As told by Brent’s Auntie, Michelle Hooke, CEO of Girudala Community Co-Operative Society Limited, Bowen. Michelle shares Brent’s story with the hope it will encourage all her mob to access NDIS supports.


About Brent

Brent is a proud Mitacoodi and Australian South Sea Islander man who was born with an intellectual disability. Brent is a loved and celebrated member of the Hooke family, cared for by his grandmother (Michelle’s mother) from an early age. He attended school through to Year 12 in Bowen, and was in supportive classes during high school.

When Brent finished Year 12 he had a normal transition from school to support services, attending Bowen Flexi Care Disability Support Services. Brent knows he has to get up each morning and to go to work each day, just like everyone else! He knows he has to earn the money that gets put into his bank account.

Brent has a very sunny and happy disposition, and everyone in the Bowen community knows and looks out for him – especially all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and South Sea Islanders. He rides his pushbike around town and everyone gives him advice on the road rules to make sure he is safe. Brent loves going to church – he attends many different churches as he will go to the church of whoever picks him up to take him there!

When his grandmother was moved to a nursing home due to her dementia, Brent, now in his 30s became essentially homeless. His aunties started looking out for Brent, however this was hard for him. His grandmother had been at home with him every day, and his aunties worked full-time so Brent found the change difficult. After some months Brent had made up his mind that he did not want to live with them. He wanted to live on his own.

Brent's Choice

It was around this time that the NDIS was getting started. Brent’s family hadn’t heard of the NDIS previously, but wanted to learn more as they realised that it would allow Brent to choose what he wanted to do, with a little support from them. To their excitement they learned that there was a lot of support through the NDIS to allow Brent to realise his dream of living on his own.

Brent attended his first meeting with his Auntie Michelle. Michelle stayed quiet during the meeting and let Brent do all the talking because she knew the choice of what he wanted to do with his life was Brent’s to make. He was very clear he wanted to live on his own.

Michelle and Brent’s family also recognised that they were no longer young people. They had to think of Brent’s future and not ‘be selfish and keep him under our wing’ so when they eventually pass on he will not be left on his own with no help.

Brent’s NDIS plan allows for a support worker to be with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He and a mate from Bowen Flexi Care Disability Support Services live in separate but adjoining units, sharing their support worker, as well as day to day things like chores and meals.

Brent has achieved his goal of living independently!

Reflections

Michelle says that Brent has ‘just blossomed’ under the NDIS. His family feel that he has grown up. They feel they may have molly coddled him a little previously, doing lots of the talking for him. Since he has lived on his own they’ve noticed he is more social and can have a conversation – rather than just giving a yes or no response.

They are very proud of how helpful he is in the supported accommodation complex he lives in, which has Elders living there too. He takes care of weeding in the garden and takes care of wheelie bin duties for all the residents of the supported accommodation complex.

Michelle recognises that Brent’s NDIS journey has been made easy because he was born and diagnosed with an intellectual disability. ‘He was already in the system when NDIS came along, so it was a lot easier for Brent than for our mob who are not diagnosed’.

The message Michelle wants to get across is ‘Don’t give up on your NDIS journey – there is light at the end of the tunnel. NDIS is a beautiful thing for people with a disability, whether intellectual or physical. NDIS is a great benefit for families’.

This story has been published in partnership with Feros Care and Girudala Community Co-Operative Society Ltd, as part of the Mackay & Regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pathways Project.

Artwork elements used in this post by Danny Eastwood.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ABORIGINAL, TORRES STRAIT & SOUTH SEA ISLANDER PATHWAYS PROJECT. CLICK HERE

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