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Hitting Targets – Janelle’s journey from opera singing to vision impaired archery

Jul 30 2019

Janelle Colquhoun is no stranger to performing on the biggest stages.

A teenage musical prodigy, she earnt a scholarship to study opera at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, before a number of years performing with the Australian Opera.

She then took her talents abroad, accepting a full-time contract with Oper Frankfurt in Germany.

At age 29, Janelle lost her vision following complications from Type 1 Diabetes, a condition she was diagnosed with as a child.

She continues to perform in a variety of professional roles today, as well as producing shows through Salubrious Productions, an entertainment and production agency she founded in 1999, specialising in professional artists with disability.

Several years ago Janelle turned her interest toward another competitive pursuit.

“A few years ago I was actually over in Wales doing an arts leadership and mentorship and they had archery in the nave and I thought that just sounded so funny.

“I went down to this 18th century cathedral and I went up to the person taking it and I said ‘can I shoot, I am blind is that okay’?

“She said ‘yes, I have trained lots of blind archers before’. She told me if you go back to Australia, this is how to find a club which you can register with and potentially shoot in the Paralympics.”

Today, with the help of funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Janelle now holds the Australian record for female vision impaired archery in both indoor and outdoor competitions, and has her mind set on a world record.

Janelle self manages her NDIS plan and uses her flexible funding to hire support workers with a knowledge of archery to help her train for competitions.

“For the first time I was able to get someone to come help me with my archery. Until then I was relying on my husband when he had time, when he felt like it or when he wasn’t at work.”

She says the NDIS funding has allowed her to take her archery to new levels.

“It’s amazing. My personal best increased from 149 to 301 since I have been getting NDIS assistance.

“It has doubled, that’s huge. That’s due to having a regular assistant who can work with me a lot.

“Now I am looking to smash my Australian record and I am heading towards getting the world record.”

Janelle can usually be found at Samford Valley Target Archers (SVTA), where she trains three or four times a week.

She says the club is very supportive of archers with disabilities.

“It’s a great club for anyone interested in taking up archery with a disability, SVTA is very welcoming and totally supported me when I began.”

Janelle is supported on her journey by Carers Queensland, the NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community provider for the Brisbane region.

She works closely with her Local Area Coordinator Paul to understand, implement, and utilise her NDIS funding.

“Paul is great. He is so friendly and nice and helpful, I find him brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

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

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

To find out more about how the NDIS and Local Area Coordination program can work for you, visit Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region at the Lutwyche office at Level 4, Lutwyche City Shopping Centre, 120 Chalk Street Lutwyche 4030.

Contact Carers Queensland on 3215 9600 or at brisbanenorthlac@carersqld.com.au