I actually don't return to work until the 6th but couldn't pass up the opportunity on this special day to share some of the thoughts of my Taree colleague, Mrs Paule Jarvis.
Paule's been with NOVA for a while and is both an effective Employment Consultant and a powerful advocate for people with disability .
You can see her Youtube story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXe-6qDksDs
And the text from her speech (delivered today) is below.
Well done Paule, and my congratulations to everyone working to make today specially memorable.
See you Monday!
When the United Nations declared 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled, it was a very big thing for people with Disabilities, it marked the advent of a lot of changes. Disabilities had long been something people felt uncomfortable talking about.
It was not good for a person with a Disability to go out in public. Access was almost impossible, there were so many barriers. Stairs, gutters, no Disabled Taxi’s. no Disabled friendly crossings.
Actually crossing at lights was like playing Space Invaders.
To be Disabled one needed many qualities, patience, for the endless waits. People who would eventually get to you. Good sense of humor, allowing you to see the funny side of the horrified look on people’s faces after you have completed a cartwheel down some steps and landed in a heap with your dress up around your neck. Then pick yourself up, shake yourself off, actually that was to make sure your dress was back in place.
In the early days, Education was an issue. I had to leave school in 2nd Year or 9. Not because of a Disability but because we were living in an age where Education for woman was not considered important. However I loved reading and was able to continue to educate myself I decided I wanted to do Nursing. In those days high school marks were not a part of the essential criteria to do Nursing. I pestered various establishments and finally began my Nursing Career at Prince Henry Hospital. I was so proud. At 19 years of age and during my second year, I was involved in a major car accident, where I lost a leg. Then after a 2 year battle, at 21, I lost the other one. The end of my Nursing Career. It was around about this time I was diagnosed with a very rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. I was fitted with artificial legs and learnt to walk again. Then I decided I wanted to learn to drive. Drama’s again. After countless Medical Reports it was decided I may be allowed to obtain a Drivers License on the condition I was reviewed every year.
However this has not stopped me leading a full happy life. I have been a wife and mother, with lots of wonderful children that my husband and I parented, by fostering, adopting and natural means. When I was first expecting my son a well meaning Doctor advised me not to proceed. I chose to continue and my eldest son is the father of my beautiful Grand Daughter. Next time it was very hard to get me to a Doctor. People were worried how I would manage my baby but I did it my way, which took a little longer. What they didn’t understand. Children have no prejudices. They are happy wait
At a later stage my marriage broke down, I came back to NSW. I knew my options were very limited and employment would be impossible to obtain. So rather than go on a Pension I open my own business an Antique Shop in one of the Beachside Suburbs in Newcastle. After a couple of years I operated 2 shops. Than after 5 years I sold the business and brought our own home. Just myself and my sons.
An old friend offered me some reception work, which I loved, this allowed me to set in place some props to assist me do my job independently. Computers were just making an entry into the workplace. It was hard for me with my fingers, so I found a simple rubber tipped pencil allowed me to do Data Entry as good as the next person. Don’t ever tell yourself I can’t do this. Ask yourself how will I do this.
Some years later I was very privileged to meet a wonderful man. Who understood and shared my dream, a life in the country. So we eventually brought a property and moved from the city. In the rural sector it was like stepping back in time as far as attitude to Disabilities went.
I took advantage of this time and completed a bridging course into the University of New England. I took up some Disabled issues and actually became a member of their Advisory Board. My interest was accountancy. At that time I was appointed by the Administrator to oversee one of the local indigenous organizations. For a few months. This was full-time work and after 5 years I resigned due to my Health. Whilst there I was able to assist with setting up the local Taxi Company. I obtained my Taxi Driver’s Authority and drove a couple of nights a week, until they discovered I had a Disability. They took my Driver’s Authority immediately. However during that time I had been able to learn the System enough to train others, who would have never had the opportunity.
Due to my husband’s health we had to move to Forster for him to receive treatment. By now I was fully confined to a wheelchair as my back had given out.
Listening to radio one morning I heard someone talking about employment for people with Disabilities. Made me think yes I was ready to go back to work. Let’s see how good they are. I rang them, Nova Employment. A couple of months after my initial interview they offered me a job. Part time which I embraced because they followed the same values as myself. Equality in Disabilities.
Ten years later I am still a staff member, I have been able to complete my studies in Disabilities. I have able to undertake Mental Health Training to a Facilitator’s level. In a new program from America. I am an active member of the NSW Police Disability Advisory Panel. I have become a Court Advocate for people with Disabilities through the Criminal Justice Support Network. Then a very important thing for people with Disability in this area is the local Access Committee. Who have played a major role in today’s event’s.
So lastly I ask you, don’t be afraid to ask about anything you don’t understand about a person with a Disability and don’t offer boundless sympathy because we will possibly get sick of it and play on it. you see I don’t consider I have a Disability, I often make the mistake of feeling sorry for someone with a sore foot. You set your own boundaries, you can go as far as you want only you will do it differently. You will do it your way
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