Each year, International Day of People with a Disability is held on 3 December, challenging the way we think about disability and helping to grow a more inclusive Australia.
When asked to think about diversity, most people tend to think about race and gender. What’s often overlooked, in spite of often being as visible as gender or skin colour, are the individuals living with genetic, physical, behavioural or intellectual differences.
The increased exposure of people with disability showcasing their identity and living their lives to the fullest is a game changer – de-stigmatising what it means to live with a disability.
This year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games were a joyous spectacle of what people with a disability are achieving in sport. We rode the waves of emotion with them all as they strived to beat the best of the best in their chosen fields. Our largest team of athletes were sent to contest the Tokyo Games, and our record in recent years is one of excellence. This has impacted Australian society in a profoundly positive way and helped change the narrative around disability.
On 26 November, Ability Fest was held in Melbourne. The first completely inclusive, fully accessible music festival aiming to use music as an inclusive platform to normalise disability. Ability Fest is the brainchild of Dylan Alcott, the only men’s tennis player to win a Golden Slam, and now Victorian Australian of the Year 2022, but most importantly, he is an outspoken advocate for the rights of people living with disability.
Normalising what it is to have a disability will go a long way to growing a more inclusive Australia.
I am proud of the difference we make to people's lives through our St John of God Accord service. We enrich them, we give them hope, we provide services with dignity and we support them to live their lives with honour and joy. The people we support at Accord contribute significantly to making our world a better one.
There is no greater cause for celebration than the lives of people with disability and what they contribute and bring to our world.
In providing disability services, the key ingredient is that the client is at the centre of everything that we do, they are part of the choices and they are part of the process and that they can go on to reach their full potential.
One billion people, or 15 per cent of the world's population, experience some form of disability. Showcasing what people with disabilities are capable of can only have a positive impact on our communities, on our economies, and on us.
Happy International Day of People with a Disability, to all of you.