Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Pepper, Gunaikurnai woman, has turned her life around. After years of struggling on her own, Kathy is proof of the value of support coordination, and having the support of a likeminded, kindred companion.
Before joining the NDIS, Kathy says she was “usually at home every day.” Since choosing support coordination with Headway, Kathy has one-on-one assistance from her Support Coordinator, Megan, and her Aboriginal NDIS Support Worker, Justin Kennedy, Wotjobaluk Gunaikurnai.
“It took some time, but now she’s really engaged, wanting to go places and do stuff,” says Justin.
The two have a special relationship that enables Kathy to connect with her culture, something that is important to us all. Justin has been able to guide Kathy through life, in a language she understands, mentoring her in daily activities and teaching her indigenous knowledge that she had not been able to learn on her own.
“We’ve tried to work out what [Kathy] engages with,” says Justin, “one thing she liked to do was shopping and cooking.”
Kathy has learnt to use the self-service checkout, shop around for the best prices, and to bring her groceries home and prepare them. She has also been learning to prepare food and use utensils safely.
“I like cooking,” says Kathy, when asked what is her favourite thing to do. On cooking days, the two of them shop first, and then go back home to cook delicious, nutritious meals.
When asked who does the dishes, they both laugh and say, “We both do. Well, we put them in the dishwasher.”
Kathy’s favourite thing to cook is “Pepper steak,” as well as “chicken and beef stir fry.”
Another thing Kathy enjoys is going on adventures. When the two of them go out on country, they visit sacred sites around Gippsland.
“We go out and we see if there’s anything like scar trees, [we go] up to the Knob Reserve, Stratford, showing her the nature and how it came to be.”
Until last year, Kathy hasn’t had any cultural connection, explains Justin. Now that she knows where these places are, and their significance, she will be able to share her knowledge with nieces, nephews and future generations.
Kathy has now been able to find her place in the world. She has achieved independence, is doing the things she loves, and is planning on making some more changes to her life soon. The future is looking bright. “I will be really happy,” she says.
Kathy visiting the sacred Scar Trees, used by Indigenous Australians in the past to build canoes, shelters and tools. The bark would be removed carefully from the tree as not to harm it. Over time the scar would ‘close’ and the tree would heal completely, allowing the process to start again.