Improving inclusivity for people with intellectual disability depends on changing community perceptions of their capabilities – and Flinders Distinguished Alumni awardee Felicity Crowther (BDisComRehab ’12) is leading the push to drive this change.
As Executive Director of the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID), Felicity has led multiple initiatives that promote inclusive practice for people with intellectual disability in South Australia, but she says much more needs to be done.
“Unfortunately, the wider community has rather low expectations. They don’t expect people with intellectual disability to be employable or capable, so they don’t involve them in conversations or decision-making,” says Felicity, noting than an estimated 700,000 Australians live with intellectual disability.
“Public awareness of their capability is hampered – they haven’t had opportunity to see what people with intellectual disability are capable of, so they don’t offer opportunities to them or make inclusive spaces for them – and this is what has to change.”
Felicity is leading the transformation through good example: half of the 20 staff employed at SACID live with an intellectual disability. Felicity has structured the organisation to ensure an accessible and inclusive workplace that serves as an important role model that champions open employment opportunities for people with intellectual disability, who are paid at award rates – the same as other employees at the organisation who do not have intellectual disability. Read more
Creating inclusive workplaces across the board
Flinders graduate Michelle Candy (BSocWk ’21) doesn’t let her own disabilities get in the way of helping others with disabilities to enjoy fulfilling work and volunteer opportunities.
After graduating as a mature aged student with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2021, Michelle won a role as a Disability Support Officer at Australian Red Cross. She now spends her days supporting all Australian Red Cross staff and volunteers with disabilities. Michelle gets to know what a person’s disability is, what they need, what are the things that we can put into place to make sure that they can do their role at the best of their capacity. She is also passionate about educating her colleagues on disability, and has also helped the organisation re-develop policies and procedures to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.
“There were just six volunteers here when I started 18 months ago – we now have nearly 50!” says Michelle. Read more
Disability is no barrier to success
Bruce Meatheringham (BBehavSc(Hons) ’22) is another recent Flinders graduate who uses his own lived experience with Autism to help others. Bruce advocates for autistic people as a national project advisor with Autism SA. He has guest lectured at university, runs his own business presenting to groups on autism and autism sensory experience and mentors autistic teenagers at Autism SA.
Bruce also works with researchers to ensure that autism research is relevant to, and appropriate for, autistic people and their communities. Read more
Studying creative writing with a disability
As a mature-age deaf student, Margot Albrecht didn’t feel part of the typically younger cohort of students and struggled to get a handle on language and terminologies that didn’t exist when she was their age. This, combined with her deafness which meant she always had to sit at the front of a classroom or lecture theatre, made her feel alienated and alone.
Thankfully, these feelings of alienation did not last for long and many of her fellow younger students soon made her feel welcome and accepted. She appreciates the way that the students all managed to support each other’s learning by bouncing ideas off one another and is especially grateful to her lecturers who have supported and encouraged her. Read more