Gillian is one of a large contingent of NSW polio campaigners heading to Canberra on Wednesday 29th October 2014.
Gillian contracted polio at 10 months of age. After completing her education she worked in the public and community sectors, and in recent years has run her own small business. Gillian has been supporting and advocating on behalf of polio survivors since the late 1980s through her volunteer activities on behalf of Polio NSW and Polio Australia. The increasing and debilitating impact of the late effects of polio might be slowing her down but they haven’t stopped her yet!
What is a memorable childhood experience?
Having contracted polio as a baby I spent most of my early childhood in hospitals. Recollections from this time are only fleeting but I do remember the distress I felt whenever my parents left after a visit, especially as time went on and I was moved to a rehabilitation facility far from home.
How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?
After putting in the hard work as a child to learn how to walk with two full-length calipers, I thought I had put polio behind me. Then, in my thirties, I started to suffer from the late effects of polio. My balance and mobility went out the window and in their place came overwhelming fatigue and a loss of endurance, which has a tremendous impact on my ability to keep functioning at the level I want and need to.
Why are you going to Canberra?
Polio survivors don’t complain. We have quietly carried on with our lives. But now, more than ever, we need support and it’s time to give us a fair go by not only funding the health services we so desperately need, but by ensuring we can access the disability support funded through DisabilityCare Australia. In addition, the important services provided by Polio Australia and the State Polio Networks need to be acknowledged, valued and resourced – volunteers (especially those experiencing the late effects of polio) cannot shoulder the load forever.
Watch Gillian’s recent comments about polio, its late effects, and why health and disability services are required
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Gillian Thomas, Vice President, Polio Australia, and President, Polio NSW (2:35)
Please send Gillian a message of support for her Canberra campaign by making a comment below.