Tony holding his Citizen of the Year award

Volunteer Work Changes Lives

When Tony was only just 3 months old, living in NSW, he was traveling in his family's car. Back in 1968 child restraints were not mandatory so he was being held by his mother when a drunk driver hit them from behind. Tony was thrown out of his mother's arms on to the dash board, and then bounced on to the door handle. Tony suffered not only extensive head injuries resulting in an ABI, but also many other injuries to the rest of his body. Most of his childhood up until the age of 12 was spent in and out of hospital. A lot of rehabilitation and many surgeries are distant memories now, but once consumed his childhood.

When Tony left school he enrolled in a sheltered employment workshop which taught him some important skills, but he wanted more out of life.

He was then given an opportunity to sell cleaning products door to door. Tony excelled at this rising to state manager in only weeks. The company folded after 5 years and Tony was back to looking for work. He found it disappointing to be turned down for paid work time and time again due to his disability. Instead of giving up Tony found his niche in volunteer work.

Tony has an extensive history of volunteer work starting at the Citizen Advisory in Sydney and St Vincent de Paul before moving to Perth for a new start. He didn't waste any time jumping straight back volunteering for the city of Armadale at History house museum and Roadwise. He has risen up the ranks at History house and is now in charge of the other volunteers and rostering. His position at Roadwise is an important one as he is able to give an opinion from the point of view of someone with a ABI from a road accident. He has also volunteered for many events including Australia Day celebrations, and is part of the Disability Advisory Committee.

In 2009 after completing a staggering 2150 hours of volunteer work, Tony was awarded the Citizen of the Year award on Australia Day for "fostering Australian pride and spirit through active citizenship and outstanding contribution to the community'.

This is Tony's proudest moment. He received acknowledgment and appreciation for all of his hard work.

Tony is modestly proud of his achievements; he says they 'keep him busy and occupied'. Tony has previously been quoted saying "Volunteering is really enjoyable and some good friendships are made through volunteering. Also it is a good way to get references for any jobs that might come up.'

I asked Tony what his future ambitions are. He replied, to do the best he can for the state, be the best volunteer he can and to encourage everyone with a disability that can't work to do an hour or so of volunteer work to give them a purpose. Tony believes too many people are discouraged and do nothing. Everyone should be able to do an hour or two. Volunteers are scarce and so many places are in dire need of help.

Tony has dedicated his life to helping in any way he can towards the community. He has accomplished many things and I believe he will continue to contribute more towards the community. Tony's positive attitude towards life is a wonderful inspiration to others with an ABI to never give up

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