Margie Keefe is calling for more facilities, holiday programs and awareness of people living with disabilities.
Margie Keefe is calling for more facilities, holiday programs and awareness of people living with disabilities. Chris Chan

Frustrated mum pleads for better care options for disabled

FOURTEEN-year-old Darcy Keefe loves music, school, chocolate and ice cream, and Celtic punk band The Pogues.

He also is one of 7000 Queenslanders with cerebral palsy.

As Darcy requires full-time care, and the lack of respite facilities and support available in Gladstone continues to impact greatly on his family's quality of life.

Mum Margie said Darcy required the same level of care as someone who had had a stroke.

The family moved to Gladstone eight years ago and was immediately alarmed at the lack of support available for people with disabilities.

"It's not good enough," she said.

"There's one respite centre in town - not just for parents of children with disabilities but for all people, even the elderly."

Margie said the family was allowed to apply for one weekend of respite every three months.

"We have to apply for it in advance and it might not even be approved," she said.

"I can't remember the last time we were able to do something as a whole family, and trying to plan a holiday is impossible."

The family gets no support from Disability Services.

Until July this year, the family did have the support of a carer thanks to the Cerebral Palsy League.

"She used to look after Darcy on weekdays between 3.30-5.30pm," Margaret said.

"She'd meet Darcy after school at the bus and look after him until we all got home."

Without the carer, the past few months have been a struggle.

Margie said it was difficult to keep carers in the region.

"It's a job they do for passion, it's not about money," she said.

"It's very hard to keep people like carers in Gladstone because of the cost of living."

Margie wants to see more money put into services.

"We need the respite and the community awareness," she said.

Cerebral palsy facts:

  • Cerebral palsy affects the way the brain controls the body's muscles, resulting in speech, movement and posture difficulties.
  • 7000 Queenslanders have cerebral palsy.
  • In any year, cerebral palsy is more common than cancer, stroke, eating disorders, appendicitis and road traffic crashes.
  • For every person supported by the Cerebral Palsy League, there are five more who cannot be assisted due to lack of funds.


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