International Day of People with Disability
3rd December marked International Day of People with Disability and to recognise this day, we shine a spotlight on Bruce Jacques, an ExxonMobil Australia team member who has been living with a prosthetic leg for 34 years.
Bruce lost the lower part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 26 when a reckless motorist crashed into him while he was riding through the township of Sunbury and like most people, he never imagined he would one day be living with a disability. The accident happened shortly after Bruce had just begun his career in the oil and gas marine industry and at that time, he was extremely worried about what the future would hold for his career.
Thankfully for Bruce, he received tremendous support from his family, friends, and colleagues who have all played an important role up till this day, in helping him overcome the daily challenges that people living with a disability face.
“The company I was working with at that time was very supportive. I worked in various roles in the office initially for short periods whilst I went through a difficult rehabilitation period and many different interim prosthetic legs,” Bruce commented.
“The first few years living with a prosthetic leg was a challenging time in my life. I was very self-conscious about having one leg but at the same time I felt very determined to push through and lead a normal life.”
Bruce is currently the Vessel Operations Lead onboard the Skandi Darwin, a multi-purpose support vessel that is being used for decommissioning works in the Bass Strait. Through his years of experience as a vessel master on similar vessels, he now acts as the Esso interface for all marine operational matters between our onshore and offshore sites.
“It can be very challenging working in the offshore environment on a moving vessel as a lower limb amputee, but my colleagues do not treat me any differently. I think that is an extremely important principle to people living with a disability, that our differences and uniqueness are accepted in society and I’m thankful that I have a great support network both at home and at work,” Bruce said.
Bruce is also highly involved with Australia’s peak national body for amputees, Limbs4Life, having presented at many forums and advocating for people living with a disability.
Outside of work, he dedicates his time towards his love for music, having previously operated a recording studio and lectured at schools, and now travels to Europe annually to perform at music gigs.
“I hope to inspire those living with a disability and let them know that they can be anything they want to be if they put their mind to it and surround themselves with positive people. Remember to embrace your uniqueness because that’s what makes you who you are,” Bruce concluded.