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Inform issue 22 – Autumn 2017

  • Text
  • Products
  • Netball
  • Abilities
  • Spinal
  • Ndis
  • Inform
  • Autumn
  • Disability
  • Australia
  • Polio
In this edition of Inform we celebrate people out in their communities. We meet John who shares with us his determination which resulted in a new creative direction.

Travel ¡Hola! Loving

Travel ¡Hola! Loving life in Mexico In 2002, Estelle Parker was already one year into her career as a foreign policy analyst and diplomat when her then-boyfriend, Matt Lennox, incurred a spinal cord injury that left him C5 quadriplegic. Estelle and Matt were determined not to let Matt’s injury prevent them from realising their professional dreams. 16 Inform

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade allowed Estelle to work in its Victorian office while Matt underwent rehab at Talbot. After two years surrounded by Matt’s family and friends in Melbourne, Estelle and Matt moved to Canberra so that she could take on a policy role. She is now Australia’s Deputy Ambassador in Mexico City. Matt is taking a three-year break from his full-time job as a Business Analyst (which he held for seven years before they moved), to take on the role of ‘diplomatic spouse’. Given the family is on an Australian Government posting, NDIS agreed to fund Matt’s support workers. Mexico City is not the most accessible city, although it is improving. Most public buildings like cinemas, department stores, government departments, museums, and theatres, have wheelchair access, but many commercial buildings do not. Footpaths are often cracked, or do not have curb cuts, and new footpaths are often built without consideration for wheelchair users. Matt is getting around this by planning his outings. He has worked out accessible routes to and from local shops and restaurants, and is getting to know the local restaurants and bars that have wheelchair access. Wheelchair taxis in Mexico City are generally reliable if booked in advance. After Estelle was appointed, the Australian Embassy found an accessible apartment for the family to live in and arranged for minor renovations to the property. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s attitude to employees with a disability or with carer responsibilities has changed for the better since Matt had his accident in 2002. There is now a designated ‘Disability Champion’ chosen from amongst Australia’s highest ranking diplomats, and the Department’s Women in Leadership initiative has meant flexible working hours are becoming more accepted. This allows Estelle to balance her work and carer responsibilities. Overall, the move has been positive for Matt, Estelle and their two children who are aged five and seven. In addition to exploring the fascinating history and culture in Mexico City, the family have spent a week in an accessible resort in Campeche province, built by an American former marine with quadriplegia and his wife, and have visited a small Mexican town for a weekend away with friends in a beautiful hacienda in the mountains. They have enjoyed incredible Mexican food, along with authentic aged tequila and traditionally brewed mezcal. They are looking forward to further adventures in the next three years of their posting in Mexico. Autumn 2017 17