Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Youngcare Turns 10 But There's More To Do.

10 years ago today on April 21st 2005, Shevaune and David Conry with the support of close friends established Youngcare. Shevaune was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her mid twenties, and by the age of 33 was forced to live in a nursing home, because as hard as her family tried no one could provide the physical support that she required. Two and a half years after Youngcare was founded, in December 2007, Youngcare opened a two level fifteen room complex in Brisbane's Southwestern suburbs: the very building I live in now.

Youngcare first came to my attention back in 2007 when both Shevaune and David were profiled on Australia's 60 Minutes program. I can remember watching it with both my parents so vividly, because there was absolutely no way that anyone could possibly forget that story. The love and respect between the couple was so genuine and heartfelt. I remember thinking "I wish I could live there, but I don't have an acquired disability, so I have no chance."

Turns out I was wrong, although I didn't know it until five years later. Unfortunately, Shevaune passed away before I arrived, so I never had the chance to thank her for creating an organisation that has saved my life. Although Shevaune's story and her experience was the initial impetus for Youngcare, the creation of the organisation was the ultimate unselfish act. Youngcare is no longer just the basis of one story, but a vitally important organisation that is designed to change Australian society for the better.

At the moment there are currently 770,000 young Australians between the ages of 18 and 65 who are living in places that they should not be in, either in aged care, or with the support of a carer who has insufficient resources. For the past two and a half years I have made it my mission to share this important statistic to anybody who would listen.

In an environment where the NDIS is (unfortunately) government policy, it is great to give people with disabilities and/or their carers access to funding theoretically, but there are questions that arise in terms of infrastructure. In an ideal world, the NDIS would aim to provide independence to those 770,000 people, but even if they were to supply funding to half of those people, what accommodation do you provide so they can use their funding appropriately?

There is a clear shortage in this country of accessible housing for people with disabilities. Although Youngcare has another complex open on the Gold Coast, two more to come in Brisbane's northern suburbs, and a further one being developed in Western Sydney, these sites only go a short way to addressing this housing shortage. Though Youngcare will always continue to do fine work, and I will continue to push the cause for as long as I live, the larger problem of the overall shortage is one of the central public policy challenges in this country, and both State and Federal governments have not even begun to address the issue.

Now that I am safe, secure and happy my next quest is to continue Shevaune's legacy. Like she did I realise that now my dream has been achieved, my job is to ensure that others can live their dream too.

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Have you seen Whiplash?

It's the story of a young guy who spends his entire college life attempting to pursue his dream of being the best jazz drummer in the world. The majority of his time is either spent practising in front of a teacher who abuses him at every opportunity, or practicing so this student can win the teacher's approval.

As an audience member watching this movie you slowly begin to realise that the student will never ever receive the teacher's approval no matter how hard he tries. That is until the student realises that winning the teacher's approval is no longer necessary.

Whiplash, I've come to realise, is a broader metaphor for my dating experiences. I spend hours and hours trying to project the best version of myself that is not really even me, and no luck. I've tried an honest and direct approach by telling girls exactly what I've been seeking, still no luck, I've tried not to get attached to girls: no luck. I've even had what I refer to as 'dick brain' (which is exactly what it means): no luck. Through each of these iterations, each girl, and through each bad experience J.K Simmons may as well have been throwing a chair at my head.

I've had a notion I've been kicking around for a few months now that I articulated for the first time to a friend last week.
I'm in a different space than any of my contemporaries. Though this space might be influenced by my disability, I don't occupy this space because of the disability. A thorough examination of what my friends are doing, and based on the women I'm attracted to on dating sites (brains, looks, political awareness in various orders according to the individual) say that they want, the majority of women around my age want kids (No, just no), travel for exploration purposes (Too difficult, too expensive and never will be of interest to me anyway), and active people who "want to do things on weekends" (Give me my books, my TV, my movies, my music, and my football and/or cricket, and I'm happy, unless I am seeking out more of these things)  They might just be after one of these things or all three, but they are always the deal breakers.  
While I've been desperately searching for a relationship, I've learnt that I'm not willing to compromise on these aspects. Especially since I've been living on my own.
So, now I've learnt that unless something akin to a miracle happens I probably won't be in a relationship for at least another decade. By my reckoning, the potential mate would have already travelled, would have already had kids, or decided not to have them, and quite possibly would have gotten all her adventuring out of her system. She will come to value me because of my (seemingly) admirable qualities and they are ones that she has actively sought out: my hyperactive intellectualism and my dependability, chiefly. It's taken a long time for me to realise that girls in their late 20s and early 30s simply don't want the things that I offer.
So now, its just a matter of enjoying the freedom I fought so hard for. However this freedom, at least for the foreseeable future, comes with the caveat: it is destined to be fulfilled alone. It doesn't mean I have to be happy with that, or that I will stop chasing the women who interest me, it just means that I have to learn to be content with wishing that I could be with that friend of a friend, but realising intellectually that it will never happen.

I'm just tired of chairs being thrown at my head. I know that at least for right now no one is ready, not even me, to satisfy the want that will always be there but is so difficult to explain.