In 2004 I became a C5 quadriplegic as the result of a spinal cord injury. After a long stint in rehabilitation, I moved back home to live with my parents.
Recently, at the age of 31, I decided it was time to reclaim my independence. At the top of my list was moving back out. I was prepared for an arduous journey towards public housing I had heard myriad horror stories.
I didn't know where to start so I sent an email to the Housing Resource and Support Service (HRSS). They are a not-for-profit organisation that offer services to people with disabilities. I rang and asked if they could help me with an Office of Housing application.
I was shocked to get a phone call two days later. They knew of a property that was available immediately. It was a modified two-bedroom unit for low income earners with a disability. It was only one suburb away from where most of my friends live. It was on the other side of town. But it would be the same distance I now travel from my parents' house to go to work and university. Did I want it? Yes.
The property was offered through Housing Choices Australia (HCA). It is regarded as transitional. A condition of the lease was that I have an Office of Housing application pending. I didn't mind because I just wanted to move out.
After a flurry of excitement and paperwork I now have a key in my hand. I can move in tomorrow, right? Wrong. Prior to my injury, moving house meant getting a couple of university buddies together and borrowing someone's ute. It could be done in an afternoon. A payment of a slab of beer for services rendered always sufficed.
Moving house now involves an array of arduous tasks. I am moving from one side of Melbourne to the other. But it is more complicated than when I was organising to live overseas. Navigating the Kafkaesque process to get a visa to live in the former Soviet country of Lithuania is nothing compared to my current move of a whopping 32.2 kilometres. That's irony Alanis Morrisette, not rain on a wedding day.
I must devise a new care plan. This has been to be done alongside my job as a German translator. And my postgraduate university commitments. I must find new care agencies. I must interview and train new carers. I must make contact with service supports in the region.
I must contact the local council and organise a pendant alarm. I must organise an electronic door lock. I must put in applications to various organisations for modified equipment. And that's only naming a few. There are also the regular hassles of organising a phone reconnection and finding a gas and electricity supplier. And deciding what to take with me and what to put into storage.
Am I worried? You bet. Would I change a thing? No way in hell!