Formerly House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation

Getting respect, making friends and opening doors

Over the last 12 years I have been bullied, graduated from school, made friends, found a job, and become a disability advocate.

The last 12yrs of my life have had some ups and downs. I’ve been bullied, graduated from school, made friends, found a job, and become an advocate. The one thing I believe in above all else is respect.

Hi everyone, my name is Lachlan, I work for Aruma as a Peer Mentor. I am also a customer of Aruma in Transition to Work.

Being bullied

I have had issues with being bullied because I have a disability. In primary school I had a teacher who decided that it was easier to just let me draw and do nothing else. She would teach everyone else but me. She didn’t think I was important and not worth helping or teaching.

Mum got angry at the teacher when she found out, and sorted it out for me with the help of the Special Education Program and I got learning again. I guess you could say my Mum was my advocate!

On the first day of high school I made two friends, kids around my age and in the same grade as well. On the second day I heard them talking about me behind my back, making fun of me because I wear glasses. I am legally blind and need to wear them all the time. I eventually learnt how to walk away and ignore them, I did it and it worked.

The following year, I made friends with two new students, both just starting high school. I became their mentor and the three of us became great friends.

Learning and fighting

In the middle of year 10 I had to go for a meeting to talk about my future and what I wanted to do in my life. Mum thought I should be given the same opportunities as all other students and go for the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). So a plan was made to help me achieve this.

Unfortunately toward the end of year 11 we found out that the wrong information was given to us and I would not have the marks needed for a QCE.

A change of department head was the best thing ever as we finally found someone willing to help sort out the problem and turn things around. In the end I got the marks I needed, with lots of help and encouragement from my teachers and my family.

I was all fired up to keep fighting to prove that just because I have a disability does not mean that I don’t matter and can’t learn. I guess I was starting to advocate for myself. I finished year 12 and graduated with a QCE. I attended our formal and made lots of friends over the time.

Toward the end of my high school years I learnt something that everyone should know…

The world is not about money or politics or anything like that, it’s about creating bonds with people. Everyone is connected to each other by our hearts, it’s in the deep dark part of your heart. Deep down we are all the same, we should all be able to have the same choices, chances and opportunities.

Making friends and finding a job

Like I said before, I am doing the Transition to Work course at Aruma. The course is designed to give people like me the tools and skills to improve our abilities so we can find opportunities to better ourselves, get ready for work, and find employment. It is also a great way to make new friends. I have a lot more friends than I used to.

Recently I applied for a job as Peer Mentor at Aruma and I got the job. The reason I wanted this job, is because I wanted to reach out and help as many people as I can whether they have a disability or not.

My job as Peer Mentor is a new position in Queensland. We already have Peer Mentors in NSW, Leigh and James, who have been doing this role for 18 months. We are also getting more Peer Mentor roles across Aruma.

Peer Mentors work to make Aruma a better organisation, help other people supported by Aruma to know their rights and speak up, and give feedback.

My job involves working with managers and other Peer Mentors, and visiting different disability services to promote human rights to people supported by Aruma, staff and the community.

I want to help make sure Aruma clients and staff are aware of their rights and that if they have a problem they can come to us to discuss them and we can try to help them.

Getting respect and opening doors

The number one quality I think all staff should have when working at Aruma and anywhere else is to be RESPECTFUL. Be respectful to everyone you work with whether they are other staff or clients. Just remember, we all matter regardless of our circumstances in life, we are all entitled to be shown respect. To me this is the most important thing.

Respect, choices and opportunities are part of basic human rights for everyone regardless of their circumstances. Everyone deserves a fair go and to be heard. The door to the future should be open to everybody not be closed just because you are different. Everyone has rights and everyone should be respected for who they are.

I will keep advocating for myself and hope I can support other people at Aruma to speak up for themselves. I am excited about the doors that have been opened to me and can’t wait to get out into the world and help open a door for others.

If you need to talk to someone about bullying or a crisis in your life, please consider calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.