Stephen has used a wheelchair since 1982 when a speedway accident caused severe spinal injuries that paralysed his legs and limited the use of his hands. In 2000 he suffered a stroke that further limited his mobility.
“I’ve only got the use of one hand, so I’m a one-finger typist,” Stephen said.
“I won’t let it get me down. I’m determined to make a go of it. I’m pretty keen to see what lies ahead for me.”
Stephen is working with USC’s Disability Services to ensure he is well-supported on his journey, and will travel with his wife to classes and exams.
He plans to focus on building his professional editing skills, but also sample a range of disciplines in creative arts, communications and digital media as part of the program.
“I’d like to turn my journalistic ability to a new field but the rest remains to be seen,” he said.
Stephen works as a speedway journalist for three magazines and edits historical speedway footage, audio and photographs from his home computer and reel-to-reel equipment.
After his dreams of becoming a professional speedway driver ended with the crash, he has also worked at Long Bay Jail as a welfare counsellor, and at Centrelink as a clerical assistant.
“Julie decided to do the student thing last year and I thought, why not join her?” he said.
Julie completed her Diploma of Arts at TAFE Queensland East Coast at Nambour last year and now plans to draw on her watercolour skills and Wiradjuri heritage to create story books for children.
“I didn’t know my Indigenous heritage when I was growing up because the knowledge wasn’t there,” she said.
“It’s just wonderful to see the stories being shared now and the resources in schools. There is even a Wiradjuri dictionary now.”
Julie is looking forward to developing her drawing, design, creative writing, storytelling and publishing skills to tell her own stories and share her heritage.
Stephen and Julie, who met in 2010 and married in 2011, will share two subjects in the first year -- Introduction to Creative Industries and Communication and Thought.
- Janelle Kirkland