Brisbane musician David Truong has no memory of the first seven years of his life, a period of time in which he arrived, totally blind, in Australia as a child at the back end of the Vietnam War.
How he came to lose his sight is a hotly debated topic.
“There is a few schools of thought on this,” he says.
“I might have been born blind, and may as well have been because I don’t remember those early years at all.
“The second idea is that I may have had sight once, but that it was taken away by malnutrition.
“The other story is that when I was in the orphanage, I had my left eye damaged by a ricochet bullet which in turn affected my right eye.”
David arrived in Australia as part of a scheme to rehouse Vietnamese orphans following the war, during which thousands of children were airlifted from Vietnam and adopted by families around the world.
“The Australian government at the time decided to participate in a scheme where they would bring orphaned children from Vietnam. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them, as was my best friend.
“He was to be sent to America and I to Australia, it was just a random selection.
“My friend’s plane crashed and he passed away. It’s tragic and it’s amazing how life works. He could have been on my plane or I on his.”
Once settled in Australia, Truong said that he, like many other blind people of the era, was led towards the piano from a young age.
It was a time where Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and other vision impaired artists were at the peak of their powers and had become some of the most prominent people with disabilities in mainstream society.
“In those days, if you were blind you could be somewhat pigeon holed musically.
“You had to learn music and specifically piano because they thought that was a likely career path.”
After excelling with the instrument at an early age, David withdrew from music in his teens, choosing to focus his attentions on sport, competing for his country in blind cricket and Goalball.
Following his retirement from sport in 2011, David rediscovered his passion for music and began to play socially.
Today, with the help of support workers funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), David is able to pursue that passion wholeheartedly.
Performing under the stage name Ambition Road, singer-songwriter David now plays regularly in venues across Brisbane, recording two studio albums along the way.
He also plays accompanying piano for singing groups and community choirs.
“Most of my support from the NDIS involves getting out and going to gigs.
“Now with my support workers I can perform at gigs that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to join, or go to band practices,” says David.
“Support workers are invaluable for me, they help me set up my equipment, and they make sure I am all ready to go. In the past I would have to rely on the kindness of the organisers or other participating musicians.”
David says the NDIS has had a huge impact on his quality of life.
“The way I look at it, is that support workers are my eyes. Anything I want to do that I would otherwise be able to do with working eyes, my support worker helps me with.
“That can mean the shopping, or going out to different restaurants. Even little things around the house, helping me match my clothes.
“My NDIS plan allows me to do so many things I couldn’t previously. It has really helped me enrich my life.”
David is supported on his NDIS journey by Juanita, a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) in Carers Queensland’s Brisbane North office.
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 also help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
To find out more about how the NDIS and Local Area Coordination program can work for you, contact Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region on 3215 9600.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about David’s music visit https://www.facebook.com/davidtmusic2014.