoria
- Australian Youth Climate Coalition Geelong Branch
- Physical Disability Australia and Physical Disability Australia Youth Network.
I am also a member at Winchelsea Men’s Shed, a great local community organisation.
Hobbies and other interests
I enjoy contributing to the community and working towards building a better world for all by supporting fantastic charities and not-for-profits like Physical Disability Australia, which advocates for and with people with physical disabilities for a more accessible Australia.
I also support Youth Affairs Council Victoria which as the peak body representing young people in Victoria ensures young people’s voices are heard and listened to by decision makers, and Geelong Landcare Network which does fantastic environmental work supporting communities to manage country for better farming and environmental outcomes.
My interests and hobbies include anything nature-related including bird photography and identification, which I am not very good at but enjoy immensely, enjoying Australian native plants, science of all topics but particularly chemistry, and good mystery books.
I acquired disability in 2015. At the time I was studying ballet in Melbourne, and during the subsequent year of increasing health deterioration it became clear that I was not returning to the ballet world.
My life since I was 13 had been focused on that career and at the time all but one of my friends were in the ballet world.
My proudest achievement was that I hit the reset button and made a new life with new interests, passions and challenges.
In 2017 despite not having an ATAR from school I started studying part-time, due to health reasons, at Deakin College.
After meeting many new friends and lots of hard work I finished a Diploma of Science at Deakin College, graduating with the highest grade of my cohort, and transferred into second year of a Bachelor of Science at Deakin University.
Getting involved in community organisations in the Surf Coast area helped me to form new interests, make new friends and reconnect with our great community.
I am proud of many personal achievements reflected in awards in academic and community contribution areas, but I am most proud of my resilience and determination over the challenging past six years.
What would you like people to know about being a person with disability living in the Surf Coast Shire?
People with disability are extremely diverse in terms of their disabilities, impairments and life backgrounds.
It is very important not to assume anything about people with disabilities.
People with visible disabilities, such as people who use a wheelchair can often be assumed to require assistance or need help.
If you see a person with a visible disability who is for example carrying groceries treat them like any other person and if they look like they need a hand ask them if they would like you to assist.
Don’t assume and grab the groceries out of their hands and ask them where their carer is. People with disabilities are feeling, thinking people, treat them as such.
People with invisible disabilities, such as a heart or neurological conditions, can often be assumed to be being ‘weird’ due to actions they are taking to manage their condition, like lying down or resting for a heart condition, or ‘lazy’ as they are perceived to not be doing the physical work of a non-disabled person.
My disabilities are mostly invisible but I do wear dark sunglasses due to light sensitivity caused by a neurological condition.
This has resulted in some amusing examples of people in supermarkets leaping out of the way because they thought I was blind and dangerous with a trolley.
This story is amusing but at the other extreme of assumptions when I have been exiting a parked vehicle in a disabled parking spot I have had people stop driving past, beep their horn and yell out their window that I shouldn’t be in a disabled car park.
This was clearly because I didn’t meet their definition of what ‘disabled’ looks like.
When in doubt about how to treat a person with disability, think about how you would like to be treated.
Facts about disabilities:
- 48% of working-age people with disability are employed, compared with 80% without disability.
- One in six Australians have a disability, that is 4.4 million people or 18% of the Australian population.
- For about three in four, or 77 per cent, of people with disability their main form of disability is physical.
Link: Physical Disability Australia