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Employment stories

'I love what I’m doing' - Aaron's story - Senswide

Senswide recently celebrated 20 years of service in Disability Employment Services. One of their particpants, Aaron D'Altera told his story.

My Name is Aaron D’Altera and I would like to share my story with you.

I have three chapters.

In the first chapter which was 2006 I was fit, healthy, gorgeous and second year apprentice plumber.

My future looked good, it was made up of work, girls and sport.Aaron D'Altera SensWide

My second chapter began when I was struck down with Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in December 2006.

This caused me to have a stroke.

I lost 90 percent of my vision, use of my left hand and it left me with an acquired brain injury.

In ICU they removed half of my skull and put it back 9 months later.

For those 9 months I had to wear a crash helmet 24 hours a day.

I spent 3 weeks in ICU, a month in hospital, and then I was shipped off to rehab at the Royal Talbot.

I was released from Rehab on the first of July 2007.

I cannot recall anything of 2007 through to 2009, as I had short-term memory loss.

I had to ask my family and friends to fill in the blanks. My Dad took off two years from work to care for me and help me recover.

Imagine if you were me sitting here tonight and could not remember anything from the last three years.

Pretty scary huh?

Fortunately for me I have a third chapter. I currently have physio and OT once a week and I work out with a personal trainer twice a week.

Most importantly I water ski as much as I can, and hope to represent Australia in the world titles in 2013.

Senswide came on board with me and my case manager Keiron worked with me to start getting back into the workforce.

I had my heart set on working in a café so this narrowed the fields in which I could work.

Keiron arranged for me to do two barista courses at TAFE while looking for a job.

So I am now working 2 half days a week at UCAN café and I love what I’m doing.

Senswide and Kerion did not only find me a job, their support is fantastic.

If I have any problems they are only one phone call away.

Before I started working at the café I thought I had no future.

I would not get out of bed, I had no self-esteem and I was very depressed with having a disability.

That has all changed I am more confident, not depressed and can see a bright future for me finally.

I owe everything to Senswide I could have quite easily slipped down the wrong path, but thankfully I have set myself goals and am heading in the right direction.

Through the UCAN café, I have had the opportunity to work and mix in the community, and show that people with a disability can work and live a normal life.

I recently did a presentation at PWC with some business people about life and working with a disability.

The highlight was sitting up front with CEO of IBM and PWC and Dani answering questions from the audience.

I also did a presentation for the Governor General of Australia recently when she visited our café, and she did mention I made her best coffee ever.

I really enjoy spreading the word about the support and help that the Senswide provides as it has been such a big part of my recovery.

I would like my next chapter to include owning my own café and more public speaking.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today

Thank you

Go to: the Senswide website

Image: Credit Matthew Wren Photography 2012