For many, the NDIS is new and possibly daunting. Nathan Maher has been there! He shares his story and his tips for making the most of your funding.

Photo: Nathan, his mum and Kurt Fearnley. Kurt Fearnley was and still is Nathan's motivation for lots of things in his life. Nathan and his parents met Kurt in his hometown of Newcastle, and they just seemed to hit it off.

The last five years have not been easy for Nathan Maher. In fact, they've been the opposite. But you wouldn't know it speaking to him.

In April 2014, Nathan was a healthy 35 year-old who was rarely sick. A month later he became critically ill with a life-threatening form of meningitis and placed in an induced coma. He was not expected to see out the month. Although he did, by July of 2015 Nathan was a double amputee.

Nathan shares his story as background, however it is not his focus. Instead, he is full of gratitude for the people who have helped him to harness his own determination and regain his control and independence.

People like Cindy Seaman, his Feros Care Local Area Coordinator, who understood Nathan’s needs and built a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Plan that maximised every dollar so he could have those needs met.

“Cindy’s knowledge of the NDIS is truly remarkable, and not just about the supports offered by the NDIS, but what supports I, as a double amputee with numerous underlying medical conditions will benefit from in the future” says Nathan.

Through the planning process, Cindy linked Nathan to other professionals he could choose from, who could provide the supports he needed.

Nathan refers to his work with Physiotherapist Matt Croger as ‘life-changing’ due to his invaluable pain management focus.

“I came to Matt weak and extremely overweight from lack of mobility due to debilitating pain. Put simply, Matt has rebuilt me from the ground up. Matt is constantly making me redefine my beliefs in what I am capable of achieving and has supported me in every sense of the word”.

Nathan has lost 65kg and is able to manage his pain. His work with Matt has not only helped restore his confidence and self-belief, it’s pushed him beyond his limits.

These days Nathan is fit and physically active, and a regular half and full marathoner. Completing his first half-marathon in October 2016, he credits his NDIS plan and the funding of a personal trainer Bernie Dowling from Body2Burn with his ability to achieve this goal. Training time with Bernie was pivotal in his recovery. Nathan was not only able to lose 30 kg in two and a half months, it became a form of therapy for him.

He has since participated in many marathons and runs – at times seizing the opportunity to raise money for organisations like the Starlight Foundation and Ks for Kids. His best time is 1 hour 21 minutes.

Nathan Maher - first event

Photo: Nathan and his big sis who convinced him to do his first ever event. 30km equaled six grueling laps around the lake on the wettest and windiest day in over ten years! Nathan raised well over $5,000 for charity!

Nathan’s Top Tips for Maximising your NDIS Plan

Although the NDIS began its roll out in the ACT in 2014, for many participants around Australia it is still new. As someone with first-hand experience of the scheme as a participant, Nathan is keen to pass on his wisdom.

  1. Know what your goals are, and speak with as many people as you can in the community about your goals.
  2. Once you are clear on your goals, be persistent and relentless about achieving them – this is the rest of your life, so it’s important.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be picky with your service providers. Your Local Area Coordinator can provide you with details of those that might suit your needs, however it’s up to you to choose. So ask questions, read reviews, ask around and make sure you’re happy with them!

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