Picture this, a then rather stubborn and independent 24 year old gal, living the hectic life of a university student, always running (metaphorically) about the place, never still. Heavily involved in University life, student politics and trying to maintain friendships and the all-important social life. Trying to juggle so many pursuits that you are never home
Then, the perils of life decide to strike, knocking the confidence out of you like a cannonball. You have a stage 4 pressure area which puts you into hospital for months on end, enduring many treatments. Some you think unnecessary in your deluded and confused state of mind. After 3 months, you’re transferred to a transitional care program, and are to be there for another 3 months, which ends up being 4, all within an aged care facility. During this time, you feel lost, confused, vulnerable…shutting yourself away in your room, your own internal prison away from the madness.
After these 4 months, you are then told that you will be shifted to another aged care to recover, and are to be there for another 3 months. 3 months swiftly turned into almost 4 years, and I am still living where I am now.
To a place where no young person should be forced to merely exist within. In this day and age, it is an utter injustice that young people have limited options when it comes to housing and supports. I acknowledge there has been progress within the housing and disability space however; yet again we see a worsening problem with over 7,000 young people existing within the aged care system.
I have not and will not let being in a nursing home beat me. The tattoo, emblazoned on my arm states: “Set No Limits” with the Chinese characters for strength, courage wisdom and life. All values of which I’ve tried to uphold all through life, but oh so relevant in the last few years. The last two years have sheer proof and have hit many a milestone. Why should a nursing home stop me from kicking goals? The time was now to start kicking some personal goals. The people I have worked with, those recently met, the experiences, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have also have been extremely lucky to find work combining two of my passions, and working for a website that is going to be a game-changer in the disability industry, along with extremely supportive workmates/friends. The immense support from all corners has helped to a large degree also. I have truly tried to defy the constraints of living within the boundaries of a nursing home over the last year and a bit.
In my spare time (what’s that?!) Advocacy and activism has been and still is a passion of mine. And well, have always been the quiet little conformist! Ahem. And never interested in politics, no, not one bit. My activist/advocacy journey, started some years ago, back in 2008/09. When I started University in 2007, I soon after was involved in many collectives and a political-themed group or two. I began attending Rights rallies in Melbourne, with many of my friends. This was an immense rush, every time to say the least.Working towards one common goal, equality.
During this time, I travelled quite a bit back to my hometown of Ballarat, regularly to give my voice to local equal rights activism. It was then, I met a dear activist friend, Kobyand to this day we are still in contact. I am also still involved in many movements also. The long-term comrades I have met along the way in this journey have been many, and the experiences are once in a lifetime.
It has been since then too, more so in the last few years that I have been comfortable in my own skin, feeling free to be who I really I am, without fear of judgement (to an extent). To be honest, too, I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in years.
But with this also, I have to face the stigmas of society, as many of my comrades do. Not only is there stigma about the LGBTIQA+ communities, but for people with disabilities, preconceived notions about sexuality. The myths, the stereotypes. Many of which I thought would be addressed in this day and age, but no. There are still assumptions that we are asexual or the other extreme. I could go on with the many that are made. For someone who lives in a nursing home, these are ten-fold. On top of this, the lack of Equality in the country I live in.
Why the community can’t be treated as equals, especially in the year 2016 I am bewildered by. The backwards attitudes, the hatred, the discrimination, why? Why can’t Australia be a wonderful diverse society with everyone accepting people, for who they are and celebrate it, instead of the constant reports of violence, bigotry, hate crimes and the like. It must stop. Why can’t we all co-exist in a welcoming, kind, compassionate and open society.
For the majority of the world’s nations to have equality legalised, and Australia left behind is beyond a joke! Whilst I acknowledge there have been small movements to help the process along, we should have equal marriage rights in place by now. A marriage isn’t just a day to celebrate a couple’s love in a church (or place of choosing), that piece of paper means so much more legally and ethically. It means peace of mind, making sure that your loved one is looked after if something happens to him/her, and that either one has rights; physically, financially and medically. It means legal recognition of a couple’s love. If and when I find someone special, I would want them to be looked after if something were to happen, and the reason for that is obvious.
May 10, 2016