What a difference a year makes

Brett Whiteley

INTRODUCING THE FACE OF THE 2014 DON'T DIS MY ABILITY CAMPAIGN, BRETT WHITELEY, FROM SINGLETON IN THE HUNTER VALLEY.

A year ago, Brett Whiteley's life changed completely when he lost an arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident. Since then, he has been embracing the challenges involved in adjusting to life without two of his limbs.

Blessed with an unflappable attitude, Brett's discovered a whole new appreciation for life – so he's the ideal role model for this year's Don't DIS my ABILITY campaign.

"It's about not being afraid to do different things – whether it's sailing, re-learning how to drive or being the face of the campaign," he enthuses.

Brett is very matter-of-fact about now having a disability. He says he's just living his life.

"I experienced a lot of loss as a result of the accident – limbs, licence, job – but participating in the campaign is a step forward in getting back to enjoying life," he says.

Learning to sail has become a huge part of Brett's life. Soon after the accident, he was put in touch with Sailors with disABILITIES, and he now feels as comfortable on a boat as he did on his motorbike. So when it came to finding a location to photograph him for the Don't DIS my ABILITY campaign it made perfect sense to take to the water.

Brett is making a habit of saying 'yes' to challenges, and the next one's just around the corner. He's joined the Sailors with disABILITIES crew for the 2014 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Apart from training for the race, Brett is keeping busy working at Pro Mine Contracting, as well as studying to re-train as a fleet manager. "People have preconceptions and misconceptions about what I can and can't do," he says. "The worst part is when they roll their eyes, like, 'Oh, a motorbike accident!'as if it's my fault."

"I never expected how much more I'd appreciate life now and how grateful I'd be for what I have and the people around me. I'm allowing myself to have fun. Life's too short. Everyone has bad days, but overall, life's good. We always judge people or assume things about them, and this campaign's about accepting people for who they are and what they have to offer."

JUSTINE GARCIA DE HEER

pointing_handVisit www.sailorswithdisabilities.com to find out more about Sailors with disABILITIES.