Andrew’s community activities are accessible thanks to NDIS

Published on 11 Mar 2021


Andrew Hartshorn and his two sons in front of Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

Fifteen years ago, Andrew’s life took a dramatic turn after he permanently injured his spine in a motocross accident on Christmas Eve.

“The accident made me a T6 complete paraplegic. At the time I had a business in the construction industry.

I realised that I wasn’t going back to a building site anytime soon,” Andrew said.

“I kind of laugh with the boys about how having a plastering business meant I was going to end up in a wheelchair one way or another anyway. The motorbike just kind of made things a little bit quicker” Andrew jokes.

Today you might not see him tearing up the track on his motorbike, but you will see him coaching his six-year-old son’s rugby side thanks to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded power addition to his wheelchair called a Batec handbike.

“I used to play rugby before my accident. The NDIS were keen to see me participate in my community and that piece of equipment means that I can. Training the kids at rugby is so much easier,” he said.

“Rugby was a big part of my life. It was cool to be back in the club environment. I love being involved with the kids and having a ball in my hands again.”

Andrew reflects on his accident and recalls lying where he had fallen for five hours waiting for a helicopter to air lift him from Gin Gin to hospital knowing there was something seriously wrong.

“When I hit the ground, I was like I have winded myself. I knew it was big one because time slows down in those sorts of accidents and to be honest the accident that put me in a wheelchair was a small accident in comparison to some of the accidents I have had,” Andrew said.

“I had been warming my bike up and I went to sit up and realised that I couldn’t.”

He was fortunate that he had income protection insurance which had been set up by his financial advisor.

This helped him financially while he recovered at hospital and at home, but he needed to get back in the workforce because he missed the social interaction and mental stimulation that work provides.

Andrew Hartshorn pictured with his two sons at a beach lookout point in Cape Leeuwin

“I did about six weeks at home waiting for people to finish work, so I had someone to hang out with. I realised I need to go back to work because that was no way to live.”

“Financial planning had helped me so much when I had the crash and I had become a big advocate for it, so I decided to study to become an adviser,” Andrew said.

Andrew joined the former WANDIS scheme in 2015 before moving on to the NDIS which has assisted with the unavoidable expenses that come with disability.

“I lived a very full life as I did before the accident, but disability is a very expensive way of life. It is a really, really expensive thing to have to live with,” Andrew explained.

Funding from the NDIS and support from APM means these essential disability related expenses are taken care of.

“When NDIS came along I had been used to having to buy my own wheelchairs and other things I needed. There was no change out of six or seven grand for a good manual wheelchair and there were the car modifications. You just had to deal with it.”

The new power bike attachment means he can also join family bike rides.

“The kids like to go bike riding on bush tracks, and I can hook up the Batec and go for a 20km ride with them,” he said.

As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.

Our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) help people with disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, families and carers to identify and access the support they need.