top of page
  • Writer's picturePeta

Special Episode: International Day For People With Disability According To Disabled People & Our All

For me, there is no better way to celebrate International Day For People With A Disability than elevating other disabled voices.

In partnership with The City of Melbourne, this episode was recorded live at the 30th Anniversary Disability Discrimination Act Forum.

At the forum number of lovely people shared their thoughts with me about International Day For People With A Disability.

In order of appearance:

Jack Dow

Sam Drummond

Jen Hargrave

Women with Disabilities Victoria:

Mark Glascodine

Lisa Kelsey

Justin Glyn

The Australian Jesuits’ website:

Natale Cutri

Jax Brown

I am very proud to be able to present to you, this very special episode of The I Can't Stand Podcast.


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast the podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host. Today is a very special day. Today, the 3rd of December 2022 is the International Day for People with Disabilities.

[00:00:30] If you've been listening to this podcast for a while, you know this day is very important to me. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate International Day for people with disabilities, then listening and elevating other disabled voices. I'm very pleased to say that in partnership with the City of Melbourne, I, I'm able to present you this very special episode. I attended the City of Melbourne's Forum that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. I spoke to a number of attendees who have disabilities or are strong allies to our community to understand what their perspective was on International Day for people with disability. Did they believe the day had a positive impact on the community? How did they think the day could possibly be improved? And how did they view their disability and their disabled identity? You're about to hear audio That definitely doesn't sound like my normal studio, and you're probably going to hear a bit of a nervous version of me. But I always say my nerves illustrate how much I care. So without any further ado, I'm going to hand over to a slightly nervous but a very excited Peta.

Jack [00:02:09] Hi. My name is Jack Dow, and I'm a person with a lived experience of physical disability.

Peta [00:02:17] Thank you so much for being here and not making me a lonely person at a table. I really do appreciate it. You said you identify someone having a disability. So what do you think of International Day of People with disability?

Jack [00:02:33] Look, I definitely I definitely think it's a it's a great opportunity for us to, you know, people with disability to showcase what we can do, to have discussions around things that are having both a negative and positive impact on us, sort of particularly good that it's falling on a weekend this year because things are happening in the week prior and the week afterwards as well, and because we've shifted into sort of more online, a lot of sort of hybrid functions, there's a lot of things that are recorded so you can catch up on them later and so you can sort of spread that message a bit wider.

Peta [00:03:13] And do you think you feel heard during this day?

Jack [00:03:18] Never loud enough, I would say. I think we've we've got to the point that especially in sort of like certain rooms, it's usually the same people with lived experience of disability and the people who don't have lived experience, they usually the same allies turning up. So it's it's sort of like that constant push of how do we amplify, how do we get different people in the room who are not necessarily against hearing any sort of messaging or participating or anything like that, but might be saying that as well? You know, I don't either I don't have a disability or I don't know anyone with a disability. So I shouldn't be taking up space to come and hear these stories.

Peta [00:04:00] The one question I ask every guest on my podcast. Is there anything you like or even love about having a disability?

Jack [00:04:08] I've definitely had the the question asked before when they're like, look, if you could if you could, you know, have you have your normal hands like everybody is normal. And I was like, and then I'd have to teach myself how to use them all over again. Now I'm good with what I've got is, you know, if the, if we make the world accessible, then everyone can just participate however they need to. Rather than sort of, oh, if you're, if you come as the default packaging, then sure, you can access all parts of society.

Peta [00:04:41] Who wants to be normal? Sounds very boring. That's my opinion anyway.

Sam [00:04:47] Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm Sam Drummond. I'm a lawyer and a writer and a disability advocate.

Peta [00:04:55] Here today talking about International Day for people with disability. What do you think of International Day for people with disability?

Sam [00:05:03] It's something that's really important to just take some time and take a step back and acknowledge the challenges that we have, the challenges of the past year, but also the opportunities that we have, particularly in a year like this, where it's 30 years since the Disability Discrimination Act. That's time to celebrate the victories that we've had since then, but also to say, all right, well, it's not as strong as it can be. There are challenges that we have in the 2020s that we didn't have in the 1990s or were there. But we can probably make the legislation stronger and also come at it from a lens of what we've experienced in the last few years as well, where there have been huge challenges for people with disabilities to say, alright, well we have to make sure that nobody is left behind here and that should always be our goal.

Peta [00:06:06] Which is interesting. We were discussing before we jumped on Mike, interestingly to me that the theme and you know, I consider myself quite an intelligent person, but it took me a few reads to sort of understand what they were talking about. How do you feel about this year's theme?

Sam [00:06:23] Yeah, so this year's theme is transformative solutions during inclusive development, the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world. There are some things that we do that are transformative. The NDIS, for example, is a transformative concept and has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. But we're also at a bit of a crossroads where there's a conversation about the viability of the project and where it goes from here. We have to be always making sure that those leaps in technology that we have made for everybody and not just the select few. If you look at the disadvantage faced by people with disabilities, it's not just one thing. It's not just that there's a ramp that is missing from a workplace so that so that someone can't get in it. It starts from those very, very early stages from, you know, when a kid goes into kindergarten or prep and can't access the the tools that they need to learn, so they switch off and then their educational outcomes might might decrease in. And that follows them through all through school three whether they got a uni or take or try and get another job and then through to the workplace as well. So. You know, we know that there is an underemployment gap. We know that when people are employed, people with disabilities are paid less. That starting from the very beginning and we need to address it all the way through a lot.

Jen [00:08:13] Hey, Peta. My name's Jen. I work at Women with Disabilities victoria and I also do research work with the University of Melbourne, and I'm proud to be part of the disability community.

Peta [00:08:25] I love speaking to fellow proud disabled people. What do you think about International Day for people with disability?

Jen [00:08:32] Like on a personal level, I've had a lot of benefits through the disability rights movement that would be associated with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I started going to school in the eighties, in the early eighties, just as integration became a really big concept here in Victoria. And personally, I've really benefited from that. But one of the things about where we are now that I'm really angry about is segregation is still such a big thing for children with disabilities, either because we still need special schools today, but also because kids with disabilities in mainstream schools are still not getting a fair go. The other thing about the day, which I think brings it alive, is where people with disabilities do podcast or take part in community radio. It's those community spaces that we run that make me feel more energetic and excited more than anything else.

Peta [00:09:33] And how will you be celebrating the day? Have you got any plans?

Jen [00:09:37] Ah, the day itself, yeah. I want to be tuning in to as much media as possible from people with disabilities and thinking of great people with disabilities who we've lost. And another, I guess thing that's important to me is to think about the diversity amongst us as well. So for me, I look a lot at women's rights and our right to safety from violence, our right to sexual and reproductive choices and those types of topics. But also, there's lots of other diversities and important issues for us to learn more about, even for those of us in the disability community.

Mark [00:10:19] I'm Mark Glascodine. I'm an engineer by background. Retrianed in career couciling for people with a disability; and I'm 65 and semi-retired.

Peta [00:10:33] I could have done with you when I went through career counselling. My goodness. How nice it. I'm here to talk about International Day for people with disability. What do you think about the day?

Mark [00:10:44] I think the day is now very much an accepted day for companies organisations to recognise people, disabilities but I do tend to think its only a day. My thinking would be that you want to take initiatives and spread them over a year and actually come up with more and just maybe start it one day a year and then quarterly and then monthly. I don't like what the Vic Government have done with their Enablers Network. I would then become the organisation people with disability who are already employed, actually form a little group/ committee and provide information back to management around what management could do for people with disabilities.

Lisa [00:11:52] My name's Lisa. I don't have any disabilities myself, but I have three children and they all have SD and ADHD and NDIS plans. And the youngest child also has a severe intellectual disability and it looks like he'll be non-verbal and incontinent in life. He's not. I'm trying to teach my children to be proud of their disabilities. And the two that can talk have expressed to me that they are proud of who they are and we try to view the diversity as a gift and that if we celebrated diversity more and learnt from each other, the world would be a better place. I hope that the structures that which is referred to and Greta Thunberg referred to recently in terms of climate change, those sort of patriarchal, capitalist white structures become more inclusive so that everybody has the same opportunities in life and everybody has the same dignity.

Justin [00:12:56] My name's Justin Glynn. I am one of the co facilitators at today's DDA forum. I am legally blind. I'm a Catholic priest, a Jesuit, and also a lawyer. I am the in-house counsel for the Jesuits in Australia and I'm a member of the Disability Advisory Committee here in Melbourne.

Peta [00:13:20] I'd like to ask you what you think of the International Day for people with disability.

Justin [00:13:26] I have two views on it, which kind of coexist uneasily. The slightly cynical view is that if you have an international day of disability, you can then forget about disabled people the rest of the year. But I think that would be too cynical because I think that while that's the temptation, it nevertheless can be subverted and it's quite possible and indeed use it to hold a mirror up to society, to get us to ask the questions about the promise of equality and inclusion, which is part of the rhetoric of the democratic state. How well is it really represented and made efficacious? And when we look at the International Day of Disability, when we look at the fact that in. The Australian community today. People are still denied access to everything from taxis to employment. When we look at the response to the COVID pandemic and particularly the rhetoric around underlying conditions and how it's better for people to die than it is for businesses to be inconvenienced, we are aware that the promise of the International Day is far from being realised and that itself is a good way of ringing alarm bells. So forgive me if I wax religious for a moment. But the interesting thing is the International Day of Disabilities also comes on the feast day of the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier. Now, he was known for going out from very provincial Europe of the 16th century and going and visiting countries all over the Far East in order to introduce Christianity. But he was also known for being concerned for the well-being of people who were essentially marginalised in their own societies. And I think that awareness of that, that impulse to go out to make change is something that is also common to the day of disability. And I think that's something that I tend to hold on to in that in that sense, in that space, I find it's a source of inspiration as to what it can be. Whether it is so depends on us, but how we make it. So I think it's I think it's a case of it's not something. If we've heard anything from the talks today, it's that we can't sit back. We ourselves have to be get out and be in the faces of people.

Peta [00:16:15] So for fellow people who are listening to this who also have a disability. How do you recommend we go in and get in the faces of people?

Justin [00:16:25] Well, I think being visible, being out there, making changes. Writing if we can. Speaking if we can. And basically. Being in the ear of people who can make decisions. You know, we're out there. We exist. We are people who are entitled to be treated as people along with everybody else. And that's a promise. Basic, though it is still is yet to be realised in so many areas of public life, even in Australia.

Natale [00:17:07] My name is Natale Cutri. I'm on the City of Melbourne Disability Advisory Committee. I am just retiring member.

Peta [00:17:15] Thank you for being here. I'm particularly with your expertise in the area. I'm very interested to know what you think of International Day with a disability. Do you feel like it makes a positive impact?

Natale [00:17:29] I think it can vary, I think. I think it is a positive impact, however, on vision impaired. I think it depends on on the attitudes of people and how they treat the day. It is important to celebrate the achievements, and that's often done. But sometimes it can be a little bit. Oh like People are patting themselves on the back. Situation and without sort of acknowledging also that there's a lot to be done. But I mean, overall, to have that awareness, it's good.

Peta [00:18:07] Now, I acknowledge as to people sitting here with a disability, that we might live in a bit of a bubble. But do you feel like people that you love and even interact with know about the day? Do you think there's enough awareness?

Natale [00:18:22] I think there's a mixed awareness and I think a lot of people hear about today through the media, you know, in a limited way. And I think it's just yeah, that's nice. Kind of thing they don't think anything more than that.

Peta [00:18:36] How would you improve the day if you could? If I waved a magic wand and said, you're now the CEO of the association. How would you improve the day?

Natale [00:18:48] I would I would continue to celebratory parts, but also have have workshops and things where people can brainstorm what we can do to deliver, you know, to improve things. And and in engaging those people in positions where they can make a difference to commit to positive change.

Peta [00:19:09] And as someone with vision impairment, do you feel like you're properly reflected within the day? Because I know sometimes the lens of disability can be a bit too restrictive. Do you feel like people or you in particular just speak for yourself. Do you feel like the day relates to you correctly?

Natale [00:19:30] Yes, I think it does relate to me. I guess. I mean, I can't speak for all people that are visually impaired because I'm involved in a lot in organising a lot of events. I guess I sort of can make it that way. It may be different for people who sort of just observe this or just might attend.

Peta [00:19:52] I always ask this question of every guest that I have on the podcast. So I'm going to ask you, is there anything that you like or even love about being a disabled person?

Natale [00:20:04] Oh, yeah. I see it as a positive thing. I might have been a different person. You know, I think I've developed, you know, advocacy skills and a level of confidence because I have the disability and and determined to actually want to strive to have have a regular life like everybody else and also to be able to encourage that for others as well.

Jax [00:20:34] Hello. My name's Jax Brown. My pronouns are they and them. I'm an LGBTQI+ disability rights advocate. I've been working in the LGBTQI+ disability rights space for over ten years. I do kinds of advocacy around sexuality and gender diversity and disability. I am a wheelchair user and I also have dyslexia as well.

Peta [00:20:59] That makes two of us. We're both in wheelchairs and we're both dyslexic. What do you think of International Day for people with disability?

Jax [00:21:07] Over ten years ago now, I used to live in a regional country town in northern New South Wales and I remember learning about this day as a young person and really excited to go to an event and and thinking about what does it mean for me as a, as a person with a disability and going along to kind of a local council event and being really dissatisfied and a bit depressed, to be honest, because there was not one disabled person speaking. From there I moved to Melbourne and I was involved for a number of years with a group called Quipping Disability Unleashed, which is a group of performers that write and perform our own work. And we used to put a show on every year around International Day of People with Disabilities.

Jax [00:21:52] Just to give the community something to come through that was kind of vibrant and funny and entertaining and not kind of about this corporate speak around an aspirational approach to human rights, but actually thinking about what to deaf and disabled people have to say about the changes that we want to see to make the world more accessible and inclusive and how can we be centre stage and how the mind and actually laid some of that shine. Shifting away from a medical model and towards a human rights and social model approach that looks at the ways that we need to transform and change the built environment. But also people's attitudes to disability tends to be kind of this. Let's start on morning tea and have some cupcakes and talk about how we're good allies and then not actually so much that's meaningful. Like not think about in some of these big organisations that might be putting on events, particularly disability service organisations often do a morning tea or whatever. Okay, so who in our organisation is deaf or disabled? How can we promote leadership opportunities for people? What does it look like to to really shift the balance of power so that people with disabilities voices and perspectives that listen to and so that we can be part of leading change across government and in organisations. So it feels pretty token a lot of the time. It feels often like it's this aspirational idea of inclusivity that doesn't actually trickle down into the lives of people with disabilities. And so I would make it enforceable that the governments have to actually provide meaningful access and inclusion in the lives of people with disabilities. I mean, I would make the building codes be actually enacted in the States. I'd make the transport more accessible, employment and education opportunities be provided. And when people with disabilities continue to experience violations of human rights and discrimination, I would actually give the Australian Human Rights Commission capacities to enforce compliance in transport, in education, in housing and employment. So the people and businesses don't get to continually discriminate against people with disabilities and get away with it. And I would also make sure that who is in government, who is at the head of International Day For People With Disabilities, are people with disabilities leading this change and being paid for our time and expertise and knowledge and the work that we put into our advocacy.

Peta [00:24:49] You spoke very well on a panel this morning about being part of the LGBTQI community, that dual identity that you have. Do you feel that represented in the day?

Jax [00:25:01] Yeah, look, I mean, I don't think that LGBTQI+ people with disabilities represented very well across the disability sector. I think that we're about 20 years behind in the disability community in terms of thinking about gender and sexuality compared to what the LGBTQI+ space is. We've got a long way to go to think about how the intimate spaces of our lives, our sexual expression, gender identity are actually also political issues. They're issues of connection. They're issues of respect. Their issues of whether or not we choose to create a family or to have children. And often they're issues that people don't want to talk about or feel ashamed to talk about or feel ashamed to include in their NDIS plans around that they might want to have a sexual life or they might want to become a parent one day. And what support might they need to have that happen in their life? So I think that we really need to create a cultural shift in terms of thinking about how we enable people with disabilities to bring all the parts of themselves. How can they be supported? How can they be out and proud about who they are? And how can they move from a space of shame to a space of pride and a space where we expect to be treated with respect and valued for all that we are?

Peta [00:26:34] Thank you so much for listening to this very special episode of the I Can't Stand podcast. Thank you also to every single guest that appeared on this episode. I literally could not have done it without you. I am so thankful and astounded by your willingness to be open with me and I think that's really reflected in the episode. So thank you. For those of you who are listening, who would like to get to know the guest that appeared on this episode a bit better. I have also linked all their contact details in the description. There is also an audio transcript, as there always is for The I Can't Stand Podcast, which is also linked in the description. If you'd like to support me and the podcast going forward, you can either rate and review the podcast if you listen on Apple Podcasts, or you can share the show on social media, or you can follow me on Instagram. My handle is at @petahooke spelt PETA HOOKE. Thank you again for listening and happy International Day for People With Disability everyone.


bottom of page