A severe traffic accident could be grievous news and catastrophic to a family. When Chithrani Palipana’s son, Dinesh Palipana, was injured at his spinal cord due to a serious traffic accident, which has left him quadriplegic, it seems impossible for Chithrani to cope with the adversity.

“There have been many times since the accident, where I have found myself teetering on the edge with my emotions, with the enormity of what we have had to deal with,” Chithrani said. “And wondering if I even had the capacity to deal with such a devastating life event, but I have coped.”

After the accident, Chithrani quit her job and became a full-time carer for her son, taking care of him every day. Fortunately, Dinesh was not knocked down by this accident, and continued his study. He was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and is now working for Queensland Health in the area of vascular surgery.

The incident has inspired Chithrani to be a rehabilitation counsellor, she completed a Graduate Certificate in Case Management, leading to a Masters in Rehabilitation Counselling at Griffith University. Dinesh’s experience also equips Chithrani with empathy, making her easier to resonate with patients’ experience and is crucial when dealing with cases during counselling. “I always had a passion for counselling and on the day of his accident in 2010, I sat for my last exam finishing my Diploma in Counselling. I was lucky that I could draw on a lot of coping strategies I had learnt. In many ways, Dinesh has been my inspiration. Broadening my understanding of disabilities and the disabilities sector has been one of the positive things to come out of this,” Chithrani said.

Chithrani was recently  a Women in Business Awards Finalist for Community Dedication and Social Justice.

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