Jenny’s extensive background in a range of human services has given her the opportunity to work with, and forge strong relationships with many people with disabilities and their families. She has a long term commitment to Capricorn Citizen Advocacy, having undertaken many roles within the organisation both during its formative years and since its inception.
Her community service has been equally diverse, ranging from being a Red Cross Calling collector as a teenager; an honorary Activities Officer for local Diabetes Youth Camps for more than 20 years; and an active committee member for a number of organisations with a focus on social justice. She is a former Deputy Chairperson of the Queensland Disability Advisory Council; a former Director of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA); and former President of the Qld Community Services Employers Association.
She currently sits on the Management Committee of the Capricorn Community Development Association (CCDA); is a core member of the Citizen Advocacy Study Group and is herself a Citizen Advocate is to a man with Down Syndrome.
Jenny is employed as the NDIS Appeals Advocate covering the Central Qld region and in her spare time loves to travel with partner Peter and lavish affection upon their adopted pussy cat, Bo-Bo.
I became interested in Citizen Advocacy when I attended a Social Role Valorisation (SRV) workshop early in my career as an Occupational Therapist (OT).
I was concerned regarding the vulnerability of people with disabilities, in particular those with few interpersonal relationships of a freely-given nature.
I joined like-minded people in CQ to explore advocacy options – and Capricorn Citizen Advocacy is the outcome. I have always being involved as an Associate Advocate to provide support to the Program and Advocates in the areas of SRV & OT as they pertain to protégés.
I joined the Management Committee in 2015 and have the role as Secretary.
I also became an Advocate for a young boy in 2018, and am appreciative of the opportunity to get to know him.
When I was first approached about becoming an Advocate in 2014, I must admit that I knew nothing about the organisation, what it did, or how it helped people in our community who had disabilities. I have always been passionate about helping those who could not, because of their circumstances help themselves and making sure they were not being treated unjustly. It did not take long for me to realise that I wanted to part of this group of volunteers who gave of their time to assist others.
During my time with Capricorn Citizen Advocacy I have been privileged to meet some very special folk who are being assisted by a Citizen Advocate. I was thrilled to work with a very special lady who needed help to enable her to live independently and manage her own day to day affairs. The reward you get, when you see someone’s life change and know that they are happy and enjoying a life that stretches them to achieve things they previously thought to be impossible, can’t be put into words. We may not be able to change the world, but if we can help to change one person’s life for the better – we have achieved much.
Age is no barrier to being an Advocate. There are people with disabilities who have been cared for by family until they were no longer able to provide the support. What a relief for an elderly parent to know that their adult son/daughter can be provided with a volunteer who has their best interest at heart.
As a Member of the Committee since 2017 I have also seen the other side of this organisation. Much time is spent making sure that Advocates are matched with just the right Protégé so that the relationship can grow. Not just a friend, but someone who can be trusted to stand up for them in any situation and help to bring out a satisfactory outcome. An Advocate can help by including the Protégé in any decision making process regarding their future. This is something that many of us take for granted, but can be overlooked when a person with disabilities is living in a paid-for environment.
If these stories touch your heart – you may want to think about becoming an Advocate too!
Michelle has been involved with Capricorn Citizen Advocacy since 2013 and she is now a Management Committee Member as well as a Citizen Advocate.
She brings with her a vibrant personality, teamed up with a can do attitude and a love for people.
Jim previously served for five years as a Committee Member from 2009 to 2014, including two years as Vice President. After a break he re-joined our board on 17 October 2017.
Jim’s working life started in England as a Mechanical Engineering Draughtsman, however in his mid twenties in 1975 he developed spasmodic double/quadruple vision. This eventually resulted in some major life changes. He underwent surgery in 1981 to remove a brain tumour from around the pituitary gland and also suffered a minor stroke, three bouts of pneumonia and an episode of pleurisy. In 1986 he underwent a second surgery to remove a regrown tumour and unfortunately came out of the operating theatre completely blind.
Jim did not let this setback stop him. He received a guide dog in 1986, enrolled in TAFE and learnt to type. He commenced university and completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1991 and was the first blind graduate at Central Queensland University. This lead to an appointment in 1992 as the Disabilities Officer at CQU; being their first blind employee. He joined no less than nine local boards and management committees after graduating. Thankfully for us this included Capricorn Citizen Advocacy.
Jim had five-way cardiac bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack at work in 1993. In 1999 tumours were diagnosed extending down his brainstem around his spinal chord. This also resulted in surgery and Jim became very weak in his arms, legs and tongue. It took six months before he could walk outside without the help of walls and furniture to hold him up. In 2000 he underwent radiation treatment for more brain tumours which caused a similar period of weakness and also an extended recovery.
Jim needed two stents for arteries in 2004 and then a good break from surgery ensued until 2017 when a ‘gamma knife’ was used to destroy three brain tumours with great success. Jim reports that he still has five tumours in his head.
Despite all of the mighty health battles over the years, Jim has never let his ongoing situation deter him from making the most of every day and from doing things that amaze others. In 1996 he was awarded a “Special Award” on Australia Day for services to the community.
Jim cleans his own house and makes his own furniture, however he does need someone to assist with the ironing and gardening. Anybody who knows Jim will attest that he possesses a wicked sense of humour; this includes regularly poking fun at himself.
He has a positive, determined, sunny side up personality and a wealth of wisdom and knowledge making him a very important member of our team.
I am passionate about social justice issues, and importantly supporting and assisting those most vulnerable in society to live with dignity. My background has been in crisis counselling and primarily working with those effected by domestic and family violence.
My current role has lead me to Rockhampton for the third time in my career, with my new position looking at supporting senior people who are at risk of, or who are experiencing abuse.
I am amazed at how the human spirit shines it’s brightest when we feel connected through a common goal – compassion, empathy and understanding are those components that make connection possible.