Starting your own business

Marlena Katene

I am a simple person and yet complex at the same time. I have dreams, fears and I sometimes wonder where I will be in say ten years’ time. Currently I am trying to develop a number of businesses that will secure my future and provide an income to support these dreams and goals of mine. Actually I bought my first business when I was 15, some five years ago. A simple business that wasn’t that expensive, but was purchased due to the fact I was in Year 9 and basically wanted a part time job, as most of my peers were starting to get jobs. Never did I think at that stage this small business would be the start of what it has become today.

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Sam Cawthorn

Sam was 26 years old when his life changed forever. He experienced a devastating motor-vehicle accident which left him in a coma and with many traumatic injuries including an amputated right arm and impaired right leg. This was in addition to a range of internal injuries which continued to threaten his life. Doctors did not give Sam very promising the future, telling him that he would never walk. This story is not uncommon. People have accidents and receive traumatic injuries everyday with the result of permanent disability.

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Michael Evans

Work has always been important to me. I saw that work was a quite defining in society. I believe it defines whether or not people have respect for you and respect for your abilities or whether they tend to see you as being a burden and so I’ve always ensured that I have been a person who was contributing to the community as a whole.

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Kiruna Stamell

I am a 33 year old actress living with dwarfism. I am married and live in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, but I was born and raised in Sydney.

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Malcolm Mayfield

I am 44 years old. I have been married for almost 20 years. I am the Managing Director of a company and the author of an internationally acclaimed book. I also have a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome which I received when I was 37 years young. The company I manage is Autism STAR Pty Ltd, where STAR stands for Spectrum, Training, Advocacy and Recruitment. My business website can be found at:

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Trevor Harrison

I was born at Port Pirie in 1955. I was11 months old when I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Before that, I was thought to be a “lazy baby”. My parents had no knowledge of CP, and found it hard to accept there was no cure. They were advised to “Put me into the Home for Incurables and forget about me”. Thank you Mum and Dad for not taking that advice! At different times they took me to a chiropractor, a hypnotherapist and a faith healer, but no miracles!

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Tony Doyle

I was born into a working-class family in Manchester, England in 1948, and we migrated to Australia when I was 16 years old. My parents were from Ireland. My Father died 10 years ago and my Mother is 96 years old not out. My Dad had a pretty hard life. He was born into an “Irish tinker” way of life; he only ever had contact with one family member, his Mother. He was later shot and wounded in the Second World War. He liked a drink or two and smoked all his life, but managed to live to 88 years of age. My mother’s earliest employment was as a nurse-maid. At 96 she is still better than me at crosswords.

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Tracy Vandepeer

I am an artist with my own gallery. I live in Auburn in the Clare Valley with my husband, my two sons who are 11 and 20, and my daughter who is 21 and gave birth to our first grandchild in January. I really love it here. I feel I have come full circle and often say to my husband “I’ll be quite happy to stay here now.” As I child I had wonderful experiences travelling around Australia. When I was nine years old I moved to Lae in Papua New Guinea with my parents and twin sister. My other siblings were in their late teens at the time and stayed in Australia. I came back to Australia when I was 18. Living in PNG gave me a real respect for indigenous culture. It was a unique upbringing and I am still close to many friends who I went to school with there. It’s a network of friendship that has gone on beyond the years.

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Michael Farnden

The accident happened on the 13th of May 2008. I was on my way out to my girlfriend Jen’s house at Myponga. She had needed urgent major surgery and I was spending every night at her house helping her out. We were committed to each other and just hit it off. On the way out to her place one night a kangaroo jumped in front of my car and apparently I hit it. I was driving my Mitsubishi twin-cab four wheel drive that had a bull-bar on it. Because of the size of the kangaroo, it went under my car. My car was bouncing a bit and the front wheels turned to the right, and when it hit the road again, it shot me across the road and that’s when I hit the oncoming Ford. The lady in the Ford died.

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FaithThorley 2

I’m a visual artist and have had a passion for art all of my life. I’m also a ‘life-long learner’ and have combined my love of making art with being an educator. I’ve always had a passion for making art but didn’t appreciate how important it was in my life until I was in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of a hospital in Adelaide following brain tumour surgery in 1990.

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John Hughes

John: I have mild Cerebral Palsy, affecting my coordination, my speech and the pace of my walking. I live in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. I’m a self–employed winemaker and have my own wine label called Reislingfreak. With the winemaking, I focus on Riesling, which is a white wine. I harvest the grapes and keep the wine in bottles within four or five months. So in that period of time, I’m intensely in the winery and looking over the wine. Outside of that period I am busy with other projects.

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Stephen Lambert

I had MS for seven years this year, and I’m now blind and in a wheelchair. It is optic neuritis. I’ve got everything in place at home to be able to function. I just need someone to cook and do a little bit of personal care. The carers are there three hours a day, seven days a week, so [I just have} to just keep the house tidy and do my washing. They [services] are all covered financially by Disability SA.

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Dale Elliott

I had a motorbike injury at the end of 2002. Now I’m a T10 complete paraplegic. I’m in a wheelchair all the time. I can’t move my legs or walk. I can’t feel anything from about my bellybutton down.

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Jo Blesing

In 2004 I was diagnosed with a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was left with no choice but to leave my adopted hometown of Melbourne - along with my friends, my sister, ex-husband and step children - to return to my original hometown of Adelaide. This was an emotionally distressing process which was sadly compounded by the passing of my dog shortly after. He was my last remaining link with Melbourne.

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Stacey Copas

I'm 33 and live with Quadriplegia. I broke my neck diving into a shallow pool 21 years ago and this year I’m celebrating my 21st anniversary of living with a disability. I have some impaired function in my arms and hands, and I use a manual wheelchair - I can get around on flat ground but as soon as there’s any incline I have difficulties. On one hand I can’t use anything other than the thumb and a little bit of one of my fingers. But on the other hand I can wiggle all my fingers, although they are impaired. I can’t straighten both my arms because it was an incomplete injury. I am very lucky that I can move my trunk and back, and I can feel everything.

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