Disability, Employment, Youth

When your wildest dreams come true

Written bythriveadmin
Published on24 Mar, 2021

When Brad Parker was young, he loved toys. But now 26, it’s not the Tonka truck variety he is into. His dream is to work for the council driving the trucks, rollers and graders, which for Brad, is no mean feat. Brad was born with low muscle tone, which can affect not only movement, but overall health, eating and speech. Growing up, working on his grandparent’s farm, just outside of Casino, Northern NSW, Brad learnt to love the outdoors.

Like a true cowboy, he can even crack a whip and has showcased his skills at the annual Casino Beef Week festivities.“We have a really long whip – it’s called a bullock whip – the handle is so long it takes two hands to hold the whip to crack it. It makes a huge sound!” he said.

Brad has always been motivated to succeed. After high school, he went to TAFE, in Lismore, where he completed a Certificate III in Construction and also did work experience, helping in school canteens. However, what Brad really wanted was a job. It was then, he met his Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, Jenny, and got his first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, which focused on his goal of obtaining employment.

Brad joined the NDIS because he was always wanting to get a job, so we looked at how he could keep his body strong and maintain it, Brad’s mother, Judy, said.

“It was his dream to have a go, and we wanted to give him every chance. We knew he could work. He has done things on the farm and we know he has the ability and skills to work in any environment. It was all about finding a job to suit him, and we found it, which is great.”
Brad now works full-time for Richmond Valley Council. Even though he wasn’t working the day of the interview, Brad wore his freshly cleaned and pressed uniform and his face lit up when he talked about his work.

Brad And Judy In The Park

“The council job has been life changing. They are great people. I have a great boss,” Brad said. Working as a multipurpose laborer, doing traffic control and working on the roads to lay out hot mix asphalt, Brad said he enjoys any job he does with the council.“Any job I like!” he said. “I want to get more tickets with the council and get my truck license.“Also, the roller and the grader – there’s five other vehicles I want to learn to operate. I like big toys!” Brad grins.

Last summer, as bushfires raged through parts of the Northern Rivers, Brad was a part of a Richmond Valley Council team doing traffic control to keep community members out of the danger zone. When asked if he was frightened being so close to the fires, he smiled, “No! It was pretty good actually! I really enjoyed helping the community stay safe and being so close to a big fire is something I’ve never experienced.

“I saw a fireball – and then a fire that never touched the road – it went over us in mid-air! I saw an explosion – the Telstra exchange exploded! We were a fair distance away, but we could still see all the action,” Brad said. During that time, Brad was interviewed by media about his experience with the bushfires earning him the nickname of “Hollywood” by a few of the ‘boys’ at the Council.

Today, Brad is clearly enjoying his time being interviewed at his favourite Casino bakery – it’s obvious by the number of people who stop and say g’day to him, he is well known around town.

In addition to support from an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician and speech pathologist, the NDIS also provide social supports, which Judy says have been an important outlet for Brad. Every second Friday, on Brad’s rostered day off from work, he travels to Lismore to attend art classes, at Multitask Club Lane. Every Sunday, Brad participates in a Ten Pin Bowling Competition with his team, The Pokémon Three. “I’ve been bowling for nearly three years,” Brad said. When asked how good he is, and how many strikes he gets, Brad’s laughs and says “professional!” and “almost all of the time!”

Now Brad has achieved his goal of full-time employment, his next NDIS plan will address another aspect of his life. A couple of years ago, Brad met his girlfriend, Jasmin. His next goal will look at increasing his independence and moving out with Jasmin into a home of their own. “We want outcomes that see him and Jasmin happy and healthy with good relationships and a strong connection to their community. We want to set them up for a good future,” Judy said. “Our experience with Social Futures was really great from the time we walked through the doors and met our LAC. They made us feel comfortable and answered all our questions. “The NDIS is an excellent program. It gives them a lot more confidence in themselves, helping them with everyday living in an environment that is safe for them. “It’s a good feeling, because you know, we’re not going to be around forever, so it’s wonderful to know the NDIS is there to help get them where they want to get to and to see them succeed.

“Could I have imagined when Brad was younger he would end up with a full-time job, working for Richmond Valley Council? Not in my wildest dreams! It is all these programs now being funded by the NDIS that allows people with disabilities to achieve their dreams.”

If you would like more information about Social Futures Local Area Coordination for the NDIS, call our LAC Hotline on 1800 522 679 between 8:30-4:30pm Monday to Friday or email [email protected].