|A white placard with purple writing|
I celebrated by participating in my first ever public rally! A Disability Pride Parade through the streets of Adelaide, South Australia.
It was hosted by the office of Kelly Vincent MLC* who represents the Dignity party in the South Australian Parliament. She is a remarkable woman, the youngest woman ever elected to an Australian parliament and the first Australian to be elected on the platform of disability rights back in 2010.
It is so important to have the voices of so-called 'minority groups' in the parliament. In Australia, 1 in 5 people will be affected by disability during their lifetime. 18–20% is a significant figure. People say that Kelly has done more for people with disabilities in the last few years than other politicians have done in their entire time in parliament.
|Hon Kelly Vincent MLC in Victoria Square|
surrounded by a group of supporters
This was the fourth year of celebrating with a Disability Pride Parade in Adelaide. In previous years, friends had invited me but I was too sick to manage it. This year, I was feeling stronger and more fired up, especially with the petitioning for equitable access to transport.
When I heard that the threat of rain was keeping people away, I made the extra effort to attend to support Kelly's campaign as her office is supporting mine. It was also an opportunity to meet people in person with whom I had only ever had phone or online conversations. It is alway good to put a face to a name.
|Ellen Fraser-Barbour and I have mutual friends|
and have been chatting online for a long time.
This was our first chance to meet in person.
Here we are in front of the giant Christmas tree
in Victoria Square, Adelaide.
The purple cardigan is my own crochet work.
Participants met at the steps to Parliament House, a common venue for political actions of all kinds in South Australia. There were balloons, purple hats and banners being distributed. A range of ready-made placards were laid out on the Parliament House steps and I looked for those that related to my transport campaign.
I chose one that said "Access-A'laide NOW!" but one that made me laugh was, "The lady is a tramp, the lady needs a ramp!"
The event began with a 'Welcome to Country' by Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O'Brien, a Senior Aboriginal Man. Did you know that there is no word for "disability" in the Aboriginal language? That's because, in Aboriginal culture, individual differences are accepted and valued.
There were five guest speakers at the event presented by MC Joanne Blesing who is also a Dignity Party Candidate for the 2018 State election in South Australia. The speakers were:
- Quentin Kenihan, celebrity disability advocate is just one of many strings to his bow. You may have seen him in Mad Max Fury Road.
- Aimee Crathern, an award-winning singer & performer and member of pop group Sisters of Invention
- Ellen Fraser-Barbour, a PhD candidate, star of You Can't Ask That on ABC TV.
- Katharine Annear, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network Australia/New Zealand, holds a Masters Degree in Disability, and is a Community Development Officer in local government.
- Hon Kelly Vincent MLC, Leader of the Dignity Party.
|Hon Kelly Vincent MLC giving her speech on North Terrace, Adelaide|
to an audience in front of the Parliament House steps.
Behind her is Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O'Brien who conducted the
"Welcome to Country" ceremony.
The speeches on North Terrace were not supposed to block the footpath but the gathering crowd meant that passers-by chose to walk around the event rather than through. I felt bemused by the fact that, for once, it was the able-bodied people forced to travel on the roadway instead of the people with disabilities.
So often wheelchair users need to wheel on the road because of obstructions on footpaths. People with vision impairments can also find footpaths treacherous if their surfaces are uneven or if there are overhanging plants and trees or other obstacles. Often people with disabilities are forced along the roadway instead of the designated footpath which isn't ideal or safe or fair.
|View down King William Street, Adelaide,|
looking back at the parade.
After the speeches, I joined the other parade participants as we made our way, under police escort, from North Terrace, along King William Street to Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga, in the centre of the CBD for a celebratory event of performers, interviews and more speeches on a central stage together with a disability expo.
It was the first disability expo I had ever attended as well. Again, friends had tried to coax me to previous disability expos, where service providers and equipment suppliers are available all in the one location at the same time. These expos were always held at times and places inconvenient to me. (I actually cancelled some appointments in order to attend this one!)
As well as service providers, there were representatives from government as well, including officers from the Minister for Disabilities Katrine Hildyard MP and the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.
It was very interesting to talk with various organisations and policy makers and experience their attitudes to people with disabilities for myself.
Friends and I were gobsmacked that, at a disability expo of all places, one of the representatives of a service provider chose to direct her gaze and answers to my able-bodied companion even though I was the one asking the questions (from my wheelchair)! How rude. I will definitely not be recommending that service provider. That behaviour shows a lack of respect and proper training. One expects better at a disability expo for goodness sake!
We were very privileged to be in the presence of Gill Hicks MBE who was being interviewed on stage about all sorts of topics while we enjoyed our lunch. She is another remarkable woman who is best known for surviving the London bombings in 2005. Her anecdotes and stories were both entertaining and profoundly moving. She is an author, peace activist, public speaker and mother.
One of the most valuable parts of the day was getting to network with other people. I received some very useful advice about planning for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and got to compare notes about wheelchair and other technology.
I managed to stick it out until 2 p.m. I was so exhausted. It was all I could do to get on the tram and train home. At the city train platform, one of my local petition supporters was waiting so I had company and conversation all the way home which made the trip go quickly.
There was a funny incident on the train home. I couple of young men boarded with their bicycles. One of them saw my glittery purple hat that someone had left on my head at the parade. He says, "I like your hat, Love" and my immediate reaction was "Thank you, Darling!" Well! That stopped him in his tracks. He turned around and responded with sincerity and ceremony, "You are a very kind lady," as he performed a very formal, extravagant deep bow in my direction! It was like something you might see in a Shakespearean performance.
I love getting out and about. I am so lucky to have access to a wheelchair and public transport; to live in a city that is relatively accessible. Freedom and independence.
Happy International Day of People with Disabilities!
Were there any celebrations or special events where you live?
*Member of the Legislative Council (the 'upper house' of the Parliament of South Australia).
Links and Related Posts
ABC iView, You Can't Ask That, TV series, Australian Broadcasting Corporation: http://iview.abc.net.au/collection/you-cant-ask-that
Annear, Katharine, (Linked In Profile): https://au.linkedin.com/in/katharineannear
Blesing, Joanne, Architectural Designer, Blesing Design: http://www.blesingdesign.com.au/
Craithern, Aimee, blog page: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/twentystories/blog_aimee.html
Dignity Party, Disability Pride Parade video [vimeo]:
- audio described: https://vimeo.com/246390746
- music soundtrack (quicker to load): https://vimeo.com/245670634
Fraser-Barbour, Ellen, (Linked In profile): https://au.linkedin.com/in/ellen-fraser-barbour-6308b499
Ellen also appeared on television in You Can't Ask That Series 2 Episode: Facial Difference, Australian Broadcasting Corporation: http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/you-cant-ask-that/LE1617H005S00
Hicks, Gill, MBE: http://www.gilltalks.com
Hildyard, Katrine, MP, SA Minister for Disabilities: https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/index.php/the-team/katrine-hildyard
International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD): http://www.idpwd.com.au/
Kenihan, Quentin: http://quentinkenihan.com.au/
Lupey Loops, blog post, "Access All Areas: Petition Power (Part 1)", 24 September 2017: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/access-all-areas-petition-power-part-1.html
Lupey Loops, blog post, "Better Than a Bought One", 26 March 2015: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/better-than-bought-one.html
Sisters of Invention, documentary, Documentary Australia Foundation: http://www.documentaryaustralia.com.au/films/1838/the-sisters-of-invention
Vincent, Kelly, MLC: https://kellyvincentmlc.com/about/