Farewell to awesome disability support worker, Andy!
REDinc support worker, Andy Putnam, has been a much loved part of the team here for 16 years and is soon to be heading off on retirement. To say he is going to be sorely missed is an understatement!
We caught up with him to ask him to share his reflections and story of his time with REDinc before he heads off – so grab a cuppa, here it is (we’re all going to miss you, Andy!):
“In early 2003 I left Nimbin Central School after 15 years to join REDinc
I had taught a student, Joel, with a profound disability, since he was in Year 7. His mother, Zoe, took his case to the United Nations to force the education department to allow his enrolment. Nimbin was the only school to welcome him.
When he finished his HSC his mother asked me to become his carer. After initial hesitation I agreed and began working at REDinc from Joel’s place.
We achieved many things together including a regular radio program, successful busking and playing ultimate frisbee which was pretty good considering Joel could barely walk.
In my time at REDinc I have worked with many other participants. Ultimately, I’ve spent most of my time with Luke Murray.
Luke and I clicked immediately, and are on a tremendous journey together with the Brotherhood of the Blues. Playing in the band has been one the highlights of my life.
A long term support worker needs as much support as possible. As such I wish to acknowledge Jenny London and Fiona Bricknell for helping me through my darkest days. Together they made those times bearable and I will always remember their kindness and competence.
When I recovered from those times, REDinc participant, Peter Dickson, offered to lend me his ears any time I needed them. I’ve never forgotten the sincerity of his support.
In leaving REDinc I leave behind an entire community and many wonderful memories. Everyday had a lighthearted moment, especially days in The Strand singing around the table with Naikia (REDinc participant).
I feel strong connections with many participants and will miss those interactions in many ways. It’s not all about them. As soon as a group of people are labelled ‘them’, a ‘them and us’ situation is created. I don’t see any ‘them’ I only see ‘us’ and it’s about all of us working together to achieve the best we can. The Brotherhood of the Blues is a prime example of that.
A special thanks to Tracy Hanley for being the dynamic hub of REDinc and to Josie Donnelly for being my first work mate at The Strand.
Finally, as I reach retirement, I to wish acknowledge many friends, support workers, administrators and participants alike, who will always be special to me.”