Going Home – Clay Loft’s Story
As told to Gai-Maree Cain
I am Clay and I am a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man. Please understand, I can hear what you say and can comprehend; I see what is going on around me.
Please don’t ignore me. When you walk into the room say hello. Look at me when you speak to me; I love to chat and I will let you know how I am. If I am happy or agree I will smile and laugh. If I don’t agree or don’t want to talk I will frown or not respond. I love having a laugh and a joke.
To celebrate Reconciliation Week this year we had a morning tea at the Halwyn Centre. Brothers from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit came and we had a trivia event focused on Indigenous culture and facts. I love anything social, so I was there!
Everyone got into teams. Gai-Maree the Nursing Director asked to be on my team because she thought I’d know the answers. I knew what she was up to!
The questions started and Gai-Maree would ask me the answer. I said ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘cricket’ and with each question I could see her excitement grow! Then time for answers, the quizmaster says: ‘no cheating’. Gai-Maree looked smug!
Question 1 – The answer was ‘yes’… we wrote ‘no’
Question 2 – The answer was ‘no’… we wrote ‘yes’
Question 3 – The answer was ‘football’… we wrote ‘cricket’.
I look over, Gai-Maree is frowning. I start to laugh. She knows she has been caught out. Ian won the quiz 16 questions right out of 20 and our team scored 2. I’m a very proud Aboriginal man and I knew all the answers, but the opportunity for a joke was there, I had to take it!
I love watching sport, especially NRL and will never miss a Cowboys or Broncos match! It is even better when I get to go to a game.
For me there is nothing better than going out with my friends and I play the drums with a group every weekend at New Farm park and I sing. I’ve even performed at Queensland Performing Arts Centre through the ‘Today I am’ program. I love music- 70s and 80s – and I can use a head switch to
turn on my stereo.
My mum is Lynelle, and I have a sister Anntiga who lives at Calamvale. I first came to the Halwyn Centre on respite, but in 2016 I became a resident as Mum was unable to care for me at home. Mum has always wanted me to live closer to the family home as it was difficult for her to travel to
Halwyn. I missed Mum terribly, I am usually a very happy person but some days I felt down.
I had my name on a waiting list for a home for years and last year I was offered the opportunity to move to a brand new home! Mum was so happy and we started the countdown to the move. In May this year, Lorna came to me and let me know I would be moving in late June.
We had a date and I was so excited! Lorna worked really closely with me and mum… I never knew how exciting it was to have a brand new home. ‘Move’ I would say to everyone who stopped to talk to me.
On the day before my move, Lorna came to talk to me: ‘Clay, I have some news… the move has been delayed.’
Lorna sat with me, I was upset not just for me but Mum. The following day was my birthday. Over the next few weeks I wasn’t myself, I smiled but those who knew me best looked into my eyes and knew the twinkle had gone… I was afraid that someone would tell me my home was no longer there.
I tried to keep positive, and my Halwyn friends had a huge celebration morning tea for me. There were lots of laughs and a few tears but every day I was waiting for someone to say the home was not there.
The day had come! On Monday 16 July I moved to my new home! It is at Logan, not far from Mum’s – the traditional owners of the land are the YuGum Bear people. I have my own unit in a house shared with three others.
On 14 August we had a big house warming celebration. Mum came and I invited my friends from Halwyn – Roseanne, Pam and Lorna.
They brought beautiful flowers for my unit and I gave the place a vacuum so it didn’t look like a bachelor pad. We had a huge morning tea and speeches. I even had a second piece of cake!
As Lorna was leaving she asked me: ‘Clay, are you happy?’. I said ‘yes’. ‘Do you miss us?,’ I said ‘No… home’. Lorna knew I was home.
Everyone at the Halwyn Centre and across Metro North wish you the happiest times, Clay, in your new home.