Luck turns for fighter Ashley with support from JobAccess

Ashley Reynolds has battled a series of health issues that would floor most people. He watched much of his family farm burn to the ground in the bushfires of 2021. And he has taken parts of the establishment on and won – both as a disability advocate and fighting for his own survival.

But when Ashley took the call from JobAccess to say he had been approved for a modified tractor which will triple his productivity on the farm, significantly reducing his reliance on others, he was completely overwhelmed.

This is the best call I have received since my kids were born, I wish you could see the smile on my face,” he told JobAccess Professional Adviser and occupational therapist Chantal Hardey.

Things started to take a turn for the worse for Ashley, a qualified carpenter and joiner, back in the late 1990s when he broke his back on a building site. He was making a long recovery in the hospital when he lost the feeling in his legs. Not long after, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

They say bad luck runs in threes.

“I started to feel really, really sick. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease! Shortly after I had the whole of my bowel removed.

Fighting the good fight

I have always been a fighter. I fight really hard for what’s right.”

This spirit has fuelled Ashley’s survival and ultimate success and led him into 25 years of disability advocacy. He has waged – and won – several legal battles for himself and several people with disabilities who didn’t know how to navigate the system.

And then there were four 

Due to his medical issues, Ashely, now 60, and his wife Sharon, 46, didn’t think they could have children of their own. But they were unexpectantly blessed with Ryan 10, and Harry, 9. 

Ryan’s autism diagnosis has inspired them to broaden their 12-hectare barley property, Boobrook Farm, soon to include a sensory farm for people with disabilities.

Apart from chickens and sheep, they have recently included two miniature goats and two blind baby pigs in their growing family. 

But they have had a tough run over the last two years, with a massive bushfire taking out a large portion of the livestock, building and equipment – including the implements for his tractor – on the farm at Avenue Range 320 km from Adelaide in South Australia. 

Tractor will make life easier

I am incredibly grateful for the support from JobAccess,” said Ashley about the workplace adjustments he received to remove barriers and continue working on the farm. “I’m still staggered. This new tractor is going to make life so much easier.”

JobAccess has a team of front-line professionals, including occupational therapists, who provide expert, confidential and tailored advice regarding workplace adjustments at first contact. 

Workplace adjustments include administrative, environmental or procedural changes to enable people with disability to have equitable employment opportunities. However not all people with disability require workplace adjustments.

People with disability who are about to start work, are currently working or self-employed and require adjustments to do their job can apply for financial assistance through the Employment Assistance Fund. Employers and Disability Employment Services (DES) providers too can apply.

“Right from the word go Chantal has been incredibly positive, supportive and on the ball. I’m actually blown away!"

Like to learn more?

There is a wide range of support available from JobAccess for people with disability, employers, and service providers.

JobAccess has managed over 60,000 applications for funding workplace adjustments since 2006. Each one makes a difference by helping people with disability get work, keep work, and progress their careers.

Contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to speak to our friendly and resourceful Advisers about workplace adjustments and the Employment Assistance Fund. You can also submit an online enquiry through the JobAccess website.

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