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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Housing > Homelessness > Homelessness Week > Homelessness Prevention Week 2015 > Case studies > Tracy's story

Tracy's story

Tracy will always be a cowboy at heart.

Born and bred in Richmond west of Townsville, the 53-year-old’s youth streaked past in eight second blocks as he battled bulls and broncos at rodeos across the country.

It was a tough and dangerous livelihood, yet it was a car accident on the road to Mount Isa in 2013, not a flying hoof or crushing steer, that brought this tough and rugged Queenslander to his knees.

“My mate had been drinking so I was doing the right thing and driving him home,” Tracy said.

“I didn’t know it at the time but I suffer from sleep apnoea which caused me to fall asleep at the wheel.

“The car went off the road and rolled, and I broke my neck in two places.”

The severity of Tracy’s injuries saw him airlifted to The Townsville Hospital where he underwent surgery and months of slow and pain-staking rehabilitation.

His rodeo days well and truly behind him, the repercussions of the accident also left Tracy unable to ply his trade as a concreter and carpenter.

“They’re both pretty physical jobs, and my back and neck have copped that much of a hammering I can’t bend over anymore or lift anything,” he said.

“Stairs are tough and I’m buggered if I walk more than 200 metres at a time.”

The final blow to his independence came with the cancellation of his disability support pension in January 2015.

“Those were some pretty hard times,” Tracy said.

“I had to stay with a mate and I wasn’t able to pay my own way, and I’ve always been an independent bloke.

“When you’ve spent as long as I have looking after yourself and making a contribution, that (situation) is difficult to come to grips with.”

On the insistence of a friend Tracy turned to the staff at Centacare North Queensland for help.

What he found was a ready ear, support to apply for, and obtain, Newstart Allowance, as well as a one-bedroom unit that caters to his mobility limitations.

“I can’t praise the girls from Centacare and the Department (of Housing and Public Works) enough,” he said.

“They’ve given me a home and helped me get to a place where I can start to get back on track.”

Tracy said his ambitions were to return to the workforce, starting with a computer literacy course.

He has shared his story in the hope it encourages others to take advantage of the services available.

“I was never one to discuss my business; not with my mates and certainly not with strangers,” Tracy said.

“But now I understand how valuable it is to sit down and talk to someone about your issues.

“All I can say to anyone who might be feeling some hardship is to go and see these people and talk.

“They’re there to help and you’ll feel a lot better for it.”

Last updated 03 August 2015    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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