Anthony Freebairn, a DVA success story on Kangaroo Island

AT WORK: Anthony Freebairn at the Emmetts John Deere dealership at Parndana. Photo: Department of Veteran Affairs
AT WORK: Anthony Freebairn at the Emmetts John Deere dealership at Parndana. Photo: Department of Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has featured Kangaroo Island resident Anthony Freebairn as one of its success stories.

His story of triumph over injury has been featured on the DVA website and social media. 

Mr Freebairn moved back to KI about two years ago and is employed as parts manager at the Emmetts John Deere dealership in Parndana.

He is married to partner Hope with a young son Thomas and living on their property just out of Parndana.

"I was more than happy to help and be featured on the website," Mr Freebairn said. "They have been so bloody good to me."

His coworker at Emmetts, Annie Kessell said he was a pleasure to work with.

"He is a great person to be around," she said. "He is quick, efficient, calm, kind, intelligent and has the patience of a saint."

He grew up on Kangaroo Island as a teenager but then moved to Adelaide, later joining the Royal Australian Navy as an electrician in 2001, serving overseas.

Then in 2005, he had an accident in Sydney while riding his motorbike, when a car in front of him slammed on the brakes, he went over the car and hit a light pole, severing his spinal cord.

There was the long road of rehabilitation and getting used to life in a wheelchair.

"Prior to being discharged, I worked at recruiting for about nine months and in that time I had set up a path that I wanted to go down and training was my goal. So after discharge, I had training identified for me and I just transitioned into that quite quickly."

After he was discharged from the Navy,  DVA organised training through a third party and he was lucky enough to land a really good job at the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) where he worked for seven years.

He then completed more training through TAFE, doing drafting and that led into mechanical design.

"Thankfully, DVA was able to fund me a pension and with that I was able to cover my rent and living expenses while I was training," he said "I feel I got more than enough support. I really do feel like I got a golden handshake. Yep, I was looked after really well."

He then decided to make the move back to Kangaroo Island, returning to the place he loved as a teenager. 

He is now really enjoying life on the Island, his work at Emmetts and also being the B Grade team manager at the Parndana Football Club.

Asked what his dreams were for his future, he had this to say in the DVA story.

"I would hope I’m still employed here, this is my forever place now. The next move I make will be in the ground," he said. "I just want to raise my family here on Kangaroo Island. This community is such a tight community. We are sports orientated and in our sports club we’ve got like a family type community and it’s just the best place, I think, to be raising a family. I’m just in a happy place. I’m just happy. I hope to still be happy."