Meg Pargeter is 19 years old and finished year 12 in 2016. Currently she is a Trainee Administration Assistant at the Hume Bank in Albury Victoria. Although she has Kabuki Syndrome, she strives for an ordinary life in her community, doing all the same things as other young people her age. Meg does not hesitate to try new things, to step up and share her story, to work hard to achieve her goals, and to be a positive role model for others.
My name is Meg Pargeter. Community inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to do what they want. For example, I want a career in banking as an Administration Assistant. I’d like to move out of home and live in a share house with friends. I am learning the road rules and, if my eye tests are OK, I will hopefully get my learner’s permit and then my driver’s license. I’d really like to have a purple car. I’d like to travel overseas and go to Paris in France to see the Eiffel Tower. I’d like to party, keep hanging out with my friends and have a great social life. I want to keep following my favourite football team, the Sydney Swans, and I want to see them play in Sydney. I can’t wait to see Sean Mendez live in Melbourne. Basically, I want all the same things that other 19-year-old people want. That's what community inclusion means to me.
I have Kabuki Syndrome, a very rare disability which comes with a lot of medical problems such as physical differences, difficulty with fine motor skills, speech difficulties, and an intellectual disability. Every person with Kabuki syndrome is different, in the sense that our disability can be more or less severe.
Kabuki Syndrome has not been a bad thing in my life. It is just part of who I am. Although I had to go to special school for my high school education, my parents have always made sure I had opportunities to do or try all the things I want to in my community. My health has gotten in the way a bit, but I have never avoided something just because I have a disability.
At the moment, I live at home with my mum, dad, and my sister in Albury, New South Wales. I have a traineeship at the Hume Bank Head Office in the Credit Department. Inclusion is really important to me because it means that I can do the things that I want to do in my life. It has led to me getting a great job that I love. It has also helped me to discover that I like public speaking and sharing my experiences with other people with a disability and their families. My mentor says that I am a great role model for other young adults.
In 2014 I completed a Certificate I in Office at school which I really enjoyed. In March 2015, I did a 4-week work experience placement, working two hours per week. This was in a local Wodonga office where I learned how to do filing. I really enjoyed the whole experience and I learned that I really like filing.
After I realised that working in an office was something I was good at and would enjoy doing as a job, my mum and her friend made arrangements for me to do work experience at the Hume Bank. I started work experience at Hume Bank in Albury in October 2015. I worked two hours, one day per week with a mentor and in the holidays two hours, two days per week. My mentor was with me for five weeks and then occasionally, if I needed help to learn a new task. They also organised a mentor from Hume Bank, so that I had someone to check in with if I needed to ask something or if I was worried about anything. I also tried childcare work experience with another mentor. I liked it but it did not turn out to be suitable for me because I got sick a lot, picking up bugs from the kids. I missed the first week of term one last year because I got sick from work experience.
By Meg Pargeter and Jen Tait
My Traineeship at Hume Bank
In 2016, I started doing more hours at Hume Bank. I really enjoyed my work experience, and they liked me coming to work too. Jenny, my supervisor, said that I lift the mood, which is a really nice thing to say. I started with filing in drawers and doing the filing in a huge rotating file bank. I then started doing data entry discharge cards. I liked it because the people at Hume Bank were really friendly and helpful and I liked being at work.
When it was nearly time to finish school, my managers at Hume Bank asked me if I would like to come and work there. I said, yes. I was really happy, so was my family and my mentor. They were all very proud of me.
I love working at Hume Bank. The people I work with are really supportive. They really want me to succeed. Hume Bank has also given me a traineeship which gives me the opportunity to study Certificate III in Business to improve my skills. I am also in the social club. Sometimes other departments ask if I can help them with something. I like to help the people I work with. My job is growing all the time. I started with filing but now I also do data entry discharge cards, scanning, putting together marketing stuff for the marketing department, meeting preparation, collecting the mail down in the hatches, and other odd jobs.
I like having a job because I get paid, I can get myself to work and home again and I can save up to do things I want. I like working in the city because I can go and get my hair or nails done or I can have a coffee date with a friend. I have also made work friends. We talk about what we do on the weekend and about TV shows we like to watch.
The only obstacles and barriers to achieving my job were getting time away from school for work experience, a few health issues and school insurance issues, but we got them sorted out.
I might need some support with my traineeship, I’m not sure about that yet, but at the moment I do my work without support. I don’t need adaptations but I prefer typing rather than handwriting because of my fine motor skills.
I feel really good about my future. Last year I spoke at Australia's Disability Employment Conference. I spoke about the Employment Circles of Support project and how my circle had helped me with my job goal and my journey to employment. I featured in three stories in the Border Moring Mail Newspaper, and I was on the front of the Belonging Matters’ Periodical, “Thinking about Change”. I was also invited to speak at my school, to senior students and their parents, to talk about my experiences and what is possible. In the future I’d like to take it even further. I’d like to speak at other conferences and events to show other young people what they can do. I have tried Toastmasters and I liked it. So, I am going to become a Toastmaster with support from a friend and support person. I want to be a motivational speaker. I have printed cards that I can give to people and organisations in case they would like me to speak at their events.
As one of the first people to graduate from my school with a good job lined up, doing something I love to do, I want to help students coming through to get a job like me. I think that all young people with a disability should have a great life.