Airlie was teaching Japanese at St. Peters Girls in 1991 and had just completed a music degree when she was involved in a vehicle collision, resulting in a severe brain injury. She was in a coma for weeks, followed by several years of rehabilitation, allowing her to return home. During rehab, Airlie had to relearn the skill she most loved - to write. She now lives with spastic quadriplegia which means Airlie can communicate only through writing.
Not only is writing Airlie’s only channel to communicate, it is her greatest passion! Demonstrating a talent for writing in childhood, Airlie published an autobiography of her personal journey in 2017. At the launch of the book, ‘There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel’, over 100 books were sold in thirty minutes and hundreds since.
Airlie continues to write for an invitation only poetry group, sharing a new poem every month and critiquing others’ work. In 2018, one of her poems was published in a collection of poetry called ‘Wild’.
With the support of her parents and HomeCare+, Airlie returned to the University of Adelaide in 2002, completing her Bachelor of Music Degree with Honours in Musicology and her Master of Music Degree six years later.
She attends Adelaide University weekly to be part of a program of seminars, hearing music or spoken presentations on a wide range of subjects, feeding Airlie’s intellectual appetite. She also meets with a weekly bible studies group and has been awarded a Government grant to publish her next poetry book.
“I have a remarkable story to tell of how I came back from near death to be able to set my sights on achieving my degrees and writing my story through poetry. I have a strong sense that my poetry will benefit many people, especially those who have suffered as I have.”
Airlie has known her team of HomeCare+ support workers for over ten years, many of those long standing. Knowing Airlie for the entire period means they treat her like a little sister. Pam says “They like taking her out on walks to Linear Park where Airlie finds a lot of inspiration for her poetry. HomeCare+ are part of our family now!”
Pam also shares that HomeCare+ has very particular standards, and the support coordination is managed in a way that enables Airlie to engage in the activities she enjoys. “Teamwork is the key to their success, they don’t miss a trick.”
Due to Airlie’s high needs, HomeCare+ coordinates her support combined with another agency. She says “I need support to help me achieve my goals in writing. HomeCare+ is there for myself and my family”.
How does Airlie explain her extraordinary success in achieving her goals?
Simply - patience, persistence and perseverance.
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