Breanna shares her journey to help young people transition to adult life

Published On: 14 November 2023Categories: NDIS, News
With a thirst for learning and a passion for advocacy, Breanna is determined to improve the lives of other young people living with disability.

The 21-year-old Sunshine Coast resident, who has lived with an incomplete spinal-cord injury since birth, developed an appetite for helping others during her transition from paediatric to adult health care services.The 21-year-old Sunshine Coast resident, who has lived with an incomplete spinal-cord injury since birth, developed an appetite for helping others during her transition from paediatric to adult health care services.

“We had to overcome a lot of hurdles and challenges in that journey,” Breanna said. “Through that I got in touch with our nurse navigator who suggested that I try out this advocacy role with Health Consumers Queensland.

“I thought that would be a really good opportunity to use the challenges and experiences that I'd gone through to help create positive change in those areas for future people going through the health system and going through those changes.”

Since then, Breanna has signed up to take on various other health consumer opportunities, including being a part of the National Disability Coordination Officer Program in the education system.

Breanna is also a consumer representative and advocate for Queensland Child and Youth Clinical Network, and Metro North Health and Sunshine Coast hospital and health services.

“I developed a passion and it grew from there. Now I really love helping others and using the experiences that I've been through to help others,” Breanna said.

Support from NDIS gives Breanna choice and control over her life

Breanna, who was supported by Carers Queensland to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2018, also studies law at the University of Sunshine Coast.

Her NDIS-funded support workers ensure she gets all her university work done, attends appointments and gets out in the community when she feels like it.

“Even down to things like being able to go horse riding twice a week because that requires two people,” she said.“Even down to things like being able to go horse riding twice a week because that requires two people,” she said.

“Previously I could only go horse riding on the weekend when both mum and dad were available, but now I can do it during the week with my support workers.

“I really can't imagine what life would be like without the support from those people in my life now, which has all been made possible from the NDIS.

“I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I'm so grateful.”

Breanna, who dreams of competing in equestrian at the Paralympics, believes adopting a positive ‘can-do’ attitude helps her to meet everyday challenges and reach personal goals.

“I think mental attitude plays a huge role in anyone's life, but particularly someone who's living with a disability and the challenges that they face every day,” she said.

“My parents and family have always brought me up to be that positive can-do person, and I think that's played such a huge part in my journey to where I am today.”

Breanna said she’s had many amazing experiences growing up, including attending school camps, going on flying foxes and travelling to her country of birth, New Zealand.

“I think that it's important to remember what you can do and then focus on those things and then use those things to develop into other areas,” she said.

“I also think it's really important to have people around you who lift you up, support you, and encourage you to do those things and work towards those goals.”

Breanna recently added another feather to her advocacy cap by signing up to help Carers Queensland on its School to Adult Life Transition (STALT) project as a member of the organisation’s

Why Breanna joined Carers Queensland’s Amplifying Young Voices Reference Group

Breanna recently added another feather to her advocacy cap by signing up to help Carers Queensland on its School to Adult Life Transition (STALT) project as a member of the organisation’s Amplifying Young Voices Reference Group.

As one of Australia’s largest NDIS partners in the community, Carers Queensland has a key role to play in driving inclusive change in communities.

Its STALT project aims to increase the confidence of young people with disability to ensure a successful transition from school to adult life, leading to greater social and economic outcomes.

Breanna is one of 8 people aged 18-25 on the reference group who’ve already made the transition and are now living life their way at home, work and/or in the community.

As part of the group, Breanna plans to share her lived experiences to help others with disability more easily navigate the journey to adult life.

“I look forward to sharing my experiences that I went through from transitioning to high school to university. There were so many things that went right with my transition, and that was all part of the planning experience,” Breanna said.

“We started early, which I think was a huge bonus. It meant that we could get in contact with the people at the university and really plan in advance for the transition.”

Breanna said they discussed what supports were in place at school that could be mimicked at university to help her. This included assignment extensions, extra time on exams and physical and personal care requirements such taking notes, accessing her water bottle and using the bathroom.

“They (the university) have also put in place what's called a learning access plan, which lists all of the supports that I need. It's all written down there, so it's easily communicated to the tutors,” Breanna said.

“Over the course of the six months, we did have to work out a couple of funding things, like who would fund the hoist for the university, but apart from that, I'd say it was really smooth and I now have awesome supports that I need.”

Inspired by Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, Breanna shares a similar world view around social change.

“So this might sound a bit cliche, but I’d love a world where no one actually sees a disability anymore,” Breanna said. “I’ve always had this idea that I’d like to be seen as myself, like any other person.

“It would be awesome just to not have to think about access and whether there’s going to be a step at that place, and if you go to a festival if there’ll be a disabled bathroom or if you’ll be able to see the stage. Those things will just be there.

“I'm just really excited to see where that's going to go because I've seen so much change even in the last five years that I've grown into adulthood. It's just really exciting to see.”

Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.

If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.

You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, cq.enquiries@ndis.gov.au, or sign up to our LAC Connect app here.