THC Ambassadors share their thoughts this International Day of People with Disability #IDPWD21

Hear from Ambassadors about their thoughts on International Day of People with Disability and how everyone can work together to challenge the way people think about disability and help grow a more inclusive Australia.

Justin Hua
 shares his thoughts from the past 24 months: COVID- 19 has given us all a bit of a nudge towards to adapting to new, safer, more accessible methods of working together, proving that inclusive and accessible forms of collaboration isn't as far out of reach as once imagined Image of Justin Hua before COVID-19. In a pre COVID world some barriers for people with disability participating were for example: 

  • accessibility issues of the venues where a meeting or demonstration was being held,
  • a lack of a sign language interpreter or transcription service for people with hearing impairments,
  • a lack of adequate volume or audio descriptions for people with vision impairments.

Because of safety reasons many more people have had to learn to use video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams for work and school, coincidentally these platforms have also made it easier for people with disability to participate as they have more flexibility and accessibility options while also providing options for able bodied people to adjust as preferred. Accessible technologies such as these can be sustainable even after COVID-19 is no longer an issue, they’re free and generally quite straightforward to set up.
The more inclusive we can be in everyday situations the easier it will be to hear and understand different perspectives so that we may challenge our own misconceptions and prejudices and work towards increasing equality and decreasing discrimination.

I think we can challenge perceptions around disability by having more conversations with people living with disability, asking different questions and properly listening to the answers rather than assuming and misrepresenting. To build and encourage a stronger and more inclusive society, I think that communication and education is a very important part in creating a better Queensland, easier access to clear information and increasing awareness and participation in decision making discussions will lead to less discriminatory outcomes. Everyone can be involved in creating accessible, safe and respectful spaces where people with disability and able-bodied people can have honest discussions. Also increasing media representation can be a good way to normalize people with disabilities improving illusion and breakdown common misconceptions further reducing discrimination.


Andrew Gall, reveals his thoughts this IDPwD: Everyone, regardless of where you live and regardless of race, colour, language, abilities, wealth, physical appearance, or place in society, “It is up to YOU!” Over thousands of years the world that we live in has gotten smaller. No, I am not a scientist referring to the physical attributes of our planet. I am talking about our ability to create and develop technologies that enable us, to travel, to communicate with each other regardless of the language we speak, to sit down in our own homes and attend conferences and meeting from virtually anywhere in our world, this is what makes the world smaller. 

Unfortunately, with all this technology we still have the ability to discriminate. Our world is engulfed in a non-discriminatory pandemic, COVID-19 has united the world, sadly, via sickness and death, but positively by having us working together for a cure, as well as utilising technology like never before, virtual meetings, workplaces, communication, and classrooms. The Pandemic has also seen people with a disability placed on a level playing field, with greater opportunities to have their say, we are not hindered by physical or non-physical barriers. As we come out the other side of this COVID-19 Pandemic. I would hope that these barriers that hinder the inclusiveness of people with disabilities would be lessened and heading to being nonexistent.

This is Up to YOU!

It is you, who maintains the discriminative barriers of race, colour, language, physical appearance etc, if there is anything that COVID-19 has taught us or a lesson that we should have learnt, is we are all humans, we all can suffer, be in pain, live and die. To achieve equality and to break down barriers is Up to YOU.

We, need to educate ourselves, and stop that outdated thought process that happens when we see someone who doesn’t look or hear someone who doesn’t sound ‘normal’! To achieve a greater awareness of people with disabilities we need to be aware of ourselves, make sure that we are not continuing to give life to that subliminal discriminative process that should not have existed at all. 

The way you treat others is Up to YOU!


Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM shares his thoughts about having a seat at the table. 

This year he is an ambassador for the International Day of People with Disability; an ambassador for the Includeability project at the Human Rights Commission; and Senior Advisor to the Disability Royal Commission.

I was recently at an event which talked about diversity on boards of directors. I while the organisers called for diversity within boards, there was no mention of people with disabilities. This got me thinking. How many people with disabilities do we see on boards?

In 2021, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (‘NDIS’) has no people with disabilities on its Board of Directors. One of the most important social changes in our country's history has no leadership representation from the very people that it seeks to serve. How can it truly know what someone with a disability goes through?

But, this is not isolated to the NDIS. There is little such board representation in many organisations. Considering that it is estimated that there are currently around 4 million people with a disability in Australia, these organisations are missing representation from a large group of stakeholders. In politics too, there is a little representation from people with disabilities. To my knowledge, there is right now just one politician with a visible disability in the federal government. That is Senator Jordon Steele-John. How do we progress society forward equitably without strong representation?

This year’s theme for the International Day of People with Disability revolves around leadership. While there are many powerful disability advocates doing important work, we need strong representation at the corporate and government level too. All too often, despite so much effort by passionate people, great projects stop when they reach to the level of senior government or corporate leadership. One way to change the way corporations and the government things is to tell stories. To that end, the free press is the most important tool that society has. Thomas Jefferson said the following statement.

“No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.”

What is the single most important thing that affects sales? What is the single most important thing that affects votes? It is the free press. Corporations and governments care about what turns up in the press. Today, we have advocates like Lisa Cox, Faith Valencia-Forrester, Nas Campanella, and Dylan Alcott who make the voices of those with disabilities resonate through the press. This matters. Driven by these voices, the future of equity relies on people to fight for their place at the table. Having said that, this is not only a human rights issue. As evidenced by so much research, progress, innovation, prosperity, and happiness, depends on diversity. More than ever, our society can use these things to secure its future.

Image of Belinda Adams

Belinda Adams shares, "Disability representation and inclusion is a complex conversation, but one I am happy to see is happening more often in our society, because every person in the community has a right to the same opportunities. Big business and the media are implementing some great changes to create more inclusion but we still have a long way to go with people with disabilities still disproportionately represented in both."



Alison McDonald shares her thoughts as a Neuroarchitecture Consultant on the rights for people with disability and creating socially valuable housing:  Everyone should have the right to choose if they rent or own their own home, and where they live. The importance of built environment is magnified for someone living with disability, yet legislatively these environments are inferior in building performance, sustainability, services, stewardship, ownership, and community. 

I recently spoke at The 2021 Housing Assembly about cognitive usability is vital for Agency of home, as cognitive accessible environments aid decision making and empower choice. Agency is not only about the capacity of the individual’s free choice of their environment, but also free choice of their environment's governance. Governance needs to place resident in centre of their care model. We need to change provision of housing to social enterprise, not capitalist model, reinvesting in purpose for optimum social performance outcome for residents, not intentionally exporting funding from health industry. Thus 'Funding for, not from disability'.  We need to engage designers to design. Architects have the expertise to lead, design and deliver specialised built environments, yet allied health, administrators, providers with no built environment training predominantly drive accommodation outcomes for disability. 


Hannah Gawne, shares, "From my own personal experience, and from the research I have have read, the most effective way to break down barriers and promote equality within communities is to have representation of people with a disability in all aspects of social engagement. To reduce discrimination, people with a disability must be involved in decision-making. In the home, our schools and workplaces, between families, friends and colleagues. People with a lived experience of a disability must be given opportunities across workplaces to share their perspective.

These opportunities will encourage a more inclusive community, that challenges the way people think about disability. Increasing recognition and awareness of our barriers and enablers in government and businesses, while creating visibility for the public as people with a disability continue daily life in society.

Image of Gary AllenGary Allen shares, "Disability doesn't need to limit potential or contribution BUT prejudice, discrimination and isolation can if we let it.  No voice, service or research about us WITHOUT US.  I am proud to have THC as a partner and as our fellow traveller.  Thanks for a great year."


Tags: International Day Of People With Disability, Ambassadors, IDPWD

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