wecare support helps keep family together

July 7, 2018 began like any other day for the Emeny family. Mum and Dad were working in the family business and 17-year-old Jarrod was getting ready for rugby, but the day would end in heartbreak.

Jarrod Emeny poses in his NSW basketball jersey on court

Jarrod was selected to play wheelchair basketball for the NSW under-23 team.

Jarrod was driving a familiar route from his family’s Mudgee property to his much-loved sport of rugby when the vehicle he was driving suddenly swerved, left the road and slammed in to a tree.

Jarrod fractured several vertebrae in the crash, damaging his spinal cord and in that instant Jarrod became a paraplegic. His cousin, Matt, was first on the scene, and it fell to the Rural Fire Service volunteer to deliver the news to Jarrod’s mum, Carolyn.

Recovering in rehab, Jarrod was beginning to accept the fact that his life would never be the same, but his two older siblings were not coping and nor was his father Michael. Carolyn sought help for her family from her local GP.

Carolyn’s GP put her in touch with Kim, one of the mentors from Carers NSW who, in partnership with icare, deliver the wecare program.

The Emeny family were in the first cohort of 130 families to join the wecare program when the program received icare Foundation’s initial investment. Kim worked with Carolyn and Michael in the Carer Mentoring Program and Lizzy, another mentor with wecare, worked with Jarrod’s sister Jessica, in the Children and Young People’s Mentoring Program.

As the Emeny family began their journey of recovery and learnt how to support Jarrod, wecare’s support was pivotal. Regular phone calls and even visits to Mudgee by Kim and Lizzy, has given them the tools they needed to prevent the family from, in their own words, imploding.

wecare recognises the critical role family carers play in the months and years following the serious injury of a loved one, either at work, or in a motor vehicle accident.

Following Jarrod’s car accident, Kim met with Carolyn and Michael individually on a monthly basis during her trips to Mudgee with face-to-face meetings that usually last for a couple of hours. There were also regular phone calls and Kim was available to chat between scheduled sessions if needed. 

Lizzy worked with Jessica through a mixture of face-to-face and Skype sessions due to Jessica’s busy schedule with study and work. Lizzy and Jessica also kept in contact regularly for updates between sessions which assisted in providing relevant and structured support.

Carolyn says "Our family could not have come through this without the help from wecare. The program is all about giving you the emotional strength to help you cope as a family. We are all very grateful."

In the two years since the accident, Jarrod has come on leaps and bounds. He has passed his HSC and secured employment in customer service with Bunnings. In March 2020, Jarrod commenced his bachelor’s degree in Business at the University of Wollongong and enjoys living by himself in residence on campus.

He plays basketball for the Wollongong Roller Hawks and was selected to play wheelchair basketball for the state and the country in the NSW and Australian under-23 teams. Jarrod’s motivation and achievements to date are not only remarkable but inspirational for many.