Shit happens ….. and then?

oops, politically incorrect, crude, unprofessional . Managing our bowel movements is something you and I attend to without much thought or planning …  but for the morning after a very spicy meal or a night on the ‘turps’ (ie; drinking too much alcohol – for you non Aussies)

But a huge number of our community it’s a daily challenge.  A taboo topic …. we see people with spinal cord injuries and immediately notice their obvious disabilities  – they can’t walk, some can only move their head.  Rarely do we consider that they have no feeling below the point of their injury.  Then there are the elderly in nursing homes…more and more of us. Many suffer the same indignity.

So what,  so bad, so sad, who gives a damn….

Well may you ask. The afflicted do. Their carers do and so do those wishing to research how better to manage this issue and implement management plans for individuals.

But like many other very real (non vote winning) issues confronting our disability sector – there is no funding to mop up the issues ….sorry….tackle them.

Last night I had the great privilege to attend the launch of a new Health Projects & Research Fund established for the very purpose of diving head long into helping our disability sector undertake critical research.

A humbling experience. The fund was launched by Nick Rushworth the Executive officer of Brain Injury Australia.

Nick Rushworth

Nick Rushworth

Suffering a serious brain injury in a cycling accident years ago today he is an advocate for those suffering brain injury.  The statistics are frightening – I set a few out below.  But let me snatch a few quotes from his speech.  Speaking of his opportunity to speak at the launch, not as a professional treating the injured, but as a victim and advocate Nick said

“Happily, it also allows me to take one of my twin hobbyhorses – he’s called imagination, the other’s called hope – to take imagination for a canter. Because, I reckon if I’ve learnt ANYTHING from my time in this job, it’s that anyone involved in the “human services” business – my business and, my guess is, many of your businesses, certainly the brain injury RESEARCH business – anyone involved in these businesses has to at least try and transplant themselves, in imagination, into something of the life circumstances of their client, their customer, their research subject, to at least try and enter into the world from whence they come, as both a a starting point and a first principle.”

A little later when recounting how quickly (relatively) he recovered he made an observation that struck an accord with me.

“Which makes it all sound like a bit of a diversion, an…escapade (and here I am tonight…dining out, yet again, on my story). I’m sure I thought of myself as…lucky. My thinking’s…matured since then. I’ve never believed in fate. Nowadays, I don’t much believe in LUCK either – let alone, as I can remember a famous rugby league coach once saying; that HIS team, HIS players “make their own luck”. I’ve come to believe, instead, in systems, in structures – whether they’re governments, their publicly-funded services, the economies, the businesses that those services depend on for money. And I believe in communities, in families. Don’t mistake me, I’m sure an individual’s – whatever you choose to call it – their drive, their determination are still crucial, perhaps indispensable, to recovery from any injury, any adversity”

Following the theme of the need for family and community Nick said

“I’m intrigued – as someone working in disability advocacy from a background in journalism – by our preferences (insofar as the media mostly serves them) by our preference for stock narratives about individuals “overcoming disability” – a bit like “beating” cancer – and by the relentless parade of what some of my colleagues call “super-crips” – “super-cripples”. Call me quaint but in a broader culture of creeping competitive individualism – of sink or swim, with some safety nets – I just don’t reckon that society’s capacity for “overcoming”, its quantum of resilience (of rebounding from adverse events, from trauma) gets shared around equally. Between individuals, between communities.”

Thank you Nick - Works I'm sure will resonate with many

Thank you Nick – Words I’m sure will resonate with many

The funds first grant was also made – to Royal Rehab in Ryde to conduct critical research into … you guessed it ….the management of bowel dysfunction.

Genevieve Henderson and Associate Professor Pryor

Genevieve Henderson and Associate Professor Pryor

And why was I there.  I’m proud to proclaim that the fund has been established and is funded by Slater and Gordon….”those disreputable lawyers who do give a damn”.  And of course, pay my salary.

Aligned with my personal and professional crusade for better planning …for everyone, this project is exactly on target…researching to help produce better outcomes for the disadvantaged.

This is not a work-sponsored blog.  They wouldn’t permit me to be be so brash or loose with my language… but in my own time I can say I’m proud to be part of their lot …. in any terms I choose.

Well done team!

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.  Recommend my blog to others.  If you have a comment or request – bring it on.

Some interesting stats provided by Nick

  • Falls are the leading cause of injury admissions to Australian hospitals Falls are now also the leading cause of traumatic brain injury throughout the developed world accounting for 2 out of 5 hospitalisations in Australia in 2004-2005
  • The highest growing sector of the Australian population suffering brain injury – those over 85 years
  • 727,000 Australians have a brain injury – Australian Bureau of Statistics ( a conservative  number) But only 21,000 of those are on disability support pension, only 16,000 use  a National Disability Agreement – funded service