While there is a willingness and an energy to have a more inclusive community for those people living with a disability, the question remains what can we do as individuals and communities to make it happen?
This Friday is International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) where we are being called upon to recognise the achievements of people with a disability and promote awareness, understanding and acceptance of their important contributions to our society.
It is a day to think on how we can make positive changes to the lives of the 4.4 million Australians living with disability. The recent weare15 campaign and the 2020 Paralympics shone a light on the importance of visibility, accessibility, and inclusion.
Dr. Graeme Innes, a Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, gave a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability last week.
“You can’t be what you can’t see, so we need to see people with disabilities employed in jobs.
“Society must see people with disability in the media doing ordinary things such as having a job, paying a mortgage and engaging in commerce to understand that these are all things that people with disability can do.”
Dr. Innes said the public’s familiarity with people like Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott and comedian Hannah Gadsby (who has autism) was a sign of positive change.
“We need to continue that momentum,” he said.
“People will only declare they have disabilities to employers when they see at a micro level with a particular employer or at the macro level in the general community people with disabilities being included and accepted as part of the Australian community.”
Four steps you can take towards a more inclusive community
- Join or start a conversation in your community to promote awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.
- Read, watch and listen to the stories and experiences of people with disability to challenge your attitudes and assumptions.
- Take action in your workplace to remove barriers and improve accessibility for people with disability.
- Help spread the word and share your messages of support online.
Sources: ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald, Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability