Taking control of accessibility in Dubbo
I had a stroke four years ago, on my 61st birthday. It has affected mobility on my left side and prevented me from working for three years.
Looking back, I can see that in the years before there was a period where I wasn’t well. I didn’t recognise that there was something fairly serious wrong.
Late last year I got involved in a new peer support group in Dubbo, which we now call Wheelies.
It’s been interesting. We meet up once a month. The group was set up for people with a spinal cord injury, but it has since opened up to anyone that uses a wheelchair. We’re encouraging carers to come along too.
We talk about things like the NDIS and how to manage our plans. We had somebody from Disability Advocacy out to talk to us and we’re trying to organise somebody from NDIA to come out too.
Accessibility in Dubbo
The group was set up in the beginning as a social thing but the people in the group have taken a more active line, lobbying council on accessibility issues around Dubbo.
Some of the roads and footpaths are pretty bad. Disabled parking is another issue that we are looking at.
We approached the mayor and he attended one of our meetings. He gave his perspective and we gave ours. He is going to set up a panel to look at accessibility issues in Dubbo. Hopefully some of our members will be on that panel.
We are taking control of something that traditionally we wouldn’t have had control of. I can’t achieve much as an individual but in a group I can.
Getting back to work
I spent a lot of time trying to convince the department of education of that I can still work as a teacher from a wheelchair. I had to go and see a health and well-being officer. There seemed to be an assumption that I was unable to work.
One of the purposes of my life was been taken away from me. Work is not everything but it’s an important part of my life.
Now I have succeeded in picking up bits of casual work. It’s a foot in the door.
I think we all need peer support in one way or another. It’s important to recognise that it doesn’t always have to happen in a peer group environment. I am lucky to have friends to hang out with in other social situations too.
The Team Up peer training has been very useful. I will certainly be taking that back and trying to use those skills more in my life.
Peter Settree facilitates the Wheelies Dubbo peer support group. He recently attended Team Up peer facilitation training in Sydney.
Peter works casually as a high school teacher of science and computing.
Find out more
See our peer support resources to find out more about peer support.