“We are the expert in our lives. We are living with disability.”
My name is Tony Petrin. I’m 30 years old and I have a disability called cerebral palsy.
I work at Northcott three days a week. I help people with disability do activities like go out to the park, bowl, garden, cook, and lots of things like that. I help people to be independent in their own life.
I worked on two summer camps in Canada before. That was a lot of fun. I met new people and learned new skills. I helped campers reach their best. Summer camp helped me get out of my comfort zone and be more confident in myself.
When I read about peer support on the Team Up website, I wanted to learn more. I liked the idea of peer support with others in the community. I feel like with the NDIS and with disability organisations there is not enough support about the simple issues.
In a peer support group you can discuss the NDIS, how to get a job, or how best to get around the city. I think it’s important to talk about those issues, because it helps people with disability get more confident in their life.
I never heard about peer support groups before this. When I was young it was unheard of. I reckon if I had known about peer support when I was younger, a lot of questions would have been answered.
Learning and growing with peers
I really like the Introduction to Peer Support course because it goes in a slow pace and over three weeks. You get a better understanding of what peer support is.
The most empowering statement I learned on that first training course is that “we are the expert in our lives”. Not our doctor, not our physio or service providers. We are the experts. We are living with disability.
I liked meeting people from different walks of life and just talking to them, it really opened my world up. Every time you meet someone new or get a new idea, the brain gets bigger. If you do the same job over and over you don’t learn anything new.
After the three-day course, I decided to do the facilitation training, to learn how to facilitate my own peer support group.
It makes you push yourself a bit more and understand more about peer support.
When I practised facilitating my own part of the training, it felt great. I have some things to work on but I feel like I got everyone involved and asked people different questions.
Spreading the word
Now, my plan is thinking about going back to Northcott and teaching them about peer support in a workshop. I want to look at how I can set up a peer support program and we can meet maybe once a month.
I’m interested in going to other peer support groups and learning what they do and also maybe setting one up in my local community.
We can discuss issues like accessibility, the NDIS, finding and keeping a job, tips and tricks about life and relationships.
I reckon it would be cool if there were people in my local community who wanted to get out of their comfort zone, meet new people and have support for solving issues in their life.
If you are interested in being part of a peer group in the Wetherill Park area of Sydney, get in touch with me.
Find out more
See our peer support resources to find out more about peer support.