News • 14 Feb 2019

Helping a wheelchair using client during the Townsville floods

Helping a wheelchair using client during the Townsville floods
Open Minds employees Clynt (Area Manager Far North QLD) and Kiara (Support Worker), assisting to clean-up a wheelchair-using clients’ house after the flooding

Listen to the ABC Radio recording to hear the story of Open Minds client and wheelchair user Maryke, who lost everything - and nearly even her wheelchair - in the Townsville floods. Open Minds Area Manager, Clynt Connor, discusses how such a situation impacts people with disabilities and how Open Minds supports them through this time.

Employees at Open Minds rallied to help a client who uses a wheelchair. The client, like many in the Townsville Community, has lost everything due to the Townsville floods. Staff cleaned up her house, saved her wheelchair from being destroyed by flood water, and provided support to access vital supplies.

Open Minds clients live with disabilities or mental illnesses and are therefore amongst the most vulnerable people at the best of times, let alone when they’ve lost everything in the recent floods in Townsville.

Pictured above are Open Minds employees Clynt (Area Manager Far North QLD) and Kiara (Support Worker), assisting the clean-up of debris in a clients’ house after it was submerged in two feet of water.

The client, Maryke, is a wheelchair user and has lost everything in her home that she had only occupied for a short time.

The Open Minds team provided support to Maryke the minute her suburb was at potential risk, Clynt maintained regular contact with Maryke and contacted the State Emergency Services (SES) prior to the flooding, registering Maryke to their priority watch list. This connected Maryke to the much-needed service quickly at her greatest time of need. 

Whilst Maryke was able to get out quickly, her electric wheelchair was left behind. She narrowly missed losing it in the flood, however Open Minds Support Worker Kiara intervened to save the expensive wheelchair and get it safely into a truck before it was too late.

Maryke said: “I was absolutely blown away by the support that I received from Open Minds. I didn't expect or ask for any help but Kiara offered to go in her own time to help my children go through my inundated unit. I was absolutely speechless when I was told that the area manager Clynt had also gone to help and support my children through the difficult process. 

“My support worker Kiara and her partner went in their own time with his truck to get past the flooded water and got to my electric wheelchair before it was too late, as I would have lost it in the floods. My wheelchair is my legs and I wouldn't be able to live my life without it.

“I am still trying to come to terms with what has happened and I am just taking it one step at a time.”

Maryke is currently living in temporary accommodation and Open Minds is continuing to support her to access vital supplies, and to submit a change in circumstances application to help her receive more funding from the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

Clynt said: “This was Maryke’s first home that was perfectly suited to her needs in a wheelchair. It’s difficult to come across good wheelchair accessible accommodation in Townsville so we are devastated for her. We will continue to support her wherever possible.”

Maryke with her electric wheelchair