Marlene Carpenter was looking to get more active in sports when the opportunity came up to join the new
The Brisbane mum was a skilled clay shooter, and enjoyed playing basketball, hockey and water polo before her accident 17 years ago, which left her an above-elbow amputee.
It was only at the end of 2022 when Marlene accessed the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region that she became one of eight participants of the recently formed Beyond the Sidelines Reference Group.
The group has been established to work on increasing the representation and participation of people with disability in sport and recreation both on and off the playing field. It also aims to identify best practices in sport and recreation for people with disability, and to prioritise strategies to stimulate social change towards better outcomes through inclusive practices.
“I was always very active and I still walk, do pilates, kayak; but now I want to get out there and learn and meet new people, so the reference group is a really good way to be introduced to other people,” Marlene said.
The first meeting of the group was held online in December, and Marlene is already eager to continue to connect and establish improved outcomes.
“It was really good to see where everyone came from, everyone’s background, and it’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be a good team and we are going to get a lot out of it; we’re going to learn a lot and hopefully improve the whole structure,” she said.
Getting back into playing sport is also a goal of Marlene’s, and she uses NDIS supports to help make her dreams a reality.
“I used to do clay shooting and I was pretty good at that. The first time I’d held a 45 at the range I got a bullseye, so I am pretty good. David (at Carers Queensland) said he knew someone in that area who might be able to help me out,” Marlene said.
“I don’t want to do something that’s going to put more impact on my wrist, so if someone could help me, maybe accessing a physio, can help. I’ll jump into anything really as it doesn’t really bother me. Just the whole interaction and meeting new people as well and becoming part of a team, that would be good.”
Marlene also accesses a cleaner which helps reduce the swelling on her wrist.
“Having a cleaner means I can focus on things like the reference group, my job as an Environment Indigenous Trainee, my studies of a Certificate IV in Business Administration and a bit more about me,” she said.
“It’s changed me so much. For me, my wrist doesn’t swell up, because normally it swells up every day and today it’s not, so it empowers me to do other things I enjoy.
“I can just enjoy doing my studies, just generally life, doing the reference group. I know now it’s not going to be a hassle; it’s not going to be no dramas; it just means my body does what it normally does.”
While Marlene has only accessed the NDIS for a few months, she said it has already changed her life for the better.
“When I was told I was now on the NDIS, it was a little bit overwhelming; I actually went for a walk and burst out crying as I didn’t realise all this stuff and all the help was there. So, it was really, really empowering at the same time it was overwhelming,” Marlene said.
“Even my son says how much I smile, how much he can see the difference in me.”
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, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Carers Queensland’s Inclusive Sport and Recreation Communities project and Beyond the Sidelines Reference group by visiting carersqld.com.au/ndis/inclusion-projects/inclusive-sport-and-recreation-communities/