Stories - December 3, 2018
Shivone’s inspirational story
Shivone Miles is living her dream – she has a job she loves, a loving family who are now assured of a roof over their heads, and feels valued by the community around her.
The left leg amputee credits the National Disability Insurance Scheme with changing her life for the better, and forever.
The parent of three – who is employed by Intereach as a NDIS Local Area Coordinator in the Loddon Area – says she doesn’t feel compelled to advocate for the NDIS because of her position but simply because she is living proof that this major social reform can deliver what it promises.
Shivone’s leg was amputated when she was 18 months old due to meningococcal sepsis, and even as recently as this year blood circulation issues from the initial disease saw the now 35 year-old forced to have the second and third toes on her right foot amputated which she is still recovering from.
But despite the many challenges the inspiring sportsperson has faced she has never let the word ‘can’t’ dictate her life, and this ethos has only been amplified with the rollout of the NDIS.
She is sharing her story as part of International Day of People with Disability and to encourage others who may have lived experiences similar to her to embrace the NDIS.
“I have qualifications in nursing, I’m a mother of three children, I’m a capable sportsperson, but not so long ago I couldn’t get a job because of my disability,” Shivone said.
“My children and I were basically homeless about five years ago because I chose to feed my family over paying rent. We were just getting by on a disability support pension but it was tough.
"If not for the NDIS I certainly wouldn’t have a job."
Shivone Miles - NDIS Local Area Coordinator
She continues, “This job came about during one of my NDIS planning appointments because one of my goals was to get full time work. The LAC asked me what I’d like to do and I said, ‘I’d like your job!’
“It all went from there and I started at Intereach about a year ago. I was given the inspiration to apply – I knew my brain still worked the same as everyone else but this just gave me the confidence and inspiration to do something that I’m passionate about and I haven’t looked back.”
Shivone has always been a passionate advocate for people with disability and during her teenage years was an ‘inspiration’ through her sporting achievements.
Growing up in Maryborough she was a member of the Australian swim team from the age of 13 through to 18, with the 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke her preferred events. But as an adult, living an independent life came with its problems mainly due to the previous national disability support system which Shivone described as “difficult and frustrating and where a lot of good people fell through the cracks”. She had low self-esteem and suffered from poor mental health.
“I was someone who had always tried to see the silver lining in every situation but life was tough surviving on the disability pension and with a family. But gaining employment and having the NDIS support has changed my life, and the lives of my family."
“Five years ago compared to now is a complete turnaround – I have a full-time job, I have more dreams and goals I want to accomplish, and I don’t require treatment for poor mental health anymore.”
“The NDIS gives people the support they need to live their life and not be dependent on the government; it normalises people – you can have a disability and have a job and not be seen as a liability. It gives you the support networks you need to hold down a job, to support your family, to do things like sport and other activities that you want to do for yourself.”
The NDIS has also eased the pressure on Shivone’s fiancée, Trista, and her three children, Pippa, 11, Abbey, 9, and Sebastian, 8.
“What I couldn’t do would often fall on their shoulders but now we have services such as home support so we can do more things as a family. They’re also loving the fact that I have a full time job and I can pay the bills.”
"I also have a dream to own my own home and that’s now a possibility. The NDIS gives people with disability the opportunity to achieve their goals.”
Shivone’s newfound independence and NDIS support has also allowed her to reignite her other passions – sport and disability advocacy. She has played a role with the Wheelchair Basketball Braves Committee in developing a regional wheelchair basketball competition and forming a local side affiliated with the Bendigo Braves Basketball Club. In her recovery, Shivone aims to get back to swimming about 30km a week and aims to complete a marathon in her day wheelchair and to raise awareness for limb indifference and people living with disabilities.
“We’re hoping to have a regional wheelchair basketball competition up and running next year. The committee and other hard working individuals in Bendigo are working with Basketball Victoria to apply for grants and to ensure we have the assistive technology and safe equipment we require to play a great game of basketball. I’m also training for the marathon; I was up to about 10 kilometres when I had the blood circulation issues and had to have my toes amputated. I’ll be back in training soon and my aim is to complete the 42.2 kilometres next year.”
Shivone is four weeks post amputation of her toes and says she is “champing at the bit” to get back to pushing for the best in every part of her life. She is walking with her crutches part time and receiving “the best support from her team at the Bendigo office”. She also continues her commitment to “drive and work hard” to sculpt the future of many people living with disabilities.
“My biggest passion is advocacy, and working for Intereach as part of the NDIS team allows me to combine this passion with my job to minimise the impact of disability so people can live an everyday life. The NDIS will take time and I’m extremely proud to be helping to sculpt this scheme so that it’s world class, and it can be world class. Being able to stop my disability support pension was one of the proudest days of my life – I even ‘high-fived’ the security guard on the way out the door. Working for the NDIS and especially Intereach with its regional focus and amazing resources encompasses everything I’m passionate about – at the core it’s about people who just want to live a normal life; to be recognised as an everyday person. Now with this support we can link in with the community and the mainstream and we have the choice to drive our own life; it’s not all about our disability anymore.”