Well, I was born with a retinal eye disease called ‘Retinitis Pigmentosa’, nicknamed as RP. This disease causes the rod cells in the retina to die which causes a decline of my vision over time. This disease causes tunnel vision, night blindness and over time blindness. For me it’s been a steady decline in my vision however difficult to notice until I look back in time. I remember as a school kid playing cricket, football and riding a bike as a kid without any problems, then playing basketball in high school but started to have problems seeing the ball even in the lit up courts at Cockburn Basketball Stadium.
When I finished high school my mum guided me into the direction of disability services. I went to college to study as a social trainer and begin my career in the helping industry. This was a difficult decision as I had a love for art and a creative mind, however, I persisted and completed the course. At age 19yrs, I found my first job as a Disability Job Support worker in a high needs environment. This was amazing and really set the stage for me and my journey helping others with a disability. I was able to work closely with people with down syndrome, Autism, brain injuries and other intellectual & learning disabilities.
After spending 9 Years in this role, I decided to go to university and study counselling. I attended the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle Western Australia and earned my Bachelors degree. This was a unique time in the helping industry as we were becoming more exposed to mental health classed as a disability and for me this was a difficult transition. However I learned how mental health can be so disabling and affect a fully abled person in ways that people with blindness, hearing loss and physical disabilities have dealt with all their lives. The power of the mind intrigued me and has done ever since.
At aged 24 yrs I was reintroduced to my artistic side and found a passion for music. I joined a band named Cartwheels in the Dark and performed around Perth’s top hotels and bars. I loved this art form so much I created a number of solo albums you can find in my online shop today. I continue to write and record my music which is still to this day my passion.
After completing my degree I began working as a counsellor in an industry that was conflicting and somewhat powerless. Although the intentions were good the government were forcing people on welfare to receive counselling when really they didn’t want to help themselves. Her I learned what an ideal client is. I found myself assessing people’s capacity to work and identifying barriers whether it was disabilities or circumstances that prevented them to move forward.
At age 32 yrs, I was looking to recapture some of my passion for sport an found one of the most amazing sports for the blind and vision impaired call Goalball. I began playing this sport with a couple others who had similar interests and we formed WA’s first Mens team to compete in the Australian Goalball Championships. From here I enjoyed it so much I wound up trying out for the Australian Goalball Squad and in 2011 was selected to represent Australia in the Paralympic Qualifiers in Sydney. What a blast, from here I managed to travel to China, USA, Japan, Thailand and South Korea as an Australian Athlete. During this self achievement I was co-founder and president of our club in Perth Called Goalball Western Australia Inc were we coached and trained kids and adults with blindness and vision impairments how to play the sport I’ve become to love. Here I learned about the benefits of inclusion and being a part of a community group. The positives this sport has brought to me and many others is priceless and will be a cornerstone of my proud moments.
More recently, in late 2018 I was able to complete my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) which was a great achievement for me. Studying again in my early 40s was hard work and I showed to myself under difficult circumstances that I can achieve anything. I once again work in the disability field with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which is a world first, enabling people with disabilities choice and control of the supports they need and how they receive them. This scheme has given me a second lease of life and the support I need to reestablish music. So stry tuned as I get back out there :)