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Emily's Story

A recent Youngcare At Home Care Grant has enabled Emily Dash to take on many exciting roles, but none as rewarding and joyful as being an aunty.  

Emily has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair but has never let that stop her from actively participating in her community. Since we last spoke to Emily, she has been a regular guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, writing scripts for a television show, performing on stage, hosting workshops, but her proudest moment? Becoming an aunty!   

Despite her self-reliance, notoriously unreliable transport services have recently made life more challenging for Emily. Wheelchair taxis were a necessary evil that became detrimental to Emily’s work and social life.   

For Emily, regular late taxis or no-shows meant a loss in work and income, compromised safety, and isolation. It all became apparent one evening when Emily and her support worker were left waiting in an unsafe area into the early hours of the next morning.  

“I left the theatre at 10 o’clock and I called for taxi, they said it’ll be an hour wait, and I said, ‘Okay, that’s pretty standard’… 

I waited until three in the morning and that was with repeat calls. Not only from myself and my support worker, but from the front of house staff at the theatre. In that kind of area, it’s not safe to be out that late, so, the theatre staff kept it open while the taxi was coming.  

At three in the morning, I got sick of waiting and had to ring Dad to come and transfer me out of my wheelchair into his car and take me home. And we left my wheelchair at the theatre.”  

This shocking display of exclusion and ableism sadly is not an isolated event for Emily.  

“It started being the norm, such that, I couldn’t book gigs, so I was losing money and people were starting to think I was unreliable because I cancelled things at the last minute.  

If I was lucky enough to get a cab, I would be dealing with people who were either really rude and aggressive, or who didn’t understand how to put me safely in the cab. Or who were intent on overcharging me. You just go along with that because that’s the only option that you have.” 

Emily was becoming isolated at home; her mental health was suffering, and she no longer felt like an active member of her community or household. When Emily’s niece came into the world, she had another reason to find a way to get back out into her community,  

“My niece wasn’t seeing me going out doing things, she wasn’t seeing me go out and participate in life. And that really worried me because I didn’t want her to think that I couldn’t do those things because I was in a wheelchair. That really, really affected me.” 

With her niece as inspiration, Emily reached out to Youngcare and applied for an At Home Care Grant to fund the remaining $10,000 needed to purchase a modified vehicle.  

Now, with her new set of wheels, Emily is back! Her career has skyrocketed into success; an established actress, speaker and writer, Emily could not commit to such a demanding career without reliable transport.  

“Recently, I had three different meetings in three separate places back-to-back. All of them were really important and fundamental to my career. I was able to get to all of them, without any problems or any surprises, I would not have been able to do that without the car.” 

Family life has never been better for Emily! A chaotic family home consisting of Emily, her mum and dad, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and two dogs – there is never a dull moment. Now, Emily is able to contribute to the household, she can run errands for the family but most importantly, take her niece out and about. 

“When I became an aunty, it was the greatest joy of my life. My niece is now two years old, and I recently took her to the Wiggles concert!” 

While Emily’s niece adored going in ‘Aunty Emmie’s purple car’ to see The Wiggles, there was another concert that Emily was beyond thrilled to attend thanks to her new car. Seeing Taylor Swift in concert was one of the highlights of Emily’s year! It may seem like a simple dream, but for Emily, there is more to it than seeing her music idol performing live. 

“Going to see Taylor Swift in concert and being able to participate and know that I was going to get there without having to rely on public transport, particularly because it rained… most people wouldn’t really understand the depth of what that means…  

Big live events like that are really important in terms of people with disabilities being able to take up space and be seen and heard in those kinds of public settings. …it is one of the best parts of my entire existence!” 

Having independence to travel to social events, attend work opportunities and actively contribute to her busy household has given Emily a new lease on life. She is living the young and active life that she desires and deserves. Emily is thriving as a role model for her niece; overjoyed to demonstrate the power of disability inclusion, coupled with strength and grit.  

And she has Youngcare donors to thank for that… 

“Every time you donate to Youngcare you contribute to changing someone’s life. And you might not always know the full extent of what that is. But I can tell you that it’s incredible. And it’s not something really that you can put into words. Please carry on donating to Youngcare because it makes a difference.” 

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A huge thanks to our supporters 

Betta Home Living
HSF
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ALS Global
The Co Group
The Walter and Eliza Hall Trust
Channel Nine
National Storage
Une Parkinson Foundation
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