Natalie Smith is chasing Paralympic glory again, ramping up her shooting range practice and fitness training with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports.
The Meadowbrook local will have donned the green and gold three times when she again contests the 10m Air Rifle SH1 event at the Tokyo Paralympic Games next year.
To help achieve further success, her NDIS support workers assist Natalie, who is a wheelchair user with a spinal cord injury, set up for shooting training and carrying her rifle while she attends the accessible and inclusive Paramount Belmont Shooting Range.
Together with shooting practice, Natalie also undertakes fitness training and regularly accesses a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist.
While COVID restrictions put a break on training, it allowed Natalie to spend more time with her first love — horse riding.
“Since I was nine-years-old my passion was riding horses,” she said.
“While the gym and shooting were closed, I could still do horse riding at home. From Monday to Friday my support worker helps me ride at home.”
As a member of two riding clubs for the past two years — Logan Village Riding Club and Park Ridge Riding Club — Natalie also uses a support worker to help.
“I have a hoist to get on the horse so the support worker helps, strapping me into the saddle.
“Initially, my support worker also walks me around on the horse to help my body to relax. When I am done, I also get help getting off the horse. There is no chance of me being able to do it on own, so she’s a godsend.”
After her accident in 2009, Natalie wanted to remain active and looked at new sports where she could incorporate her wheelchair.
“I tried tennis, basketball, sailing, wakeboarding – everything on offer for come-and-try days, but it is in my genes to do shooting as my grandfather was also a target shooter,” she said.
It was only two years later Natalie represented Australia for shooting and received her bronze medal at the London Paralympics in 2012.
While Natalie will have represented Australia three times when she competes at the Paralympics next year, it will be the first time she will be able to participate in the Opening Ceremony due to rescheduled rifle events later in the Games program.
Natalie received assistance to apply for and implement her NDIS funding from Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region.
After not fully using her first NDIS plan three years ago, Natalie found her Local Area Coordinator (LAC) helpful with using her second plan, explaining to her how to utilise her supports more widely.
“In my second plan review they went through it with me, and it’s when I realised anything was possible,” she said.
“It also just eased the stress on me of affording a new wheelchair and for repairs on my old chair. I am now using my plan for what it is meant for – to help me lead a much more normal life.”
Natalie said accessing the NDIS has made a huge difference to her and her family’s lives.
“It is allowing me to be a contributor to the family. My hubby was doing everything so it’s nice to be able to take some of that off him.
“The NDIS enables me to participate more in life – to do things with my family and son and get out and do what I want to do without being hindered by disability.”
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