Each year on December 3, International Day of People with Disability (IdPwD) occurs where organisations, individuals, advocates and governments from around the globe celebrates and raises awareness of people with disability in creating a more inclusive, equitable and accessible society. IdPwD is a United Nations (UN) observed day celebrated internationally that features a specific theme to provide an underlying focus for the special day.
This year’s theme for International Day of People with Disability (IdPwD) announced by the UN is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world”. The day provides opportunities to promote the equal rights and health of persons with disabilities across all walks of society and development as well as reinforces the vitality in improving the lives of people with disability in all aspects of the social, economic, political, cultural, and health spheres.
This year’s theme is especially appropriate as the world moves to live with COVID-19, people with disabilities face unprecedented challenges and anxieties in adjusting to this new environment. At the forefront of living in a post-COVID-19 world, people with disabilities must be provided opportunities to actively participate in discussions on these challenges that directly impact their lives.
As the incredible disability advocate, feminist, and former AFDO Chief Executive Officer Lesley Hall OAM once said “People who are not disabled will only form positive attitudes to disabled people when they meet us in everyday life. For this to occur, integrated services must be established to enable disabled people to participate in all of the community’s activities“.
For the special day, AFDO asked its Management, Board, and Expert Consultants what the International Day of People with Disability means to them and why they celebrate the day? Read some of their responses below!
Trevor Carroll – AFDO Vice President and International Coordinator
“The International Day of Persons with Disabilities which is on the 3rd December each year is a significant reminder to me that Australia and the international community still have much more to do to achieve the full realisation of all the Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so we can be fully included in every aspect of life”.
The UN indicates that:
• Over one billion people in the world live with disabilities, but 80% live in developing countries.
• An estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities.
• One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while one in every ten children is a child with a disability.
• Persons with disabilities in the world are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
Despite being so numerous, persons with disabilities are still overwhelmingly overlooked in times of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could lead by example here in Australia, by making sure that every person with a disability has access to Covid-19 double vaccination regardless of cultural background, language, gender or place of residence. We seem to have been left until last and it has not gone unnoticed by the Disability Royal Commission which has expressed its deep concerns”.
Tracylee Artestides – National Manager – Policy, Sustainability, Initiatives & Projects
“It’s a chance to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity and talent of my friends and family with disabilities”.
“Why we celebrate the day? To create greater visibility for people with disability – everyone deserves their time in the sun and people with disabilities are no exception!”
Jim Valvanis – Manager – Business Development & Sustainability
“IDPwD aims to increase public awareness, understanding, recognition and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions within our community, and also encourage discussion around inclusion and diversity”.
“There are 4.4 million Australians living with disability and more than 1 billion around the world. As a society, we can all strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disability that enables them to fulfil their potential as equal citizens”.
It is important to understand that not all disabilities are immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, to name a few”.
“Challenge the way you think about disability, and see the ability in disability.”
Natalie Wade – Disability Royal Commission Consultant
“IDPWD is a day to celebrate being a person with disability and to welcome the broader community into that celebration. It is an opportunity to have important conversations about advancing disability rights in Australia”
We celebrate IDPWD to create space to promote and acknowledge the rights of people with disabilities in Australia.
It is a dedicated channel for our voices to be heard through celebration and stories of topics and experiences that matter to us”
Natasha Thomson – AFDO Social Security Consultant
“IDPWD for me is a day to recognise the individuality of persons with disabilities. Everyone’s journey with their disability is unique, and it’s important to recognise that. Some people may identify as disabled from birth, while others may not identify as disabled until later in life. Both are equally valid journeys and should be respected as such.
As a person who has only embraced the label of ‘disabled’ in my mid 20’s, I haven’t previously celebrated IDPWD, but I am eager to see how this community celebrates. That’s what it is, a community, and I’m grateful to be a part of it”.
Geoff Trappett OAM – AFDO Transport Consultant & National Inclusive Transport Advocacy Network Chairperson
“Societal change is to the point where a disabled person in a leadership position does not warrant a second glance is when we know you have achieved an inclusive society, one by one we must break down the systematic blockage between us and this point”.