Skip to main content

Coming in from the fringe

After a lifetime of what John Coyle calls “living on the fringe”, he and his 22-year-old daughter, Bridget, now feel part of a community.


At around two years old Bridget was diagnosed with Dyspraxia which has been confirmed as a chromosomal deletion called Monosomy 1p36, and her brother (now 20) was diagnosed with autism also at around age two. They also have a younger sister who is 18.

“Everything you would call a normal life fell apart,” he said.

“After my wife passed away from breast cancer 11 years ago… I became the sole parent and carer of my children,” John said.

When the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) trial began in Tasmania in July 2013, his two children were among the first participants in the scheme.

“Like many other parents out there, myself and my children have been waiting and advocating for a long time for a change like the NDIS,” he said.

The NDIS has been a life changing experience for them all, gaining much needed support services and greater choice and control over those services.

In 2015 Bridget took the big step of moving out of home and into a share house at the Rowallan Park at Kingston, established in 2014 by the Kingston Uniting Church, with funding support from the State and Federal Government. Possability provides support services to the 12 young residents who live in a mix of housing from one and two bedroom units and a four bedroom share house.

John couldn’t have imagined the relief he would feel from their new sense of belonging and acceptance within the community.

“At Rowallan Park, Bridget finally has a peer group and there’s an understanding among all the parents and the Possability staff who are exceptional at what they do in supporting our children,” he said.

“After the initial introduction via our planner at the NDIA, what Rowallan Park has offered to us as a family, and particularly to me as a parent, is to now be able to trust in a consistent, reliable and safe environment for Bridget.

“And given the lack of family support or a social network, the familiarity of this wonderful community brings about a warmth not felt to this degree outside of our own home,” John said.

“It has enabled a progressive development in Bridget that we wouldn’t ordinarily have achieved without the interaction with this host of very special people.

“It is reassuring when dropping Bridget off after a night with us when she says ‘I can walk in on my own Dad!’. It does put a smile on my face.”

Hear from John and his experience with the NDIS in the below video: