International Day of People with Disability

Everyone is invited to celebrate and recognise International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) on 3 December each year. 

IDPwD is a United Nations observed day celebrated each year to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people living with a disability and to celebrate their achievements and contributions.

The 2022 theme is ‘transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.’

We all have a role to play to make our workplaces and community more accessible and inclusive for the 4.4 million Australians with disability, both visible and invisible. 

For more information, visit IDPwD website

Showcasing inclusion stories

As part of Council’s acknowledgement of IDPwD 2022, we have been speaking to some local people living with disabilities, to hear about their achievements and about what makes an inclusive community.

We have called these profiles the ‘Showcasing Inclusion’ series.

Individual profiles are showcased below.

Patricia

‘I am proud and happy to be part of the community, living my own life’.  (Patricia)

Patricia says one of her biggest achievements is being in her own home, where she can make her own choices and do new things. After lots of determined effort over a long time, Patricia now lives in her own bright and comfortable unit in Kyneton, with much-loved cat Nala. Her boyfriend Jason visits often and Patricia says “he pulls his weight” and might be a ‘keeper’!

Patricia works three days a week in supported employment with Windarring. Her job involves quite specific skills and knowledge and Patricia has worked hard over time to become good at her work. She is proud that she is now able to assist other workers to build their skills. Having a job is important to Patricia for a number of reasons. She feels it is important to be busy, to mix with other people, to learn new things, and especially to earn some wages.

Volunteering is another important part of Patricia’s life. She has been a regular volunteer at a local op shop for around five years. Patricia’s role mostly involves putting out stock and helping customers to find the items they are looking for. As well as making a contribution to helping others through this volunteer work, Patricia gets a lot of enjoyment from being part of a team of like-minded people who welcome and support her in this role. “We have a good time, we have a laugh together”.

Patricia explains that she has been able to achieve all these things with help from different people. Like most people, she gets valuable support from family members. Patricia especially tells about the commitment of her mother and step-father. They look after Patricia’s daughter who is nearly seven and they always make sure that Patricia and her daughter are able to spend regular time together. Patricia’s sister also helps out where needed, for example with NDIS matters, which sometimes involve a bit of management!

Some features of Patricia’s disability are memory loss and poor short-term memory. This creates lots of challenges across different areas of her life. She went to an ordinary Primary School but then was moved to a Special School, meaning she had to leave all her friends and make a new start. Learning things takes her longer and Patricia gets help from Windarring for things like in-home support with cooking and cleaning, attending day programs such as a computer program and art program, and supported employment where she has been looking for a job in open employment in the community.

One of Patricia’s hobbies is diamond-painting. She has created some great pictures, showing that she has lots of talent and patience.

Tate

“No challenge or limitation is enough to stop you achieving your dream” (Tate Kemp).

If you are looking for an example of a young person who has worked out what they want to achieve and how they mean to do it – meet Tate!

Talking to Tate, the theme that keeps coming up is getting where you want to be by finding ways to modify your environment and manage or bypass your limitations. He has a long-term enthusiasm for sports, but he can’t realistically lace up footy boots and run onto the field. He delivers presentations to groups, but his speech difficulties mean that people may not always understand what he says. Rather than give up his ambitions, Tate finds alternative ways to be involved. Sometimes he utilises technology or support workers, sometimes he coordinates with friends, and sometimes he calls on his dedicated family.

When he was finishing school, Tate needed to think about his future. He announced to his parents that he was planning a career in public speaking, with an emphasis on increasing awareness of disability and inclusion. Tate’s mum says they were taken aback at first, but like all committed parents, they quickly moved on to the phase of working out how they could assist their son to do what was important to him. Tate is now the proud principal of All Abilities Public Speaking.

His business webpage is engaging and professional, setting out the services offered and the objective that underlies Tate’s work – to promote a genuinely inclusive society.

As well as speaking at a range of schools and other organisations, Tate has presented online to a group in the US and has a presentation scheduled in a few weeks on the Sunshine Coast. This booking is for the staff of the college where Tate is currently completing external studies. Very sensibly, Tate is having a short holiday while in Queensland, taking his brother and brother’s girlfriend along.

Tate is a realist and his early school experience taught him that life as a person who is seen as ‘different’ holds its own special challenges. His mum spoke about the ongoing, exhausting battles for a parent trying to encourage mainstream schools to be accessible and inclusive for a child with disabilities. When Tate moved to the Bullengarook Campus of Sunbury Special School it was a relief for all the family, and because every student there was ‘different’, Tate was no longer treated as someone who didn’t fit in.

It is very clear that he now ‘fits in’ many different places and groups. The letters of recommendation from Gisborne Football Netball Club and Cricket Club acknowledge Tate’s committed volunteer contribution in roles such as timekeeper, scorekeeper and general team morale booster. He is proud to feature as Assistant Timekeeper in the team photos. The footy jumper hanging on his wall, signed by all the players and presented on his 21st Birthday, definitely confirms the high regard of his mates in the team.

Tate’s support worker Sophia, made an important point at the end of our conversation. She emphasised how well known Tate is in his local community and how his visibility and involvement encourages the wider community to be more inclusive and to be more aware that everyone belongs and has the right to the life of their choice.  

Brittany

‘She’s a real go-getter and we are so proud of her.’

These words are from Brittany’s Mum, but it was Brittany herself who told me about things she has achieved, challenges she faced along the way, and some of her dreams for the future.

  • A job
  • A boyfriend
  • To get married
  • A baby
  • A house
  • A driver's licence

Brittany set herself these goals when she was a young person, attending a special school and dealing with dyspraxia. She planned a life that was not limited and defined by her disability and when we sat chatting in her home last week, Brittany could tick off all these goals! 

Brittany, her husband Andrew and their daughter Isabella moved into their new house around a year ago. Brittany and Andrew had been saving for a house since they got engaged. They have now been married for over 10 years, are happily settled in their own home, and Isabella attends the local primary school. Their home is modern and welcoming, with a lovely country outlook, a friendly little dog and the Christmas tree set up ready for decorating. Like everyone who moves into a new build, they are working their way through establishing the yard and garden.

Most people would say that family, friends and others makes a big contribution to their lives. Brittany appreciates the many ways she has been supported over the years, at school, home, work and in the community. She mentions that being able to stay with families for a while really helped them get over the line with saving for their house.

Brittany was clearly very proud when talking about a disability awareness program at Isabella’s school. This program involves people with different disabilities talking to students about managing life’s challenges and participating in community life. After hearing these speakers, Isabella approached the Principal to offer her Mum to come and talk about her disability and her achievements.

The most difficult challenge that Brittany described was overcoming her self-consciousness about her speaking difficulties. She said this made her shy when meeting people. However, when she was introduced to Andrew at the Sunbury Blue Light Disco they hit it off immediately and have been together ever since. 

Brittany has been with her current employer, Kyneton Copy Centre, for 17 years. She is pleased to be working and hopes to take a new career direction when the time is right. Her next career goal is to work with horses and she will be looking out for opportunities in this field. As her Mum confirms, Brittany is a driving force and goes all out to achieve the things that are important in her life.