Share via

Equity Trustees proudly part of JJ's support team

It took a few months in 2019 for 18-year-old JJ (Joshua James) Melkman to create his Christmas gifts. Last year he started in June because, well, there was a lot to do. This year he’s already started on the planning for the 30 or so gifts he makes with the assistance of his carer Claudia Schult in the four days a week she spends with him.

It’s a carefully thought out approach not seen often in a young man of his age, but JJ is not your average young man. He lives with cerebral palsy following medical negligence at birth and Claudia is one of a support team which includes his family and Equity Trustees relationship manager Katrina Harper who ensure he is enabled to live his best possible life.

For 2019 and 2020, painted rocks were the Christmas gift of choice (Katrina has two in pride of place on her desk): “We started out with a kit” explained Claudia. “But there was no way we could make them the same way. We often don’t really have an idea – we just do it and see how it turns out. In the end JJ decides who gets which one.” 2021 will see a new Christmas range from JJ – it’s top secret right now, but work is underway.

Claudia, who migrated from Germany 14 years ago and was a trained nurse, began working with JJ three years ago. She spends time carefully supporting and guiding JJ’s hands so he can complete each project – sometimes with dad, Louis, art directing in the background and offering suggestions for new projects. “I’m always ferreting around for stuff” he said – with his best finds being beautiful pieces of driftwood collected from Currumbin Beach close to home while walking Taffy Bogle, their dog.

Other materials are gathered during trips to Bunnings – another activity JJ relishes, along with weekly outings to places like the local wildlife sanctuary, beaches and gardens, playing music with a friend close by (he particularly loves the drums, tambourine and maracas); he is particularly dedicated to donating money to the local animal hospital too.

The family, which includes Dad, Louis; Mum, Leanne; sister Ruby and dog, Taffy are originally from Sydney, moved to the Gold Coast about 11 years ago, where they have been able to provide JJ with a great lifestyle – including a hydrotherapy pool he loves.

“We’ve been working with JJ and his wonderful family for just over 10 years and in that time it’s been a true privilege to sign off on funding from his trust – created from a payout from his medical negligence case – to pay for things that make his life better – and support his family to care for him,” said Katrina.

“That has included renovations to the house to better accommodate him – including changing the pool so it was appropriate for hydrotherapy and adding a ceiling hoist to make access to much of the home easier for him. It doesn’t just make life better for JJ – but also makes it easier for his family to make sure he’s involved in ordinary family life and activities and just be together,” she said.

More about our Health and Personal Injury team, including a video so you can see and hear them, is available on our website

You can read more stories about our clients and our work in the latest edition of Generation, as well as view previous editions, here