MY name is Bryan Porter. I live with a permanent disability, and I would like to share my involvement with an organisation that has helped me – and many others in the community – for nearly 100 years: Travellers Aid Australia.
The organisation originated as a charity in 1916, mainly to assist women and children travelling on their own from war-torn Europe or from country Victoria. Travellers Aid still provides this helping hand for women and children; for example, those who have to travel to get away from an abusive partner. But that, by far, is not all they do. Travellers Aid has always been responsive to emerging needs in the community and has developed a range of travelrelated programs and services to help people get out and about; in particular older people and those, like myself, who live with a disability. The Medical Companion Service, for example, is for people who have to come to Melbourne for a medical appointment and need someone to escort them there and back to their train. The access service provides meals and toilet assistance for people with disabilities, and promotes autonomy and independence.
My connection with the organisation reaches back 20 years. Back then I was on crutches, travelling from Traralgon to Melbourne. This was the period during which I was pursuing my education in Victoria. Because of being on crutches and then in a wheelchair, suffering from arthritis, I used to call in to Travellers Aid for support. Little did I know I would be assisting with the manning of the desk for some years in a volunteer capacity as a second pair of eyes. I am still a member and also use the services Travellers Aid has to offer.
Travellers Aid Australia is a not-for- profit organisation and relies on donations to continue delivering its services.Return to Bulletin #135