Hi everyone. My name is Jono and I talk using a communication device. I want to share my story about the process of finding the right housing for me. Have you ever thought you would really like to change your living arrangements, but after looking into it, you realised it was harder than you first thought because of numerous reasons? I would like to tell you a bit about my history. I grew up in a good and stable family. I have a sister who is eight years younger than me. Even though I have a disability, my family did not allow me to get special treatment. I went to a mainstream school and if I did bad at school, man, did I get in trouble or what? I have always been good at maths, however, English was a struggle. This is something I'm still working on to improve.
I left high school after year 10, and I chose to continue my education and studied Certificate IV in accounting. Then a Certificate III in community services. After five years of studying, I was starting to take poker more seriously. I had always had a keen interest in the game. However, I was making good money. In 2013, I decided to play poker full time, and I made a profit of $125,000. My major win was in Queenstown, New Zealand, where I got $83,000 for beating 125 players and scoring first prize. Even though it was a small field, 90% of the players were professional poker players, which made it very tough. I made a few bluffs, because I knew the other people would think I am not able to bluff well due to my disability. I don't use my disability to my advantage in my everyday life, but at the poker table, it is a totally different story.
It is not my problem if other players think I'm playing just for fun or that I'm dumb, which happens a lot with non-verbal people. They learn fast that I am a good player and I am ruthless. In 2014, I was starting to get sick of poker, then I had a moment that changed my attitude towards life forever. A family friend, Stuart, who always treated me normally and took the time to have conversations with me, was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was very hard to watch because he went downhill very fast and he passed away later that year. He behind a loving wife and two children. It had a big impact on me. It was this moment that I realised I needed to make decisions to do with my life and how I wanted to live moving forward.
For about five years, I wanted to move out at home into my own unit. I wanted to move because I wanted my independence and privacy, just like everyone else. Also to put my family and my mind at ease. If something happens to them, I would have the structure to continue my life without them. So I stepped up my game to look for a suitable living arrangement, but I wasn't accepting the first one I was given. I had a good home so I wasn't going to be rushing into anything that would set me backwards.
I had the opportunity to be picky and find the right place. In March, 2015, I heard from someone that six specialty units were being built in Frankston, I drove by the site and when I found out it would have some home automation features, I wanted it badly. I started to email the Department of Human Services weekly to harass them to select me for a unit.
I was at a massive disadvantage because in the department's eyes, I had a good home and people who need a home desperately always get prioritised. Even though I agree it should be the case, I still wanted to move out and be independent. I felt cramped living with my parents and struggled with maintaining my rights to an independent life choices. In November, 2015, I got a surprise email from the Department of Human Services saying I was accepted for one of those units. I was on cloud nine after reading that email. The mood changed as soon as I told my mother the news. Even though she still had to do my personal care, she really didn't talk to me for two weeks. She was not happy with the idea of me moving out because she was concerned for my welfare.
On April the 10th, 2016, I finally moved in. It has been a great experience. Even my mother now says it was for the best that I moved out on my own. The complex has six separate units with 24/7 staff support. I don't have allocated times for support. I just text staff when I need some assistance, but I might have to wait a few minutes if the staff member is with someone else. It was a great first step for moving away from my family. I have always been in or around Frankston for all my life. My family is within a 15 minute drive if there is a problem.
I also have a great support network, which includes professionals, friends, and support workers who would drop everything for me if needed. Even though it was a great first step, I am ready to take on the next adventure and move into the city. I have wanted to move to the city for years, which was an unrealistic goal for me even three years ago. But now with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it has becoming a more realistic goal, especially when they are committed to specialist disability accommodation. In 2019, I applied for an apartment being built in the city. I recently found out that I have successfully been selected for this vacancy. I still need to work through some things, but nothing will stand in my way