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Can You Believe It

MAN: Paediatrician said that she had ataxic cerebral palsy, mild, that she had a lot of intellectual delays as well and that she would probably never read or write and all that sort of thing.

And he sort of said,

"Go put her with her own kind

"and get on with your life," which we were quite devastated with.

But we didn't do that.

OK, I'll tell you.

I go into the shop and tell them,

"Welcome to the Boroondara community."

JACKIE: Well, it was when she turned 18.

She said to me,

"I'm not going to live with you for the rest of my life," you know, in the family home.

She said, "But I'm not going to live with a carer

"and I'm not going to live in a group home

"and I'm not going to live with another person with a disability."

And I thought, "What are we gonna... "What alternatives do we have?"

And she said...

I said, "What do you want to do?"

And she said, "I want to live in a normal place with other people

"just like my brothers do."

It's brilliant...absolutely brilliant for my independence.

Her independence has grown remarkably.

She continues to move around the community in Glenferrie Road.

She's in a lot of the shops.

Everyone knows her very well. She's very comfortable.

-You turn 31 this year? -Yes.

-Can you believe it? -Shh! Shh!

(LOUDER) Can you believe it?

-What's the date today? -20th of the...11th.

-I cannot believe that. Can you? -I can't believe it.

-G'day there! -G'day, Diesel. How are you?

-Good, thanks, and you? -Good. Ready for a big session?

-Sure am. -Let's rock'n'roll.


England, Australia, England, Australia.

Speed those legs up. Speed those legs up.

Well done!


She's gained admiration of the people that have lived with her, and I think they, most of the time, enjoy being with her.

JACKIE: They get a very nice unit.

It's a place where they can call home.

It's just a normal situation of sharing a place together.

Usually, my friends ask more about Dee than they do about me sometimes, I think, so...

No, it's really great, and...

I mean, Dee's not just a flatmate to me. She's a friend, you know? So...

We all hang out together, which is really cool.

WOMAN: How important is it for Dee to work?

Very important.

Again, she models her life on what her brothers do,

and she said she just wanted a job like her brothers.

When I first met Dee about 10 years ago, she'd just left special developmental school, and she had this passion for her local community.

However, most of the services that were offered to her were going to segregate her from her local community, and, basically, she'd be in congregate care with other people with a disability.

Our role, really, was to help Dee and her family hold onto a vision for a typical life and to create the supports that would enable that to happen.

Dee has grown in confidence to the extent where she is happy to stay in the flat by herself at times.

Dee's also able to advocate for herself and describe and articulate her dreams and goals.

What have you been working on?

-My budget for Graceland odyssey. -Yeah? Do you want to show me?

-This is for 18 days, alright? -Yeah?

-And Melbourne to L.A. -Yeah.

And then you've got to get another flight from L.A.?

Another flight from L.A. to Memphis.

When you look at Dee's life, she doesn't just access the community, she actually belongs to the community.

And you can see that through the relationships that she has.

I think, not only does the community bring out the best in Dee but she brings out the best in community.

I guess just to live a happy, fulfilling life, whatever form that might take.

And to get overseas to Graceland. (LAUGHS)

He's a bit of a spunk.