Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year for 2021, Daniel Clarke, is utilising his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports to educate schools about his work helping to protect endangered orang-utans in Borneo.
Together with his younger brother William, Daniel presents at schools around Australia with a support worker helping with transportation to and from venues, getting on and off the stage and personal care.
Establishing the organisation ‘Tears in the Jungle’ and fundraising more than $950,000, while also writing two books about his experiences, has seen him and his brother awarded the 2021 Queensland Young Australian of the Year.
“It is such an honour to be recognised in this way and we were so humbled to be considered among so many amazing people,” he said.
“We just do our work because it is our passion and we know that it is making a difference.”
Daniel, who has cerebral palsy, also utilised NDIS supports to finish his university degree last year.
“While studying a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Politics at Macquarie University, I required a support worker to be with me all the time while on campus,” he said.
“Along with helping with transporting me to and from uni and with my personal care on campus, my support worker would also take notes for me during lectures and be my scribe in tutorials.
“As I am quite slow at typing, my support worker was a touch typist and it meant that I could get through my work a lot quicker.
“My support worker would accompany me to exams and assessments and they would be my scribe in those situations as well.”
Daniel remains active playing wheelchair rugby and training with the Queensland state team in their development squad.
“When I attend wheelchair rugby, my support worker is always there to lend a hand to transport myself and my equipment to and from training, getting my protective gear on including arm guards and gloves, transferring me in and out of my rugby wheelchair, and being there if I need a drink or a towel to wipe away my sweat,” he said.
“After training, my support worker helps me to change out of my training clothes and with my personal care.”
First accessing the NDIS when he lived with his family in Sydney in 2015, Daniel moved to Queensland two years ago and received assistance to implement his new plan from Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region.
Daniel said the NDIS has revolutionised his life, as it used to be a struggle to get out into the community.
“Since being on the NDIS, I can go out as often as I want, attend rugby competitions, hang out with friends and study,” he said.
“I have been able to be an individual separate to the family unit and it has allowed me to go out socially, make new friends and build a network in Queensland.
“Carers Queensland have been fantastic; I feel like they understand me as a person as well as my requirements and where I see myself in the future.
“My Local Area Coordinator, Farina, has been amazing at helping navigate the ins and outs of the NDIS.
“For the first time since being on the NDIS, I feel like Carers Queensland and my Local Area Coordinator are advocating for me as an individual.”
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.