Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My Quest is Over, Now to Become A Statesman

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. Thomas Jefferson
Life changed for me yesterday. A whole new world has opened up for me. My two year quest to become independent will finally be at an end on December 27. In just two weeks I will be moving out of my parents' home on the Sunshine Coast (about a decade too late) and begin living independently in the city lights of Brisbane.

A few months ago, you may remember that the Queensland Housing Commission offered me a house to live in. However, there was a catch. I had to come up with the funds for 7 hours of in home support a day to help with my personal care needs. I was told this would cost upwards of $100,000 per year. Given that the Queensland Premier has cut everything except his ego this was not a viable option.

Last week I reached the end of my rope and turned up to the local Disability Services Queensland (DSQ) Office uninvited. My political skills were put to good use because I had to outline the gravity and urgency of my particular situation in intimate detail. Given all the shit I have given DSQ publicly and privately over the past two years, the bureaucrats I encountered were enormously helpful and sympathetic.

Enter YoungCare. Whether it be through happenstance or organised chaos DSQ were able to find me a place at the Sinnamon Park complex of units, located between Brisbane and Ipswich, which will provide me with guaranteed personal care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When the two bureaucrats described the set up in the complex I had to admit I was very skeptical. As I was well aware, the trade off for 24/7 care is that I would have to share resources with other people with disabilities. Experiences of others I knew taught me that such ventures were tantamount to institutionalisation: the very thing I had been working hard to avoid my entire life. I had a week between my meeting with DSQ and my tour of YoungCare to dream up worst case scenarios in my head that would make stories of A Current Affair look like Play School.

Thankfully my visit to YoungCare yesterday made those fears turn out to be utter nonsense. The complex is equipped with the best set of facilities I have ever seen. Including a private unit, and my choice of whether I want to be involved in communal activities or not. I was continually jealous of my contemporaries in my native South Australia who always had superior disability services to the backward looking Queensland. Now they will be jealous of me, because I will have complete autonomy to live the life I want as independently as possible. Those without disabilities take for granted their freedom. The ability to stay out late, get pissed, pick up a girl (or three), take her (or them) home, and wake up the next morning with a stupid self congratulatory grin on their face. Now it is my turn!

Through an extraordinary amount of sponsors and donors the complex is also equipped with everything I could ask for: wheelchair accessible vehicles, cable TV, a gourmet chef, internet access and air conditioning. This also applies to things I never want such as therapy and exercise equipment.

What I cannot get across in mere words is how life changing this development is for my family and I. A lifelong goal for my Mum, Dad and I is about to be reached in a safe, secure environment without compromising any of my values. For the first of many, many times I am asking friends and readers to donate whatever money you can to YoungCare. With the gift I have been given I now have the responsibility to change someone else’s life, just as mine will be.

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