Brooke Canham, Policy Officer at Inclusion Australia shares her experience attending and presenting at the VALID Having a Say Conference in Geelong.
In February I attended the VALID Having a Say Conference in Geelong, Victoria. VALID is one of our member organisations. I presented about the Disability Royal Commission and about Inclusion Australia’s project on Supported Decision-Making.
The best part of the Conference was helping Our Voice and helping one of the members hold the microphone during their presentation. Our Voice is an official committee of the Inclusion Australia Board, giving advice on issues that are important to people with an intellectual disability. I also helped hand out freddo frogs for their ice breaker where you had to try and open the chocolate using one hand.
I also helped hand out the traffic light cards. Traffic light cards are used to make meetings more accessible. Red for (bad), green (good), yellow (I have a something to say).
I loved being included in the Our Voice presentation and being able to help roam the room with the microphone.
I also enjoyed listening to other people who have an intellectual disability, because I am passionate about doing my job and helping when someone needs it. I feel good about helping people with an intellectual disability.
Helping others at the conference makes me feel like I am doing something to make someone’s day. Listening and seeing a lot of people with an intellectual disability talk about their personal experiences and hearing about what people achieve in their life puts a smile on my face.
Some things were challenging, too. The conference program was very busy, and I found it hard to attend everything that I wanted to, and to catch-up with everyone!
I gave two presentations at Having a Say. One was about the Disability Royal Commission and the other was about Supported Decision-Making. I think both presentations were very good. I spoke slow and I enjoyed every minute.
In the Disability Royal Commission presentation there were so many good questions. I felt very happy because a lot of people took something from my presentation.
I liked how the Supported Decision-Making presentation was spilt in to two. We shared it with our NSW member, the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID). Their presentation was really good. They talked about ‘My Rights Matter’ and how people can communicate with a device to make their own decisions.
When I spoke about Supported Decision-Making it didn’t make me feel nervous as this is an important topic for people with an intellectual disability, it is a human right.
What I learned at Having a Say
I helped on the Inclusion Australia table and explained to people what we do as an organisation. I learned that some people haven’t heard about Inclusion Australia! It was great to share more about who we are and what we do and some of the resources that we have made for different projects.
I learned that a lot of people with an intellectual disability have questions about the Disability Royal Commission. It is important that we are there to give independent information about it in accessible ways.
I learned a lot about Boards and Committees from Our Voice. I took a lot away from their presentation and I feel like their information will help me with my own work and in my other advocacy activities.
Thinking about the next Having a Say
I think it is great that Having a Say is very inclusive and gives people with disability the chance to participate in the conference. I can’t wait to go again in the future! Thank you for VALID!