We’d like to introduce Bruce Alexander who has been a CPL client for 60 years. We spoke with Bruce and his sister-in-law Dianne about his journey with CPL, as well as Shannon Jones one of Bruce’s CPL Support Workers (she’s been with CPL for 22 years!).
“I started with CPL in 1958, when I was three years old,” said Bruce.
“I lived in Ipswich and we had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to catch the train in to Brisbane, here I had three hours of treatment.
“CPL has changed a lot over the years, it’s much bigger and there are a lot more staff to help. It’s great that I don’t have to travel into Brisbane for support anymore, I can go to Ipswich near my home!”
According to Dianne, Bruce’s mum Mary didn’t accept the community standards for people with disabilities in the 1950’s.
“When we were young, you never saw people with disabilities because people were told to keep them hidden or send them away for help,” Dianne said.
“Mary was told to do that as well, but she was a determined woman and didn’t want to do that.
“Mary was a volunteer at CPL for a long time, looking after all the children like they were her own. In 1983 she was given the Sir David Longland Award for her voluntary service by CPL.”
Shannon, who works with Bruce, agreed that things were very different back then, even 22 years ago when she started at CPL.
“In my early days at CPL, support workers called all the shots and made all the decisions. The client wasn’t even asked what they wanted to do,” Shannon said.
“We are so much more client focused now. It’s all about what they want to do and when.
“Bruce wanted to go to a show at night time, but he didn’t think he could because his regular time slot was 4pm and he thought he couldn’t stray from that.
“I said, if you want to go at night time, we will make that happen! It’s whatever you want to do. We’re here to support you, not the other way ‘round!
“I think that’s my biggest highlight from working at CPL: being able to empower clients to make their own decisions and ask for what they want.”
Bruce now lives independently, which was a major goal of his, and receives support at home and community access support from CPL. Bruce works three days a week and when he’s not working, you’ll find him sailing, at the football or spending time with family.