Getting the right support after a life-changing injury

A smiling Paul McKenzie sits in a wheelchair

When Paul McKenzie, better known as Macca, jumped on a Tarzan swing at a Echuca swimming area twenty five years ago he had no idea his life would change forever.

It was a hot January afternoon and locals had gathered at the popular spot to cool off in the Murray River.

“I coached the local footy side. I knew them all. They wanted me to have a go on the rope and see what the coach could do,” Macca said.

“When I popped up I knew straightaway I had broken my neck. I was sort of stuck on a tree branch with a face full of mud.”

He said his feet slowly rose from the bottom but the kids who had been playing nearby thought he was “mucking around” and jumped on him.

He floated in the river current drifting in the river, about a metre under water, before being spotted by a girl who was fishing with her family on a houseboat.

He was lifted out and a nearby nurse gave first aid.

The incident caused Macca’s spinal cord to be severed and left him a quadriplegic.

He uses a wheelchair for mobility.

Macca is now a Darwin local and lives with his wife, Jessica, toddler daughter, Eleven and blue heeler, Horse.

He joined the NDIS five years ago while still in Victoria and made sure that he did his research before his first planning meeting.

His plan is now with APM’s Tiwi office.

Paul McKenzie by the water with his dog

“I knew the importance and I treated my plan like a lifetime decision. I made sure I got my first plan right.”

He mainly uses his plan for support workers so that he can do day-to-day jobs around the house and in the wider community.

His support worker helps him out with chores such as mowing the lawn and painting.

And offers extra help with trickier household tasks including trips to Bunnings with the trailer.

“My life is filled every day with support. I previously had no support during the day unless I paid for it myself," he said.

Macca is actively involved in helping other people with disability including offering support at local events.

“It has been great, and I am thankful for it. The NDIS has worked out great for me,” Macca 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.