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A caring mindset that makes a difference

May 08 2019

Today, Jennene’s schedule is packed as it has been for the last 20 years.

Right now, however, she is sitting here talking about herself.

The first thing to note is that she is very friendly. The second thing is that when she starts talking, she radiates remarkable calmness and solidarity.

Next, we discuss what’s life like being a carer? She is a long-term carer of her two teenage daughters, one with Autism and the other Chronic Pain Disorder/Juvenile Arthritis.

“Being a carer, which is a very distinct role, has taught me that self-care is extremely important if I am to bring a high standard of care to my daughters,” she says.

“Every day is different and has its own joys and challenges. Sometimes it can feel isolating but for the most part I find my life has a great deal of purpose.”

Jennene, 51, used to work in media production, but having her children and understanding the additional support they required, meant the choice of spending more time at home.

She describes herself as open, steady and absolute. She navigates complex emotions with a sense of resolve.

When her daughter was diagnosed with Autism, there wasn’t much understanding about the condition as there is now. Since then, she has done what she can to advocate for her family’s needs, but always keeping in mind the bigger picture.

“When I started, I came into contact with many other parents in the same position as we were in. I thought, if I speak up it must be for the benefit of others also.”

There were many tough moments and yet despite all these challenges, Jennene managed to keep a
positive outlook on life.

What helped her cope? Her mother, also a carer, had told her about Carers Queensland and often she would join her local Carer Support Group and utilise their counselling services.

“The counselling support offered by Carers Queensland helped me on the days where I felt overwhelmed and provided a non-judgemental ear and practical advice. I would recommend it to anyone.”

After the loss of three immediate family members during a six month period, Jennene and her family travelled overseas for some respite.

During their travels they experienced many difficulties, particularly at airports, which made Jennene more aware of the needs of passengers with disabilities (hidden and visible) and their carers.

This prompted her to create her own business: A Spectrum Connected.

She developed a program to support staff responsible for customer experience, to deliver standard of care and service that focuses on equality and inclusion that is, by its nature, at a higher level than the current standards outlined in legislation.

“We believe it can help to raise awareness and encourage the equal participation of people with disabilities and their carers in the wider communities, which is so crucial for better health outcomes,” she said.

The program was endorsed by the Airports Association of Australia (AAA) and engaged by Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) to help finalise their Hidden Disability Program.

BAC General Manager of Operations, Stephen Goodwin said the project provided guidance about the services required to make their program a success while helping create awareness of the services available at Brisbane Airport that make travelling as stress free as possible.

“Their expertise was very helpful in creating information for our website, training a number of our staff and developing a YouTube video to help explain and promote our program in the community,” he said.

As a result, people with hidden disabilities that require additional assistance moving through the Brisbane Airport can now request an information pack from their website.

Meanwhile, Jennene lives in the present and continues to lobby airports and organisations nationally who would benefit from participating in the training program.

“The more organisations we have on board, we feel will spark a consistent and empowering experience for communities throughout Australia.”

What she does continues to leave its mark in many ways. As we speak, her work makes a difference by helping to build a more inclusive society.

For her, when that happens everything else will fall into place.

To learn more about A Spectrum Connected contact hello@aspectrumconnected.com

To request an Information Pack visit:
bne.com.au/passenger/passenger-information/special-assistance/hidden-disabilities