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“Sometimes the government doesn’t understand our disability”

Inclusion Advisors from Speak Out Tasmania talk about their Towards Inclusive Practice experience.

Towards Inclusive Practice is a national project led by Inclusion Australia with our members around the country. The project is about telling government how to be more inclusive of people with an intellectual disability.

As part of Towards Inclusive Practice we have set up a national network of people with an intellectual disability to discuss important issues and make resources for Government on inclusive practices.

Heather Forsyth and Eban Pollard, Project Coordinators at Inclusion Australia have been talking to Ian, Larry, and Sonia from Speak Out Tasmania about their roles as Inclusion Advisors for the project.

Why did you want to be an Inclusion Advisor?

  • Ian: Because I like helping people especially people with disabilities. Anything that makes people’s day feel better, brighter or puts a smile on people’s faces you know!
  • Larry: to help the government understand people with disabilities and to communicate with the government, pretty much.
  • Sonia: because I wanted to help make a difference… so that everyone’s involved, whether they’ve got a disability, or they don’t. I just wanted to help make a change for the people that have an intellectual disability.

Where did you hear about the project and becoming an Inclusion Advisor?

  • Ian: Speak Out Gave me a contact and asked me if I was interested. As soon as they said it’s helping people with a disability and helping change some rules and laws, I said “let me in!” Its giving people a purpose, it’s helping them and changing the laws.
  • Larry: I was asked by Speak Out. I didn’t think the Government was doing running the NDIS properly. They’re not doing it right! It’s hard to explain but [things like] cutting people’s funding so they don’t have funding for their supports.

What changes would you like to see from this project?

  • Sonia: the biggest change I would like to see is [the government] communicating and working better with people with intellectual disability… because sometimes the government doesn’t understand about our disability and about how we have like learning difficulties. Their information needs to be clearer, and in easy read and stuff like that.
  • Ian: It gives us a voice and a purpose, and it gives us the ability to be able to be heard. Anything that can help make a change, count me in!

What makes a project like this work well?

  • Sonia: Communication – and that everyone has a say and that we all have a chance to answer questions. I just think it’s the communication, and because I know the people I’m working with, it makes it easier.

Has there been anything in the project that has been hard for you?

  • Ian: sometimes it’s hard when you have to re-go over something to remember certain things because sometimes you have a lot going on. It might be something that you did at the start, and you might need a bit of jogging of the memory sometimes (laughs!)
  • Sonia: it’s been awesome. It’s all been very easy to understand as well. I’m just really enjoying the project and I hope it makes a difference with the government.

What would like to say to the government about being part of this project.

  • Ian: I would ask how much of a difference is this is going to make? Do you think having a say with these big issues will actually change the politicians minds?
  • Sonia: I’d feel nervous, but I reckon I could talk to them easy. [I would say] that everybody’s equal whether they have a disability or not and everybody needs to have a chance and be included.
  • Ian: we need more Easy English, and we need things in paper form and speaking form. We just need more of it out there. We need the whole lot implemented. You can’t not [do it].
  • Larry: It’s about understanding people with disabilities. And then giving them resources to understand us better. I would say give the disability sector more funding! Also, we have the right to vote [so it’s good] to understand the government systems.

Has this made a difference to you having a paid job.

  • Sonia: Yes, it has helped me out a lot. I’m getting a lot of questions from my support workers about how work is going and what we are doing, and its given me a bit more confidence as well.
  • Ian: it is good that we get paid but I would do this without the pay to get it out there. But the pay shows that people with disability can have a job.

What would say to other self-advocates who might be interested in being involved in a project like this?

  • Larry: I would say you get a lot of experience out of it, so give it a go.
  • Ian: No one should be disadvantaged, and we are all here to make a change.
  • Sonia: What I’d say is that the program itself is wonderful and it’s easy to understand and the questions are so easy to understand as well. I’d say to them go and do it because it’s wonderful and that they can help make a difference as well.
  • Larry: I would say “go for it!”

What have you learned as you’ve been part of this inclusion advisor that you didn’t know before

  • Larry: I’m getting a lot more understanding of how the government works.
  • Ian: I learned that sometimes its hard out there, but you don’t realise how hard it is. You realise that it’s hard for you and it’s hard for other people too, but when you hear their stories sometimes you get a tear in your eye. You wish that these things had been done sooner.
  • Sonia: That’s a bit hard to answer! The thing that I’ve learned is the group of people that I’m working with is wonderful. We communicate with each other pretty well. And it’s just been good to try and help and make a difference.

What would you like to do next with the things that you’ve learned?

  • Sonia: I’m also now part of another group talking about Inclusive Education. That’s been awesome.
  • Larry: I haven’t thought that far yet. I hope Speak Out has some more projects for me to do! Right now, we are in the middle of planning the Speak Out Conference in September.
  • Sonia – the name of the conference is Looking Forward Looking Back.
  • Larry: This is our 40th conference, actually. There will be a few hundred people in Hobart.

Wow that’s something to be proud of. Thank you very much for making the time to talk to us today and good luck with the conference!

To find out more about the Speak Out Conference visit

Speak Out advocacy logo




For more on the project check out our Towards Inclusive Practice page.