Choice and control

Photo of Jac Enniss and two Anglicare support workers, Abbey and Marree.

Jac Enniss, 30, of Smithton, received severe spinal injuries in a car accident 12 years ago. It’s been a challenging journey to independence.

The first four years after Jac’s accident were filled with surgeries, hospital stays and a variety of health challenges. She lived at Lomandra, MAIB’s facility in Ulverstone, for two years while a unit was built onto the end of her parents’ house in Smithton.

“I was still a teenager and C4 quadriplegia was such a big thing to deal with. I was often very depressed and didn’t have much interest in how my service was set up and run,” Jac says.

Mum was the one who dealt with the rostering and scheduling – I didn’t want anything to do with it. But slowly I took over things from her and today I look after all of it myself.  This has given her time to focus more on herself and her grandson, and a long holiday to Europe with Dad is a step closer. Now she can just be my Mum.

This year Jac started participating in interview panel sessions to recruit new people to her support team.

“It’s brilliant – I’m included at every interview either by Zoom or face-to-face,” she said. “At the end of the interview I ask two questions. The first one is if you had an issue, would you discuss it with me before going to management and secondly, how would you deal with an issue if it involved my family? I like it when I hear that the person would consult with me first. You don’t learn a lot about a person during an interview, but I get the vibe and can usually tell if someone is going to be a good fit. I get to know them better once they start – sometimes we click immediately and sometimes it takes longer.”

Jac is currently supported by 9 Anglicare workers who range in age from 20 – 63. Several live in Smithton while others come from further along the Coast.

“It’s a fun team and they play along when I trick my new carers into thinking I can feel things that I obviously can’t,” says Jac. “The older girls get on well with my Mum and they give me honest advice. The younger ones help me restyle my unit and take me to Burnie each fortnight to see a movie. We also go shopping and catch up with friends and family.”

Two years ago Jac decided to have major surgery so that she could use a colostomy bag. It’s taken her independence to a new level.

“It was a big decision as we’d always been told that a general anesthetic could be life-threatening,” she explains. “But I had become sick of spending 5 out of 7 days in bed. I was missing family milestones like my nephew’s first birthday and always having to cancel hair appointments. I still have my days in bed, but it’s my choice – and that’s a big thing,” she says.

Jac can also plan her days more easily. She likes to play board games and PlayStation with her family members and cook, reorganise her pantry or rearrange her books with one of her carers. “I’m a very organised person – my label-maker is my best friend,” she says.

She’s looking forward to summer so that she can start using the local pool, which is fully accessible and temperature-controlled.

COVID derailed her annual holiday plans and it’s something she’s really missed.

“I’ve decided that now we’re living with COVID  I’m just going to mask up and go on holiday – to Hobart this coming summer and Melbourne the one after that. Anglicare provides me with two carers so they can swap roles during the stay.”

Jac says she is very happy with the service she receives from both Anglicare and MAIB:

I feel listened to. They’re really good people. The positive times far outweigh the bad times. And if an issue does arise I feel comfortable and confident that I can handle it myself.


A motor accident like Jac’s affects the entire family. Read this story to hear the perspective of Jac’s mother, Telina.

Photo caption:

Jac (centre) with Anglicare support workers Abbey (left) and Marree. This is one of Jac’s favourite photos, taken in pre-COVID days.

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