Paralympian's new role to help people with disabilities
KARNI Liddell has dedicated her life to changing people's perceptions on disability.
The champion Paralympic swimmer, who hails from Rockhampton, now has a powerful new platform from which to do it.
Karni, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, has been appointed the National Disability Insurance Scheme champion for Queensland.
She will work with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to ensure Queenslanders understand how the NDIS will change the way in which disability services are funded and delivered.
The NDIS is due to start in Queensland in July 2016, with the scheme rollout to be completed by July 2019.
"For the first time, people with a disability, their families and carers will be empowered to choose the types of supports and services they need," Karni said. "The NDIS will provide people with the right equipment and services to be able to get out their front doors in the morning to be able to work, play, study and contribute to society."
And that, Karni says, is exactly what the majority of people with disabilities want to do. They want to contribute and be connected to their communities.
"Having a disability is not my biggest problem or challenge. My biggest problems are the same as everybody else's - job, family, friends, relationships, finance and health. "If I am unable to fulfil any of these basic human needs, wants and desires due to my disability it is easy then to focus on my disability.
"But if I am able to gain employment, have an active social life, travel and save money then I am less likely to focus on my disability."
Karni, 35, lives in Brisbane and works as a radio presenter, journalist and public speaker.
She is an ambassador for Clubs Queensland, Day of Difference Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association and ACPET.
She says that our choices should not be determined by our circumstances.
"We cannot control the fact that we have a disability but we can control how we handle it."