Story by Ian Baker

Chante Masset is looking forward to the year ahead. The 20-year-old, who sustained an incomplete C5 spinal cord injury in a pool accident when she was 11, is hoping she might begin learning to drive.

“Just being able to have the opportunity to have an occupational therapist (OT) teach me how to drive would have a huge effect on my life,” she says, her voice warm with anticipation. “I want to be able to live my own life, and to do it independently, without having to rely on my family.”

While her wish to drive is not new, the likelihood of her embarking on that journey soon is new. It has arisen from her engagement with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), for which she attended her first planning meeting in September 2018.

“I seriously went in with a folder of paperwork”

At the meeting, she says, she listed her goals as:

1. To increase my capacity for independence in the home and the community.

2. To be supported in my studies.

3. To learn to drive.

And she brought with her a full accounting for her present support needs, and for the added supports that she believed would contribute to her pursuing those goals.

“I seriously went in with a folder of paperwork,” Chante reports. “I just gave everything to the planner. Like, ‘This is what you need.’

“She was like: ‘You’re the most organized person I have ever met.’

“My meeting would have finished in half an hour if we hadn’t taken breaks for chatting about other things.”

“I want to be able to live my own life, and to do it independently, without having to rely on my family.”

Chante expects to hear early in 2019 whether all the supports she sought have been approved.

But she says that even if some are not approved, she will have the satisfaction of knowing that she had made the most of her opportunity at the planning meeting, giving it her best shot.

She contrasts her preparation with that of some other people with SCIs whom she knows of, near her home in Melbourne’s outer southeast.

“Other quads I know who live around here – none of them knew anything about that NDIS thing,” she says. “All they knew was that they had to go to a meeting. They had no preparation, nothing. It’s quite sad, really.”

Was Chante clairvoyant? Or unusually studious? No. But she was well connected. A long-term carer had told her all about what she needed to do, and she had listened with growing excitement.

  • June 30, 2020

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