Keen, tenacious Ned works hard to get a job

By Julia Proverbs

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Ned Kelly has an income for life - but he wants a job.

"I'm sick of sitting on my bottom," the 21-year-old said. "I want to get out there and get paid."

Ned has received Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) funding since he was aged 2, when he sustained a serious brain injury.

In 1993, his father Kevin accidentally backed the family car over him in a Hamilton car yard.

Mr Kelly had taken the car in to have better seatbelts fitted for Ned and his older sister Racheal. When he was asked to move the car, unbeknown to him, Ned had slipped out of the play area and followed him.

"They move so quick. It was horrible," he said.

Ned was not expected to survive, but surprised medical staff and family by not only surviving but recovering to a much greater degree than expected.

"We were told to get hold of family because he had hours to live," his mother Wendy recalled.

In an induced coma for three weeks, he spent three months in Waikato Hospital.

"When we got him home he couldn't move from the head down. He had to go right back to being an infant, learning to walk, sit up, with the input of therapy," Mrs Kelly said.

He learned to walk again by watching and being coaxed by Racheal, who is two years older than him.

The only physical impairments he has been left with are weaknesses in his left leg and right arm. However, he has the mental age of a 7-year-old.

"He has got no idea of money and he is unable to read or write," Mrs Kelly said.

"Little things," Ned joked.

Affectionately referred to by his family as "Master Ned", he has completed fire cadet, St John and first aid training, and has a restricted driving licence. He has also had work experience at a video store and loading dishwashers at a rest home.

In October, he moved out of the family's Gate Pa home into supported living, and hopes to soon be living on his own. The icing on the cake would be getting a job - ideally working with cars.

Mrs Kelly said two agencies had tried to help Ned get a job but the current market was tough.

Mr Kelly agreed. "It's really hard out there for anybody."

Mrs Kelly added: "Even at the end of the day, if he is sweeping floors at a panelbeater's he's doing something. I think he's got potential."

His parents worry that without a job, like other young people, Ned will get bored and get into trouble.

"He's tidy, well presented and has a willingness to learn. I think whoever Ned does get a job with will benefit," Mrs Kelly said.

While not strictly named after the infamous Australian bushranger with whom he shares his name, Ned does have some of his tenacity.

"It was his idea to get hold of you guys," Mr Kelly said of Ned's media campaign to find work.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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