See the Person | Disability Awareness

 

Sue works in our ‘ Focus on Opportunity’  shop in Frankston. Every week (when we aren’t in lock down), she serves our customers, chatting with them as she rings through their purchases on the cash register. There are regular locals who now know Sue, as well the rest of the people we support to operate our little shop. This is community. Meeting new people. Becoming valued, active and visible citizens.  Learning new things and raising public disability awareness.

 

 

Disability Awareness

Our aim is simple: education through representation.The biggest barriers people with disabilities encounter are other people. Being IN the community is not the same as Being OF the community.

Disability awareness means educating our communities regarding disabilities and sharing our stories to increase knowledge and address misconceptions. We are doing this every chance we can get, so the people we support are not merely present in their local communities, they are an active part of them.

We are supporting people wherever we can to tell their stories in the community, to directly challenge and change the stereotypical attitudes of society about disability.  We have engaged in presentations  to primary schools –  supporting focus participants as they talk to children about their disability and engage in discussions that break down social barriers. Such conversations help shape the primary school students, making them more aware and inclusive citizens as they grow.

We are also shaping the attitudes of  future disability support workers through our partnership with Chisholm Institute through their  classes in the Certificate III Individualised Support, Cert IV Disability & Introduction to NDIS streams. This is driven entirely by the people we support. They lead the conversations, respond to student questions and provide invaluable insight into living with a disability and what Active Support should look like. Our staff induction  also includes a person driven session, lead by the people we support, as they talk about what qualities they want to see in an Active Support Worker and what good support looks through the eyes of the people using it. 

Mornington Library recently held an exhibition of the artwork created by focus in their community pottery group. Such events are platforms that amplify community visibility of the people we support and contribute to raising awareness. We empower people to get involved in community events such as Clean Up Australia, The Arthur’s seat Challenge, The Rotary Frankston Sunrise Treadmill Challenge, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea and the Bloody Long Walk. And we also continue our longstanding relationship with VALID, supporting people to attend regular peer advocacy meetings and participate in the VALID Friendship Group Project.

We do this because we strongly believe in empowering the people we support to help break down the misconceptions and assumptions that are often linked to people with disabilities. It is our duty to make space for them, creating opportunities and platforms that they can stand on and tell their story.

 

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