Michelle’s journey of a thousand steps

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

9 years ago, Michelle Owens’ life was turned upside down when she sustained an acquired brain injury from a car accident. Previously, Michelle worked as a GP in the Logan area.

Following the accident, Michelle had to re-learn how to walk, speak, swallow and recognise her children. Despite having to start again in many respects, her brain retained a large proportion of her medical knowledge.

Michelle hasn’t been employed since her car accident however she has worked hard to build her own capacity to a point where she felt motivated and driven, as well as physically and mentally she prepared to re-enter the workforce.

“I’m in the best place that I have been so far [since the accident]. I believe a positive mindset has been one of my things all along,” said Michelle.

She came to us feeling unsatisfied with the progress she was making with another provider.

“I made an appointment and it was the best thing ever. I was sorry and disappointed that I hadn’t made the move sooner,” said Michelle.

“EPIC have just been amazing. I cannot tell you how what a huge relief it was for me because it was massive [to get that support].”

Michelle says that while the physical milestones she has achieved are often the most recognisable, it’s astounding how the cognitive improvements keep on coming.

“You just don’t realise how much you weren’t aware of.  You aren’t doing anything in particular and then you just suddenly become aware,” explained Michelle.

“It’s actually really positive when you have these moments of realisation, because you know that you’re progressing.”

Michelle has been looking for administrative work for some time and recently completed a Business Administration Traineeship with the Brisbane City Council. After being out of the workforce for so long, she is realistic about needing work experience to achieve other goals.

“Ideally I would like to work in a medical admin role; it’s where I’m most comfortable and I also have a lot of knowledge in that area,” said Michelle.

“But since I have not worked in such a long time, I’m happy to give anything a go.

“Securing an administration position will be beneficial for my future, then I could come back to the medical industry with recent work experience,” she said.

We have been supporting Michelle with applying for jobs, connecting with employers, and seeking out businesses and community groups who are willing to give her an opportunity.

We have also reached out to local MP’s and industry experts who can recommend companies that may support Michelle’s return to the workforce.

Michelle says that it’s not just about the end goal, it’s about all the steps along the way.

“What I’ve learnt on this journey which really helps me, is taking baby steps, and recognising that those small steps are part of the long journey,” said Michelle.

“People with disability are generally very positive and they want to be given the chance to have an input, and that input is valuable.

“I keep thinking if I was able to speak to an actual employer, surely they would be happy to just give me a chance because that’s all I’m asking for.”