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Docklander - November 2016

25 Oct 2016

Docklander - November 2016 Image

Docklands’ inclusive community is worth the move

By Sunny Liu

Chris Silcock and his parents moved from Ringwood to Docklands a year ago and have not looked back. 

Mr Silcock, 32, has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. But he says Docklands has a very inclusive and accessible community. 

“Docklands is so vibrant. Ringwood is very sleepy,” he said.  

Mr Silcock’s parent sold their four-bedroom Ringwood family house and bought a small two-bedroom apartment with an unblocked harbour view. 

When he was living in Ringwood, he had to rely on his parents to drive him around. But in Docklands, he goes to art galleries, museums and cinemas all by himself. 

“It was like being stuck in a box in Ringwood,” Mr Silcock’s mother Vicky said.

“Everything is very accessible here in Docklands,” Mr Silcock said. The great thing is I’m independent here.”

The community bond in Docklands was something they did not expect when they arrived. 

Their neighbours are always happy to help and often invite Chris to dinner and activities. 

“Apartment living is not isolated at all. We feel included in this neighbourhood,” Mrs Silcock said. 

She says Chris was not invited to other people’s homes in Ringwood often because people felt uncomfortable with the limited accessibility of their houses. 

But in Docklands, everyone’s apartment is easily accessible and they all go to restaurants.

“It’s very natural and easy to invite Chris. People here have the willingness to be open,” she said.

In the high-rise apartment building, many people have become friends with Mr Silcock. 

“I felt inclusion and support, which has never happened before,” Mr Silcock said. 

Mr Silcock’s social life has become much busier in Docklands. He is an active member of a Disney-lovers’ group and goes to the movies with other group members. 

No one else in the group has a disability and Mr Silcock is a valued member of the team. After the movies, they often sit down for dinner and drinks and a discussion of the movie. 

Mr Silcock says he is going to expand his expertise and write movie reviews for an activity centre’s newsletter. 

He is also a die-hard fan of the St Kilda Swans, an avid video game player and a loyal member with the Melbourne Zoo. 

“There’s always something for him to do here,” Mrs Silcock said.

Despite all the merits of living in Docklands, Mr Silcock says he is still in the transition phase.

He and his parents want to have low-floor trams on Harbour Esplanade because, at the moments, all the trams at their doorstep are not wheelchair-friendly. 

His father works full-time and his mother works two days a week. Finding reliable help is not easy. 

Mrs Silcock says support for people with special needs is reducing and they are finding it hard to get people to care for their son. 

Luckily, Mr Silcock is very independent and is enjoying the city life. 

“It’s a dream come true for me. Life in Docklands has exceeded my expectations greatly,” he said. 

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