For most of her life, Bronya had lived with her parents Heather and Colin in Dalby, 80 km north-west of Toowoomba (QLD). Bronya attended Life Without Barriers’ disability support day programs in Dalby and also worked part-time at the Endeavour Foundation. But because she was growing up with a disability, Bronya’s parents thought the possibility of her one day living independently was no more than a far-fetched dream. However, Bronya’s dreams of independence proved too big.
Recognising that she was set on becoming independent, Bronya’s parents encouraged her to learn new skills that would help make her dream come true. So, five years ago, Bronya moved to Toowoomba to take part in Life Without Barriers’ Transitional Respite Program. This program supports people to learn new life skills they may need to live independently, such as shopping, cooking, building community relationships and personal hygiene.
After she completed the twelve-week program, Bronya’s confidence in her abilities had grown considerably, and a year later she moved into a house managed by Life Without Barriers. The house is set up as independent accommodation for people with disability, while allowing for staff to live in to support tenants as required. When Bronya first moved into the house she felt more comfortable with staff being around most of the time, but over the past four years she has become increasingly autonomous and accustomed to her new space.
This year Anne-Marie joined Bronya as her housemate. Anne-Marie had also taken part in the Transitional Respite Program where she built on her skillset to smoothly transition to independent living. She also works at the Endeavour Foundation and is known for her kindness, thoughtful attitude, and infectious laugh.
Bronya and Anne-Marie settled in famously together. They have very different personalities but fast became very good friends who, rather than looking to Life Without Barriers for support, often help each other in small and meaningful ways in their daily lives. Bronya and Anne-Marie share their love for yoga, dancing and going out for dinner, as well as their passion for and commitment to their jobs, and their sense of pride in their home.
Caroline Pedersen is a Disability and Aged Care Operations Manager at Life Without Barriers. When commenting on Anne-Marie and Bronya’s friendship, Caroline said:
“Like any house-share, it’s all about finding complementary personalities to create a successful arrangement, and Anne-Marie and Bronya found just that. They’re great friends who have learned from each other and the staff and families have noticed a huge difference in their outlooks since they moved in; Anne-Marie’s father Pat says he’s never seen Bronya so happy.” “Bronya has traditionally been more cautious in new situations…but being around Anne-Marie has brought her out of her shell,” continues Caroline. “Both women are now not afraid to do what makes them happy.”
Bronya and Anne-Marie’s inspiring story was featured in the Autumn 2017 issue of Ruth Magazine – a Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) magazine
Photo Credit: Paul Finch