My name is Jan Daisley,
I would like to let you all know that there is life after acquiring a disability and I am living proof of this fact.
When I acquired my disability my diagnosis was grim and I was told I would never be able to achieve anything and would spend the rest of my life in an institution sitting in a corner while the world passed me by. This was like waving a red flag at a bull, comments like that made me more determined to rise above my disability and focus on what I could do, not what I couldn’t.
After moving out of the institution I decided to make the world my oyster. I became involved in church groups and local clubs. I also decided to work on my education and enrolled at TAFE to do certificates II, III and IV in Disability; these certificates empowered me to become an advocate for All people with disability. I also successfully applied for a position with the then Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC), what we know today as ADAC as a Community Advisor on disability issues.
I was inspired to write my first book and to undertake a university degree which placed me up against many barriers. But with sheer determination, resilience and help from my family and friends I overcame all barriers and obtained my first degree and went on to publish my auto-biography. I then launched myself into my second book and a Masters Degree. I graduated with my masters in 2007 and published my second book shortly after. These achievements were unbelievable to those who first diagnosed me as a vegetable.
Since then I have won several awards including the 2008 National Disability Awards – Personal Achievement Award; the 2011 Law and Justice Volunteer Award; I was honoured and privileged to be granted Life Membership of People with Disability Australia Incorporated for whom I served three years as President and remain with the organisation in a voluntary capacity. I am an ambassador for the NSW Companion Card. I was also an ambassador for the 2012 Don’t DIS my ABILITY Campaign. I am currently undergoing the Leaders for Tomorrow course to give me stronger leadership skills which I am finding very useful.
I also participated in the production of several DVD’s on Devolution (a government programme to close all residential institutions housing people with disability) in the hope of encouraging others to move out of Institutions and into the community.
The highlight of my life probably came last year when I travelled to Durban, South Africa as part of an Australian Delegation to attend the United Nations Disabled Persons International 8th World Congress advocating for the Rights of All people with disability. While I was there I went on a four day safari which was awesome, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be able to pat a real live Cheetah, but I did and it was a very emotional experience.
I have achieved more than I thought possible, no one ever thought a blind, speech impaired quadriplegic could rise above numerous obstacles in their life including cancer to become the person I am today. When I first acquired my disability the supports which are around today were not available, that is why I was determined to become an Advocate for people with disability, so they don’t experience the hardships which I had to endure along the way. I believe my experience and knowledge on disability holds me in good stead to advise and assist others who are experiencing difficulties in their communities. If I am able to help one or two people to become more independent and gain a better quality of life for themselves, then all the hardship and struggle I have experienced over the years will make it all worthwhile. I believe I am living proof that there is life after disability. My life is not perfect, I still experience many hardships, but then so does every other human being in the world.
I could go on forever about my life achievements and aspirations for the future but I won’t at this stage. I will just say reach for the sky, you may one day touch the Moon. Never let others put you down and discourage you. Hold your head up high and show the world what people with a disability are capable of.