genU Karingal St Laurence has recognised disability advocate Jenna Bailey with its annual Achiever Award.
The award recognised the valuable contribution that Jenna made to both personal and community development during the past 12 months.
Jenna, 31, has cerebral palsy and she walks with the aid of a walking stick. Jenna uses a wheelchair for longer distances, but her courage throughout her life has meant that she’s never given in to physical barriers or social limitations.
The Mornington local is a passionate advocate for people with disability, always aiming to inspire other clients to never give up and to achieve their goals. Jenna is a Peer Support and Advocacy Officer with the Mornington Peninsula Shire (MPS), and securing paid employment had been one of her lifelong goals.
Jenna listed ‘advocacy’ as one of her goals when she was studying Certificate 1 in Work Education and said she wanted to advocate for others who couldn’t advocate for themselves.
Her keen interest in taking on advocacy and peer support roles was initially inspired from workshops and guest speakers when she attended VALiD’s Having A Say conferences. This led to contact with the Social and Community Planning Department of the MPS, who agreed to take Jenna for her Certificate 1 Work Education Placement.
genU Regional Manager Sonia Berton said the placement was a milestone for all involved.
“This was the first time the MPS had accepted one of our students on placement,” Sonia said.
“During her placement Jenna made connections with other workers at the Shire, and was able to demonstrate her abilities by making valuable contributions to social and community planning projects.”
In April last year, Jenna successfully completed a train-the-trainer course on Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships which is designed to educate people with a disability about respectful relationships, making them aware of abuse and allowing them a safe place to speak freely and ask questions.
Jenna’s recent employment has helped other participants understand that with hard work and perseverance dreams do come true.
Sonia said the award acknowledged Jenna’s inspiring work for the local community.
“We were so happy to see Jenna’s work recognised, and we’re so proud of her ability to positively influence others clients to never give up with her passion and drive,” she said.
Jenna received the award at genU’s 2017 AGM in Geelong from genU CEO Mike McKinstry and Chair Rod Payne.