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Fighting for what’s right

In this video, different people with disabilities talk about their personal and professional experiences with advocacy and activism.
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(UPBEAT MUSIC)
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JORDANNA: I’m very proud to be a Deaf person. But one thing you need to consider is that life’s not easy. And, growing up, my parents always told me to fight for what’s right, to fight for what I need. But now, what I’ve noticed is, you know, I’m more advocating on behalf of the Deaf community and not just myself. And I’ve had to advocate for things like interpreters, captioning, vocational educational systems, you know, after-school learning. So we have to make sure I have access to all those providers.
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ANTONI: Disability activism is one great way for us people with disabilities in Indonesia to show that we exist and to show them that we are capable of contributing something, or even affecting a policy. I decided to start a disabled people’s organisation, The Association of Indonesian Disabled People. We have been doing a lot of advocacy work, you know? We talk to government. We march on the road, you know? We show to the people that we exist, we have rights to use the public transport, we have rights to access the facilities.
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DUNCAN: A few years ago, there was a survey done by Vision Australia that said 58% of people who are blind are looking for work, but can’t find it. Or, you know, aren’t being employed. So they’re actively seeking work, but they’re not being employed. I’d like it to be a situation where everyone can get involved and do something that they enjoy and not have those barriers necessarily in front of them, whether it be attitude or just not having the skill set to be able to access certain… certain things.
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VIVIENNE: I consider myself unique. Having lived with severe cerebral palsy all but the first few months of my life, having worked in the disability field, having been a form of carer to my ailing mother and house partner, and being the biological mother of a woman who has a mildly autistic teenager. No one has any idea of how much it hurts me to see people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities being herded around the community like sheep, or looked after in a group home like animals at the zoo. I could have been undoubtedly one of those poor human creatures too if I’d not been at the right spot at the right time and seized opportunities.
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JORDANNA: I also have to advocate in the workplace because, you know, I have to make sure staff understand and stakeholders understand. And I need the right tools to be able to succeed, and interpreters are a big part of that. And I will be advocating for the rest of my life. It’s part of who I am. And it’ll be done forever to achieve what I need to achieve, and that’s what I’ll do.
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VIVIENNE: I want future generations of people with disabilities, and their carers, to benefit from what I have learnt over the last half a century. Over seven years ago, I commenced lobbying the state and federal governments to revamp the rehabilitation system, and use a similar technique I used on myself. In this way, my life of suffering would not have been in vain.

As you come to the end of the Working with Disability course, it is worth remembering why advocacy and activism are so important for people with disabilities, their families and supporters. Watch the above video, to hear how our guest presenters are involved in campaigning and why.

Living a good life means having dignity, respect and equality. It is a life that enables each of us to fully realise our desires and capabilities, and the possibility of flourishing. Jordanna mentions that for her, it is essential to “fight for what’s right, fight for what I need” — and that this often involves advocating beyond her own needs. For both Duncan and Antoni, it is also about making disability more visible, and joining together to increase the impact across different kinds of campaigns. For Vivienne, it is important to campaign for living facilities that enable severely disabled people to live a good life and make a contribution.

We would like to thank all our participants for sharing their experiences and perspectives throughout our two courses, and thus advocating for people with disabilities everywhere.

We provide a link to an audio description version of this video in the See Also section below.

portraits of the five guest speakers, laughing and smiling

Talking points

  • How do the views of the different presenters relate to the themes we have discussed this week?
  • Why do they say that disability advocacy is so important?

This ends the Basics for Week 6. In the next step, we Expand our interests through an exploration of social media and its role in advocacy and activism.

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Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

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