Phoenix Radio Episode:
Date: 28.01.2011 Time: 2.07pm (double segment).
Graham Streets talking on life with a spinal cord injury.
Simon Baker and Suzanne.
Click the image below to stream interview audio.
- Simon: We have our next guest on the phone there. Graham Streets is an enterprising man who has experienced some setbacks in life. Graham had to struggle to get anything he has after a motorbike accident in 1994 saw him become a quadriplegic. He had his own electrical contracting business and things were busy but pretty good. Graham had to struggle to get everything he has since he was a sole driver of a vehicle in Queensland and there is no insurance for the driver in a single vehicle accident. Graham is on the phone to tell us about his struggle and what he is doing to get things changed. Welcome to the program Graham.
- Graham: Thankyou.
- Simon: Graham, let’s start by telling us about your experience of the legal side of your case as far as your application for compensation and what your lawyer advised you?
- Graham: Currently in Queensland there is no automatic financial cover for people injured in a single vehicle accident as you mentioned. On the Gateway Arterial Highway where I had my motorcycle accident the corner was poorly constructed. Several people had lost their life on this corner. When looking into compensation I was told I had a good chance of winning several million dollars, that it would cost around a million dollars to launch such a law suit against the Department of Main Roads. My lawyers weren’t willing to risk fronting that kind of money and I didn’t have it.
- Simon: Suzanne, you’ve got the next question…
- Suzanne: What did this mean for you and your business?
- Graham: After 11 months of recovery and rehabilitation in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, I was unable to continue working, my electrical business pretty much folded. I sold off some stock and gave most tools and equipment to friends in the trade.
- Suzanne: This placed a lot of burden on your family?
- Graham: Yes, for most people with a disability support and assistance comes mainly from family and friends. A spinal cord injury like any disability is not only a difficult time for the person who receives the injury. Often family and friends also struggle and the emotional and financial burdens can be massive. I had few options but to move back in with my aging parents with my Mother as my primary carer. Instead of me looking after them in their retirement years they were having to look after me again at their own cost.
- Suzanne: Is there any funding available for you to apply through the State Government for personal carers?
- Graham: There was and there currently is, however these waiting lists are long and many languish on them for years and years, only a small percentage secure that kind of permanent funding.
- Suzanne: Graham, tell us about your mobility please?
- Graham: I’m a C4 quadriplegic. I rely on a power-chair and require assistance with getting into and out of bed, showering, meal preparation, basically a fairly high level of personal care needs.
- Suzanne: Tell us about your time in Rehabilitation and did you meet people with similar issues to your own?
- Graham: Yes, as they say there’s always someone worse off and that can help acceptance of a disability through rehabilitation and while counselors and such are great, talking with others who actually are going through the same problems, and facing the same day-to-day issues as you is a great comfort as well.
- Simon: You’re with Suzanne and Simon this afternoon and you’re listening to Ipswich Connections on Phoenix Radio online. We are going to have a quick music break and when we come back in a few minutes we’ll continue talking with Graham and we’re going to talk about life with a spinal injury and we might cover a couple of other things.
- Simon: Welcome back to Ipswich Connections. A radio program committed to giving people with disabilities a voice. You’re listening to Phoenix Radio online. This program is supported by University of Southern Queensland and Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland. We are talking with Graham Streets who became a quadriplegic back in 1994 from a motor vehicle accident. Graham, so what’s the one thing that is missing for you to have a relatively normal life?
- Graham: Simon, I’d have to say the ability to drive is something I miss terribly. Getting around to see friends, getting re-connected in the local community, without having to rely on maxi taxis and that sort of thing. It can get quite expensive, public transport and getting around that way.
- Simon: Yes and the fact, because you have to rely on public transport, it’s not always there when you want it. They get delayed through obviously no fault of their own, it’s just the nature of the work that they do too.
- Graham: Yes exactly, it also makes it hard in that respect to hold down a full time job.
- Simon: Yes, Yes that’s right. Okay, Suzanne…
- Suzanne: What did Australian’s disability support system do for you?
- Graham: Suzanne, I was able to receive a disability support pension and after eight years on a constant battle and struggle to get where I am today, the Queensland Department of Housing supplied me with housing, and I have permanently funded carers who assist me into and out of bed morning and night. I’m one of the lucky ones really.
- Suzanne: Did you trial any respite centres?
- Graham: There’s a fantastic four bed respite centre in Petrie called Backstop House, they take four wheelchair bound people at one time. It’s a great temporary break for my parents.
- Suzanne: What needs to be done to change the laws?
- Graham: Currently there’s a big push to bring in a scheme called NDIS, a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- Simon: Yes and with that, it’s a no-fault scheme where it doesn’t matter how you acquired your disability, you’ll always have the support that’s needed.
- Graham: Yes it’ll be a great safety net whether you’re born with, or acquire a disability be it spinal cord injury, or any kind of disability later in life.
- Suzanne: Is this the same throughout the whole country?
- Graham: Yes it would be a nation-wide scheme that will automatically cover all Australian residents.
- Suzanne: I believe you have developed some new skills and are now employed?
- Graham: Yes, I currently work from home part-time as an accountant and I also do a bit of web design and I’m a webmaster.
- Simon: So give yourself a plug, tell the people how to get in contact with you.
- Graham: Well, my domain name is streetsie.com
- Simon: Graham, we certainly wish you all the best and if you’ve got something happening there please drop us a line, give us a call, say hello, don’t be a stranger, and we’ll certainly be talking to you again sometime in the future.
- Graham: Thankyou for your time Simon and Suzanne.
- Simon: That was Graham Streets talking on his life with a spinal injury and what needs to be done to see that others in severe cases when you acquire a severe disability you have some opportunities there with the NDIS scheme that’s coming in. Thankyou very much for listening in today. You’re listening to Ipswich Connections on Phoenix Radio, supported by USQ, and our program Ipswich Connections is with the Cerebral Palsy League.
- Bachelor of Applied Media Program: http://www.usq.edu.au/phoenixradio/bapm/
- Backstop House Respite Centre: http://www.backstophouse.com
- Cerebral Palsy League Australia: http://www.cpaustralia.com.au
- Cerebral Palsy League Queensland: http://www.cplqld.org.au
- City of Ipswich: http://www.ipswich.qld.gov.au
- Graham Streets Website: http://www.streetsie.com
- National Disability Insurance Scheme: http://everyaustraliancounts.com.au
- Phoenix Radio Online: http://www.usq.edu.au/phoenixradio/
- Princess Alexandra Hospital: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/pahospital/