You Define Your Own Life

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People should be able to choose where they live, and who they live with. Most Australians have always been able to do this. For people with a disability it wasn’t always that easy.

Now that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has finished rolling out across Australia, we have the right to dictate our own life. Choosing who we can live with, and how we live. 

When I moved into my first group home, I got to experience what it felt like to live with a challenging roommate.  

She had severe cerebral palsy, to the point where her mobility was limited to a wheelchair and she was also non-verbal. As a person, my challenging roomie felt completely defined by her disability, and wasn’t able to communicate at all. Which made her lash out at the unfairness of her situation.

I struggled to find common ground with my challenging roomie, and I had trouble relating to her. Sometimes, when she got really angry she would get violent, and often hurt herself. 

I remember on one particular day, when I was the only one in the kitchen with her, she chased me around the kitchen with her wheelchair. Every time she drove her wheelchair into mine, my agitation grew. 

I hated feeling so unsafe in my own home, but there was nothing I could do about it. On that day, I had been rescued by other support workers intervening. But after that, I felt on edge anytime my challenging roomie moved around me.

After that group home, I moved into another one with my sister. My life was completely different when I knew the person that I was living with.

What it felt like for me living in a group home

It makes a huge difference when you’re not living with people who you feel comfortable around. 

We’ve all heard stories from friends about how difficult it is to live with certain people. If you suffer from a high-needs disability, you never used to be able to choose your own roommates. That is until very recently, when the NDIS began offering support.

I no longer live in a group home surrounded by a nursing home, I live in an apartment building in the middle of the city. 

I got to choose where I lived, and got to relish the fact that I no longer lived in a group home. As an independent adult, I decided not to live with a roommate. While I enjoy living on my own, my sister lives in her own apartment right above me so I can socialise with her anytime I want. 

Jamie-Lee celebrating her new SDA home

Even though I didn’t enjoy my time in a group home, I have friends who really love the attention they receive there. They enjoy living in a building with other people who know them so well, and know disability extensively. Especially with a degenerative condition, access to a nurse that works in the group home can be really important.

When you go on the Housing Hub website you have so much more access to living options across Australia. There are plenty of individual places to rent, as well as shared housing. 

Group homes are also listed on the housing hub website. It is a tool that our society has needed for a long time. I know, because I wish it had been around when I was looking for a place of my own, more than 10 years ago. 

Life with a high-needs disability is complicated enough, but deciding where you want to live is a basic human right. Choosing where you want to live, and who you want to live with, is now a possibility.

About the author

Jamie-Lee loves to challenge stereotypes surrounding disability; her lived experience of someone growing up disabled motivates her advocacy. Having studied journalism at uni, she uses her writing skills to her advantage. Shining a light on independent living options available to people with a disability is how we can create change in our society. She hopes to help other people with a disability along their journey, encouraging vulnerable people to find their voice. She believes that diversity will pave the way to equality for all.

The Housing Hub currently lists over 1,600 homes for people with disability to rent or buy, including individual apartments and group homes. Search for a home that is right for you today!

Or better still, creating a housing seeker profile and let the Housing Hub do the hard work for you.

Sign up here!


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